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5 Feb 2009 : Column 1457W—continued

National Minimum Wage

16. Tom Levitt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the range of penalties for non-compliance with national minimum wage regulations; and if he will make a statement. [254324]

Mr. McFadden: The Government are committed to simple, effective NMW enforcement and HMRC follow-up all complaints of underpayment.

The Employment Act 2008 strengthens the NMW enforcement regime. From 6 April 2009 there will be automatic penalties of up to £5,000 for employers who do not comply and a fairer method of calculating arrears. This will help to ensure that vulnerable workers are paid the minimum wage.


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Small Suppliers

17. Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to ensure that small suppliers are paid promptly by the Government and businesses. [254325]

18. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to ensure small suppliers are paid promptly by the Government and businesses. [254326]

Ian Pearson: All central Government Departments are committed to pay within 10 days, ensuring over £66 billion of payments reach business quicker than ever.

Regional Development Agencies: Business Support

19. Mr. Todd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps regional development agencies are taking to support small and medium-sized businesses during the economic downturn; and if he will make a statement. [254327]

Mr. McFadden: RDAs are offering SMEs real help through the Business Link network, including access to the ‘Solutions for Business’ portfolio of business support. In addition, outside London, RDAs are already providing or are in the process of setting up transition loan funds for viable small and medium-sized businesses facing finance difficulties. £25 million will be available through these funds to businesses suffering short-term funding problems owing to the global downturn.

Broadband

Mike Penning: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of households that do not have access to broadband internet in (a) Hemel Hempstead, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) England. [243004]

Mr. McFadden: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent representations he has received on the creation of a universal service obligation in respect of broadband internet provision. [249018]

Mr. McFadden: Since the announcement of the Digital Broadband Report on 17 October, this Department has received representations on universal service obligation in the form of correspondence from a Member of Parliament, a member of the Scottish Parliament and
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industry as well as a parliamentary question. The Digital Britain interim report will look at the case for a universal service commitment on broadband.

Broadband: Rural Areas

Mr. Swire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of households that do not have access to broadband in (a) Devon, (b) East Devon constituency and (c) Exmouth. [242161]

Mr. McFadden: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive's letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Business for New Europe

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with Business for New Europe on his Department's policies for business in Europe since his appointment; and if he will make a statement. [254321]

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, has had two meetings with members of Business for New Europe since his appointment. He attended a breakfast meeting with BNE members on 10 December 2008 and again on 17 December 2008 to discuss the current economic situation, internationally and domestically.

Departmental Buildings

Mr. Scott: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much has been spent on (a) maintaining, (b) decorating and (c) otherwise improving departmental buildings in each year since the Department's inception; how much has been spent on wallpaper in that time; and what plans there are for further spending on departmental decoration. [248801]

Mr. McFadden: The following figures relate to spend on the BERR HQ estate since its inception on 28 June 2007 and is broken down into the categories required:

BERR does not use wallpaper on its estate. Further spending on departmental decoration is dependent on its lease obligations.

Office refurbishment costs have been included under (c). These projects will have included an element of redecoration and to split these costs out would involve disproportionate cost. Also included in (c) are the costs associated with a large number of projects, e.g. improvements to the heating and ventilation system in BERR's HQ building at 1 Victoria Street (including the conference centre and works to the lifts across the estate to bring them up to DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliance.


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Departmental Marketing

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham of 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 894W, on departmental marketing, what expenditure on promotional products by the Insolvency Service has been since February 2008; and what branding appeared on each of the Insolvency Service branded (a) pens, (b) clocks, (c) mugs and (d) USB memory sticks procured in this period. [248997]

Mr. McFadden: The Insolvency Service has spent approximately £8,000 on departmental promotional products since February 2008.

The Insolvency Service has produced pens and mugs with the Insolvency Service logo. No clocks or USB sticks have been procured during this period.

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham of 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 894W, on departmental marketing, what branding or logos were published on each of the branded Insolvency Service (a) pens, (b) clocks, (c) mugs and (d) USB memory sticks. [252452]

Mr. McFadden: The Insolvency Service has produced pens and mugs with the agency’s logo and the strapline “working well together” and “your views matter”.

