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18 Mar 2008 : Column 992W—continued


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.


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Table 2: Stock of VAT-registered businesses by region, start of 1999—start of 2007
1999 2007 Change 1999-2007 % Change 1999-2007

North East

43,170

49,435

6,265

15

North West

163,580

186,045

22,465

14

Yorkshire and the Humber

123,810

139,970

16,160

13

East Midlands

115,525

134,195

18,670

16

West Midlands

143,520

164,810

21,290

15

East

171,325

196,480

25,155

15

London

262,280

309,225

46,945

18

South East

265,235

306,920

41,685

16

South West

161,545

183,420

21,875

14

England

1,449,995

1,670,500

220,505

15

Wales

78,280

84,995

6,715

9

Scotland

125,030

136,890

11,860

9

Northern Ireland

57,335

64,365

7,030

12

UK

1,710,645

1,956,750

246,105

14

Source:
Business start-ups and closures: VAT registrations and de-registrations in 2006 available at: http://stats.berr.gov.uk/ed/vat/index.htm

Solar Power: Heating

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. [192940]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department does not hold the information centrally in the format requested. This could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Telephone Services

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. [175767]

Mr. Thomas: The information required to answer this question could be gathered only at disproportionate cost.

Toys and Games: Safety

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. [194883]

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.

UK Trade and Investment: Expenditure

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. [179658]

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 departments—Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The percentage of UKTI's total budget spent on (a) promoting exports is approximately 70 per cent. and (b) encouraging inward investment is approximately 30 per cent.

Health

National Stroke Strategy

12. Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made on the implementation of the national stroke strategy. [194633]

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.

Children's Health

13. Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve children's health and well-being; and if he will make a statement. [194634]

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.

National Service Framework: Long-term Conditions

14. Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on implementation of the targets for the National Service Framework for Long-Term Conditions. [194635]

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.

NHS Dentistry

15. Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of levels of access to NHS dentistry. [194636]

Mr. Bradshaw: Recent data show that 27.6 million people saw an NHS dentist at least once in the 24 months ending September 2007.


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We are committed to increasing access to NHS dentistry, and have made this a requirement for PCTs in the NHS Operating Framework. We are increasing dental funding by 11 per cent.

General Practitioners: Extended Opening Hours

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. [194637]

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.

Hospital Construction: Pembury

17. Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the timetable is for building the new private finance initiative hospital in Pembury; and if he will make a statement. [194638]

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.

Prescription Drugs: Importation

19. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to monitor the importation of prescription drugs purchased overseas. [194640]

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.

General Practitioner Contract

21. Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the outcome of negotiations on the general practitioner contract. [194642]

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.


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Dietary Salt Intake

22. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department will commission research on the health effect of dietary salt intake. [194643]

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.

At present, we do not intend to commission further research on the health effect of dietary salt intake.

Polyclinics: Bassetlaw

23. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the appropriate number of polyclinics for Bassetlaw. [194644]

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.

Seroxat

24. Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the use of data from clinical trials of the drug Seroxat. [194645]

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.

NHS Trusts: Clinical Staff

Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued to NHS trusts on the management of suspension of clinical staff. [194630]

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.

Elderly People: Care

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve the provision of care to the elderly. [194639]


18 Mar 2008 : Column 997W

Mr. Ivan Lewis: A number of steps are being taken to improve the provision of care to elderly including:


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