|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Margaret Hodge: The UK played an active role in negotiations on the Cape Town Convention and Aircraft Protocol at the 2001 Diplomatic conference and is committed to its ratification, though there are no immediate plans to do so.
It should be noted that this convention is one of a number of so-called mixed competence treaties where conclusion at EU level has been blocked by Spain due to disagreement between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why the web-based search facility of Companies House is not available 24 hours a day; and if his Department will take steps to extend the service hours. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 25 July 2006]: The mainframe that currently supports Companies House register, in common with most systems of the same age, cannot support 24-hour working. A certain number of batch processes have to be run to update the data on the register and the time between midnight and 7 am is required to enable this to be carried out.
Later this year the mainframe will be replaced with a modern distributed processing system. This will remove the requirement for batch processing which should, in principle, allow the opening hours to be extended during the week. Decisions on extending the opening hours have however not yet been taken. Like any investment decision, the costs (including the costs of providing customer support for a 24-hour service) have to be weighed up against the benefits. Specifically, the level of customer demand would need to be considered. Companies House use a variety of methods to track the views of their customers, including surveys, focus groups and market research. These have suggested so far that there is relatively little demand from their customers to use their services in the early hours of the morning during the week. In contrast, they have received feedback from customers who have asked for their services to be available for at least some of the time on Sunday. At present this is not possible because of the significant amounts of time used on Sundays to install and test improvements to products and services. Companies House are presently considering a range of options which could be introduced when the mainframe is replaced.
Work on the implementation of section 198A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act has been continuing to address the issue of potential burdens that may be placed on local authorities. This is a cross-departmental issue involving local authorities, through the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), previously the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), and the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). The Patent Office has been continually working with these bodies to try to resolve this issue and ensure that resources are directed to the appropriate areas.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Work on the implementation of section 107A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act has been continuing to address the issue of potential burdens that may be placed on local authorities. This is a cross-departmental issue involving local authorities, through the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), previously the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), and the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). The Patent Office has been continually working with these bodies to try to resolve this issue and ensure that resources are directed to the appropriate areas.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made on the EU Services Directive; and what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the proposals for such a directive on (a) health care services and (b) those who work in health care; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: Political agreement on the Services Directive was achieved at the Competitiveness Council on 29 May this year. The European Parliament is due to hold its Second Reading vote on the 15 November. It is therefore possible that the directive could be adopted before the end of the year. The current text strikes a good balance between providing real opportunities for UK service providers to test new European markets, while upholding standards and protecting consumers.
The directive excludes health care services, whether or not they are provided via health care facilities, and regardless of the ways in which they are organised and financed at national level, or whether they are public or private. Health care services covered by this exclusion will not be affected by the Services Directive.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to improve the system for compensating companies and individuals for losses arising from intellectual property theft. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Intellectual property rights are private rights, and there is no role for Government to provide compensation. The Government have recognised the growing threat of intellectual property crime and launched a National IP Crime Strategy which brings together business, Government and enforcement agencies. As a result, companies will be much better informed about police and prosecution progress and therefore will be in a better position to decide on appropriate action.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effects of the Large Combustion Plant Directive on (a) the use of biomass in energy generation and (b) the consequences for the wood panel industry. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 25 July 2006]: The Department does not consider that the Large Combustion Plant Directive is a significant factor affecting the use of biomass for energy generation, or the operation of the wood panel industry. That industry has, however expressed concern about co-firing.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures he is taking to improve the UK's position in comparative tables of productivity compared with other European countries and the USA. 
Mr. McCartney: The DTI has a joint public service agreement (PSA) target with HM Treasury that commits the Department to raising the rate of UK productivity growth over the economic cycle, improving competitiveness and narrowing the gap with the UK's major industrial competitors.
Maintaining macroeconomic stability to allow firms and individuals the certainty they need to invest for the future; and
Implementing microeconomic reforms to remove the barriers that prevent markets from functioning efficiently.
The framework identifies five key drivers of productivityenterprise, competition, innovation, investment and skillsand there is a wide spectrum of policies that work through and across these. For example, there are measures to promote enterprise such as reducing financing constraints for small businesses as well as supporting a strong competition framework through, for example, increasing the powers of the Office of Fair Trading to promote consumer interests.
For more detail of the policies and of the UK's progress, please refer to the joint DTI/HMT paper Productivity in the UK 6: Progress and new evidence, which was published alongside Budget 2006 and the UK Productivity and Competitiveness Indicators 2006 (DTI Economic Paper No. 17, March 2006); copies of which are held in the Library of the House.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the merits of developing a subsea electricity transmission network around Scotlands coast to exploit the potential for marine renewables. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 25 July 2006]: The DTI commissioned PB Power to consider the case for a West Coast offshore interconnector in a report which was published in 2002. That report found that the cost of a meshed HVDC link off the West Coast of Scotland also connecting marine renewables was likely to be high in relation to point-to-point connections and overhead lines onshore. Those conclusions led the DTI to decide that it was not an option that should be considered further through more studies.
The DTI also commissioned Econnect to produce a report looking at the most economic cable connections for the round 2 offshore wind farm projects planned around the coast of England and Wales to inform the joint DTI/Ofgem consultation document looking at the high level regulatory options for offshore transmissionRegulation of Offshore Electricity.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the implications for the investment management industry of the recently published European Corporate Governance Forum recommendation on the proposed Shareholder Rights Directive. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government take the view that the inclusion of regulations in the Shareholder Rights Directive which deal with the passing of instructions between intermediaries in the voting chain must be consistent with better regulation principles. It must take account of the circumstances of intermediaries at different levels in the chain and make clear to which member states law each intermediary or relationship is subject. It should also not duplicate obligations which already exist in contracts between intermediaries and their clients, or other intermediaries. Finally it should allow investors a choice between contracts with and without voting rights.
A DTI public consultation on the Shareholder Rights Directive, which will include a regulatory impact assessment, will be issued later this month. It will consult on this issue as it affects all those involved in shareholder voting.
Gillian Merron: The Departments appraisal framework, and its value for money guidance, ensure that changes in greenhouse gases are taken into account in a consistent way when reaching a view on the value for money of proposals. Details of the New Approach to Appraisal (NATA) guidance and the value for money guidance can be found on the internet at the following addresses:
Gillian Merron: The Department was formed in 2002. Information on carbon emissions for our buildings since that date can be found on the website of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and on the website of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).
Gillian Merron: The Central Department for Transport (DfT(C)), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA), Vehicle Certification Agency (VGA), Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and Highways Agency (HA) operate a salary sacrifice scheme which enables staff to purchase child care vouchers to pay a child care provider.
DfT(C) and HA provide a 50 per cent. subsidy for staff whose children attend a local government registered holiday play scheme. The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have an on-site nursery, and play scheme, and the MCGA provide a 10 per cent. discount for child care services at Teddies nurseries.
The Department offers assistance by allowing employees with children under five to take career breaks and offering staff part-time working. A flexible working time scheme is available to staff. These options
are to help employees to make informed child care decisions on what should be suitable conditions and schemes for their child care.
The Central Department for Transport, and its agencies, with the exception of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Government Car Despatch Agency (GCDA) offer child care vouchers by way of salary sacrifice.
DVLA have their own on-site nursery for which they operate a waiting list. There are currently 13 children on their waiting list, however some of the children on their waiting list are not expecting to take up their place until a future date, often related to the mothers expected date of return to work after childbirth. This situation is usually resolved in September each year as older children leave to start school.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1299W, on ministerial journeys, how many of the journeys were made by (a) train, (b) bus and (c) aeroplane; and what the total distance travelled was in each year on public transport. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|