No clocks or memory sticks were purchased during this period.

Departmental Working Hours

Mr. Laws: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many days off in lieu were granted to staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies for working (i) in lunch breaks and (ii) at other times outside contracted working hours, in the last year for which figures are available; [252045]

(2) what the policy of his Department and its agencies is on granting staff time off in lieu for working (a) in lunch breaks, (b) in evenings and (c) at other times outside contracted working hours; and if he will make a statement. [252046]

Mr. McFadden: The Department does not keep a central record of how many days off in lieu were granted to staff. The matter of granting time off in lieu is dealt with locally by line managers in accordance with departmental policies.

The Department has a flexible working policy which allows staff to work flexibly and organise their time around their contracted hours. The ways staff can work flexibly includes flexi-time, part-time, compressed hours, annualised hours and homeworking.

Complying with the Working Time Directive, staff are encouraged to take regular breaks including a minimum lunch break each day of half an hour. Staff who accrue flexi-time can take time off in lieu.


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I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency Service and Companies House and they will respond to the hon. Member directly.

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 5 February 2009:

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 5 February 2009:

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 5 February 2009:

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 5 February 2009:

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Maude: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the Answer of 17 July 2008, Official Report, column 694W, on Economic and Monetary Union, whether his Department’s updating of its euro changeover plan has been completed; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recent version. [250102]

Mr. McFadden: BERR’s euro transition plan is being updated to reflect recent machinery of Government changes. When completed, we will place a copy in the Library.


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Electronic Equipment: Waste Disposal

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions his Department has had with other Government departments on its review of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations. [251755]

Ian Pearson: The Department has had extensive discussions on the review of the waste electrical and electronic equipment regulations with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and devolved Administrations.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1271W, on housing: low incomes, which programmes (a) will not be proceeded with and (b) will receive reduced funding following the redirection of £300 million from the regional development agency budgets. [252741]

Mr. McFadden: The RDAs are working closely with Government to respond to the current economic challenges. Tough decisions had to be taken over the £300 million budget changes. The Government have also asked RDAs to refocus their budgets to concentrate on support for businesses in their regions. In reshaping its corporate plan for the period ahead, each RDA will be assessing with key partners and regional stakeholders, in the light of their regional economic strategy, how the cuts will impact and how best they can be mitigated and how best to maintain key priorities.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Chope: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when the Secretary of State plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Christchurch of 10 December 2008 on the loss of overseas business from a firm in his constituency. [252644]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 29 January 2009]: Officials are consulting with colleagues in the Home Office on this matter. I will respond to the hon. Member shortly.

Redundancy

Mrs. May: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many redundancies were notified to his Department and its predecessor in each (a) month of the last five years for which information is available and (b) year since 1997. [252925]

Mr. McFadden: I cannot give the right hon. Member details of the actual number of redundancies as there is no requirement for employers to provide that information. However, employers who propose to make 20 or more redundancies at one establishment are required to notify
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the Secretary of State of the proposal under provisions contained in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. Information on those notifications is only held from January 2006. I have detailed as follows the number of notifications received for each month from January 2006 to December 2008. I should add that these are only proposed, not actual redundancies, therefore the number of actual redundancies that may have taken place would not be the same.

Number

2006

January

35,133

February

32,038

March

27,288

April

21,635

May

33,578

June

23,950

July

21,122

August

27,971

September

35,031

October

26,247

November

48,754

December

19,248

Total

351,995

2007

January

32,325

February

21,205

March

67,232

April

18,055

May

20,688

June

26,919

July

23,985

August

62,960

September

40,068

October

33,360

November

17,034

December

36,434

Total

400,265

2008

January

29,626

February

19,875

March

34,149

April

30,222

May

26,387

June

18,720

July

37,505

August

18,177

September

30,691

October

42,829

November

45,855

December

69,660

Total

403,696


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