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3 July 2006 : Column 852W—continued


In Carlisle local authority the stock of VAT- registered businesses has increased every year from 2,000 onwards, as registrations have exceeded deregistrations throughout this period.

VAT registration and deregistration data do not capture all business activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if their turnover falls below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Similarly, businesses that deregister will not necessarily have closed. Only 1.8 million out of 4.3 million businesses (42 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2004.

According to Barclays Bank's latest survey of business creation, which includes non-VAT registered businesses, Carlisle local authority had 400 business start-ups in 2005. Barclays business closure data are not available for local authorities. Barclays business start-up data are not available for local authorities before 2005.

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many small businesses that began trading since 1997 have subsequently ceased trading in (a) England and (b) Beverley and Holderness; and if he will make a statement. [80452]

Margaret Hodge: Value-added tax (VAT) registrations and deregistrations are the best official guide to the pattern of business starts and closures. Latest VAT data on the total number of registrations since 1997 and the number of these registrations that subsequently de-registered, covering the period up to 2004, are shown in the table for (a) England and (b) Beverley and Holderness constituency.

VAT registration and deregistration data do not capture all business activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if their turnover falls below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Similarly, businesses that deregister may not have closed. Only 1.8 million out of the 4.3 million businesses in the UK (42 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2004.


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VAT registrations and subsequent deregistrations, 1997 to 20041
Registrations/deregistrations

England

New registrations 1997 to 2004

1,261,665

Number deregistering by end of 2004

429,510

Percentage still registered, end of 2004

66

Beverley and Holderness constituency

New registrations 1997 to 2004

1,910

Number deregistering by end of 2004

520

Percentage still registered, end of 2004

73

(1) VAT registration and de-registration data are not available by size of business. However, 98 per cent. of the total stock of VAT registered businesses are small (0-49 employees). Source: Office for National Statistics, UK Business: Activity, Size and Location—2005, available from http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp? vInk=933 Source: New analysis of VAT Survival Rates data 1994-2003, Small Business Service, available at http://www.sbs.gov.uk/survival: SBS analysis of ONS Inter Departmental Business Register data.

Business closures are part of the functioning of a dynamic economy and represent an increased willingness among the business population to take risks or the displacement of less productive and innovative firms by more productive ones. Research indicates that improvements in productivity and economic growth are more likely to come from higher levels of both business entry and business exit.

Regional disparities in start-up and closure rates can have their root in the different economic history and different opportunities available in each region. The Government’s aim is for every region to achieve success and good economic growth, which is why increasing resources have been put at the disposal of each Regional Development Agency.

Car Companies (Government Support)

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) funding, (b) tax incentives and (c) other financial support the Government have provided to (i) Peugeot, (ii) LTI vehicles, (iii) British-owned automotive producers and (iv) overseas automotive producers over the last 10 years. [79759]

Margaret Hodge: The main source of Government finance provided to the automotive industry in recent years has been regional selective assistance (RSA), which in England was supplanted by Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE) in 2004. Since 2000, around £150 million has been paid in grants to a wide range of vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers, nearly £100 million of which was paid to vehicle makers. Grants are only available to companies in assisted areas, but the scheme does not discriminate as to nationality of the parent company.

In 1998, Peugeot was offered a £2 million RSA grant towards the cost of investment to add a third shift at a time of strong demand for its 206 model. This project created 900 jobs, and the grant has been paid in full. In November 2004, the company was offered a £14.4 million grant in support of 207 manufacture, but the project did not proceed.

LTI has not been in receipt of RSA or SFI finance.

The Government also offer various forms of technology grant from which companies in the automotive sector have benefited. At various times, both Peugeot Citroen and LTI have participated in consortia which have received grants, but accurate
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figures on individual shares of consortium funding are not available to DTI. That said, supported projects have included the Efficient-C project (involving PSA Peugeot Citroen, QinetiQ and Ricardo) and the LTI ‘e-Mercury’ electric vehicle. The latter was subsequently spun out as a stand-alone project. The independent company Modec now runs this project, and production commences in Coventry later this year.

The principal source of specific automotive industry-related funding is the Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (AIGT) suite of initiatives, including Supply Chain Groups, Automotive Academy and Centres of Excellence, against which a total commitment of £45 million has been made. Again, these do not discriminate as to nationality of ownership, although direct funding is available only to UK-based companies and organisations.

