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Although the number of new registrations has fluctuated over the period, the total number of VAT registered businesses in London has increased from 241,000 at the start of 1997 to 309,000 at the start of 2007, an increase of 68,000 (28 per cent.).
VAT registrations do not capture all business activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if they fall below the compulsory VAT threshold, which was £60,000 at the start of 2006. Only 1.9 million out of 4.5 million UK enterprises (43 per cent.) were registered for VAT at the start of 2006.
Over the last 10 years a range of Government programmes have supported business start-ups in London. These programmes include the single regeneration budget programme, European structural funds, Business Link, LEGI and a range of other programmes supported by the LDA and BERR.
Neither my Department nor the LDA, keep central records about the aggregate number of business start ups which have been supported by these programmes. Given the potential range of relevant programmes, the compilation of the information required to answer this question could be achieved only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government plans to take to assist vulnerable groups affected by energy price increases. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government have a package of measures in place to support vulnerable households to keep their homes warm. We have announced that spend on energy efficiency measures for those on low incomes for the period 2008-11 will be in excess of £2.3 billion. This is in addition to the winter fuel payments, payable to all pensioners, which will continue for the lifetime of this Parliament.
In addition, energy companies have recently increased the level of support they provide to vulnerable customers as a result of Government pressure. The level of support available this winter is now close to £60 million.
Across the UK, the largest amounts of radioactive materials are handled on civil nuclear sites overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Smaller amounts of radioactive materials, handled at universities and hospitals for example, are regulated individually by the UK environment agencies.
Since 1999, the Environment Agency has recorded no thefts of radioactive materials regulated under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 in England or Wales. From premises that the Environment Agency regulates in England, there were nine cases involving losses of radioactive sources. These have included losses of clinical marker substances and small sealed sources used in manufacturing processes. In each case the Environment Agency took enforcement action. There are no recorded cases involving a loss in Wales.
Small numbers of thefts and losses have occurred while radioactive materials have been transported in the UK and the Department for Transport (DFT) investigates such events and takes regulatory action as appropriate. Information is available in reports published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on behalf of DFT. All HPA reports have been placed in the House of Commons Library and copies of these reports since 2001 are available on the DFT website.
The Ministry of Defences (MOD) use of radioactive materials is covered by the ionising radiations regulations that require the reporting of losses and thefts. Since 1993, the MOD has reported various lost items to the civil authorities, mainly low activity gaseous tritium light devices (compasses, sights, route markers or illumination devices) lost on exercise. There has also been one known theft of such devices.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which regional development agencies have offices in Brussels; and how much they paid towards each of the offices in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Timms: No RDAs have dedicated offices in Brussels. However, all RDAs make a contribution to European Regional Representation Offices, which are based in Brussels. These offices are run in partnership with other regional stakeholders such as local authorities, and other public and private sector organisations. Full details are given in the following table.
|Contribution by RDAs towards the office (£000)|
|UK Regional Representational Offices in Brussels||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07|
|(1) Office was not set up in 2002-03.|
(2) Yorkshire Forward did not provide any funding before 2005-06.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposed closure of the Bootle Rolls-Royce factory on the manufacturing capacity of the region. 
Mr. Timms: The Secretary of State met the hon. Member for Bootle and a trade union/work force delegation from Bootle on 13 December 2007, and heard their assessment of discussions with Rolls-Royce management. This included discussion about the impact of the proposed closure regionally. BERR has also maintained a dialogue with Rolls-Royce about its consultation process over Bootle. The final decision will be a commercial matter for Rolls-Royce. We will remain in close contact with the company, and consider what may need to be done once a decision is reached.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what progress has been made on the EU review of the implementation of the arms embargo on Burma following the Prime Ministers statement on 15 October 2007; 
Meg Munn: Following my right hon. Friend, the Prime Ministers statement of 15 October 2007, the UK raised the embargo at the EU Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports. All member states confirmed that they rigorously enforce the embargo, but also agreed to pay particular attention when issuing licences where there was a risk that equipment might be diverted to Burma from third countries. Any such applications would be in breach of criterion 7 of the Consolidated EU and National Export and Licensing Criteria (known as the Code of Conduct), and as such, the licence would be refused.
The UK strictly applies the EU arms embargo on Burma and the Government have investigated all the reports received of alleged breaches. The Government have no evidence that British-made equipment is currently being exported to Burma in breach of the embargo.
The UK works closely with its partners at the UN to press the regime to engage constructively with the Secretary-Generals Good Offices mission. We have made clear that, should the regime fail to make progress towards genuine national reconciliation under UN auspices, we would press for further UN action. An arms embargo on Burma would require a Chapter VII Security Council resolution.
Mr. Jim Murphy:
Following major reviews in 2006 and 2007, and a reassessment by the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ministerial team, we
have determined a new, more focused approach to Chevening scholarships and fellowships. The scholarship programme will identify and sponsor young people with the potential to become the world's leaders of the future. Through our scholarship scheme we will build and maintain our relationships with these outstanding individuals as well as encouraging them to build relationships with each other. Our Fellowship programme will train and build networks of mid-career professionals working around the world on issues of vital importance to the UK. These are people we will work with closely to deliver our key policy goals.
The Chevening Annual Report for 2006-07, which we hope to publish shortly, will provide detailed information about the operation of the Chevening programme last year. There are 1,309 Chevening scholars studying at academic institutions in the UK this year (2007-08).
David Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli government about its description of Gaza as a hostile entity in September 2007 and the resulting boycott on supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. 
Dr. Howells: We have regularly made clear to the Government of Israel our concern about the situation in Gaza. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has raised this issue with the Israeli Foreign Minister Livni. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development discussed the situation in Gaza with the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak during his recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 9 to 11 December 2007.
Regarding supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for International Development made a statement on 11 January detailing our concerns.
The Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) has also expressed concern over the continued closure of major crossing points. The UN is actively involved in trying to find a solution. The EU has called on all parties to work towards an opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the UK objectives were at the meeting on 19 December 2007 of the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar; and who represents the UK on the group; 
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his French counterpart on the creation of a permanent French military base in the Gulf area. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not discussed this matter with his French counterpart. However, we would welcome any agreement which reinforced peace and stability in the region.
Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visitors visas were issued to residents of (a) India, (b) Pakistan, (c) Bangladesh and (d) Sri Lanka in each of the last three years; and how many of these visitors overstayed. 
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