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21 Jun 2010 : Column 84Wcontinued
Carbon Trust SME Loan Scheme
Bristol & Bath Science Park
London Business Link
International Space Innovation Centre.
The results of these reviews and those of non-Business Support projects were announced to the House by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 June.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has for the future regulation of business and investment finance. 
Mr Prisk: In order to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, we committed in the coalition agreement to reform the regulatory system. The Chancellor has outlined Government proposals to abolish the tripartite regime. The Financial Services Authority will cease to exist in its current form.
We will create a new prudential regulator, which will operate as a subsidiary of the Bank of England. It will carry out the prudential regulation of financial firms, including banks, investment banks, building societies and insurance companies.
We will also establish a powerful new Consumer Protection and Markets Authority, responsible for ensuring the good conduct of business in the UK's retail and
wholesale financial services, in order to preserve our reputation for transparency and efficiency as well as our position as one of the world's leading global financial centres.
A single agency will be created to take on the work of tackling serious economic crime that is currently dispersed across a number of Government Departments and agencies.
Before we set up these new bodies in their permanent form, we will conduct a full and comprehensive consultation process and will publish a detailed policy document for public consultation before the summer recess.
During the period of transition to the new regime, the Government will also be guided by the following four principles:
minimising uncertainty and transitional costs for firms;
maintaining high quality, focused regulation during the transition;
balancing swift implementation with proper scrutiny and consultation; and
providing as much clarity and certainty as possible for FSA, bank and other staff affected during transition.
The process will be handled carefully; we will consult widely and get it right.
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 10 June 2010, Official Report, column 232W on business: regulations, which regulations he has identified as relevant. 
Mr Prisk: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has the responsibility to operate the one-in-one-out rule across the regulatory areas for which it is responsible, including employment law.
This is consistent with the Coalition's Programme for Government commitment to reviewing employment and workplace laws, for employers and employees, to ensure they maximise flexibility for both parties while protecting fairness and providing the competitive environment required for enterprise to thrive.
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he plans to allow the public to challenge primary legislation as part of his proposals to allow the public to challenge regulations in force. 
Mr Prisk: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 June Official Report, column 233w. As part of developing innovative and practical ways to facilitate public challenge of the worst regulations, we are also considering the scope of this work. I will make a statement to the House with more detail in due course.
Owen Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) if he will discuss with (a) the hon. Member for Pontypridd and (b) Companies House employees based at Nantgarw the proposed closure of Companies House's Nantgarw office; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) whether he has discussed with the Chief Executive of Companies House the proposed closure of Companies House's Nantgarw office. 
Mr Davey: This is an operational matter for the chief executive of Companies House. I am aware that staff at Companies House are being kept fully informed on this issue.
I understand the hon. Member for Pontypridd met the chief executive to discuss the proposed closure on 17 June 2010.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what guidance his Department has issued on each change made to regulations and controls on the issue of credit cards in the last three years. 
Mr Davey: I understand that, although BIS has not published any new guidance on consumer credit rules which would impact on credit cards over the last three years, the Office of Fair Trading published updated guidance on unfair relationships in May 2008, on post-contractual information requirements in July 2008 and on irresponsible lending in March this year. The guidance covers provisions introduced by the 2006 Consumer Credit Act. BIS is currently consulting on draft guidance on new provisions implementing the Consumer Credit Directive which were made in March this year and come into force next February.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what his estimate is of the cost to the public purse of proposed reductions in numbers of non-frontline staff in his Department and its agencies. 
Mr Davey: Plans for reductions in numbers of non-frontline staff at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are not sufficiently developed at this stage to enable us to estimate the cost.
I have approached the Chief Executives of the Insolvency Service, Companies House, the National Measurement Office, the Intellectual Property Office and the Skills Funding Agency and they will respond to the hon. Member directly.
Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 3 June 2010:
I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled 26 May 2010, UIN 482 to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Companies House is a Trading Fund and Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Companies House has not budgeted for any redundancy/severance costs, however, as a Trading Fund any costs would be met by fees from our customers and would represent no cost to the public purse.
Letter from Peter Mason, dated 1 June 2010:
I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 26 May to the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, asking about estimates of the annual cost of redundancy payments for staff employed by the Department and its Agencies.
The cost to the Agency of any redundancy or other exit payments this year will be disclosed in its Annual Report and Accounts of 2010/11. As matters stand, however, we do not envisage having to make such payments during the current year.
