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Departmental Staff

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) consultants and (b) other self-employed persons are working for his Department; and what the cost is estimated to be (i) in 2005–06 and (ii) in each of the last five years. [17309]

Alan Johnson: The information is as follows.

(a) As at 1 October 2005 a total of 332 consultants and agency staff were working in core DTI (excluding UK Trade and Investments and DTIs arms length bodies).

(b) The Department's normal policy is not to directly engage self-employed people. However it does procure the services of individuals with specialist knowledge—often academics—to inform projects and policy decisions. These individuals are sometimes engaged directly, and at other times are remunerated via the budget for specific projects. Numbers of such individuals are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

(i) and (ii); The Department does not hold central records of the cost of consultants and agency staff as a sub-group of total costs for consultancy, agency and services contracts. The figures could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Nuisance Phone Calls

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to tackle nuisance telephone calls; and if he will make a statement. [17672]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 14 October 2005]: The Government take the issue of nuisance telephone calls very seriously because of the distress they cause to consumers. The Communications Act 2003 provides powers to the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to take action against silent calls, including the imposition of financial penalties, against persons who cause unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety through persistent misuse of an electronic communications network. Ofcom has announced a wide
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range of measures against silent calls and further detailed information is available from:

In addition, my Department has issued a consultation document, in which we propose to increase the maximum penalty for persistent misuse of an electronic communications network from £5,000 to £50,000 and a copy will shortly be available from:

Statutory Sick Pay

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will remove the upper age limit for entitlement to statutory sick pay as part of the age equality regulations. [23273]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It is the Government's intention to amend provisions that will remove the upper age limit for entitlement to statutory sick pay in the draft Employment Equality (Age) Regulations which are due to come into force next year.


Goods and Services (Discrimination)

23. Chris Bryant: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans the Government have to prevent discrimination in the provision of goods and services. [24357]

Meg Munn: Current legislation outlaws race, sex and disability discrimination in the provision of goods and services. The current Equality Bill will extend this protection to cover religion and belief.

We have made clear our intention to provide full rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people as soon as possible. We are considering the case for age discrimination legislation in this area via the current Discrimination Law Review.

Domestic Violence Action Plan

24. Vera Baird: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with the
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Solicitor-General on the impact of the National Action Plan for Domestic Violence on the number of successful prosecutions for related crimes. [24358]

Meg Munn: As a member of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence, I have regular discussions with the Solicitor General and other Ministers. Since the plan's March launch, prosecutions have risen, but it is early days and the plan outlines commitments to address this issue more fully.

Women Engineering Graduates

25. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what percentage of engineering graduates are women; and if she will make a statement. [24359]

Meg Munn: In 2002–03, 17 per cent. of students obtaining their first degree in Engineering and Technology were female. For postgraduate students the female percentage in 2002–03 was 23.1 per cent.

The Government has invested a total £6.9 million into a resource centre to work specifically with employers enabling them to tackle the barriers which prevent girls and women seeing science and technology including engineering as an attractive and rewarding career. Although engineering remains an area of low female participation, the resource centre is working closely with other professional organisations, such as the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Technology Board, to develop strategic approaches to tackle this issue.


26. Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to encourage acceptance of breastfeeding in public places. [24360]

Meg Munn: The Government are committed to the promotion of breastfeeding. We are examining women's experiences of feeding in public places through the National Infant Feeding Survey 2005, to inform our thinking in this area.

Through the annual National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, the Department of Health encourages breastfeeding in public places.

Women High-flyers

27. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what estimate she has made of the number of women in senior board positions in each of the last five years. [24361]

Meg Munn: Female-held FTSE 100 directorships have risen from 5.8 per cent. in 2000 to nearly 10 per cent. in 2004. The Cabinet Minister for Women will later this month be launching the 2005 Female FTSE Report produced by Cranfield university to see what further progress has been made. However, in 2004 17 per cent. of new FTSE 100 board appointments have been women, up from 13 per cent. in 2003 and 10.5 per cent. in 2002. The total number of female directorships in the FTSE 100 was 110, up from 101 the previous year. The number of boards with more than one female member
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has risen from 22 to 29 in 2004. It is disappointing to note that 31 of the FTSE 100 companies are run by men-only boards. Of the new women appointed in 2004, 33 per cent. already had FTSE experience and incoming non-executive directors are also far more likely than the directors they replace to have public or voluntary sector experience.



Mr. Salmond: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to reply to the letter dated 16 May from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding the Tear Fund. [23930]

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development replied to the hon. Member on 29 September in response to his letter of 16 May and his follow-up letter of 29 July. I have placed a copy of the letter in the Libraries of the House.

Letter from Mr. Gareth Thomas to Mr. Alex Salmond, dated 29 September 2005:

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