HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc24-6WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My department today published a consultation document on the implementation of Directive 2000/52/ EC amending the directive on the transparency of financial relations between member states and public undertakings. The objective of the directive as amended is to increase the transparency of funding given by government and other public sector bodies to other bodies operating in the market place and which may be in receipt of state aid. The directive's provisions will improve the Commission's ability to investigate potentially illegal state aid, including allegations of over-compensation for performing a public service obligation or the cross-subsidisation of public funds into other commercial activities.

A key objective of the consultation exercise is to gather information on which organisations are likely to be caught by the directive and whether and to what extent there may already be provisions in place that would meet the requirements of the directive, so that we can best judge how to implement it. However, the department's initial conclusion is that legislation may well be necessary to ensure full implementation of the directive. The consultation document therefore also seeks views on draft regulations.

It is estimated that the directive will affect less than 0.5 per cent of UK businesses i.e. approximately 8,000 businesses out of a total of about 1.6 million, since it does not apply to entities with an annual turnover below [...]40 million, i.e. approximately £27.5 million (as at 02/03/05). According to statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics approximately 99.5 per cent of UK businesses have an annual turnover of less than £25 million.

Copies of the consultation documents will be laid in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on the departmental website at www.dti.gov.uk/ccp/ stateaid