Letter from John Alty, dated 2 June 2010:
I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled 26 May 2010, to the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is a Trading Fund and Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The IPO has not budgeted for any redundancy/severance costs however as a Trading Fund any costs would be met by fees from users and would represent no cost to the public purse.
Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 3 June 2010:
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has asked me to reply to your question what his estimate is of the cost to the public purse of proposed reductions in numbers of non-frontline staff in his Department and its agencies.
The Insolvency Service Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills set out its plan for 2010/11 in its Corporate Plan. This included a planned reduction in non-frontline staff working in corporate services functions during 2010-11 of 12.6 (FTE). With the recent announcements of plans to cut £61/4 billion of wasteful spending across the public sector The Insolvency Service is reviewing its Corporate plan for 2010-11 which may lead to further changes in planned numbers of non-frontline staff.
A large proportion (73%) of the Insolvency Service's functions are funded by fee income and the impact of any reductions will therefore only apply to the 27% funded from the public purse.
Letter from Geoff Russell, dated 21 June 2010:
I am replying on behalf of the Skills Funding Agency to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 26 May (UIN 482), to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, concerning the cost of proposed reductions in non-frontline staff in the Department and its agencies.
The Skills Funding Agency was set up as an agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 1 April 2010. As a new agency, we are currently looking at the implications of the recent announcements and the impact on the future shape of the organisation.
The cost to the agency of any reduction in numbers of non-frontline staff this financial year will be disclosed in the accounts for 2010/11.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers are employed by his Department at each Civil Service pay grade. 
Mr Davey: I refer the hon. Member to the list of special adviser appointments published by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 10 June 2010, Official Report, columns 32-34W.
BIS currently has 30 Press Officers employed as civil servants at these pay grades:
Senior Executive Officers (SEO)/Senior Information Officer (SIO)
This excludes one Press Officer working in BIS but employed by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). In addition there are three Grade 7 chief press officers on maternity leave.
Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for what reasons the Minister of State for Universities has appointed a special adviser. 
Mr Willetts: To add a political dimension to the advice I receive.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which public bodies will provide the secretariat for EU Convergence Regional Programmes when regional development agencies are wound up. 
Mr Prisk: The Government indicated in the coalition agreement that RDAs would be replaced by local enterprise partnerships comprising business and local authorities. Discussions are still under way on the future delivery of the EU programmes in the English regions.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the delivery of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Convergence Programme of the ending of regional development agencies. 
Mr Prisk: The Government have indicated that the delivery of economic development in all the regions of England will change as it considers a more appropriate delivery of economic development is by partnerships between local authorities and business.
The Government will work with the programme partners to ensure that changes to management arrangements have no detrimental effect on the benefits that the Convergence programme will bring to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what factors he took into account in deciding to (a) end the South West Regional Development Agency and (b) change the secretariat for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly EU Convergence Programme. 
Mr Prisk: The information is as follows:
(a) In "The Coalition: our programme for government" we made clear that we intended to replace regional development agencies, including South West RDA, with local enterprise partnerships. This is because it is not clear that the current RDAs represent the best structure to promote economic development. In particular, some regions do not generally reflect economic areas, while RDAs are not locally accountable and have too wide a range of responsibilities.
(b) No decision has yet been made to change the secretariat for the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Convergence programme.
Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what mechanisms are in place to ensure that UK companies do not sell arms to countries where human rights abuses have been identified by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Prisk: An export licence is required to export arms and other military equipment from the United Kingdom. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria taking account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of the application. A licence will not be issued where to do so would be inconsistent with the Criteria or other relevant announced commitments. In particular Criterion Two concerns the 'respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country of final destination', and states that the Government will not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.
More information about the Criteria, including a link to the full text, is available on the export control pages on the Business Link website at:
under 'Assessment of Export Licence Applications-Criteria and Policy.'
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department has estimated the effects on (a) UK businesses and (b) the volume of UK exports arising from the Export Control Organisation not processing all standard individual export licences within its 20 working days' target. 
Mr Prisk: The Government's published target is to process 70% of standard individual export licences in 20 days. In 2009, this target was exceeded with an outturn of 73%. Some export licences take longer to process because they involve the export of sensitive goods to sensitive destinations, which may require particularly close scrutiny or consultation with other Governments. No estimate has been made of the implications for business of the fact that some export licences cannot be processed within 20 days.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will take steps to ensure that applicants for a standard individual export licence receive (a) prompt notification of the receipt of their application and (b) an estimated deadline for deciding on the application; what mechanism is used to ensure applications are processed safely and efficiently; and if he will make a statement. 
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