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12 Dec 2007 : Column 624W—continued

Departmental Manpower

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many and what proportion of posts in his Department were recategorised from back office to frontline posts as classified by the Gershon efficiency review in each year since 2004. [172247]

Mr. Thomas: Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is committed to achieving its workforce reduction target of 1,010 posts by the end of 2007-08. This is a net target and no posts will be reallocated to the frontline as part of it.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) men and (b) women of each Civil Service grade are employed by his Department. [172736]

Mr. McFadden: For the information required, please refer to the 2006 Civil Service Statistics published by Office for National Statistics (ONS). Table H of the publication presents permanent employees by Department, responsibility level, ethnic origin and gender.

As BERR only came into existence this year, the right hon. Member should refer to the then Department of Trade and Industry entry, which now forms the majority of the new Department. The following extract is as follows:

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BERR (Department of Trade and Industry Statistics, which now forms the majority of the new Department )
White Ethnic minority Non-response Ethnic minority as percentage of known ethnic origin
Responsibility level Male Female Male Female Male Female All employees Male Female

SCS level








Grades 6/7










All other levels


















All employees










The 2006 Civil Service Statistics published by ONS.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to ensure that English wine is served (a) exclusively and (b) at the request of guests at meals, parties and receptions hosted by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [164289]

Mr. Thomas: BERR works with its caterer to provide catering and hospitality services in line with the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI). As a part of this Government initiative BERR offers a selection of UK grown and produced products including English wines.

Departmental Opinion Polls

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 22 November 2007, Official Report, column 1110W, on departmental opinion polls, what opinion polls his Department has conducted of the public since 27 June. [173431]

Mr. Thomas: The Department does not centrally collect the information sought and to provide it would entail disproportionate cost.

Only statistical surveys to businesses and local authorities conducted by the Department and its agencies are monitored centrally to facilitate control of compliance costs to business and departmental expenditure on survey activity. The answer would incur disproportionate cost because of the need to ask all directorates in BERR, plus agencies and associated non-departmental public bodies, to attempt to provide details of each survey and piece of research commissioned which may contain opinion questions.

Employment Tribunals Service

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he plans to take to (a) promote alternative forms of dispute resolution in cases of employment tribunals and (b) reduce the length of time for employment disputes to be resolved once they have gone to tribunal. [172760]

Mr. McFadden: We will be setting out proposals in the Government response to the consultation “Resolving disputes in the workplace”. The response will be published shortly.

Industry: Subsidies

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much state aid has been authorised to each EU member state’s (a) national airline, (b) coal industry and (c) steel industry by the European Commission in the last 10 years. [170650]

Mr. Thomas: The European Commission issues reports on state aid in the State Aid Scoreboard, which provides statistical information on authorised state aid in each member state—available at:

Part 1 of the scoreboard provides country specific information on state aid by sector and objective including, manufacturing sectors, coal and transport. In addition, the Commission publishes on its website a State Aid Register, which gives detailed information on all State aid cases which have been approved by the Commission since 1 January 2000—at:

Overseas Investment: Burma

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the total value of UK foreign direct investment in Burma was in each year since 2000. [167154]

Mr. Thomas: The UK Government discourage trade and investment with Burma. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for the UK’s foreign direct investment in Burma for the period 2001-04 are protected by commercial confidentiality. The ONS recorded a nil investment return in 2005. Data for 2006 will be published in February 2008.

Overseas Trade: Burma

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the total value of British trade with Burma has been in each year since 1997. [173263]

Mr. Thomas: The Government have a long-standing policy of not encouraging British firms to trade with or invest in Burma. We offer no commercial services to companies wishing to trade with or invest in Burma. British companies who inquire about trade with Burma are informed of the grave political situation, the regime’s atrocious record on human rights and the country’s dire economic prospects.

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The following table is based on HM Revenue and Customs Overseas Trade Statistics.

£ million
UK imports of goods from Burma UK exports of goods to Burma































Post Offices: Closures

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which post offices in Liverpool Riverside constituency have been (a) considered for closure and (b) closed by Post Office Ltd. in the last 10 years; which post offices in that constituency have closed for other reasons over that period; and if he will make a statement. [173087]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 11 December 2007]: 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.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Postal Votes

Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with the (a) Electoral Commission and (b) Ministry of Justice on measures to improve the efficiency and security of postal voting. [167993]

Mr. McFadden: We have had no such discussions. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for electoral policy issues, including matters relating to postal voting procedures. The general security of items posted under licence is governed under a Mail Integrity Code which is overseen by Postcomm, the independent industry regulator.

Research Councils: Expenditure

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on what basis Lord Truscott, in his letter to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak, dated 27 June 2007, was able to state that the £68 million taken from unspent funds in the Research Councils met departmental budgetary pressures that included (a) the restructuring of British Energy, (b) meeting the shortfall in EU structural funds, (c) the collapse of MG Rover and (d) increased spend on the Technology Programme and Space Projects. [164821]

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Mr. Thomas: DTI’s memorandum to the Trade and Industry Committee in February 2007 explained changes which were being made in the spring supplementary estimate. This included the fact that in 2006/07, the DTI faced a budget shortfall due to a number of factors including the funding of the British Energy rescue package from within the SR04 settlement, and clarification of the budgeting guidance in November 2005.

The Department also had to face a number of unforeseen pressures that arose after the SR04 settlement had been made. These included the fall out from MG Rover, an increase in demand-led services, and the need to fund new cross-governmental priorities. Dealing with these pressures, left DTI without any significant flexibility to manage budgets and absorb new pressures.

DTI sought to manage these pressures within its budget. The Department looked rigorously at all elements of non ring-fenced spend to identify efficiencies and flexibilities and as a result identified significant savings to be put towards pressures. These savings, however, were not sufficient to provide cover for the unavoidable pressures faced in 2006/07. This complex picture led to the use of unspent funds from the ring-fenced science budget in order to fund residual pressures which the Department was facing.

Skilled Workers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government have taken to encourage employers to educate their workforces and increase their skills base in the last five years. [166166]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 22 November 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

This Department is leading the Government’s work to ensure we have a workforce with the world class skills the 21(st) century demands. For our businesses, a more highly skilled workforce is the path to higher productivity, competitiveness and profitability. For our citizens, better skills are the path to sustained employment, career progression, and increased income.

In July 2007, we published “World Class Skills” setting out our plans for England to deliver a step change in the nation’s attitude towards education. Through the measures in “World Class Skills” we will give employers the opportunity to exert real leverage and decision making over the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes. With the role of sector skills councils more sharply focused on raising demand and investment from employers; in articulating the future skills needs of their employers; and ensuring that the supply of skills and qualifications is driven by employers.

At the forefront of our strategy is the Skills Pledge giving employers an opportunity to publicly demonstrate their commitment to investing in the skills of their employees; and an improved and expanded Train to Gain service to help employers of all sizes and in all sectors to identify and address their skills needs.

In its first year 52,730 employers have been engaged through Train to Gain against a target of 47,770 and almost a quarter of a million employees have been
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trained. And week on week numbers of employers making the Skills Pledge continues to grow since its launch in June 2007, with now over 630 employers having made the commitment covering more than 3.1 million employees.

Trade Unions also have an important role to play in achieving our ambitions. There are now more than 18,000 trained Union Learning Representatives working across the country to encourage more people to participate in training.

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