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Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress the Better Regulation Executive is making towards its target of reducing red tape for small businesses by 25 per cent. by 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
In December 2007, 19 Simplification Plans were published, showing more than 700 measures
to reduce the burdens of complying with regulations. Over 280 of these measures have already been delivered saving businesses £800 million per year. Examples include:
Smaller businesses stand to benefit from substantial rewrite of company law. Coupled with better guidance, new provisions are expected to lower third party costs and make compliance easier. Conservative estimate of £2 million annual savings delivered.
Small firms eligible for small business rate relief no longer have to register for relief annually. £3 million annual savings delivered, and expected to rise to £11 million by 2010.
Removed the need for 3,400 small firms to have a statutory audit, saving £12.9 million per year. Copies of these plans are available online at:
Our Enterprise Strategy, published alongside the Budget, also contained significant new proposals to reduce regulation. This includes examining whether small firms can be either exempted from new regulation or be subject to specifically tailored approaches. The Government will also consult on the introduction of regulatory budgets.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what bilateral commercial contracts have been signed with the assistance of UK Trade and Investment since July 2007. 
Mr. Thomas [holding answer 12 May 2008]: UK Trade & Investment measures its performance in terms of the value it adds for its customers and for the economy. In the case of its trade services, results for FY 2007-08 show that UKTI helped 15,900 UK companies to exploit overseas business opportunities. The total estimated additional bottom line profit for these businesses, generated by UKTI services, was £3 billion. In the case of inward investment, we expect the outturn result for the year to be close to the 525 target for foreign direct investment projects which UKTI has successfully facilitated, and significantly to have exceeded the target for 125 of those projects to be of high value.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will meet Welsh Assembly Government ministers to discuss the use of concessionary bus passes across the border between England and Wales. 
Ms Rosie Winterton:
The Secretary of State has no plans at present to meet Welsh Assembly Government Ministers to discuss the use of concessionary bus passes across the England/Wales border, and nor have
I. Further to my answer of 1 May 2008, Official Report, column 597W, discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government about reciprocal arrangements for cross-border concessionary travel between England and the Devolved Administrations have taken place at official level.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 3 March 2008, Official Report, column 2041W, on departmental manpower, how many of the employees under 18 years of age are receiving at least one day's training per week. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport currently employs 18 people who are under the age of 18. Sixteen of these employees are temporary staff, and they do not receive more than one day of training per week.
Jim Fitzpatrick: On 7 May 2008, we launched the Driving Standards Agencys Learning to Drive consultation, which sets out proposals for the reform of driver education, training and testing. The reforms will better prepare newly qualified drivers for modern driving conditions and help reduce collisions and casualties:
More thorough and effective learning to drive arrangements underpinned by a new learning to drive syllabus setting out the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to be a safe and competent driver. This will be supported by a student workbook. We are trialling new ways for people to develop safe attitudes including an attitude advisor, which can assess drivers approach to risk and help guide training programs. We shall be investigating new ways of learning and training, including driver discussion groups, as well as improved in-car training arrangements.
We are researching our theory test so it provides a better assessment of understanding, perhaps by using case studies. We shall research possible changes to the Hazard Perception Test to improve its safety effects. We have sought views on whether we should continue to publish the theory test question bank.
We are trialling possible changes to the practical test so that it provides a better guide to whether a learner has reached the standard to drive unsupervised. These changes include introducing independent driving, situational judgment, changes to the way specific manoeuvres are tested and switching from a fault based marking system to one that focuses on positive evidence on competence.
We are investigating improved feedback arrangements for all our tests. We are also looking at splitting the theory and practical tests into modules, to enable learners to pass elements as they are ready.
New opportunities to take further training and qualifications. We shall work with the insurance industry and employers whose employees drive in the course of their work to develop new courses and qualifications that they value, leading to lower insurance premiums and improved job prospects.
Improved training and testing arrangements for driving instructors, both when they qualify initially and subsequently, to ensure they are well placed to provide a quality service in the new environment.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving test centres in England closed in each year since 1997; which driving test centres in England are earmarked for closure by the Driving Standards Agency; what savings have been achieved as a result of closures already implemented;
and what estimate she has made of possible savings resulting from future closures. 
To facilitate the introduction of new European requirements for practical tests, alongside its existing estate DSA is developing a new national network of driving test centres. These centres, which are based on an updated design, are fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and also support the Government's wider sustainability agenda.
In order to exploit the value of the investment in these new centres DSA have decided that, wherever possible, they will be multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs). The new centres will have appropriate facilities to conduct practical tests for learner car drivers and motorcyclists. In some cases, there will also be provision for lorry driver tests.
As an organisation which relies on test fee income for the provision of its services DSA needs to ensure that it can deliver a cost-effective service which avoids unnecessary expenditure. The provision of MPTCs is expected to cost in the region of £71 million. That cost will largely be recovered through increased fees paid by test candidates.
In order to keep those fee increases to the minimum, DSA must closely examine how it delivers its services and seek more efficiencies in the way it conducts its business. This includes reviewing existing driving test centre provision to ensure that, while the service standard is maintained, there is no wasteful over-provision of facilities. Regrettably this does mean that some existing driving test centres have to close.
|Driving test centre (DTC)||Date closed||Annual saving( 1)( ) (£)|
|(1) Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004. (2) Unavailable.|
|DTC||Annual saving( 1) (£)|
|(1) Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004.|
The following driving test centres have been earmarked for closure and the anticipated savings from their closure are shown alongside; most of these closures will result from the implementation of the multi-purpose driving test centre project:
|DTC||Potential savings (£)|
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