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Minister for Women

Females: Small Businesses

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Minister for Women what work is undertaken by the taskforce on women's enterprise; and what progress has been made towards the recruitment of a national network of 1,000 female entrepreneur ambassadors. [147150]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

If we matched US levels of entrepreneurship there would be 700,000 more businesses run by women in the UK. To help accelerate the UK towards the US levels of entrepreneurship, the Government established the taskforce on Women's Enterprise to advise it on specific steps to increase levels of women's business ownership in the UK. Under the co-chairmanship of Pam Alexander (CEO, SEED A) and Glenda Stone (CEO, Aurora), the taskforce is providing leadership on women's enterprise across Government and the regions, by recommending specific steps to increase women’s business ownership. It is working with the Regional Development Agencies to ensure that women have access to the high-quality support and advice they require to start and grow their businesses.

Working alongside the taskforce is the Women's Enterprise Ambassadors' Network (WEAN). This network comprises inspirational women entrepreneurs, who are using their knowledge and experience to inspire more women to consider the option of starting a business. To celebrate the recruitment of the 1000th ambassador the first WEAN National conference, hosted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Margaret Hodge), the then Minister for Industry and the Regions, took place at Lancaster House on Monday 25 June 2007. The conference was attended by 200 ambassadors from around the country.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

British Telecommunications: Fees and Charges

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the outcome was of discussions between his Department and Ofcom on British Telecom's decision to introduce an additional charge for customers who do not pay by direct debit; and if he will make a statement. [147092]

Mr. Timms: The independent regulator the Office of Communications (Ofcom) announced on 6 June that it will carry out a full review of communications providers' additional charges. Ofcom expects to announce the conclusions of its review in the autumn and progress may be monitored on its website at:

The review will cover charges for non-direct debit payments, as well as other additional charges including late payment, restoration of service and early termination fees. It will cover fixed and mobile operators, and pay TV services. Ofcom will look at the nature and level of charges levied by communications providers and how well signposted and transparent such charges are. It will investigate how far consumers are aware of additional charges, whether they are able
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and willing to shop around on the basis of core prices and additional charges rather than just core prices, and whether there are certain groups of consumers who are unable to do this and therefore may be disadvantaged.

On investigating this issue it has become clear that it would be wrong to look at BT in isolation. More than 40 per cent. of homes are provided with telephony services by operators other than BT, and the differentials for payment by non-direct debit range from no extra charge to £15 a quarter. Some providers provide no payment option other than direct debit.

Departments: Energy

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many energy saving lightbulbs were purchased by his Department for use on the departmental estate in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [144931]

Mr. Thomas: In the financial year 2006-07 the Department procured and installed 2,770 energy saving light bulbs and holds an approximate stock of 320; the latter will vary dependant on replacement requirements.

During the previous year 2004-05 the Department purchased approximately 4,700 energy saving light bulbs.

The Department installs energy efficient lighting throughout its estate as a part of its strategy to achieve the energy targets set out in the framework for sustainable development in Government.

Energy: Black Sea

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what support his Department has given to UK energy companies developing new energy resources in the Black Sea. [146196]

Mr. Thomas: While UK energy companies have been active for some time in the Black Sea states, UK Trade and Investment is not aware of any UK company involvement in the offshore development of new energy resources in the Black Sea itself. UK companies considering investment in that activity may wish to consider contacting UK Trade and Investment to discuss available assistance.

Information on the types of assistance available from UK Trade and Investment is available via the organisation’s website.

