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Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much compensation was paid to members of the public for letters lost or stolen while in the possession of the Royal Mail in the last three years for which information is available; 
(2) how many letters (a) were lost or stolen and (b) had items stolen from inside the letter while in the possession of the Royal Mail in the last three years for which information is available. 
This is an operational matter for Royal Mail. I have therefore asked Adam Crozier, the chief executive of Royal Mail, to provide a direct reply to my hon. Friend.
7 Nov 2005 : Column 52W
Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the implications for the effectiveness of oversight of security-sensitive exports of the change in the number of posts in his Department's Export Control Office. 
Ian Pearson: The reduction in the headcount of the Export Control Organisation has not so far materially affected its effectiveness or efficiency, as measured by the accuracy and timeliness of its licensing decisions. However I shall be monitoring the situation carefully to ensure consistent levels of service.
Alun Michael [holding answer 3 November 2005]: The Government places high priority on helping small business to grow and is pleased that SME productivity growth has exceeded all firms" productivity growth over the 4-year period 19992003 (the most recent period for which statistics have been published.
The Government provides a range of support to encourage small businesses to expand and grow, including help with access to finance, measures to improve skills, promoting innovation and help for businesses to export. The way for any small business to gain access to this support is to contact the local Business Link, while the website www.businesslink.gov.uk provides authoritative information from over 40 Government Departments and agencies. We are also active in reducing the regulatory burden on business, freeing more entrepreneurs' time to focus on growth.
Alun Michael: The starting point for any business in England is to contact the local Business Link, which exists to provide advice and help in identifying the help available to meet that business's specific needs. In doing so, the Business Link will draw on assistance funded by Government and by others including local government and by commercial and other providers. The assistance provided by Government is as follows:
Each year the DTI invests over £400 million assisting businesses through grants, loans and subsidised consultancy. DTI provides the following help to small and medium-sized businesses to undertake research and development:
Businesses can find details of further sources of help with starting and growing a business through the Grants and Support Directory on www.businesslink.gov.uk/support but will be given a personal service of advice and help by their local Business Link.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the annual budget for UK Trade and Investment and its predecessor body was in each year from 1997; and what the staff complement was in each year. 
Ian Pearson: UK Trade and Investment (formerly British Trade International) was established in 1999. According to its annual report and accounts the annual spend in support of the organisation's objectives for the period 200001 (the first year that information is available) until 200405 and the staff complement for each of those years is as follows.
|Total net resources||Staff numbers(7)|
|UK Exports||UK Imports|
|0||Food and live animals||487||468||1,766||1,105|
|1||Beverages and tobacco||367||451||242||385|
|2||Crude materials, inedible, except fuels||756||654||241||290|
|3||Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials||11||13||35||19|
|4||Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes||0||4||0||14|
|5||Chemicals and related products nes||6,011||4,817||5,554||4,885|
|6||Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material||1,722||1,937||2,024||3,392|
|7||Machinery and transport equipment||19,001||19,436||20,493||18,238|
|8||Miscellaneous manufactured articles||6,384||5,797||6,226||7,863|
|9||Commodities and transactions not elsewhere classified||73||91||184||205|
|0||Food and live animals||3,017||2,936||3,205||3,368|
|1||Beverages and tobacco||2,948||5,476||3,812||2,816|
|2||Crude materials, inedible, except fuels||1,160||667||594||557|
|3||Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials||31||0||0||0|
|4||Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes||0||0||0||14|
|5||Chemicals and related products nes||21||6||7||1|
|6||Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material||10||163||46||283|
|7||Machinery and transport equipment||599||942||1,126||1,459|
|8||Miscellaneous manufactured articles||518||234||201||3,920|
|9||Commodities and transactions not elsewhere classified||237||247||456||758|
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the universal banking service on financial inclusion of the residents of small rural communities; and if he will make a statement. 
The move to Direct Payment and the introduction of universal banking services, which have brought banking services into many rural and urban deprived areas for the first time, have resulted in a number of benefits for individuals and the communities in which they live. Many people who were previously financially excluded in these areas now have more choice and improved local access to banking services.
The banking industry have worked with Government to make basic bank accounts, which were specifically designed to address the needs of the financially excluded, more accessible. Since the start of universal banking in April 2003, a net total of around 1.4 million basic bank accounts have been openedand the majority of these have the facility to withdraw cash at post office counters as well as through bank branches and ATMs. Some 20 million people are able to access their current accounts through post office branches.
In April 2003, only 43 per cent. of DWP customers were paid directly into an accountfollowing the move to Direct Payment and the introduction of universal banking services that figure has now increased to over 97 per cent.
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