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Regional Aid

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the results of his consultations carried out with regions from which regional aid is to be withdrawn. [66141]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 18 January 1999]: No decisions have yet been made on the areas which will be ineligible for regional aid after 1 January 2000. The Government have, however, carried out consultations on the review of Assisted Areas with a range of interested parties.

On the reform of Structural Funds, negotiations with the Commission and Member States are continuing and are likely to do so until March 1999.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the new map for regional selective assistance to be proposed to the European Commission. [66133]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 18 January 1999]: No decisions have yet been made on the areas that will be proposed to the European Commission.

Aerospace Research and Development

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with aerospace companies about the civil aircraft research and development budget; and if he will make a statement on future spending on CARAD. [66260]

Mr. Battle: The Department has maintained a close dialogue with the aerospace industry concerning the support available for civil research which has been provided under the Department's Civil Aircraft Research and Technology Demonstration (CARAD) programme. Detailed allocations for all DTI budgets, including CARAD, have yet to be made.

Industrial Energy Taxes

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the meeting between EC Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert and the German Finance Minister, Oskar Lafontaine on 7 January, on the proposals of the German presidency relating to the introduction of industrial energy taxes. [66423]

Mr. Battle: The meeting was to discuss domestic issues relevant to Germany alone. It is not for me to comment on these.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what renewable energy schemes in the United Kingdom have been part or fully funded by (a) European Community energy programmes and (b) the European Investment Bank. [66622]

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Mr. Battle: In the four year period 1995 to 1998, the European Community THERMIE Programme offered support to twenty two projects concerning renewable energy plant in the United Kingdom.

The European Community JOULE programme has supported a large number of renewable energy research and development projects. JOULE projects are collaborative with the results shared between partners in different Member States. The ALTENER programme focuses on projects promoting renewable energy, for example the dissemination of information, developing financial instruments and training. ALTENER projects are collaborative with an emphasis on the wide dissemination of project results. Information about JOULE and THERMIE projects can be found on the CORDIS database, accessed through the World Wide Web. The address is: The ALTENER home page address is:

The European Investment Bank has supported three renewable energy projects in the United Kingdom, all waste to energy plants.

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures his Department is taking to promote domestic renewable energy expertise to overseas markets; and if he will make a statement. [66619]

Mr. Battle: My Department assists British renewable energy companies to win export orders worldwide, and has had a focused programme of activities including, trade missions, overseas seminars and exhibitions, inward visits, market research and information dissemination. This programme is supported by two dedicated Trade Promoters, who have been concentrating their efforts on target markets such as China, India and Spain. For example, last autumn the Minister for Science opened a renewable energy seminar, and associated trade mission, in Peking. We also take advantage of other opportunities in overseas markets, which in the past year have included, Poland, United States and the Philippines.

British renewable energy exports are estimated to have risen from an historic level of £10-15 million p.a. in the early 90's to around £80-100 million p.a. in the last two years.

Multinationals (OECD Guidelines)

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to participate in updating, expanding and promoting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's guidelines for multinational enterprises. [65978]

Mr. Wilson: The Government have been taking an active part in the current review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which began last June. In preparing our positions on the issues addressed by the Guidelines, this Department has consulted widely with other Government Departments and with business, trade unions and interested NGOs. We will seek to modernise and strengthen the Guidelines to reflect more recent developments, particularly in the labour and environment areas and, together with all stakeholders, will explore ways of increasing awareness and encouraging adherence.

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Nuclear Power Stations

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cracks have appeared in nuclear power stations in each of the last 20 years; and how many have been repaired. [65744]

Mr. Battle: Arrangements under nuclear site licences require the licensees to notify the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Safety Directorate (NSD) of the discovery of any cracks which might challenge their current safety case; some of these may have potential structural significance. Nuclear power stations, like all engineering structures, may also contain many structurally insignificant cracks, so the information is not available in the exact form requested.

Few of the many cracks identified over the years in nuclear power plants have been judged structurally significant and so necessitated repair. Examples of cracks that have necessitated repair are those found in Magnox coolant ducts during the 1980s, cracks in AGR steam headers and pipework and cracks in the boiler shells at Sizewell A power station. Details of these have been made publicly available via either the HSE's publication of the results of NSD's reviews of the licensees' Periodic Safety Reviews (PSRs) or in quarterly NSD reports over the years to local liaison committees.

Further operation of any plant in which a potentially significant crack has been detected is not permitted until the licensee has provided a written safety case that demonstrates it would be safe and NSD has agreed to it. If repairs are necessary to enable a satisfactory safety case

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to be made, these must be made to the appropriate nuclear standard before NSD allows the operation of the plant to recommence.

Inward Investment

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) which Minister has primary responsibility for ensuring that England, Scotland and Wales do not compete against one another for inward investment; [66137]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 18 January 1999]: The Invest in Britain Bureau--which is jointly managed by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office--is the national agency promoting the UK as the number one location for inward investment in Europe. It works in partnership, under the Committee on Overseas Promotion arrangements, with the inward investment agencies of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions.

There is no question of one Minister having primary responsibility for ensuring that competition between different parts of the UK is not wasteful. All Ministers have a collective interest in ensuring that offers of financial assistance represent value for money for the taxpayer.

The Government will be strengthening the current arrangements through a Concordat on financial assistance to industry. The Government expect that they will be in a position to publish the Concordat soon.

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