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Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent in each year from 1 May 1997 on ministerial travel, broken down by (a) provision and running costs of vehicular transport, (b) first class travel by rail, (c) standard class travel by rail, (d) first class travel by air, (e) club or equivalent class travel by air and (f) economy class travel by air. [27796]

Alan Johnson: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the 'Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers', copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

My hon. Friend and Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office has asked Roy Burke, chief executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) to write to the hon. Member with details of the costs of ministerial vehicles provided to Departments in 2004–05. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.
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For information for the financial years 2000–01 to 2003–04 I refer the hon. Member to the letters from the chief executive of the GCDA to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) dated 10 January 2005 and to the then hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs dated 13 September 2003. Copies of these letters are available in the Libraries of the House.

A breakdown of costs of domestic ministerial travel by rail, air and car, except for vehicles provided by the GCDA, is available for April 2004 to March 2005 and includes the cost of private office staff travelling with the Minister.

In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing£500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. These report information for the financial years 1995–96 to 2004–05. Information for 2005–06 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current financial year.


Legislation Implementation

22. Mr. Fraser: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what measures will be taken to ensure small businesses have the necessary information and time to adapt to provisions in the Equality Bill and the equality provisions of the Work and Families Bill. [33396]

Meg Munn: Government will provide high quality guidance and information on relevant provisions in both Bills, including on the introduction of the CEHR, provisions protecting against discrimination on grounds of religion, belief and sexual orientation, and new work and families measures. Small business will be involved in any further consultation, including on additional paternity leave and pay.

Women's Pensions

23. Dr. Starkey: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what recent discussions she has had with theDepartment for Work and Pensions on women's pensions. [33397]

Meg Munn: I had a constructive meeting with the Department for Work and Pensions and am pleased that fair outcomes for women is one of their principles for reform.

Now that the Pensions Commission have reported, we will build on our previous discussions to tackle pension inequalities.
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Women Entrepreneurs

24. Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government is taking to encourage women to start their own businesses. [33398]

Meg Munn: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North West Norfolk some moments ago.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what measures the Government has in place to encourage more women entrepreneurs. [33395]

Meg Munn: Giving more women the option of starting a business provides clear economic and social benefits. The Government are working closely with the Women's Enterprise Panel and all nine Regional Development Agencies to improve business support services to female entrepreneurs. Our strong commitment to and strategy for encouraging women's enterprise is clearly stated in 'Promoting Female Entrepreneurship'.

Pregnancy Discrimination

25. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to tackle pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. [33399]

Meg Munn: Employers who discriminate against women because of their pregnancy or maternity leave are breaking the law and damaging their own businesses. In October this year we amended the Sex Discrimination Act so that it is clear to all that treating women in this way is sex discrimination. measures in the work and families package will offer further practical steps to addressing pregnancy discrimination.

Gender Pay Gap

26. Ann McKechin: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to reduce the gender pay gap in the small and medium-sized business sector. [33400]

Meg Munn: Action to date includes sponsoring the Equal Opportunities Commission to design an equal pay review kit specially for SMEs. We will build on this progress once Women and Work Commission report, and I am pleased that a Commissioner was brought in for her particular expertise on SMEs.


Andrew Cunningham (Statement)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether Mr. Andrew Cunningham's statement at a recent conference on the drinks industry, the liberalisation of licensing laws and the nanny state" reflects Government policy. [33463]

James Purnell: Mr Cunningham's statement as reported in the media was part of a presentation given by him on licensing reform on behalf of the Department to a regional conference, hosted by the British Institute of Innkeeping for its members, at Cheltenham Racecourse on 29 October 2002. Mr Cunningham's comments then about the reform of licensing law were
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an explanation of current Government policy. His comments about nanny staters" were not a statement of policy. They were a personal observation made in response to a debate within the industry about, in particular, the merits of transferring the control of alcohol licensing from the licensing justices to local authorities. Mr Cunningham made the observation that if the industry allowed such an issue to divide them or to dilute their support for licensing reform, then opponents of reform could be expected to exploit that division. In referring generally to opponents of reform, Mr.Cunningham had used the expression nanny staters" in his speaking notes which were subsequently handed to representatives of the trade press attending and he subsequently apologised for this use of injudicious language. Mr Cunningham did not refer to any Members of Parliament or any other individuals during the course of the conference.

Drinking Age

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment the Government have made of the potential impact on crime and disorder of reducing the legal drinking age to 16 years. [32497]

James Purnell: The licensing White Paper, Time for Reform" set out the reasons for the Government's view that the legal age for purchasing and drinking alcohol should not be lowered. This included the danger of too early an exposure to alcohol in unsupervised circumstances.


James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what factors will be examined by her Department when assessing the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on the 10 named scrutiny local authority areas; and when she expects to publish the results. [32386]

James Purnell [holding answer 28 November 2005]: The Scrutiny Council initiative is one strand of the Government's wider monitoring and evaluation programme to measure the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 against the four licensing objectives:

The initiative will be active for about six months and will deliver real time indicators of how the new regime is operating. It will also provide evidence to support the initial review of the statutory Guidance, due by the end of February 2006, and full Guidance review due around autumn 2006.

The following local authorities have been invited to become Scrutiny Councils:

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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what advice the Government have given to (a) local authorities and (b) the police on planning enforcement for licensed premises opening at times permitted by their licensing consent when their planning consent does not permit them to open. [32482]

James Purnell: Guidance issued to licensing authorities under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003, which was also circulated to every Chief Constable of police, includes advice on the integration of planning and licensing regimes. It emphasises that applications for premises licences should normally be made by businesses with planning consent; should not be a re-run of the planning application; and should not cut across decisions taken by the local authority planning committee or following appeals against decisions taken by that committee. The Guidance also notes that the giving of a temporary event notice does not relieve the premises users from any requirements under planning law for appropriate planning permission where it is required. The enforcement of planning law is a matter for individual local authorities.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what dates since July 2003 her Department's Licensing Advisory Group has met; at which of these meetings the establishment of a central database of personal licence holders was discussed; and if she will make a statement. [28393]

James Purnell: The Licensing Advisory Group has met on approximately a monthly basis since July 2003. Issues around the Licensing Act 2003 and its implementation have been fully discussed during these meetings and did include the issue of the establishment of a central database of personal licence holders. However, these meetings are held under the Chatham House rule with no formal agenda or minutes taken of the discussions by the Group so it is not possible to be specific about when this particular issue was discussed.

In 2004 the Group met on 15 January, 18 February, 15 April, 16 June, 13 July, 17 August, 15 September, 26 October, 25 November and 15 December. In 2005 it met on 19 January, 16 February, 15 March, 19 April, 16 May, 22 June, 27 July, 24 August, 28 September and 22 November.

The establishment of a central licensing register is a matter which continues to be considered and discussed between the Government and representatives of the licensing authorities.

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