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John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from (a) African, Caribbean and Pacific Governments, (b) UK companies, (c) other companies, (d) corporate umbrella groups and trade associations and (e) other EU Governments with regard to economic partnership agreements. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Minister for Trade and Investment and Foreign Affairs has had numerous representations from ACP and other EU Governments, and I will be meeting with ACP Ministers and their negotiators at the Commonwealth Secretariat on 2 November and look forward to further discussion on that occasion. The Department has received some representations from UK businesses and umbrella organisations who want EU tariffs to be lowered further to ensure they are able to use competitively priced imports. However, no business representation has been received seeking access to ACP markets.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to bring forward each of the economic partnership agreements between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific nations for ratification by Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Negotiations between the European Commission and ACP regions on economic partnership agreements are due to be completed by the end of 2007. As the question of ratification will depend on the content of the agreement, we will not be able to give a clearer answer until closer to that point.
Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employment tribunals involving a pre-hearing on the employment status of the appellant took place in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and how many of the pre-hearings were (i) appealed and (ii) overturned on appeal. 
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding is provided to the UK Energy Research Centre by his Department; what the aims of the body are; and how many staff are employed by it. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The research councils have allocated the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) funding of £13.876 million over the period 2004-09. The UKERC aims to: generate, synthesise and disseminate knowledge and insight on sustainable energy systems to enable cohesive research supporting UK energy policy goals; act as a source of authoritative information on energy research, development and demonstration competences in the UK; co-ordinate the national energy research network (a network for energy researchers); and underpin the quest for sustainable energy solutions through undertaking interdisciplinary programmes of research.
UKERCs funding covers six research programmes plus supporting functions. It is a collaboration between eight academic and research institutions. 59 researchers (33 full-time equivalents) plus seven administrative/support staff (5.7 FTE) are supported by the UKERC. All of these are directly employed by their parent academic or research institution. Eighteen studentships are also funded through UKERC.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has already announced that the Department's companies investigation branch is conducting an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the failure of Farepak
and our officials will seek to interview whomever they consider can assist them in their inquiries.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has already announced that the Departments companies investigation branch is conducting an enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the failure of Farepak and our officials will seek to interview whomever they consider can assist them in their inquiries.
Mr. McCartney: Administrators were appointed on 13 October over Farepak Food and Gifts Ltd. They have six months from the date of their appointment within which to report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the conduct of the directors of the company.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has already announced that the DTIs criminal investigation branch is conducting an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the future of Farepak.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has already announced that my departments companies investigation branch is conducting an enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the failure of Farepak and our officials will seek to interview whomever they consider can assist them in their inquiries.
Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the Farepak administrator on (a) asset recovery, (b) asset disposal and (c) the position of creditors. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: I have met the administrators to discuss their preliminary findings. The administrators have issued some information by way of press releases and by updating the Farepak website. They are required to report their appointment to the creditors (so far as they are aware of their addresses) within 28 days of their appointment, unless the court directs otherwise. They are also required within three months of the date of their appointment (or such other period as the court may allow) to put their proposals for achieving the purpose of the administration to the creditors for consideration.
Malcolm Wicks: Officials in DTI and DEFRA are in contact with their European Commission counterparts concerning the trade in cat and dog fur and we understand that a proposal is likely to be published by the European Commission shortly. The proposal from the European Commission is in response to calls from the UK and other member states for EU action.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer to question 96606, if he will apply the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 to imported furniture at the point of entry into the UK, with particular reference to sofas. 
Mr. McCartney: The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 apply to imported upholstered furniture destined for the domestic market, including sofas. These regulations apply at the point of entry to the UK and are enforced by Trading Standards. HM Revenue and Customs liaises with Trading Standards on furniture imports as appropriate.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions were held with (a) Ministers and (b) officials from other EU Governments at the October General Affairs and External Relations Committee in Luxembourg on economic partnership agreements; and if he will make a statement. 
No formal bilateral discussions were held in the margins of the General Affairs and External Relations Committee in Luxembourg,
although the UK, and other EU member states, raised issues surrounding economic partnership agreements during the General Affairs Council discussion.
(3) how many and what percentage of information technology projects undertaken by or for his Department since 2001 have been delivered (a) over budget, (b) after their original deadline, (c) on budget, (d) under budget, (e) on their original deadline and (f) ahead of their original deadline; 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Due to a change in the DTI HQ's accounting system and the devolved nature of the ICT until April 2006, consistent information of all the material requested cannot be obtained without disproportionate cost.
During this period the Department's IT services has been provided through a PFI agreement with Fujitsu Services covering desktop services, web infrastructure services, documents management and HR systems. The current annual running cost is in the region of £30 million.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much his Department has spent on information technology consultants in each year since 2001; and how many of those consultants worked on web-facing projects. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Due to a change in the DTI HQ's accounting system and the devolved nature of the ICT until April 2006, consistent information to answerthe question fully cannot be obtained without disproportionate cost.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many loan and credit companies are registered; and how many new registrations of such companies there were in each year since 1987. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Fair Trading is responsible for consumer credit licensing. OFT current figures show that there are currently 128,944 licence holders. The following table details the number of licences issued each year since 1987.
|Number of Licences Issued|
Since 31 October 2004, the Financial Services Authority has been responsible for regulating mortgage lending. FSA figures record that in 2004-05, the number of regulated mortgage businesses was 3,935 and in 2005-06, the number of such businesses was 3,589.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) legislation and (b) other regulations govern (a) on-line money lending companies and (b) companies taking credit for Christmas goods; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Companies offering credit to consumers, including by on-line methods, are subject to regulation under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and/or the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. There is no form of regulation with specific application to businesses which take advance payments for goods or vouchers to be delivered at a future date, though all normal consumer, contract and insolvency legislation will apply.
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