Mr. Swire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what monitoring his Department is undertaking of the pace of delivery of the broadband universal service commitment. 
Mr. Timms: The delivery of the universal service commitment (USC) will be carried out by the Network Design and Procurement Company. We hope to appoint the chief executive of this company in the autumn, who will then work to begin delivery as soon as possible. Once established, the Government will ensure appropriate monitoring of delivery, primarily through a steering board which the company will report to.
Mr. Timms: All of BT's exchanges are broadband enabled (DSL). Recent research published by the independent regulator Ofcom (Communications Market Report, August 2009) shows that 99.92 per cent. of households in rural UK are linked to a broadband enabled exchange. However, some households will be unable to receive broadband for various network reasons, for example the distance of the household from the exchange.
Mr. Timms: The Department does not currently carry out any monitoring of bandwidth speeds available in rural areas. However, the independent telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, have published the broadband speed Code of Practice which all major internet service providers have signed up to, and have also recently published research on broadband speeds. The Code of Practice can be found at
Mr. Swire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what barriers he has identified in the delivery of the broadband Universal Service Commitment to rural areas. 
Mr. Timms: The proposed arms-length body, the Network and Design and Procurement Company, will be responsible for identifying any barriers to the delivery of the universal service commitment across the UK, on behalf of Government. We hope to appoint a chief executive of this body in the autumn, and work will begin on the analysis later in the year.
Lorely Burt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how long it took on average for Business Link to carry out a health check from the original business enquiry in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 16 September 2009]: The figures refer to the lead time (the time lapse between original inquiry and the health check) for businesses requesting a health check on 26 August. Typically, across all regions an initial telephone conversation will result in those identified as being urgent cases being offered an early meeting with an adviser.
These data indicate that urgent cases are likely to be visited within a week with less urgent cases taking anything up to 17 calendar days on average, albeit this is dependent on the level of demand and client availability. The average lead time is likely to be less than 10 days across the RDA network.
|Average length of time it takes Business Link to carry out a health check from the original business inquiry (as at 26 August 2009)
There is a significant variance in this depending on the availability of the customer to meet and the complexity of the Action Plan subsequently developed. We provide contact between same day and up to two working days on average. The Health Check activity meeting may then be scheduled from within 48 hours or up to two weeks ahead.
For urgent cases, a fast track route is available to speak to an adviser directly on the same day and have an appointment within one week maximum. Average lead-times vary from 7.5 calendar days in the north and east zones of the region to 17 calendar days in the southern zone.
Initial pre-filtering takes place at the time that the inquiry is taken. Urgent requests are dealt with within 24 hours and a health check can often be done within two-three working days of the initial inquiry being made. A typical enquiry will normally be responded to within 48 hours and an appointment made that will be at the customer's earliest convenience. This would normally be within a week to 10 working days.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2009, Official Report, column 430W, on business: Government assistance, which banks are participating in the Working Capital Scheme; how many businesses had received additional funds from each such bank on the latest date for which figures are available; and what the monetary value was of the additional capital which had been made available under the scheme on that date. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: 50 per cent. guarantees have been agreed on loan portfolios from Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS), National Westminster Bank plc (NatWest), and Lloyds TSB Bank plc and Lloyds TSB Scotland plc (Lloyds Banking Group) in respect of portfolios of loans that will enable RBS, NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group to make additional lending to UK companies.
Information on the number of businesses receiving new loans is not available. £2 billion of guarantees have been provided to banks under the Working Capital Scheme to free up regulatory capital for new lending to UK companies.
As a result of action by the Government and the regulatory authorities leading to improvements in capital markets since the introduction of the WCS, the Government have been able to allocate resource provision for the WCS to other measures to support businesses.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many policies have been written under the Trade Credit Insurance scheme; and what the monetary value is of the cover provided. 
Ms Rosie Winterton
[holding answer 16 September 2009]: As of 4 September this Government 'top-up' scheme has written 64 policies to a value of £10,435,865 in cases where commercial credit insurers have reduced cover. This reflects the targeted nature of the scheme which was designed to provide breathing space for those firms who have suffered a reduction in their credit insurance as a result of the current economic climate. It is part of the Real Help Now package of measures, and has provided targeted, temporary assistance to give companies that require time to talk to their banks and buyers, and then adjust their business models to respond to the current climate, the time to do so. Many businesses have successfully found ways to reduce their need for
trade credit insurance, including developing closer relationships with their buyers, which is one of the policy objectives of the scheme.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the supply2.gov.uk portal in increasing the number of bids by small and medium-sized enterprises for public sector contracts. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Supply2.gov.uk seeks to increase access to lower value public sector contracts by publishing them in a single location. As an advertising portal, it does not collect data on the number of bids made by SMEs.
A 2007 user survey indicated that 34 per cent. of registrants had bid for a contract on the site. Since then, the number of registered suppliers has risen from around 50,000 to over 163,000, and the number of low-value contracts from below 16,000 to over 47,000. Around 300 new low-value contracts are published on the site every week. As part of the implementation of the Glover recommendations, central Government spend with SMEs will be monitored from this financial year onwards.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what the cost to his Department of employing (a) press officers and (b) other press office staff has been in each year since 1997. 
Mr. McFadden: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was created on 5 June. Figures are not available for BIS but are available for the former Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI).
John Mann: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many staff there were in (a) his Department's predecessor in 1997 and (b) his Department on the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. McFadden: The number of staff in the Department's predecessor (Department of Trade and Industry) in 1997 is shown within the Civil Service Statistics 1997 link 'Civil Service Statistics 1997' and forms part of the Civil Service statistics archive
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) ceased to exist on 5 June when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was created from the merger of BERR and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what the cost of (a) designing and (b) purchasing branded stationery for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was during its existence; how much such stationery remains unused; and what plans he has for that stationery. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 15 June 2009]: For part (a) I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy), the then Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property at the then Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills on 27 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1645-46W.
For part (b) I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Simon), the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education at the then Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills on 1 June 2009, Official Report, column 213W.
Branded stationery is ordered on demand by individual business units. Records are not held on how much was unused at the point of the creation of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). However all stocks of stationery which featured the DIUS branding were recycled when BIS was created.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of staff in his Department have worked on attachment to institutions of the European Union. 
Secondments to the EU Institutions are a valuable means of building relationships and influencing policy. In recent years, at any given time there have been approximately 12 BIS staff working in
the Institutions as Seconded National Experts. In addition, we usually support the participation of at least two members of staff per year in the European Commission's National Experts in Training Programme, which entails six month attachments. An investigation to determine the proportion of staff who have ever worked on attachment to the Institutions would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. McFadden: The Department does not routinely calculate the number of staff who have been on sick leave for over six months. However, in common with other Whitehall departments we do regularly report our sickness absence. The latest performance report is available at this link:
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many working days in the last month were lost owing to sick leave taken by staff of his Department. 
Mr. McFadden: The Department does not routinely calculate the number of working days lost owing to sick leave taken by staff in the last month. However, in common with other Whitehall departments we do regularly report our sickness absence. The latest performance report is available at this link: