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Barry Gardiner: NERC's science budget allocation has doubled since 1997 to £334 million for this year, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining the quality of environmental research in the UK. NERC is currently consulting widely with stakeholders and staff on a proposed restructuring of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). The aim of the proposal is to ensure the long-term sustainability of CEH and its continued capacity to contribute to environmental research in the UK into the future. These consultations close on 15 February 2006. I am sure that NERC Council will consider carefully all evidence and views on the potential impact of the proposals.
If, following consultation, NERC decides to proceed with the restructuring, the costs would be met from NERC's science budget allocation, and the Department has indicated that it would be willing to increase NERC's allocation by up to £14.2 million over 200608 so as to support the delivery of its core programmes in these circumstances.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in his Department and its agencies was in each year from 199798 to 200405; what the estimated cost is for each year from 200506 to 200708; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department records total annual liabilities for all early departure schemes, including continuing costs of compensation payments and early severance payments that are not retirements. It does not keep separate records of the costs that relate specifically to enhanced early retirement schemes. This information for eight financial years could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. The estimated cost of enhanced early retirement schemes in 200506 including flexible and compulsory early retirements and approved early retirement schemes (including the Insolvency Service) is £8.1 million. It is expected that the reduction of DTI staff by 1,010 civil servants will lead to cumulative
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savings of £37.20 million by 200708. This should offset the initial expenditure on the enhanced early retirement schemes.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has asked me to reply on behalf of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) to your question regarding what the cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in his Department and its agencies was in each year from 199798 to 200405; and what the estimated cost is for each year from 200506 to 200708.
Companies House did not have an enhanced early retirement scheme from 1997 to 2005 therefore the cost is nil. We have budgeted for spend of £1.5m on voluntary early retirement in 2006/7. This is an estimated maximum figure and will depend on take-up, so is not the actual cost. We are not currently planning for any early retirement schemes in 2007/8.
I am responding to this parliamentary question, tabled on 19 January 2006, regarding what the cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in the Patent Office was in each year from 199798 to 200405 and what the estimated cost is for each year from 200506 to 200708.
You asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what the cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in his Department and its agencies was in each year from 199798 to 200405; and what the estimated cost is for each year from 200506 to 200708.
The cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in the Employment Tribunals Service for the year 19992000 was £28,000. The estimated cost of this scheme for the year 20052006 is £26,000. However we are unable to provide an estimated cost for this scheme for future years because the Agency has no plans at present for any schemes.
Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress his Department has made towards achieving targets to reduce the number of civil service posts set by the Independent Review of Public Sector Efficiency; and if he will make a statement. 
Since 1 April 2004 core DTI numbers have decreased from 4179.7 'full-time equivalent' people to 3401.9 'full-time equivalent' people, a reduction of 777.8 as of 1 February 2006. The regional Government Offices have also reduced by 80 posts giving a total reduction of 857.8 against our target of 1010.
Information held by Companies House is already in the public domain. For example, it is held by the large business information providing companies who take daily downloads of the information held by Companies House. This means that even if the records at Companies House could be expunged the information would still be available from other sources.
Alun Michael: Transfer pricing describes the charge or cost that is made when one company transfers or sells" a product to another company within the same group of companies (often in different countries). There are no Companies Act disclosure requirements; there are tax implications that are governed by guidelines and requirements.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the value was of (a) public opinion research and (b) public relations contracts awarded by his Department in 200405 in (i) each (A) nation and (B) region of the UK and (ii) London. 
(b) A comprehensive list of all projects is not held centrally. Information from the Central Office of Information shows that the following amounts were spent in 200405. These relate to contracts where the major element of work was for public relations.
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