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20 Feb 2007 : Column 639W—continued

EC Law: Exceptions

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the UK is seeking an extension of the exceptions to EU Council Directive 80/181 beyond 2009 (a) in respect of (i) road traffic signs, (ii) distance and speed measurements, (iii) draught beer, cider and milk, (iv) land registration and (v) precious metals and (b) in respect of the printing of imperial measurements alongside metric measurements. [121221]

Mr. McCartney: The European Commission has recently published a consultation on proposed changes to the Units of Measurement Directive (80/181/EEC), and in particular on whether the use of non-metric units as supplementary indications alongside metric measurements should continue to be permitted after 31 December 2009. The Government believe that the continued use of supplementary indications is
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necessary to allow for the dual labelling of products placed on both metric and non-metric markets. They therefore intend to express support for the continued use of supplementary indications after 2009 for an indefinite period.

In its paper the Commission also seeks the views of market operators on the operation of derogations for imperial units for specific purposes. These are the mile for road traffic signs, distance and speed measurements, the pint for the dispense of draught beer and cider and milk in returnable containers, the acre for land registration and the troy ounce for transactions in precious metals. The Government have no plans to end these derogations and there is no end date set out in Directive 80/181/EEC. The Government’s view, which it will be expressing to the Commission, is that as these derogations have no adverse effect on trade between member states their future use should be determined by the individual member states that make use of them.

Exports: Philippines

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to encourage increased UK exports to the Philippines. [121453]

Mr. McCartney: The UK enjoys very good trade and investment relations with the Philippines. We actively support high level visitors to and from the Philippines to build on our strong relationship. The Duke of York visited the Philippines in November 2006. In his role as UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment he held discussions on a wide range of bilateral trade and investment issues. During a visit to the UK in September 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines addressed a major trade and investment audience of over 500 participants. The Philippines Minister for Trade and Industry and Minister of Energy also visited the UK in September 2006.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) staff at the British Embassy in Manila continue to provide British companies with the full range of HMG’s services to British exporters and companies seeking to trade and invest in the Philippines. The Embassy organised a British week in 2006 to promote and support the work of UK companies based in the Philippines.

UKTI also supports the work of the Philippines British Business Council.

The UK welcomes the discussion in the EU of draft negotiating mandates for a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of South East Asian Nations. We recognise the benefits that FTAs may bring if they are deep and comprehensive agreements that take full account of development issues and are complementary to the multilateral process. Our top priority remains an ambitious and pro-development outcome to the Doha Development Agenda. This will bring the greatest benefit to the widest range of constituents.

Higher Education: EC Grants and Loans

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total value was of grants provided under the EU Frameworks Programme to
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UK universities in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006; and what the total value was of contributions to project costs made by those universities in each year. [120029]

Malcolm Wicks: The European Commission is responsible for providing member states with data on the implementation of the Framework Programme. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) covered the years 2003 to 2007. The latest FP6 data provided by the European Commission cover all projects where a contract has been signed up to July 2006. These are, however, only interim figures. We expect the European Commission to provide more complete data on FP6 in the next two to three months.

The data provided by the European Commission show that, in 2004, 1,257 contracts were signed for projects involving UK participants from the higher education sector. These had an overall value of €398.6 million, with an EC contribution of €364.5 million.

In 2005, 1,314 contracts were signed for projects involving UK participants from the higher education sector. These had an overall value of €419.6 million, with an EC contribution of €392.7 million.

The European Commission data for 2006 cover projects signed up to July 2006. 422 contracts were signed involving UK participants from the higher education sector. These had an overall value of €121.26 million, with an EC contribution of €121.0 million.

MG Rover

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the (a) Business Development Service and (b) Advantage West Midlands; and what plans his Department has to assist the remaining unemployed ex-MG Rover employees. [121072]

Margaret Hodge: The Department of Trade and Industry, Government Office for the West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands are unaware of the Business Development Service and are therefore unable to comment on the effectiveness of this programme.

