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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many and what proportion of farmers were declared bankrupt in (a) Ribble Valley, (b) the north-west and (c) the UK in each year since 1979. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 3 July 2007]: The closest available estimates for bankruptcies among farmers are the numbers of bankruptcy orders made under the category agriculture and horticulture according to the Insolvency Trade Classification (ITC). The following table provides the figures for England and Wales, which are available from 1990 onwards.
Bankruptcy statistics are classified regionally according to the locations and areas of responsibility of official receivers' (OR's) offices, each of which covers a number of courts having insolvency jurisdiction, and are not directly comparable with
administrative geographies. Statistics broken down by both industry and regionally are not readily available for the period requested.
The Insolvency Trade Classification is not consistent with the Standard Industrial Classification 2003 (SIC2003) which is used to classify businesses, nor is the regional classification in use consistent with standard administrative geographies such as counties and government office regions (GORs). It is not, therefore, possible to provide reliable estimates of the proportions of farmers becoming bankrupt, either at the regional or national level.
|Bankruptcy orders in England and Wales in the agriculture sector (E and W), January 1990 to September 2006|
|(1) Up to September. Figures from October 2006 are not available due to development work to update the classification of new cases to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2003.|
Figures are not available prior to January 1990.
Mr. Timms: Members of the Business Council will not be paid, but the Department will of course be prepared to meet such reasonable expenses directly related to their contribution to the Council as members wish to claim.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many directors of phoenix companies were disqualified in each year from 2005; and how many of these disqualifications involved directors not undertaking to act as a director voluntarily. 
[holding answer 28 June 2007]: No separate statistics are maintained by the Insolvency Service for disqualification action taken against directors of companies, which might fall within the description of phoenix companies. Many successor companies to failed companies are formed as a result of legitimate
arrangements between the directors and the office holder whereby assets are transferred at proper values. The conduct of the directors is only likely to be called into question where assets have been transferred from the insolvent company to the new company at an undervalue, where the directors have caused the successor company to trade under a name which is for them prohibited by virtue of section 216 Insolvency Act 1986 or where the successor company has failed for the same reasons as its predecessor. Although statistics are not kept to identify the numbers of disqualification orders or disqualification undertakings where the matters of unfitness include one or more of the elements referred to above the Insolvency Service records show that one or more of those matters of unfitness were alleged in seven cases for which disqualification proceedings were authorised in the year to 31 March 2006 and in 18 cases in the year to 31 March 2007.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many calls have been received on phoenix companies by the enforcement hotline in each year since 2005; and how many of these calls were referred for investigation. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 28 June 2007]: No separate statistics are maintained by the hotline team for phoenix complaints. It is likely that complaints to the hotline regarding so called phoenix companies will be recorded as a complaint under section 216 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (reuse of a prohibited name after a certain type of insolvency). It is possible that section 216 may also apply to new businesses run by directors, which are not successor companies to the insolvent company and which cannot therefore be regarded as phoenix companies. The number of complaints received by the hotline which specifically relate to section 216 is seven for the period from August 2005 to March 2006, eight for the year to March 2007 and five so far for the current year. Of those one has been referred to Legal Services Division for possible prosecution action.
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 28 June 2007]: There is no precise legal definition of a phoenix company but it is normally thought of as one formed by the directors of a failed company to take over the business and some or all of the assets of the failed company but without any of its liabilities. The only criminal offence specially related to Phoenix operations is where the directors have caused the successor company to trade under a name which is for them prohibited by virtue of section 216 Insolvency Act 1986.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many officials in his Department are (a) involved in assisting European Council negotiations, (b) involved in assisting and advising the European Commission, (c) seconded to the European Commission, (d) involved in monitoring EU decisions, communications, regulations and directives, (e) involved in enforcing compliance with EU decisions, communications, regulations and directives and (f) involved in other work related to the European Council, Commission or Court of Justice. 
Mr. Thomas: Officials throughout the former Department of Trade and Industry were involved in a full range of EU business. Those working specifically on EU business totalled around 200. In addition, there are a number of Seconded National Experts working on priority policy areas in the European Commission in Brussels, usually around a dozen individuals. A breakdown of the figures as requested would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has to replace the banners in the window of his Departments building at 1 Victoria Street. 
Mr. McFadden: I shall be considering how best to convey the new Departments aims and objectives to the business community and wider public. This includes the display material in the Departments offices.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many and what percentage of staff in his Department are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps he has taken in the last year to encourage more people to make such contributions. 
Mr. Thomas: 283 members of staff in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (8.2 per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the department) currently make additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay.
Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the Civil Service Pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including on options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what analysis his Department has made of the number of its staff using public transport to commute. 
Mr. Thomas: The Department has not made any central analysis of the number of staff using public transport to commute. However there is very limited availability of car parking spaces across the Departments estate and therefore the vast majority of staff will use public transport to travel to work.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many people who retired from the coal industry due to ill health under the age of 50 years have been informed they are not eligible for concessionary coal. 
The award is made by the employer, when the miner leaves employment and no information is held by Government on how many miners, on leaving employment, have not met the criteria specified in the Fuel Agreements.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many whistleblowers in the public services have sought redress from their employer using the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. 
Mr. McFadden: Workers who believe they have been unfairly dismissed or otherwise detrimentally treated for whistleblowing can complain to an employment tribunal under the 1998 Act. Numbers of claims accepted by the tribunals since the Act came into force in 1999 where PIDA was at least one of the grounds cited are shown in the table.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans his Department has to amend or repeal the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations. 
Mr. McFadden: The consultation paper Resolving disputes in the workplace, published on 21 March 2007, invited views on whether the Regulations should be repealed. My Departments plans on the way forward will be set out in our response to that consultation which will be published in due course.
Mr. McFadden: Last month, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick) met industry representatives at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's (REC) One In A Million Award event, where he gave the keynote speech.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has received in the last 12 months from representatives of the recruitment industry on the law on temporary and agency workers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: BERR officials are in regular contact with representatives of the recruitment industry and have received a number of representations on the law regarding temporary and agency workers. Most recently, BERR has received representations from the industry in response to the recent consultation on measures to protect vulnerable agency workers.
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