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25 Oct 2007 : Column 496W—continued

Overseas Trade: Burma

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what records his Department keeps of which UK registered companies are trading (a) with and (b) in Burma. [160100]

Mr. Thomas: We do not actively keep records of which UK registered companies are trading with, or in Burma. However, we do follow reports of companies activities produced by the UN, NGOs and other organisations. We monitor the level of UK corporate activities through statistics from the Office of National Statistics and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, which show that trade and investment in Burma has fallen in recent years.

Post Offices: Closures

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) urban and (b) rural post offices closed in (i) the UK and (ii) Wales in each year since 1997. [160735]

Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, managing director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Post Offices: Portsmouth

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at which post offices proposed for closure in Portsmouth the postmaster has applied for a severance or redundancy payment. [160477]

Mr. McFadden: Sub post office closures under Post Office Ltd’s network change programme will be compulsory in order to meet access criteria and to ensure national coverage and reasonable access to post office services is maintained.


25 Oct 2007 : Column 497W

Post Offices: Suffolk

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the likely effect on retail businesses which contain post offices in (a) Nacton, (b) Sutton, (c) Ufford, (d) Walberswick, (e) Waldringfield, (f) Wangford and (g) Wrentham of proposed outreach facilities being substituted for current services. [160629]

Mr. McFadden: It is not possible to say what the effect on any associated retail business will be of substituting outreach for current services at individual post offices until the implementation of Post Office Ltd’s relevant area network change plan is completed. Post Office Ltd’s local decisions will need to reflect the Government’s aim of supporting a national network of post offices and to comply with the access criteria requirements set by the Government.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the likely effect on retail businesses which contain post offices in (a) Bramfield, (b) Knodishall, (c) Reydon and (d) Hasketon Road, Woodbridge of the proposed post office closures. [160630]

Mr. McFadden: It is not possible to say what effect the closure of individual post offices will have on any associated retail business until the implementation of Post Office Ltd’s relevant area network change plan is completed. Post Office Ltd’s local decisions will need to reflect the Government’s aim of supporting a national network of post offices and to comply with the access criteria requirements set by the Government.

Postal Services

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 8 October 2006, Official Report, column 356W, on postal services, which of the products and services are not available across the national network. [158137]

Mr. McFadden: This is a commercial and contractual matter for Post Office Ltd and its clients. Alan Cook, the Managing Director of Post Office Ltd, has been asked to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of Royal Mail’s proposal to cease Sunday and bank holiday postal collections. [160444]

Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Royal Mail. The company introduced Sunday collections a few years ago to enhance their service, but there has been very little take up from the public. Sunday postings are very low, but add a huge amount of cost to the business. Royal Mail have to have regard to their costs and are therefore looking to stop Sunday collections.


25 Oct 2007 : Column 498W

The Government considers the maintenance of a universal postal service throughout the UK to be of the highest importance. That is why the obligation is enshrined in primary legislation in the Postal Services Act 2000 and why Postcomm has the primary statutory duty to ensure the provision of a universal postal service at an affordable uniform tariff. Sunday and Bank Holiday collections are not part of the universal service obligation.

Postal Services Commission

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Postcomm in fulfilling its role to protect the universal service and to ensure that operators, including Royal Mail, meet the needs of their customers. [160200]

Mr. McFadden: Postcomm is an independent regulator, and like other independent regulators is accountable directly to Parliament through the Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee.

HMG continues to engage with Postcomm and the independent consumer body Postwatch to ensure that customers’ needs are properly met.

Small Businesses: Closures

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many small business closures there have been in each region in the last five years; [159875]

(2) how many small businesses have closed in the last five years during their first (a) 12 months and (b) five years of trading, broken down by region; [159876]

(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of the rate of small business closures on (a) each region and (b) England. [159877]

Mr. Timms: Data on small business closures by region are not available.

However, data on the number of businesses of all sizes that de-register for VAT each year, and the proportion that remain registered for 1 and 4 years, in each UK region, are published by BERR.

The following table shows the number of VAT de-registrations in each UK region and country 2001-05.


25 Oct 2007 : Column 499W
VAT de-registrations in each UK country and region
De-registrations
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

United Kingdom

155,890

162,405

165,530

163,400

152,945

England

136,520

142,375

144,740

142,870

133,230

North East GOR

4,110

3,995

4,010

3,850

3,600

North West GOR

15,500

16,220

15,955

15,650

14,265

Yorkshire and the Humber GOR

11,160

11,560

11,140

11,225

10,745

East Midlands GOR

9,905

10,155

10,695

10,615

9,765

West Midlands GOR

12,740

13,130

14,255

13,860

12,610

East GOR

15,225

15,475

16,115

15,995

14,690

London GOR

30,825

32,625

31,760

32,145

30,230

South East GOR

23,970

25,410

26,540

25,855

24,605

South West GOR

13,080

13,810

14,265

13,680

12,720

Wales

5,465

6,425

6,670

6,015

5,555

Scotland

10,955

10,820

10,930

10,920

10,160

Northern Ireland

2,955

2,785

3,190

3,595

4,005

Source:
Business Start-ups and Closures: VAT Registrations and De-registrations 1994-2005, available at: http://stats.berr.gov.uk/ed/vat

The following table shows the number of businesses that de-registered for VAT within one and four years of registration, for each UK region and country, by year of registration for the latest five years worth of available data. Data for five years after registration are not produced at regional level.

The number of VAT de-registrations within one and four years, by registration year, in each UK country and region
Number de-registering for VAT within one year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

United Kingdom

16,996

14,621

13,977

13,385

14,519

England

14,992

13,003

12,306

11,778

12,685

North East GOR

428

405

373

353

348

North West GOR

1,870

1,583

1,356

1,254

1,428

Yorkshire and the Humber GOR

1,188

1,120

1,070

983

1,045

East Midlands GOR

1,150

945

898

911

941

West Midlands GOR

1,314

1,257

1,197

1,138

1,198

East GOR

1,463

1,282

1,301

1,218

1,300

London GOR

3,887

3,407

3,197

3,075

3,285

South East GOR

2,364

1,962

1,920

1,876

2,073

South West GOR

1,369

1,041

1,058

1,014

1,038

Wales

610

536

495

493

486

Scotland

1,089

944

902

887

1,030

Northern Ireland

249

220

244

235

332


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