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Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what results he has received on the (a) length, (b) characteristics, (c) legality under international law and (d) effect on human rights of the Saharawi people of the structure erected between Guerguerat and Oued Drâa. 
With regard to part (c) of the question, the UK regards the status of the disputed territory of Western Sahara as undetermined and continues to believe progress towards a negotiated solution to the dispute, providing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, is best achieved under the auspices of the UN. Any issues relating to "the berm" will need to be resolved and considered in that context.
With regard to part (d) of the question we continue to believe that greater openness and transparency on
human rights by all the parties to the dispute would create a significantly better environment for political dialogue. Both sides have imperfect records on human rights. Morocco's record in Western Sahara has improved in recent years, but more needs to be done to provide equality of opportunity for the people of the territory. We welcome the efforts of the parties, in partnership with MINURSO and NGOs, to reduce the threat posed by mines and unexploded ordnance in the region of the berm. We also support the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, in his efforts to build confidence between the parties, including encouragement to cooperate with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees towards establishing family visits by land.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on people-trafficking in (a) Bangladesh, (b) Yemen and (c) Pakistan with representatives from each of those countries. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any recent discussions on people trafficking with representatives of Bangladesh, Yemen or Pakistan. This is a Home Office policy lead.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions since the end of Operation Cast Lead Ministers from his Department have visited Israel; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government remain concerned by the situation in the Ogaden. Conflict continues between the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Ethiopian Government forces, and access to the region is tightly controlled. We have serious concerns over alleged human rights abuses in the region and over the humanitarian situation.
The UK has called on the Ethiopian government to undertake a credible and independent investigation into the alleged abuses, so that they can be addressed where they are found to have taken place, whether committed by the Government or by ONLF forces. We have also highlighted the pressing need for humanitarian agencies, in particular, to have adequate access to the region.
Gwyn Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the legal advice he has obtained on the law of the sea and the application of the national minimum wage to seafarers working on foreign-flagged ships operating between two UK ports. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Lord Malloch-Brown, then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote to the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress on 24 July 2009, explaining the legal position regarding the application of the national minimum wage to seafarers working on foreign-flagged vessels in the territorial sea, including when operating between two UK ports.
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many ex-service personnel have received funding from the £5 million enterprise support programme announced in paragraph 4.51 of the 2009 Pre-Budget Report; and how much of the funding allocated has been spent. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 21 January 2010]: Funding from the Enterprise Support Programme will be available in financial year 2010/11, so no one has received funding as yet. In the meantime, enterprise support is available to ex-service personnel via Business Link.
Damian Green: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of the recent industrial action by Royal Mail employees on small businesses in (a) Ashford constituency and (b) Kent. 
Mr. McFadden: It is clear that industrial action by Royal Mail staff has an impact on those customers that heavily rely on Royal Mail services and we are aware that many small businesses throughout the country use postal services on a daily basis.
The Government want to see a successful outcome to the ongoing discussions between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union and we welcome the efforts of Roger Poole (former Assistant General Secretary of NUPE and of Unison and Chairman of the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland) as an independent third party in overseeing the current process of talks.
Geraldine Smith: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assistance the Northwest Regional Development Agency has provided to businesses in Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency in respect of the economic downturn. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) established in 1999 has provided extensive support to businesses across the region including in the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency. The NWDA's main support for businesses is through regionally available "Solutions for Business" products in which the agency invested £92.75 million in 2008/09. The "Solutions for Business" portfolio includes: business finance, improving innovation and efficiency, business start-up, advice on international trade, work force training, and sector development through regional cluster organisations. The primary access point is Business Link which provides companies with information, diagnostics and brokerage to specific types of support. In a direct response to the downturn Business Link can respond to emergencies within 24 hours and utilise the region's "rapid response team" if required. The agency and Business Link have also been working with partners such as chambers of commerce and local authorities to promote business support services and share intelligence on companies and sectors which have been impacted by the downturn. The NWDA has also worked with the banks and doubled its investment in business finance in 2009/10. The NWDA is tackling short-term economic problems whilst also taking a long-term view in line with the Government's New Industry, New Jobs policy which promotes investment in growth sectors to compete in the global economy.
David Davis: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whether (a) agencies and (b) non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible sell information on a commercial basis to (i) companies or individuals in the private sector and (ii) other organisations. 
Mr. McFadden: Government Departments and agencies and non-departmental public bodies that have Crown status, make most of their information available for free re-use under the PSI Click-Use Licence. Government trading funds, such as the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), for which BIS have ministerial responsibility, are able under their trading fund status to charge for the services they provide in order to cover their costs. This covers information and its supply provided to other public bodies, commercial organisations and individuals. In common with other Government policy, some information is sold as priced publications.
I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled 20 January 2010, to the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Intellectual Property Office makes available value added public domain information it has relating to Patents, Trade Marks and other Intellectual Property on normal commercial terms to companies, individuals and other bodies. It also has some publications on commercial terms covering the latest developments in IP law. This represents a small part of the Trading Fund's business.
I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled 20 January 2010, UIN 313217, to the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Companies House sells details of directors, copies of annual accounts, incorporation documents and other company information to members of the public, companies or public sector organisations. This is sold on a cost recovery basis.
I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office (formerly National Weights and Measures Laboratory) to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 20/01/2010 [reference 2009/1032] to the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, asking whether the agency sells information on a commercial basis to (i) companies or individuals in the private sector and (ii) other organisations.
The agency does not sell any information to any companies, individuals or organisations. Information that we previously charged for hard copies is now available free by download from on our website. We provide certain information such as our annual report free of charge to the Office of Public Sector Information, which makes a charge for hard copy material through The Stationery Office. We make this information available as free downloads from our website.
I write with reference to your question, raised in Parliament, in which you asked:
"To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, whether (a) agencies and (b) non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible sell information on a commercial basis to (i) companies or individuals in the private sector and (ii) other organisations."
I have been asked to respond to your query as Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service.
Before responding in detail, however, I should clarify that the Insolvency Service does not sell any of the information it holds on a commercial basis.
The main database of information published by my agency is the electronic Individual Insolvency Register (eIIR), which holds details of:
Current bankruptcies, and those which have ended within the last three months;
Current individual voluntary arrangements and fast track voluntary arrangements;
Debt Relief Orders; and
Current bankruptcy restrictions orders and undertakings.
Access to the register is freely available through the Insolvency Service's website, http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/bankruptcy/bankruptcysearch.htm, and no charge is made to view the data.
The full database of information is also available in a processed format, for which an administrative charge is levied. The charge is calculated on a cost recovery basis.
I trust that the above information will prove useful to you.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many (a) press officers and (b) communications staff were employed by his Department (i) in each of the last five years and (ii) on the latest date for which figures are available; and what the cost of employing these staff was in each such year. 
The number of press officers currently at BIS is 27. This combines the press offices from the former BERR and former DIUS. The press office co-ordinates all the media handling for the Department's current 10 Ministers and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser.
2008: 17 BERR; 13 DIUS
2007: 16 (DTI/BERR)
2006: 17 (DTI)
2005: 18 (DTI)
2004: 19 (DTI)
This includes staff costs for press officers and support staff working in the press office. A breakdown of costs for press officers and non press officers could be provided only at disproportionate costs.
The total number of full time equivalent communications staff currently at BIS, excluding press officers, is 74. This figure covers staff in the central communications directorate employed in communications roles, excluding support staff, secondees and agency staff. Communications roles currently include strategy and planning, internal communications, strategic marketing, stakeholder liaison and digital communications.
|Total staffing costs for staff in the central communications directorate, excluding press office costs.|
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