Advantage West Midlands

To monitor the effectiveness of regional development agencies (RDAs), the Government introduced a common framework as targets in 2002 had helped to create or safeguard. Since its inception Advantage West Midlands (AWM) more than 100,000 jobs; assisted more than 40,000 businesses; and reclaimed more than 1,000 hectares of brownfield land. These output results, are evidence that AWM is playing a valuable role in the region’s economic performance.

The Government announced in Budget 2005 that, an independent assessment, conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO) would be introduced for the RDAs during 2005-06. The Independent Performance Assessment report on Advantage West Midlands by the National Audit Office is expected to be published later this month.

MG Rover

The response to the collapse of MG Rover has been excellent. 6,346 former MG Rover and supply chain employees registered with Job Centre Plus, having been
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made redundant following the collapse of the company. Over 90 per cent. (5,648) have now found new jobs. Of the remaining ex-workers, 358 are claiming Job seeker’s allowance and 340 are claiming incapacity benefit/income support or pension credit.

Advantage West Midlands, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and Birmingham city council working in partnership have in place a number of initiatives to assist the remaining unemployed employees from MG Rover and its suppliers.

Nuclear Decommissioning

Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of fluctuating revenues for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on (a) the supply chain in nuclear communities, (b) the competition process for nuclear decommissioning in the UK, (c) near term work plans and life cycle baseline plans of nuclear facilities awaiting decommissioning and (d) future delivery of nuclear policy at a local and national level. [116623]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer to the answer which I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Mr. Reed) on 26 January 2007, Official Report, column 2064W.

Oil: Reserves

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department’s policy is on the peak oil concept; and what planning his Department has undertaken on the basis of estimates of oil reserves in (a) 25, (b) 50 and (c) 100 years time. [120523]

Jim Fitzpatrick: As the International Energy Agency notes in its 2005 publication, “Resources to Reserves—Oil and Gas Technologies for the Energy Markets of the Future”, the key problem is not the limit of geological oil resources. It states:

Rather, the challenge lies in bringing these resources to market in a way that ensures sustainable, timely, reliable, and affordable supplies of energy. While market mechanisms will help provide the incentives for the development of these resources, as well as low carbon technologies, Governments need to take appropriate action—internationally and domestically—in support of this, and also to promote energy efficiency.

Post Office Card Accounts

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people use the Post Office Card Account for receipt of (a) child benefit and (b) basic state pension in Hemel Hempstead constituency; and if he will make a statement. [121185]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I understand from Post Office Ltd. (POL) that they do not capture information on which customers are making visits to post offices or their withdrawal patterns.

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Regional Development Agencies: Manpower

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many full-time equivalent staff are employed by each regional development agency in England. [120785]

Margaret Hodge: The following information is set out according to the most recent regional development agency annual reports for year ending 31 March 2006. Copies of these reports are placed in the Library of the House and are available on the internet. The website addresses for the agencies are also shown.

The figures shown are the average number of staff employed by each agency during the year.


Advantage West Midlands (AWM)


East of England Development Agency (EEDA)


East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA)


London Development Agency (LDA)


North West Development Agency (NWDA)


One North East (ONE)


South of England Development Agency (SEEDA)


South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA )


Yorkshire Forward (YF)


Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which banks are participating in the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme; how many applications for a loan each has received; and how many applications were approved in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006. [119835]

Margaret Hodge: The following table shows the number of Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG) loans for each of the approved lenders for the financial years 2003-04 and 2004-05, the two full financial years prior to the changes recommended by the Graham Review which were implemented in December 2005.

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Details of SFLG lending following those changes will be published in the SFLG annual report in summer 2007.

As all loans guaranteed by SFLG are subject to the lenders’ commercial decision-making processes the Department only holds information on guarantees issued and not on cases in which the lenders consider the use of SFLG inappropriate.

Lender 2003-04 2004-05

Barclays Bank



Nat West Bank






Bank of Scotland



Royal Bank of Scotland



Clydesdale Bank



Co-Operative Bank



Yorkshire Bank



Bank of Ireland



Northern Bank



Ulster Bank



First Trust Bank



Northern Investors



Yorkshire Enterprise






One London



UK Steel Enterprise



Venture Finance



Lloyds TSB



Emerging Business Trust



State Securities



Triodos Bank



Northern Enterprise



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