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15 July 2008 : Column 281Wcontinued
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much his Department and its agencies spent on branding and marketing activity in 2007-08. 
Mr. Thomas: Since the creation of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform spend on branding is listed in the following table.
Rebranding and IT changes including revised email addresses, new signage, web based changes, new logo and print costs
In the 2007-08 financial year, spending on advertising and direct marketing procured through the Central Office of Information by my Department and the former DTI was as follows:
Details of other costs for BERR advertising and marketing activities are not held centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.
UK Trade and Investment's costs in maintaining its brand guidelines are £850.00 per month for hosting on the UKTI website. Other costs for UKTI marketing activities are not held centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.
The Insolvency Service and Companies House will reply directly.
Letter from Tim Moss, dated 14 July 2008:
I am responding on behalf of Companies House to your recently tabled Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
In the financial year 2007/8 Companies House spent £749,831 on branding and marketing activity.
Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 14 July 2008:
The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has asked me to reply to you directly on behalf of the Insolvency Service in respect of your question (2007/3026) asking how much the Department and its agencies spent on branding and marketing activity in 2007-08.
The Insolvency Service Executive Agency spent £13,060.98 on branding and marketing in the financial year 2007-08.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will introduce legislation requiring all regulatory bodies sponsored by his Department to admit the public to their meetings. 
Mr. Thomas: The Department has no plans to introduce such legislation.
However, the regulatory bodies generally have statutory duties under specific legislation e.g. Ofcom operates under the Communications Act 2003 and the Competition Commission's procedures are governed by the provisions of the Enterprise Act. They must abide by their statutory duties in the exercise of their functions. These include requirements to consult and to consider representations before taking decisions. The regulatory bodies can be held to account by Parliament, via the Business and Enterprise Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, for the exercise of their statutory duties.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many days of sick leave were taken by his Department's employees in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Thomas: Cabinet Office has introduced a revised format for reporting sickness absence statistics across the civil service. The new format was introduced at the end of March 2008 and the first report covers the calendar year 2007. It indicates 6.1 average working days lost per employee lost due to sickness.
Sickness absence data for the Department's predecessor, the Department of Trade and Industry, for 2006-07, 2005 and 2004, including the average number of days taken as sick leave, are published on the public civil service website:
along with data for other Departments and agencies.
Earlier sickness data are not readily available and the cost of producing this would be disproportionate to the benefit to be derived.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what training courses were (a) available to and (b) taken by civil servants in his Department in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Thomas: Individuals and their line managers identify learning and development needs, and the appropriate training to attend, over the course of the year. Individuals can then access a variety of interventions to meet their requirements either through the Departments preferred suppliers or through other suppliers if the required training is not available. Details are not held centrally as learning and development is devolved across the Department.
Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what sources of advice and financial support are available to family businesses. 
Mr. McFadden: The Government support a suite of national instruments to help businesses and SMEs to start up and grow. At the national level, the Small Firms Loan Guarantee exists to help lending to SMEs with viable business propositions that lack the necessary collateral with which to secure a commercial loan. Enterprise Capital Funds invest a mixture of public and private money into small growth businesses seeking up to £2 million in risk capital. Regions, via RDAs, also offer sources of finance on a regional and sub-regional basis, including loan and equity programmes, and support to prepare businesses with skills they need to attract finance. Information on national and regional programmes, and advice and support on wider issues is available on Business Links website:
and via their helpline on 0845 600 9006.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was spent by his Department on (a) food and (b) food of British origin in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Thomas: The following information shows the amount spent on food by the Departments contracted catering service provider, with the amount spent on food of British origin shown in brackets over the last five years:
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform from which five countries of origin the greatest amount of food was procured by his Department in the last year for which figures are available; and what the (a) cost and (b) quantity procured was in each case. 
Mr. Thomas: The Departments contracted service provider does not hold records which would enable an accurate answer to be given and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
The majority of food procured by our current contractor originates from the UK (meat, vegetables and fish), Europe (fruit and vegetables), France (poultry) and Greenland (seafood).
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assistance his Department provides to Chinese businesses wishing to (a) invest in the United Kingdom and (b) take part in joint ventures with UK companies; how much was made available for these purposes in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: UK Trade and Investment promotes the UK as the location in Europe for foreign investors to do business. It provides information, advice, and guidance for companies wishing to locate in the UK and its Global Partnership Programme provides a fast expert partner matching service for overseas organisations.
In 2003-04, the last year that Regional Selective Assistance was available, no offers were accepted or payments made to a Chinese owned company. Since Selective Finance for Investment (SFI) came into effect in April 2004 there has been one offer of £3.8 million accepted by a Chinese owned company in February this year. (SFI is a capital grant business support scheme that can, subject to European Commission and Treasury criteria being satisfied, provide financial assistance to companies, foreign owned or indigenous, who wish to invest or create jobs in deprived areas in England.)
The UK welcomes inward investment from around the world, including China, which is why the latest European Investment Monitor figures show that in 2007 the UK remained the number one location in Europe for attracting inward investment globally with 19.2 per cent. of market share ahead for France in second place with 14.6 per cent.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he had with the Secretary of State for International Development on the proposed project by
the UK company Global Coal Management Resources plc for an opencast coalmine at Phulbari in North West Bangladesh and possible effects for the population living in the area in advance of the decision to provide support to the company through the High Commission in Dhaka. 
Mr. Thomas: BERR officials have held regular discussions with officials from the Department for International Development on this subject, both in the UK and the British high commission in Dhaka.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many complaints have been received by local trading standards bodies about non-surgical laser and intense pulsed light treatments in the last five years. 
Mr. Thomas: Consumer contact with Local Authority Trading Standards Services has been handled by the Government funded Consumer Direct telephone and online advice service since June 2004. Before this time contacts were made direct to the 205 local authorities and are not readily available or collected by BERR.
Contacts recorded against the categories of hair removal therapy; beauty treatments; cosmetic therapies; hair replacement therapies and the term laser identifies 199 contacts since June 2004. A contact may be a complaint or could be a request for other information such as pre-shopping advice. Consumer Direct does not specifically record contacts regarding non-surgical laser and intense pulsed light treatments.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential use as business cost relief of tax revenues obtained from increased oil prices. 
Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have regular discussions on a wide range of issues.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the impact on people with disabilities of the planned closure of Hinton St George post office in Somerset; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: 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.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his policy is on the establishment of an additional public holiday; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government are currently conducting a wide-ranging consultation on the nature
of our citizenship and our constitution, including how best we celebrate our national identity. As part of this process, we have received a number of suggestions for new or replacement bank holidays, designed to celebrate or commemorate aspects of British life or history. At present, we have no plans to change the current pattern of bank holidays, but we are nevertheless considering all these suggestions carefully.
Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what consideration he has made of introducing a public Bill with generally applicable provisions analogous to those in the Leeds City Council Bill and other similar private Bills. 
Mr. Thomas: I am aware that several local authorities, including Leeds city council, are pursuing private Bills seeking to extend their powers in relation to the control of street trading and to limit the activities of certified pedlars, and that some seven local authorities have already done so.
This Department is in the process of undertaking research to better establish evidence about the effectiveness of current legislation in this area and to gather views from all stakeholder groups with an interest. This will enable us to better assess whether there is a case for national legislation to provide all local authorities with additional powers along the lines of the private Bills and Acts; and to decide the best way forward that balances the interests of business, consumers and pedlars.
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