Tax incentives such as

are available to all companies in the UK irrespective of their ownership or the specific industrial sector in which they operate. The amounts by which individual companies have benefited from such measures are not a matter of public record and no breakdown would be available distinguishing between companies on the basis of their ownership.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date the grant to Peugeot for investment in its plant at Ryton in Coventry was offered; and what terms and conditions were attached to that grant. [80849]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 28 June 2006]: In November 2004, a grant of £14.4 million was offered to Peugeot for manufacture of the 207 at Ryton, but the project did not proceed.

The terms and conditions of the grant are confidential between the Government and Peugeot.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) dates and (b) amounts were of each (i) grant and (ii) loan offered to Peugeot by the Government in each of the last 10 years; and what terms and conditions were attached. [80850]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 28 June 2006]: In 1998, Peugeot was offered a regional selective assistance grant of £2 million towards the cost of investment to add a third shift at a time of strong demand for their 206 model. In November 2004, a further grant of £14.4 million was offered to Peugeot for manufacture of the 207 at Ryton, but the project did not proceed.

The terms and conditions of the grants are confidential between the Government and Peugeot.

No loans have been offered to the company.

Cast Medals Federation

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received from the Cast Metals Federation; and if he will make a statement. [81476]


3 July 2006 : Column 855W

Malcolm Wicks: The Cast Metals Federation is an active member of the Metals Forum, with which the Department has a regular dialogue on a number of issues affecting the UK metals industry. Indeed, I have a meeting with the Forum scheduled for 13 July.

Compensation Claims

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on how many occasions his Department has met a hearing loss claims including the full payment of medical examinations conducted by Melex Ltd. [81041]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 June 2006]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 24 April 2006, Official Report, column 827W.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to how many hearing loss claimants in Bassetlaw his Department has written since Easter to confirm payment of their claim to their solicitor; and on what date in each case. [81042]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 June 2006]: The Department wrote to 73 claimants on 22 May confirming that compensation had been paid to the claimant's solicitor but that a dispute existed over the level of the solicitor's costs.

Competition Commission

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many reports he has received from the Competition Commission in each year since its inception; how many gave rise to Government action; what the subject matter was of each; and if he will make a statement. [80409]

Mr. McCartney: The Department has received the following reports from the Competition Commission in each of the years since its inception:

Merger or acquisition inquiry Market inquiry

1999

9

2

2000

12

3

2001

10

0

2002

10

1

2003

8

2

2004

0

0

2005

0

0

2006

0

0


I will write separately setting out the subject matter of each case and whether action was taken.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who is responsible for appointments to the Competition Commission; whether posts are advertised; how many persons applied for each post currently held; how many were shortlisted for interview; and if he will make a statement. [80410]

Mr. McCartney: Appointments to the Competition Commission are made by my right hon. Friend the
3 July 2006 : Column 856W
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. In the case of the chair, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister must be consulted.

Posts are advertised. The only occasion when this has not been done was the recent appointment of the current chair. Following the sudden death of the previous chair, the senior deputy chair was appointed to the post of chair without a competition. This was done with the agreement of OCPA.

With respect to the other posts, the figures are as follows:

The figures for the panel members relate to the last recruitment round in 2004-05.

Departmental Premises (Security)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are in place to ensure that no illegal immigrants are employed in the manned guarding of his Department’s premises. [80802]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department currently out-sources its staffed guarding services.

The Department’s security contractor carries out pre-employment identity and residency checks in compliance to the standards set by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). All security personnel employed on the Department’s premises are also subject to security vetting before commencing work.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether his Department has (a) directly and (b) indirectly employed illegal immigrants as security guards. [80811]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department of Trade and Industry has not employed, either directly or indirectly any illegal immigrants as security guards.

The Department’s security contractor carries out pre-employment identity and residency checks in compliance with the standards set by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). All security personnel employed on the Department’s premises are also subject to security vetting before commencing work.

Electricity Prices

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received about the impact of recent changes in electricity prices on manufacturing industry; and if he will make a statement. [81475]

Malcolm Wicks: I have received a number of letters and have held several meetings with manufacturing sectors regarding the impact of recent changes in electricity prices.

The Government fully appreciate that high electricity prices have an impact on the competitiveness of industry, and, of course, take very seriously the potential loss of jobs and investment.

I have also had discussions with the Energy Intensive Users Group and others to help us focus our efforts on maximising gas and electricity supplies, improve the
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operation of the market, encourage demand-side response and pursue fair access to markets across Europe.

Over the summer we are pursuing a detailed work plan with Ofgem, the national grid, industry and others to ensure that we are in the best possible position ahead of next winter. The new Business Energy Forum, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 16 May, will hold its inaugural meeting on 5 July to discuss security of supply from a strategic viewpoint and enable us to maintain the high level of dialogue and input from these and other sectors.


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