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Margaret Hodge: VAT registration and de-registration data provide the best official guide to the pattern of business start-ups and closures. The following table shows the number of VAT registrations in Wantage constituency in each year since 1997. The number of VAT de-registrations, the start of year stock of VAT registered businesses and the net change in stock (registrations less de-registrations) for each year are also shown.
VAT registrations do not capture all start-up activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if their turnover falls below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Only 1.8 million out of 4.3 million enterprises (42 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2005. Similarly, not all businesses that de-register will necessarily have closed.
|VAT registrations, de-registrations, start of year stock and net change, Wantage constituency, 1997-2005( 1)|
|VAT registrations||VAT de-registrations||VAT Stock at start of year||Net change|
|(1) Stock may not exactly match previous years stock plus registrations minus de-registrations due to rounding.|
The VAT registrations data are also available from the Libraries of the House.
Small Business Service, available from www.sbs.gov.uk/vat.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential effects of the state of the lining of the nuclear reactors on generating output; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why his Department does not have a ministerial representative on the ministerial group which oversees the Office for Disability Issues. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 14 December 2006]: I keep closely in touch with developments in respect of the Life Chances of Disabled People and will represent DTI when necessary at meetings of the ministerial group that oversees the Office for Disability Issues.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Information on cars operated by the Government Car and Despatch Agency is available on page 14 of its Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House for the reference of Members.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will answer the questiontabled by the hon. Member for Forest of Dean on21 November 2006, reference 102594, on social research. 
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which facilities in the United Kingdom (a) have been used in the past and (b) are used to produce polonium-210; and what quantities of polonium-210 were produced in UK facilities in each of the last five years. 
Malcolm Wicks: Separated polonium-210 is usually produced by extraction from the irradiation of dedicated bismuth targets. No operating civil reactors in the UK are currently used for this purpose and the environment agencies (EA and SEPA), who regulate the accumulation and disposal of radioactive substances, are not aware of any premises that manufacture polonium-210 in the UK. Information provided by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and others indicates that no polonium-210 has been produced in civil reactors for at least the last five years. Abstracting the historical data for a greater period would incur excessive costs.
Margaret Hodge: Information on the number of jobs created in 2005-06 as a result of regional development agency activity is available in the Libraries of the House. I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 93-94WS.
The implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive will improve consumer protection against rogue traders. The regulations implementing the Directive will provide equivalent or better protections than existing laws aimed at tackling rogue traders. The regulations will create a general duty on traders not to treat consumers unfairly, as well as prohibiting misleading actions and omissions and aggressive practices. It also outlaws 31 specific practices
that rogues might carry out, including bogus closing down sales, persistent telesales calls and bogus prize draws.
Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance he has issued on the effect of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive on the powers conferred on officers by the (a) Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and (b) Consumer Protection Act 1987. 
Mr. McCartney: We have worked extensively with stakeholders including trading standards officers in developing our proposals to implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive which I published on 11 December.
This set out my intention to repeal domestic legislation which overlaps with the Directive including the Trade Descriptions Act and Part III of the Consumer Protection Act. This is possible because the regulations implementing the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive will provide equivalent or better protections than these laws. The sanctions and investigative powers in these pieces of legislation will be transferred to the new regulations so that there will be no diminution in trading standards ability to tackle rouge traders.
Malcolm Wicks: The Department for Trade and Industry and the Small Business Service provides generic information to small businesses across all sectors, including Energy, through the Business Link network.
We strongly encourage people to approach their local Business Link to find out what information and support is available in their region. Business Link provides information, advice and support to all businesses seeking to start or grow their business. Business Link will be able to signpost users to initiatives that are available from other Government Departments, Regional Development Agencies, local authorities, and other organisations.
On energy, these initiatives include the Energywatch/Federation of Small Businesses 'Make the Connection' campaign to spread best practice in energy purchasing. Ofgem also run a small and medium user group and a non-domestic review group to provide practical advice and information for small businesses.
Ofgem looked at international experience of installing and using smarter metering as part of its review of domestic metering innovation
earlier this year. That review concluded that international examples had limited relevance to the UK metering market.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was of Government social research in his Department in each of the last five years; how many projects were completed in that period; and how many people are employed in such research. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Government social researchers in DTI are co-located in four specialist units with other analysts (economists and statisticians). The Department's management information system does not provide a facility that would allow it to separate out the cost of Government social research or to provide the number of Government social research projects completed in each of the last five years. There are currently 21 Government social research projects employed in DTI including six in the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many of his Department's civil servants work full-time to support departmental special advisers; and what the salary is of each such civil servant. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Special advisers in DTI are supported by two members of staff. These staff are employed to provide support of a non-political nature in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.
Malcolm Wicks: As part of the Energy Review, the Department reviewed a number of studies on the future quantity and quality of uranium supplies. Based on recent reports by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the Sustainable Development Commission indicating that sufficient high-grade uranium resources exist beyond 2050, the Department considers that uranium resources are sufficient to meet future world energy demands at current and increased levels.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) official and (b) charity receptions he has held at No. 11 Downing street in the last five years; and what the (i) date and (ii) cost was of each. 
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the amount of programme contingency to be included in the revised 2012 Olympic budget; and which Department will have responsibility for setting the level of programme contingency; 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 830W. Discussions are ongoing with DCMS and the ODA on all aspects of Olympic costs and funding.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on responsibility for cost overruns relating to the 2012 Olympics; and which Department holds overall responsibility for any such overruns. 
John Healey: Discussions are ongoing with DCMS and the ODA on Olympic costs and funding. The2003 Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Mayor of London provides for cost overruns to be met in a sharing arrangement to be agreed as appropriate between them.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the numbers of employees who were employed on (a) short-term contracts, (b) fixed-term appointments and (c) on an agency supply basis in each region in (i) 2003, (ii) 2004 and (iii) 2005, broken down by (A) full-time and (B) part-time workers. 
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the numbers of employees who are employed on (a) short-term contracts, (b) fixed-term appointments and (c) on an agency supply basis in each region for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 broken down by full-time and part-time workers. I am replying in her absence. (108667)
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