§ Mr. Chaytor
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of small firms that have closed citing the cost of employers liability insurance in each year since 1997–98; and what steps she is taking to ensure that the cost of employers liability insurance does not force small firms to close. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
It is not possible to attribute the closure of businesses to a single factor such as the cost of employers liability insurance, and meaningful estimates are therefore unavailable. 1.7 million businesses have started since 1997. The Government's review of the Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) system, which is due to report shortly, aims to assess the scale and nature of the current difficulties being experienced in relation to ELCI, in particular the extent to which these difficulties are likely to be short-term only, repeated in the future or permanent. The Government continue to encourage insurers, brokers and business to work together to mitigate these current difficulties.