Previous Section Index Home Page

21 Mar 2006 : Column 197W—continued


Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the value of the UK's (a) trade with and (b) investment in Madagascar was in the last year for which figures are available. [58911]

Ian Pearson: The information requested is as follows:

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what timetables have been agreed with each foreign customer for Sellafield reprocessing facilities for the return to countries of origin of the reprocessed uranium arising from treatment of spent nuclear fuel; and what role the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will play in organising the return of such material. [56896]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2006]: There is an active programme of exports in place to return reprocessed uranium to customers. This results in a number of shipments each year being dispatched from Sellafield.

Some customers choose to make use of the interim storage service that British Nuclear Group currently offer. Where this option is chosen the uranium is stored along with the UK uranium stockpile which has resulted from the reprocessing of UK fuel through Magnox and THORP. Revenue from these contracts off-sets the cost of storing the UK materials.

In all but a small number of early overseas reprocessing contracts the uranium arising from reprocessing is owned by the customer. The current NDA draft strategy is that all uranium owned by overseas customers will be returned within 10 years.

Operating and Financial Reviews

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of (a) the effect of the decision to abolish mandatory operating and financial reviews (OFRs) on investor confidence and (b) the extent to which OFRs encourage investment in the shares of UK companies. [60629]

Alun Michael: Following the repeal of the mandatory requirement for an operating and financial review, the Government invited views on narrative business reporting requirements for the future, with a closing date for responses of 24 March. This consultation provides an opportunity for all interested parties, including
21 Mar 2006 : Column 198W
companies and investors, to express their views on all options and relevant issues. The Government will announce its conclusions following the consultation in due course and bring forward amendments as appropriate in the Company Law Reform Bill currently before Parliament.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made with plans to dismantle the chimney-top filter of the Windscale I military reactor at Sellafield; and if he will make a statement. [59399]

Malcolm Wicks: We have been informed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that to date the following work has been completed with respect to thedismantling of the Pile 1 chimney at Sellafield (B6):

Work on the chimney demolition is scheduled to continue until September 2015, at which point the stack on Pile 1 will have been taken down to the same level as the Pile 2 chimney, which is 5 metres above the main Pile cap. The dismantling of the upper filter sections of the chimney will be complete by 2012.

Small Firms

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what definition the Department uses of a small firm. [59275]

Alun Michael: The DTI uses definitions based on the European Commission Recommendation 6 May 2003 and the Companies Act 1985.

The European Commission definition is based on headcount, turnover, balance sheet and independence criteria. A small firm is defined as having:

Use of the European Commission definition is voluntary and the UK has not implemented the EU definition for its own activities on a blanket basis. Further information on the European Commission definition can be found here:

The Companies Act 1985 only defines small firms for the purpose of certain exemptions from accounting and auditing requirements and is not applied universally. The definitions in the Companies Act 1985 are themselves set to the maximum allowed under European
21 Mar 2006 : Column 199W
law. Amendments to the Companies Act 1985 came into force on 30 January 2004 and state that a company is 'small' if it satisfies at least two of the following criteria:

Further information on the Companies Act 1985 definition can be found here:

In addition, there may be other occasions where an alternative definition of a small firm may be appropriate. For example, the DTI's Small Firms Loan Guarantee" is open to young firms with a turnover up to £5.6 million to concentrate on those most likely to experience difficulties raising debt finance and to simplify eligibility criteria.

The DTI definition of a small firm for official statistics publications, such as the SME Statistics for the UK, is a business having between 0 and 49 employees. DTI figures on the number of businesses by size are available at

Trade (Israel and Palestine)

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to increase trade between the UK and (a) Israel and (b) the Palestinian territories. [57991]

Ian Pearson: UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) provides a broad range of support services to British companies wishing to trade with or invest in Israel and the Palestinian territories, through commercial teams based in the UK and in both the British Embassy in Tel Aviv and the British Consulate General in Jerusalem.

UKTI support in Israel focuses, in particular, on business opportunities in high technology sectors, including Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology, the Environmental Industries and Financial and Legal Services. Recent Initiatives in the Palestinian territories have focused on the Education and Training sector, Infrastructure and Aid-funded business. UKTI funded a scoping mission to the West Bank and Gaza by the British Consultants and Construction Bureau in July 2005 and Palestinian participation in Education and Construction trade fairs in September and November 2005.

UKTI services to all markets are available through the UKTI Portal:

Trade Balance

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry with which countries the UK experienced a trade balance deterioration over the last three years. [58642]

Ian Pearson: The most up-to-date trade statistics available are in The Pink Book 2005, published by the Office for National Statistics. According to this, the countries with which the UK experienced a trade
21 Mar 2006 : Column 200W
balance deterioration (for goods and services) in each of the two most recent years (2003 and 2004) are:

The countries with which the UK experienced a trade balance improvement (for goods and services) in each of the two most recent years (2003 and 2004) are:

It should be noted that the list of countries in The Pink Book in not exhaustive.

Data for 2005 will be available in The Pink Book 2006, due summer 2006.

Next Section Index Home Page