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2 May 2006 : Column 1362W—continued

Television Licences

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale) of 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 221W, on television licences, when her Department will publish the expert analysis it has commissioned from PKF; and if she will make a statement. [64598]

James Purnell: The independent report by PKF Review of the BBC value for money and efficiency programmes" was published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on 26 April 2006.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the television licence fee crude evasion rates were for (a) England, Scotland and Wales and (b) Northern Ireland at the end of February (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. [67543]

James Purnell: The Department for Culture, Media and Support does not collect so-called crude evasion estimates. I have therefore asked the BBC's head of revenue management to consider the questions raised by the hon. Member and to write to him direct. Copies of the reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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Alternative Energy

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to promote the use of alternative, permanent sources of energy; and if he will make a statement. [65481]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government main mechanism to support renewable generation is the renewables obligation (RO). The RO is simply a way of making all electricity suppliers obtain an increasing amount of their electricity from renewable sources of electricity.

In addition to the RO, renewables are also supported by around £500 million of investment between 2002–08 to help develop renewables and other low carbon technologies. This will take the form of spending on RD&D and funding for capital grants and includes: grants of £117 million for offshore wind; over £60 million for energy crops and biomass; £31 million for solar PV and £12.5 million for community/domestic schemes; £50 million for the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund—£42 million of which has been earmarked to kick-start construction of large-scale demonstration farms that will for the first time see wave and tidal power feeding into the national grid.

British Airports Authority

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made in relation to competition policy of the tax treatment of goodwill in Spain; what assessment he has made of the implications of the tax treatment for (a) British companies, (b) (i) EU and (ii) domestic policy on mergers and acquisitions and (c) the recent bid by Spanish consortium group Ferrarial for the British Airports Authority. [66360]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 27 April 2006]: We have noted that the Commission found this scheme to be an illegal state aid. We naturally give very careful consideration to the state aid implications when formulating UK tax measures.

Mergers are a matter for the appropriate competition authority.

Cold Calling

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department has taken to tackle cold-calling from countries outside the European Union in the past five years. [66120]

Alun Michael: The Department introduced the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) scheme in 1999, under the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations, which were updated by Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations in 2003. The TPS scheme provides protection to consumers from cold calling if they have previously notified the caller that they do not wish to receive such calls or have been registered with the TPS for at least 28 days. Those making cold calls from within the UK or on behalf of UK companies from outside the European Union are legally required not to call a number that has registered on the TPS list. However,
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cold calls from non-UK companies marketing a service or product are not covered by the TSP scheme, as the companies and products have no link with the UK. The Information Commissioner has responsibility for the enforcement of the TPS scheme and considers complaints about breaches.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) powers and (b) duties the Commission for Equality and Human Rights will have to deal with tackling (i) basic community relations, (ii) extremism, (iii) terrorism and (iv) race relations at a local level. [65979]

Meg Munn: The Government are committed to ensuring that the new commission is able to serve all the communities it will work with. A focus on basic community relations will be at the heart of the commissions work and a key priority for Government.

New powers will be introduced to allow the commission greater flexibility in the enforcement of public duties.

The Equality Act (S.10) confers a duty on the CEHR to encourage good practice and promote understanding of the importance of good relations between members of different groups and between members of groups and others. The CEHR will have a responsibility to work towards the elimination of prejudice against, hatred of and hostility towards members of groups, enabling all individuals to participate in society. While there are six 'equality strands': race, faith, sexual orientation, gender, disability and age, the Act allows for the number of 'groups' to be extended.

To carry this out the CEHR (S.19 of the Act) will have new powers to monitor, as well as to make, co-operate with or assist in any arrangements designed to reduce hate crimes. We would expect the Commission to undertake activities to involve members of community groups.

Extremism while not directly within the remit of the CEHR may be a by-product of poor relations between communities and associated with hate crime. Consequently work to strengthen the bonds between different groups will contribute to our efforts in combating it.

Terrorism is outside of the CEHR's scope.

The CEHR will have particular regard to the importance of its work with different groups. This reflects the historical origins of the good relations" duty, which the Commission for Racial Equality is required to promote. The CEHR is uniquely placed to build bridges between different communities—this work will build on the CRE's local race equality work, undertaken through the network of race equality councils and others.

Company Registration

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many registered companies have issued stock. [66738]

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Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 27 April 2006]: Section 121(c) of the Companies Act 1985 permits a company to convert any or all of its paid up shares into stock, and reconvert that stock into paid-up shares of any denomination. There are no available figures on the number of existing registered companies that have used this procedure. However, the ability to convert shares into stock is believed to be obsolete.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of medium-sized companies registered in the UK are (a) public companies and (b) public listed companies. [66739]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 27 April 2006]: The information requested is not available. The only authoritative source we would have for information of this sort is through the number of filings of accounts made by medium-sized companies with the Registrar of Companies. A medium-sized company is defined for the purposes of special accounting provisions of the Companies Act 1985 as a company that satisfies at least two of three requirements: turnover of not more than £22.8 million, balance sheet total of not more than £11.4 million, and number of employees totalling not more than 250. Such companies can take advantage of certain accounting and reporting exemptions in the accounts and reports they prepare for members and file with the Registrar of Companies. However, public (including public listed) companies are excluded from these special provisions, and, so, cannot qualify to file as medium-sized. Since no public companies can file medium-sized accounts with the Registrar, it is not possible to estimate the proportion of medium-sized companies that are public companies.

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