Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Feb 2006 : Column 1863W—continued

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total value is of (a) catering and (b) entertainment contracts let by his Department; and what value of such contracts has been let in each nation and region of the United Kingdom, including London. [37465]

Alan Johnson: Expenditure on catering services in financial year 2004–2005 for DTI's London Headquarters estate was approximately £1.1 million. Expenditure on entertaining and hospitality (excluding expenditure overseas) was a further £468,000.

A breakdown of expenditure on a regional basis is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of deregulation on productivity; and if he will make a statement. [43106]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 19 January 2006]: A recent study by the OECD shows that lower levels of regulation have contributed to accelerated growth in the UK by stimulating business investment and promoting innovation and technological catch up. OECD data also shows that the UK is the second least restrictive OECD country, only marginally behind Australia, in terms of economic and administrative regulation.

The Government have launched one of the most radical reform programmes in the world to ensure administrative and other burdens arising from regulations are minimised.

Directors (Minimum Age)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will bring forward legislation under which the minimum age of directors for public limited companies will be at least 18 years. [51511]

Mr. Sutcliffe: At present, under company law, there is no minimum age for directors. The Company Law Reform Bill introduces a minimum age, 16, for a natural person to be a director of any company.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 1864W

Energy Review 2000

Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many stakeholder meetings he is holding for the Energy Review 2006; and to how many of these meetings he is inviting representatives of the energy efficiency industry. [51454]

Malcolm Wicks: During the course of the consultation, eight seminars are taking place across England, Wales and Scotland. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment will host a seminar on the Energy Review in Belfast. The seminar that took place in Birmingham on 31 January 2006 concentrated on Energy Efficiency.

All the seminars involve a broad range of organisation. Invitees include representatives from unions; energy providers; energy generators; industry associations; network operators; non-governmental organisations with an interest in energy, environment, or fuel poverty issues; regulatory bodies; official advisory bodies to the Government; national, devolved, regional and local Government and Government Agencies; think tanks and academia. Clearly, energy efficiency cuts across many issues to do with energy, so organisations with an interest in energy efficiency are being invited to all the seminars.

In addition to these seminars, my officials and I will be meeting a number of stakeholders individually or in small groups.

Equality Bill

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce proposals to extend the provisions of the Equality Bill to Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [49034]

Meg Munn: Northern Ireland has its own body of discrimination law, and its own Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission. The Equality Bill has already been extended to Northern Ireland to the extent necessary to ensure that there are no significant gaps in protection.

Gas Supplies

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of whether speculation is distorting the market for gas prices. [49786]

Malcolm Wicks: In spring 2005, the DTI commissioned a detailed report by Global Insight, an energy consultancy, on the operation of the UK gas forward markets. This is available at The report concluded, among other things, that the UK gas forward market was a functional hedging and trading market, free from major distortions and market abuse, with efficient price-formation outside of short spike periods". However, the report also said that, whilst the market was functionally liquid, more could be done to boost confidence in it and encourage participation by banks, traders etc. The DTI and Ofgem have therefore been discussing with the Futures and Options Association (FOA) why there is not more participation in the forward market and whether there are
14 Feb 2006 : Column 1865W
any barriers to entry. Following a roundtable with some of its members on 6 December, the FOA has developed a programme of actions to try to improve liquidity.

Heating Oil

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to tackle the increase in the cost of heating oil; and if he will make a statement. [51531]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government takes the problem of rising fuel prices and its targets on the eradication of fuel poverty very seriously. The provision of affordable warmth is a keystone of our energy policy, and one of the four goals set out in the Energy White Paper.

Tackling fuel poverty is devolved. In Scotland the overall objective for fuel poverty is to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, people are not living in fuel poverty by November 2016. The central heating and warm deal programmes improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock for vulnerable people. So far the Scottish Executive has invested over £240 million in these programmes, putting in over 63,000 central heating systems and insulating over 223,000 homes.

Increases in the cost of heating oil over the past year primarily reflect rises in the international price of crude oil. Through its presidencies of the G8, G7 and EU, the UK promoted international efforts to improve the functioning of the global oil market and tackle market inefficiencies that contribute to oil price volatility.

Domestically, the Government's policy is not to intervene in commercial price setting because it believes that the consumer is best served by the operation of open competition between companies. The supply of domestic bulk liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is, however, subject to UK competition law under the Competition Act 1998 and is currently under investigation by the Competition Commission. Provisional findings are available at, with the final report to be published in March.

Indian Financial Services Companies

Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which five Indian companies in the UK with a presence in the financial services sector have the largest number of employees; and how many employees each has. [51453]

Ian Pearson: The Table below shows the latest available UK employee information from publicly available data from Companies House for Indian companies with a known UK subsidiary or a UK branch in the financial services sector.
Indian companies with known UK presence in financialservices sector

StatusNumber of UK employees
ICICI Bank UK LimitedUK subsidiary51
J.B. Boda and Co. (UK) LimitedUK subsidiary(13)
K.M. Dastur and Co LimitedUK subsidiary3
First Global (UK) LtdUK subsidiary3
Ridge Futures LimitedUK subsidiary(13)
Bob (UK) LtdUK subsidiary4
State Bank Of IndiaUK branch(13)
Bank Of IndiaUK branch(13)
Syndicate BankUK branch20
The New India Assurance Co LtdUK branch(13)
Life Insurance Corporation of IndiaUK branch15
Bank of BarodaUK branch60
Cabara BankUK branch(13)

(13) Not available.
Companies House.

14 Feb 2006 : Column 1866W

Migrant Workers from Poland

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures he is taking to ensure that migrant workers from Poland are protected under UK employment laws. [51614]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Legal migrant workers in the UK have the same employment rights and recourses as their indigenous equivalents.

We are aware that migrant workers may face difficulties in understanding and asserting their rights. We have offered to work with the Governments of all the new member states, to prepare bi-lingual know before you go" leaflets giving advice on questions to ask before leaving the country and on legal protections offered to workers including agency workers.

To date we have produced leaflets in partnership with the Polish and Lithuanian Governments, and are in discussions with other Governments. The two existing leaflets followed a similar leaflet we produced in partnership with the Portuguese Government, and benefited from input from the TUC, the CBI and other stakeholders. These leaflets have been distributed widely in both the workers' home country and the UK. In Poland, for example, they have been publicised on television and our embassy and the Polish authorities have worked hard to distribute them via job centres, recruitment fairs and other channels. The text of the leaflets is also available on the DTI website—

Next Section Index Home Page