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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the merits of establishing trade union representation on Regional Development Agency boards; and what representations he has received from the Trades Union Congress on this matter. 
Each trade union member is appointed by the Secretary of State following a recruitment process which meets the code of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Each board members performance is reviewed annually by the Chair of the RDA. Ministers take account of performance reviews when considering reappointments.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the case for allowing the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology to exercise powers of scrutiny over proposed research institute closures; and what discussions he has had with the Trades Union Congress on this matter. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 19 June 2007]: Recommendations in the Science and Technology Committees report on its Inquiry into the Research Council Institutes, published on 22 March, suggested a greater role for the Office of Science and Innovation in monitoring the Research Council Institutes, including any restructuring of those Institutes. These issues were raised in April at a meeting between myself, as Minister responsible for science and innovation, and Prospect.
The Governments approach remains that the Research Councils should retain responsibility for the management and organisation of their Research Institutes. Research
Councils discuss any proposed closures of such Institutes with local staff trade unions, as a matter of course.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 15 June 2007, Official Report, column 1419W, on Royal Mail: Government assistance, what the independent sources are that have verified the status of Government support to Royal Mail. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department used a number of external commercial advisers to ensure that the financial arrangements that are currently being investigated by the European Commission were made on a commercial basis. The main source of independent advice has been Deloitte. Advice was also obtained from Credit Suisse, Strategia and Herbert Smith.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the level of Government funding support for science centres was in each of the last five years; and what total support is expected to be given (a) in 2007-08 and (b) up to 2010. 
DTI funding of £93,000 from a total of £150,000 paid between 2001 and 2004, to Ecsite UK, an umbrella body for science centres, to help it become established and become financially sustainable.
£2 million, from DTI and DfES, between 2004 and 2006 to certain centres which were assessed as likely to become financially viable with the short term funding.
(a) Funding for 2007-08 will include £450,000 as a part of £750,000 project ran by Ecsite UK (between November 2006 and March 2008) to help the science centres achieve financial sustainability and £33,000 funding for Ecsite-UK.
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the organisations and authorities whose views (a) in favour of and (b) opposing the proposal for a tidal barrage across the River Severn have been communicated to him. 
Malcolm Wicks: There is no specific proposal at present to build a Severn Barrage. The Sustainable Development Commission is however producing a report, with financial support from various parties including my Department, looking at various options for harnessing the potential tidal energy resource that exists around the UK, including within the Severn estuary. The SDC will, of course, be looking at the Severn Barrage tidal power scheme and other options within the Severn estuary.
The SDC project has included a significant programme of stakeholder and public engagement. This work is now complete and involved two stakeholder workshops in Aberdeen and Cardiff, a series of deliberative public workshops and focus groups at regional and local levels, and a national omnibus poll. A report of the engagement programme, and an independent evaluation of the programme, will be published as part of the evidence base that underpins the SDC's final report that is expected by the end of September.
In the communications that have been received by my Department from organisations or authorities on this issue, it has not always been the case that opinion is clearly for or against a particular scheme.
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 21 June 2007]: Imports of shale for construction or similar uses cannot be distinguished from imports of similar clays. HM Revenue and Customs Overseas Trade Statistics give the following figures for imports of HS271410 bituminous or oil-shale and tar sands:
|Year/quarter||Weight (thousand tonnes)|
Overseas Trade Statistics
Mr. McCartney: UK Trade and Investments operating income, which principally comprises fees and charges for services provided to external customers, is shown in the Annual Reports and Accounts as follows;
Jim Fitzpatrick: Ministers select projects for UMF funding on the basis of recommendations made by an independent Supervisory Board. Bids are assessed against a series of eligibility and selection criteria set out in the UMF application pack (www.dti.gov.uk/files/file35395.pdf). The bids are assessed to ensure that they fall within the scope of the fund; will deliver outcomes that would not happen without funding; have been realistically costed and offer value for money; and have suitable project management arrangements in place for effective delivery of the project.
Jim Fitzpatrick: No specific research has been commissioned by DTI on flexible working and skill shortages in the UK. However, to the extent that flexible working helps employers both to recruit and retain skilled staff, it will help to reduce skill shortages in the UK. DTI research has found that many employees consider the availability of flexible working to be important when deciding to work with their current employer.
With regard to the percentage of men who would like to work more flexibly the DTIs Third Work-Life Balance Employee Survey found that almost half (46 per cent.) either were currently working flexibly, or had done so in the past year. When men who had not made a request to work flexibly were asked why, more than three-fifths said they were happy with their current arrangements or gave other personal reasons. Overall, 86 per cent. of male employees said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their current working arrangements, compared with only 5 per cent. who were dissatisfied and 1 per cent. who were very dissatisfied.
The relationship between various workplace practices and productivity is a complex one, mediated by a host of other variables; studies often find no statistically significant relationship. The relationship between work-life balance and labour productivity was investigated in Chapter 10 of the DTI-sponsored report, Inside the Workplace: Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (Routledge 2006). It was found that work-life balance practices were not jointly significant when added to the baseline labour productivity model. A forthcoming DTI research report, however, has found that in private sector workplaces an increased incidence of family-friendly provisions is positively associated with managers perceptions of improved financial performance.
In terms of raising awareness of the business case for flexible working among employers, the DTI has recently worked with Carers UK, ACAS, British Chambers of Commerce and British Gas to produce an employer's pack which illustrates the business case for flexible working. The Business Link website provides advice and guidance on flexible working and highlights the business case and benefits to employers of working flexibly.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The DTI considers flexible working to cover a range of solutions that enable its staff to work in a variety of patterns and locations while allowing the Department to efficiently deploy its resources to meet and adapt to changing business needs. Flexible working options available to staff include:
Part time working;
Team time working.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will answer question (a) 136543, on maternity and paternity leave, and (b) 136541, on Overseas Trade magazine, tabled on 3 May 2007 by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: I answered the hon. Members question on maternity and paternity leave (136543) on 15 June 2007, Official Report, column 1416W, and question on Overseas Trade magazine (136541) today.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will answer question 136542, on Departments: newspapers, tabled on 3 May 2007 by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton. 
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