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Although the number of new registrations in each region has fluctuated between 1999 and 2006 (see Table 1), the total number of VAT registered businesses has increased in all regions over the period (see Table 2). Overall, the stock of VAT registered businesses in the UK has increased by 246 thousand (14 per cent.) between the start of 1999 and the start of 2007 and new registrations have exceeded de-registrations in each year.
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.
|Table 2: Stock of VAT-registered businesses by region, start of 1999start of 2007|
|1999||2007||Change 1999-2007||% Change 1999-2007|
Business start-ups and closures: VAT registrations and de-registrations in 2006 available at: http://stats.berr.gov.uk/ed/vat/index.htm
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the potential thermal capacity of solar heating technology in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what information his Department monitors and collects in relation to telephone contact centres. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with (a) the Council of Ministers and (b) the European Commission on proposed changes to regulations governing toy safety. 
Mr. Thomas: BERR has been actively involved in discussions with European colleagues and the Commission in the preparation of the draft Directive on the Safety of Toys which was published on 25 January. They will continue to engage with the development of the directive in Council working groups.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what percentage of UK Trade and Investment's budget is spent on (a) promoting exports and (b) encouraging inward investment. 
Mr. Thomas: UK Trade and Investment has three budget streams: UKTI programme, which is voted directly to the UKTI Chief Executive as Accounting Officer, and devolved administration budgets from both of its parent departmentsForeign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Alan Johnson: I launched the new strategy for stroke services in England in December last year. We expect PCTs to begin work in earnest to implement the stroke strategy from April of this year, and this has been reflected in their allocations. But we know that many parts of the service already have plans underway.
Dawn Primarolo: Improving outcomes for children is a priority across the range of responsibilities of the Government. The recently published Children's Plan set out how the work is focused towards achieving a long term vision. With colleagues in DCSF, we have established a dedicated public service agreement to focus improvements and investment in child health and wellbeing, and are working on the development of a child health strategy.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The National Service Framework (NSF) for Long-term Conditions contains quality requirements, describing the level of service local health and social care economies are expected to achieve. The NSF has a 10-year implementation programme, with flexibility for organisations to take account of local priorities.
16. Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on his plans to extend opening hours of general practitioners surgeries; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: I am pleased that the British Medical Association has agreed new arrangements for GP practices to be open in the evenings and at weekends. These new arrangements will benefit patients, the NHS and GPs.
Mr. Bradshaw: We have given final approval for the scheme to reach financial close today. I expect the formal contract for the new £226 million hospital at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust to be signed shortly. Construction of the new facilities is due to begin in late March, and the first patients are scheduled to be admitted in early 2011. The project should be completed by autumn 2012.
Dawn Primarolo: I am aware of the issue the hon. Gentleman raises. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is monitoring all prescription medicines offered for direct sale on the internet and is working closely with HM Revenue and Customs and international authorities.
Mr. Bradshaw: We welcome general practitioners' (GP) support to the proposed agreement on the GP contract. This will provide practices with the opportunity to deliver more convenient surgery opening hours for their patients and to be rewarded for doing so. We will work with the British Medical Association to continue to put patients at the centre of improving the quality of care.
Dawn Primarolo: In 2003 the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommended that a reduction from nine grammes to six grammes in average population salt intake would proportionally lower blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Mr. Bradshaw: Bassetlaw Primary Care Trust (PCT) is responsible for determining and commissioning the appropriate range of services to meet local health need. Like every PCT in England, Bassetlaw will receive additional investment to procure new general practitioner-led health centre provision. The model to deliver this new service is a local matter.
Dawn Primarolo: As per the written ministerial statement of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 121WS, I informed the House of the outcome of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency investigation into Glaxosmithkline withholding relevant information gathered in clinical trials on seroxat. In the interests of public health it is important that all relevant data gathered in clinical trials of medicines are submitted promptly to the regulator.
Mr. Bradshaw: National health service rules make clear that patient safety and the quality of care are paramount. Staff should expect fair treatment in accordance with employment rules and their contract. Trusts also have a duty to ensure taxpayers money is not wasted. The number and duration of suspensions has significantly dropped in recent years thanks to the excellent work of the National Clinical Advisory Service.
a three-year social care transformation programme beginning this April in every local authority area;
the first ever national dementia strategy to be published in the autumn;
the new deal for carers to be announced by the Prime Minister in the spring;
the extension of our Dignity in Care campaign;
Commission for Social Care Inspection review of social care eligibility criteria and introduction of star ratings for care providers;
the review of the adult protection framework;
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