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All applications for standard export licences are submitted via the Government's fully electronic web based processing system, known as SPIRE. SPIRE replaced the previous system of paper licences and provides a complete end-to-end e-business service. The system connects all parties involved in export licensing and is hosted on the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) ensuring that all communications over the system are
secure. Applicants are notified of receipt of their application immediately after submission through an automatic acknowledgement sent to them over SPIRE.
The Government publish licence processing target times which, for standard individual export licences, is to process 70% of these within 20 working days. Applicants are advised that this target applies as soon as full documentation has been provided in support of an application and that it does not include time taken to go back to them for further information. Furthermore, the Government's performance against these targets for each destination country is published in the annual and quarterly reports on strategic export controls.
Mr Prisk: UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) supports companies exporting to Saudi Arabia through trade and investment teams based in Saudi Arabia and the UK. In addition to a 25-strong team based in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, UKTI also employs a business specialist in the UK focused on identifying supply chain opportunities in Saudi Arabia arising from the Saudi Government's Fiscal Stimulus packages.
UKTI provides a broad range of support for British companies wishing to do business in Saudi Arabia-from conferences and trade missions to support for trade fairs and exhibitions. In December 2009, the then Minister for Trade, Lord Davies, led a high-level mission of over 40 UK companies to Jeddah and Riyadh. In February this year, UKTI organised "Partner Middle East", a three-day road show that exposed over 450 companies in London, the West Midlands and Manchester to business opportunities in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere in the Middle East). UKTI is rolling out a programme of follow-up activities over the course of 2010-11.
UKTI funds and provides secretariat support for the Saudi-British Joint Business Council. The council meets twice a year to identify new business opportunities and also focuses on ways to tackle barriers to trade and to improve the environment for business. The Business Council has had a particular focus on the energy sector, as well as health care, education and skills and construction/transport, bringing together companies from both the UK and Saudi Arabia to explore the opportunities for new business partnerships in these key areas. To build new business in the financial services sector, UKTI, working closely with the Business Council and private sector partners, has overseen the creation of a UK-Saudi Arabia Financial Services Task Force, which is focused on a number of areas including public-private partnerships, investment banking law and regulation.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the Government plans to investigate Google's data-gathering practices in relation to the recording of information from Wi-Fi networks. 
Mr Vaizey: Under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) rather than Government, has responsibility for investigating potential data protection breaches of this nature. The ICO has secured a commitment from Google to destroy the erroneously collected data and are currently examining what other action would be appropriate.
Mr Willetts: The numbers of entrants from Hartlepool constituency to UK higher education institutions are shown in the table. Figures are taken from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record and are provided for the academic years 1995-96 to 2008-09.
HESA have published UK higher education statistics since the 1994-95 academic year. In 1994-95 student postcode information, on which constituency data are based, was not collected, so information at constituency level is only available from 1995-96. Postcode information has been collected in each year thereafter and, therefore, entrant numbers can be provided at constituency level. Comparable data for earlier years are not available.
|Entrants( 1) from Hartlepool constituency( 2) UK higher education institutions( 3) : Academic years 1995-96 to 2008-09|
|(1) Covers all-aged undergraduate and postgraduate entrants to full-time and part-time courses.|
(2) The table does not include entrants where the constituency of the student cannot be established due to missing or invalid postcode information.
(3) Excludes the Open University due to inconsistencies in their coding of entrants across the time series.
Figures are on a HESA snapshot basis as at 1 December and are rounded to the nearest five.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
Mr Prisk: The Department will work closely with the steel industry to minimise unnecessary burdens by involving the sector in discussions on regulatory, policy and other issues that impact on them such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, energy costs and supply, climate change and environmental protection. Our aim is to avoid unintended consequences and harness the sector's many creative ideas for lighter touch approaches.
The steel industry has opportunities to participate in collaborative R&D projects funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the EU Research Fund for Coal and Steel. Financial support for the steel industry needs to meet the requirements in the EC State Aid rules which permit support for research and development, environmental protection and training within specified limits.
In respect of the mothballed Teesside Cast Products site in my hon. Friend's constituency, we hope a new partner can be found for this plant, however decisions on any offer to purchase the Teesside plant are a commercial matter for Corus.
Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many times (a) he and (b) other Ministers and officials in his Department have (i) met, (ii) spoken on the telephone and (iii) corresponded with representatives of the National Union of Students since their appointment. 
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the oral answer from the Prime Minister of 9 June 2010, Official Report, columns 327-28, how much his Department has spent in reviewing its proposed loan to Nissan. 
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the North West Development Agency in relation to job creation and retention and economic development in (a) the North West region and (b) Liverpool. 
Mr Prisk: An Independent Performance Assessment conducted by the National Audit Office in 2006-07 assessed the North West Development Agency as performing strongly. The NAO, on behalf of my Department, is currently undertaking an Independent Supplementary Review of regional development agencies and is due to report shortly.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to which projects in (a) Stockport Metropolitan Borough area and (b) Tameside Metropolitan Borough area the North West Regional Development Agency is considering allocating funding in the financial year 2010-11. 
Mr Prisk: The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is not currently considering any new projects for investment in the Stockport and Tameside metropolitan borough areas where spending would occur in the current (2010/11) financial year.
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to which projects in the Liverpool City region the North West Development Agency has allocated funding in each of the last five years; and what such allocations are planned for 2010-11. 
The Department allocates budgets to regional development agencies. The agencies determine which projects to support, subject to the terms of the accountability and financial framework and their delegated financial authorities. RDAs' investments have been guided
by the regional economic strategy and their corporate plans. The Department does not hold details of individual projects supported by the RDAs within their delegated financial authorities.
No final decisions have been made on how projects currently delivered by NWDA will be affected by the £270 million savings we are seeking from RDA's budgets. We will be writing to RDAs about the allocation shortly. We will then work with the RDA network to minimise the impact on priority programmes. Stakeholders and delivery partners involved in affected programmes and projects will be kept fully informed as specific decisions are made.
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what meetings he has had with representatives of (a) Shell, (b) BP and (c) other oil companies since taking up his post. 
Mr Prisk: No final decisions have been made on how projects currently delivered by One North East will be affected by the £270 million savings we are seeking from RDAs' budgets. We will be writing to RDAs about the allocation shortly. We will then work with the RDA network to minimise the impact on priority programmes. Stakeholders and delivery partners involved in affected programmes and projects will be kept fully informed as specific decisions are made.
Mr Willetts: In 2008/09, there were 2,396,055 postgraduate and undergraduate students enrolled on full-time and part-time courses at UK higher education institutions, including the Open University. Of these students 117,660 (5%) were other European Union (EU) domiciled and 251,310 (10%) were non-EU overseas domiciled.
Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many times the Minister of State for Universities has (a) met, (b) spoken on the telephone and (c) corresponded with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of (i) Oxford and (ii) Cambridge. 
Mr Willetts: I have received correspondence from the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, but have not yet met or spoken on the telephone to either Vice-Chancellor since my appointment.
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