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Small Business Research Initiative

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Alun Michael): On 13 December 2005 in response to a question from the hon. Member for Burnley (Ms Kitty Ussher), Official Report, column 1907W, I informed the House that the DTI's Small Business Service (SBS) would shortly be publishing the overall Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) performance figures for 2003–04 and 2004–05. I have today published these figures. A copy has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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The overall SBRI target is that Government Departments will procure at least 2.5 per cent. of their extramural R&D from small firms, very good progress is being made. In 2004–05 of a proposed SBRI baseline of £2,532.9 million, £269.1 million (10.6 per cent.) went to small firms in the form of contracts.

Also on 12 December 2005, in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Burnley, Official Report, column 1675W, as to whether the guidelines issued to all Government Departments in implementing the mandatory SBRI would be placed in the Library, I said the guidelines were being revised and would be placed in the Library shortly, the updated guidelines have, today, been placed in the Libraries.


Firth of Forth Oil Spill Contingency Plan (Consultation)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): I announced on 21 November that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency would co-ordinate a public consultation to assess the implications for relevant nature conservation sites in the Firth of Forth, of Forth Ports' revised and amplified oil spill contingency plan.

The consultation has been launched today, and will last for a period of 12 weeks. The consultation package comprises the submitted oil spill contingency plan material and supporting information from Forth Ports and Scottish Natural Heritage. The consultation is limited to assessing the implications of the plan for the protected sites (in view of their conservation objectives) with a view to ascertaining whether the plan will adversely affect the integrity of the sites concerned.

Details on how to take part in the consultation are available on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's website

Railways (Eastern Regional Planning Assessment)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Derek Twigg): Today the Department for Transport has published the first of its series of Regional Planning Assessments for the Railway (RPAs). This is the Eastern RPA, covering North and East London and the East of England Region.

Regional Planning Assessments are designed to inform the development of the government's strategy for the railway. They look at the challenges and options for development of the railway in each region over the next 20 years, in the wider context of forecast change in population, the economy and travel behaviour. An RPA does not commit the Government to specific proposals. Instead it sets out the Government's current thinking on how the railway might best be developed to allow wider planning objectives for a region to be met, and identifies the priorities for further development work.

RPAs are the key link between regional spatial planning (including preparation of regional transport strategies) and planning for the railway by both
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Government and the rail industry. There will be 11 RPAs covering England and Wales.

The RPA clarifies the role of the railway in the region, its contribution to the economy and its place in the overall transport system, setting out where greater rail capability and capacity will be needed over the next 20 years, and the options route-by-route for responding to that need. In the shorter term (five years), the Government are committed to making the best use of existing capacity on the network by matching resources to demand.

Copies of the Eastern RPA have been placed in the House Library today.

Vehicle Registers (Release of Data)

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I am today launching a full public consultation on the release of data from the DVLA and DVLNI vehicle registers. I have placed copies in the House Library and it is also available on the DfT website at

The Government take very seriously their responsibilities for protecting individuals' legitimate expectations of privacy and confidentiality. Information collected from citizens is therefore held securely and will only be released to third parties where there is a lawful basis for doing so. There is a broad consensus that some groups—such as the police—should have full access to details from the vehicle register. Over the past 40 years, a wide range of other groups have been granted access to details held on the register for what is judged to be "reasonable cause". However, the activities of a small number of groups who have been granted access has raised significant concern. And so we are today setting out how the current system operates, and the main options for the future. Consultation will last six weeks and we look forward to receiving responses by 31 March.
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Specifically, the consultation seeks views on the groups that should have information from the vehicle register and the reasons for their having it; how we manage access to the register; and the audit regime for those who are granted access.

Following the consultation we will announce any changes that are to be made and if necessary, amend legislation accordingly. We intend to ensure that this current review produces a system that protects vehicle keepers from misuse of their information; ensures that those who do have a good case can get the data they need; balances the right to privacy of individuals whose data are held on the register with the rights of others to gain proper redress; is cost effective—in that the costs to all are proportionate to the benefits that the scheme delivers; and is right in principle and works in practice.



The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mrs. Anne McGuire): It has been brought to my attention that the reply I gave the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, David Ruffley, on 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 248W, did not contain an adequate explanation of shortcomings in the data provided. I apologise for this oversight.

The figures in the last two columns of the table provided are not comparable over the time series given.

Due to an operational decision at the time of transfer, between 1993 and 1995, many existing Invalidity Benefit cases had their start-dates reset at the time of transfer to the Incapacity Benefit system, resulting in an underestimate of long-term IB cases prior to May 2000.

The information is in the tables.
Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance claimants by duration of claim each May 1997–99

All DurationsUp to 3 months3 to 6 months6 months to 1 year1 to 2 yearsOver 2 years
May 19972,848,800173,000156,500227,600352,0001,939,700
May 19982,795,200154,500132,300223,300357,3001,927,800
May 19992,754,800149,600129,300198,300320,1001,957,600

Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance claimants by duration of claim each May since 2000

All DurationsUp to 3 months3 to 6 months6 months to 1 year1 to 2 years2 to 5 yearsOver 5 years
May 20002,737,800170,900136,800206,500308,800745,5001,169,300
May 20012,808,600170,500143,900214,700311,500704,0001,264,000
May 20022,822,200163,500132,600196,300313,000673,0001,343,800
May 20032,829,700158,700133,600195,800286,700662,6001,392,300
May 20042,825,000152,900130,900188,400286,100639,0001,427,600
May 20052,784,000138,200118,400180,600271,500614,9001,460,400

DWP Information Directorate, 5 per cent. Samples from 1997 to 1999 and Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data thereafter.
1. Figures for the years 1997 to 1999 have been produced using 5 per cent. data and have been rated up in accordance with the Great Britain WPLS 100 per cent. IB/SDA totals.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
3. "Claimant" figures include all Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disability Allowance claimants, including IB credits only cases.

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