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Furniture Sector

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people are employed in the furniture sector in the UK; and how many were employed in the sector in (a) 1980, (b) 1990 and (c) 2000. (95188)

Employment in the furniture manufacturing industry (standard industrial classification SIC 31.6) in the UK in (a) 1986, (b) 1990, (c) 2000 and (d) 2004 (the latest available figures for the UK) are as follows:

Employment (000)

1986

107

1990

124

2000

155

2004

126

Source:

ONS, Annual Census of Production and Annual Business Inquiry.

Information on employment in the furniture manufacturing industry prior to 1986 is not available on a basis consistent with the figures presented in the table, due to changes in the standard industrial classification structure.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department’s long-term policy is towards the furniture industry. (95189)

The DTI has been carrying out a review of its Business Relations functions. This has included looking at whether we are concentrating our resources on the right sectors and issues, taking into account the value that our business relations activities can add. I am currently considering the review recommendations with ministerial colleagues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of the furniture industry. (95190)

There have been no recent meetings between the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and representatives of the furniture industry.

My hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House formerly the Minister for Small Business, spoke at a reception for the Furniture Industry Strategy Group on 25 January 2005, at the Furniture Show, NEC Birmingham.

DTI officials have continued to maintain a regular dialogue previously with the Furniture Industry Strategy Group (FISG), with the newly formed British Furniture Confederation and with UK First, the Furniture Industry Forum.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the furniture industry was worth to the UK economy in the last period for which figures are available. (95191)

According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, the gross value added by the furniture manufacturing industry (defined as Group 36.1 of the Standard Industrial Classification) was £3.5 billion in 2004, the latest year for which data are available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support his Department is giving to the furniture industry in the UK. (95192)

In September 2003 the DTI began providing support to UK First, the Furniture Industry Forum, with £1.75 million provided over 4½ years to support the UK furniture sector, and provided a forum for sharing best practice and developing a long term strategy for success. Savings to date for companies in the sector have reached over £3.1 million.

We also encouraged the establishment of the Furniture Industry Strategy Group in 2003 to help the sector address key areas affecting productivity and competitiveness. The Strategy Group has helped establish the British Furniture Confederation, which is working to promote the interests of the sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of lives saved in the UK by flammability regulations on furniture. (95193)

The DTI commissioned the University of Surrey to research the effectiveness of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. The resulting report—“Effectiveness of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988”—was published in June 2000 and copies were placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report’s findings were ‘extremely good news’. At a conservative estimate, the Regulations had saved at least 710 lives (1,860 when additional factors are taken into consideration) and prevented at least 5,770 injuries from 1988 to 1997. Recent figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that the downward trend in deaths and injuries has continued.