Meg Munn: Government are putting in place a coherent package of measures in response to employment issues faced by low-skilled women and identified by the Women and Work Commission. This includes building on trials of apprenticeships for mature learners, extending skills coaching and improving recruitment and progression pathways.
Meg Munn: Legal and financial status will be covered in DCA-funded research on the legal rights of cohabitants and their children. A Law Commission review is considering the impact of the current law on cohabitants and children when a relationship ends through separation or death, and the merits of greater legal protection.
Meg Munn: In 2002 we introduced the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act allowing positive measures towards womens increased participation. This legislation is having an impact and the numbers are rising particularly in the parties that made use of these measures. 27 per cent. of Labour MPs are now women. Overall, 20 per cent. of MPs are now women compared with 9 per cent. before 1997.
Mr. Straw: The information requested is as follows. Information prior to 2001-02 is not available. The 2005-06 Additional Costs Allowance figures are currently being compiled and will be published later this month.
|Percentage of MPs claiming maximum ACA||Percentage of MPs claiming £5 of maximum (including those claiming the maximum)|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Leader of the House what the annual savings would be from increasing the employee contribution rate of the hon. Members' pension scheme by one per cent.; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The net cost of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Scheme is met by the Exchequer after taking into account the contributions made by Members of Parliament and the funds investment income. An increase in the contribution rate by Members of 1 per cent. of their parliamentary salary would result in a net increase to the fund of approximately £383,000 per annum from this source, which would lead to a corresponding decrease in the Exchequer contribution.
12. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent steps he has taken to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of British exporting companies; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: International trade is an essential part of the UK's prosperity. Over a quarter of our GDP is exported. Foreign-owned businesses account for around 20 per cent. of UK jobs in production sectors, and 9 per cent. of service sector jobs (excluding financial services).
Through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the Government launched their new five-year strategy Prosperity in a Changing World on 20 July. This represents a step change in our support for British businesses trading internationally. Key themes of the strategy include developing a programme of support for companies trading internationally in emerging markets such as India and China; marketing the UK internationally as a place to do business in and with; actively supporting knowledge-intensive businesses and innovative sectors; implementing an international R&D strategy in partnership with academic and business communities; and introducing a single coherent strategy to promote the UK and the City of London as the worlds leading centre for financial and business services.
Malcolm Wicks: The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and his officials regularly receive representations with regard to noise from wind farms. These representations have been in the form of telephone calls, letters, emails or at meetings. They typically relate to planning applications being progressed by DTI or ETSU-97, The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind farms2.
15. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate his Department has made of the cost to businesses (a) on the Isle of Wight and (b) in England arising from the Companies Bill following changes made to the Bill in Committee. 
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what role the Office of Fair Trading has in challenging the practice of banks imposing excessive penalty charges when a customer exceeds overdraft limits or a direct debit or cheque are returned. 
Mr. McCartney: Under the Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contacts Regulations 1999, the Office of Fair Trading has a duty to consider any complaint it receives about unfair terms. Using its powers in this legislation, the Office of Fair Trading has carried out an investigation into the fairness of penalty charges for defaults in respect of credit cards and has stated that it believes that credit card default charges had been generally set at a significantly higher level than was considered fair and set a £12 threshold for OFT intervention unless there were exceptional business factors.
The OFT is of the view that the broad principles do read across to the retail banking area and has decided to undertake further work on the application of these principles to bank current accounts. This fact-finding exercise is expected to take between three to six months, at which stage the OFT will consider whether a further detailed investigation of the fairness of individual bank default charges is needed.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people work within the (a) aerospace and defence, (b) automotive, (c) biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health care, (d) broadcasting, (e) chemicals, (f) computer games, (g) construction, (h) digital content, (i) electronics and IT services, (j) environmental industries, (k) information security, (l) international ICT policy, (m) manufacturing, (n) marine, (o) materials and engineering, (p) postal services, (q) publishing, (r) retail, (s) telecommunications and (t) climate change project office sectors of his Department, broken down by grade. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 17 October 2006]: The requested figures are listed as follows as closely as is possible to the request. In certain cases, units are combined, as statistics are only available at this level.
|(a) (n) Aerospace, marine and defence|
|(d) Communication Networks|
|(f) (h) (k) (q) (s) Broadcasting and Content|
|(i) Electronic and IT services|
|(j) Environmental industries|
|(l) Europe and International ICT policy|
|(m) (o) Materials, engineering and manufacturing|
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