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Margaret Hodge [holding answer 9 October 2006]: There have been no such prosecutions under the Communications Act 2003 and I do not expect any in the foreseeable future. This does not mean that spammers are evading the law. The vast majority of spammers work outside UK jurisdiction and problems within the UK are addressed by the Information Commissioner using powers granted under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. These Regulations set out the consent rules for receiving unsolicited commercial emails. The Information Commissioner's investigations into breaches of the Regulations have resulted in
enforcement actions that have been effective and have not needed to be progressed to a prosecution. Our approach to the problem of spam does not rely on regulation and enforcement alone. We pursue a more comprehensive approach that involves consumer education, technical solutions and effective enforcement through national action and collaboration with other enforcement authorities. My Department has been one of the principal drivers of the OECD's London Action Plan that exemplifies this multi-faceted approach.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department uses Royal Mail and Parcelforce for a large proportion of its outgoing external mail and only a very small percentage0.4 per cent.of our mail is sent via private companies. This is primarily made up of international courier shipments and the cost over the last 12 months was £69,700.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what items were reported within his Department as being lost or stolen in each month since July 2005, broken down by building; and what the approximate value was of each item. 
|Item||Number Reported Missing||Approximate Value (£)|
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many disabled people were hired by his Department in each of the last five years for which figures are available; what percentage of the
overall workforce these figures represented in each year; and how many disabled people left their employment in his Department over the same period. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Data on the disabled status of civil servants entrants and leavers are available for 2003, 2004 and 2005. Data are published on the Cabinet Office website at: http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/index.asp.
Departmental records of disabled staff are based solely on voluntary self-declaration of disability. Staff may choose to declare a disability at any point in their career, not only at the point of entry to the Department.
A minimum wage of £5.35 an hour from October 2006;
A minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds, up to £3.30 from October 2006;
A free choice to work longer, but a right not to work more than 48 hours on average a week;
Four weeks' paid leave;
Access to a discipline and grievance procedure;
A reduction in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from two years to one;
Protection for workers raising concerns about wrongdoing at work (through the Public Interest Disclosure Act);
Comprehensive reform of the Regulations governing employment agencies and businesses;
Increased maternity leave;
Paternity leave, adoption leave, parental leave and time-off for domestic emergencies;
A right to request flexible working with an obligation on employers to treat the request seriously.
A right to no discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age;
Equal treatment for part-time and fixed-term employees compared with their full-time or permanent colleagues;
A right for employees to be informed and consulted by their employer;
Revised and updated TUPE regulations.
A right to trade union recognition for collective bargaining in specified circumstances;
A right for a union official to accompany a worker to a disciplinary or grievance hearing;
Enhanced protections against unfair dismissal for employees taking part in lawfully organised industrial action, including the 12 week period of automatic protection against dismissal;
Improved rights to belong to trade unions, including rights to use the services of the union.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the cost to British consumers and industry of lost opportunities in those EU countries which have not liberalised their energy markets. 
Malcolm Wicks: We have made no estimate of such costs to the UK. However we believe the gains to be had from a properly functioning EU energy market in terms of reliable, affordable and sustainable energy are significant. For example we estimate that a properly functioning competitive EU gas market could have saved UK consumers in the order of £5 billion in the calendar year 2005.
The Government fully support the moves the Commission is taking to develop competition in the sector and look forward to its proposals for further action when it publishes its Strategic Energy Review and the conclusions from the sectoral inquiry in January.
Margaret Hodge: We understand that Enterprise Insight does not pay any of its celebrity ambassadors for their support of and participation in the Make Your Mark campaign. Occasionally, small gifts have been given to a celebrity ambassador to thank them for giving their services for free.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance his Department has given to (a) fire authorities and (b) fire brigades on the working time directive and retained fire fighters. 
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure that those who care for people with a fluctuating condition will be able to exercise their right to request flexible working. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 20 October 2006]: Under the Work and Families Act 2006, we are extending the right to request flexible working to carers of adults, with effect from 6 April 2007. Carers will include qualifying employees who care for people with a fluctuating condition. We will be working with stakeholders to raise awareness of the extended right.
We will be laying amended flexible working regulations by the end of this year and, in the accompanying guidance, we will address issues which are likely to be of particular interest to employees caring for people with a fluctuating condition, including the use of trial periods and reviews.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the price differential between diesel fuel and unleaded petrol in (a) the UK and (b) other European countries; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 October 2006]: In recent months, I am aware of four letters to the DTI on the subject of the price differential between diesel and unleaded petrol fuels: three relating to price variation across the UK and one relating to comparisons between the UK and other EU countries.
Petrol and diesel are commodity products whose retail price variation is primarily a result of free market forces, and fuel taxation. In the UK, retail sales of unleaded petrol and diesel are both subject to the same levels of duty and taxation. Fuel taxation in other European countries is a matter for individual states.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people are employed in the furniture sector in the UK; and how many were employed in the sector in (a) 1980, (b) 1990 and (c) 2000. 
Margaret Hodge: Employment in the furniture manufacturing industry (standard industrial classification SIC 31.6) in the UK in (a) 1986, (b) 1990, (c) 2000 and (d) 2004 (the latest available figures for the UK) are as follows:
ONS, Annual Census of Production and Annual Business Inquiry.
Information on employment in the furniture manufacturing industry prior to 1986 is not available on a basis consistent with the figures presented in the table, due to changes in the standard industrial classification structure.
Margaret Hodge: The DTI has been carrying out a review of its Business Relations functions. This has included looking at whether we are concentrating our resources on the right sectors and issues, taking into account the value that our business relations activities can add. I am currently considering the review recommendations with ministerial colleagues.
My hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House formerly the Minister for Small Business, spoke at a reception for the Furniture Industry Strategy Group on 25 January 2005, at the Furniture Show, NEC Birmingham.
DTI officials have continued to maintain a regular dialogue previously with the Furniture Industry Strategy Group (FISG), with the newly formed British Furniture Confederation and with UK First, the Furniture Industry Forum.
Margaret Hodge: According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, the gross value added by the furniture manufacturing industry (defined as Group 36.1 of the Standard Industrial Classification) was £3.5 billion in 2004, the latest year for which data are available.
Margaret Hodge: In September 2003 the DTI began providing support to UK First, the Furniture Industry Forum, with £1.75 million provided over 4Â1/2 years to support the UK furniture sector, and provided a forum for sharing best practice and developing a long term strategy for success. Savings to date for companies in the sector have reached over £3.1 million.
We also encouraged the establishment of the Furniture Industry Strategy Group in 2003 to help the sector address key areas affecting productivity and competitiveness. The Strategy Group has helped establish the British Furniture Confederation, which is working to promote the interests of the sector.
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