Manufacturing Industries: Exports

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what new market opportunities for manufacturing exports were offered by Brazil and India at discussions with the United States and the European Union in Potsdam. [146856]

Mr. Thomas: The negotiations in Potsdam between the EU, US, Brazil and India have not led yet to agreement on the tariff reduction formulae for either trade in agriculture or trade in manufactured goods.
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Consequently, discussions about market access for manufactured goods did not lead to new market opportunities being offered.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the level of the national minimum wage was for (a) adults and (b) younger workers (i) at its inception and (ii) at each further increase since then; what the date was of each increase; and what percentage of national average earnings each increase represented. [146574]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 2 July 2007]: The national minimum wage rates are set in response to recommendations by the independent Low Pay Commission. The rate for workers aged 16-17 was introduced in 2004 in response to a Low Pay Commission recommendation. The rates have increased since inception as follows:

Table 1: The UK minimum wage
Main r ate (w orkers aged 22+) £ per hour Development r ate (workers aged 18-21) £ per hour Workers aged 16 -17 £ per hour

1 April 1999



1 June 2000



1 October 2000



1 October 2001



1 October 2002



1 October 2003



1 October 2004




1 October 2005




1 October 2006




1 October 2007




Table 2. The UK minimum wage as a percentage of median earnings
Main rate (workers aged 22+) Development rate (workers aged 18-21 Workers aged 16-17

1 April 1999



1 June 2000



1 October 2000



1 October 2001



1 October 2002



1 October 2003



1 October 2004



1 October 2005




1 October 2006




1 October 2007




Note: Calculated as the minimum wage rate as a proportion of the median wage for the given age group. The minimum wage is deflated back to the survey period using the average earnings index (excluding bonuses). October 2007 figures also based on forecast average earnings growth. Source: DTI estimates based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Office for National Statistics (

Post Offices: WH Smith

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what studies the Post Office has undertaken into the impact on surrounding sub-post offices of establishing post offices in WH Smith branches. [146115]

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Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook the managing director has been asked to reply direct to the right hon. Member.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when details will be announced of the compensation to be made to sub-post offices whose businesses are adversely affected by the opening of post offices in nearby WH Smith branches. [146806]

Mr. McFadden: Decisions on the location of post office branches and franchise agreements are operational issues for Post Office Ltd.

Postal Services: EC Action

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had (a) with ministerial colleagues and (b) at the European level on (i) the timetable for liberalisation of postal services across the European Union and (ii) the effect of liberalisation on the future of the Royal Mail. [146679]

Mr. McFadden: The Department's Ministers and officials have regular discussions with other Government Department colleagues on matters relating to the liberalisation of postal services. We also maintain ongoing dialogue with both the institutions of the European Union and the other member states.

The Government support the European objective of implementing a single market for postal services by 2009: by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way, within a regulatory framework that ensures the sustained provision of a universal service.

Royal Mail management has welcomed the introduction of competition in postal markets. The Government have recently agreed a finance framework for Royal Mail to enable the company to modernise and improve its efficiency so that it can compete successfully in a liberalised market.

Trade Unions: Ballots

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will place in the Library copies of the scrutineers' report on union ballots on political fund retention, held by the Certification Officer, from the last 12 months. [146877]

Mr. McFadden: There have been no union ballots on political fund retention in the last 12 months.

World Trade Organisation

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made for the future of the World Trade Organisation Doha Round following discussions between the United States, the European Union, Brazil and India in Potsdam. [146851]

Mr. Thomas: The UK Government regrets that G4 members failed to agree a common platform in the DDA negotiations. However, Pascal Lamy, the WTO
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Director General, has made it clear that negotiations will continue in Geneva. We hope that all WTO members will now work with Pascal Lamy and the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups to try to take the negotiations forward. We are encouraging all WTO members to engage positively and constructively and to show the flexibility and commitment necessary to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion, and remain committed to achieving an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the DDA.

Duchy of Lancaster

Voluntary Work: Kettering

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if she will visit the Kettering voluntary
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network to discuss the challenges faced by the third sector in Kettering. [146394]

Phil Hope: Organisations like the Kettering Voluntary Network play a key role in supporting local third sector organisations and helping people to volunteer, and are an example of how local government and voluntary organisations can work together to improve local communities.

The Government are committed to developing an environment which enables the third sector to thrive and the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office works with the sector and other government departments to break down barriers which prevent people from volunteering.

I have asked an official from the Office of the Third Sector to contact Kettering Voluntary Network to arrange a visit to discuss the challenges faced by the third sector in Kettering.

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