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Garment Imports

Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the (a) volume and (b) value of imported garments for retail sale in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [106923]

Mr. Alan Johnson: In the 12 months to October 1999, the UK imported apparel and clothing accessories worth £7,611 million. Within this total, it is not possible separately to identify imports for retail sale. Information, in volume terms, is available only for clothing and footwear. In the 12 months ended October 1999, imports of clothing and footwear, in 1995 prices, were 44 per cent. higher than in 1995.

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MOX Fuel

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the answer of 17 January 2000, Official Report, column 261W, on MOX fuel, what issues he plans to explore in respect of the proposals to return unused MOX fuel from Japan; what meetings have been held, or are planned between representatives of the United Kingdom and Japanese Governments and the respective nuclear authorities; and if he will make a statement. [106730]

Mrs. Liddell: This issue will be discussed between the UK and Japanese Governments.

I have met with the Japanese Ambassador, and officials are to visit Japan in the near future.

Photovoltaics

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the (a) short and (b) long-term contributions that photovoltaics could make in reducing carbon emissions in the UK. [106792]

Mrs. Liddell: For the short term, photovoltaics (PV) is a relatively expensive technology, and the cost is unlikely to decrease sufficiently for it to make more than a small contribution to carbon emission reductions in the UK over the next decade. In the longer term, however, PV has the potential to make a significant contribution to carbon savings. The DTI has been supporting a programme of research, development and demonstration of the technology in the UK for several years and, together with support from the European Union, a number of major examples of building integrated PV are now operating, such as Northumbria University, Ford Engine Factory, and Doxford Solar Offices.

The annual generating capacity of PV installed in the UK at the moment is around 0.5 gigawatt hours (GWh). A study conducted for my Department in 1998 suggested that, for five key applications, new and refurbished offices, superstores, new housing and prestige public buildings, the maximum potential, disregarding cost, would be around 7 terrawatt hours (TWh) a year in 2010, around 2 per cent. of current electricity consumption. Investment costs were estimated at around £30 billion. The likely market potential for these applications without substantial levels of subsidy, but assuming significant cost and performance improvements and significant levels of carbon and pollution taxes, was estimated at less than 0.2 TWh/yr by 2010. Clearly, all such estimates can only give a broad indication of potential and the figures quoted are not comprehensive, excluding retrofit installation of PV on domestic roofs for example, where costs are currently high but the theoretical potential is large. Nevertheless, I believe that they give a reasonable indication of the possible scale of contribution in the short to medium term.

This compares with a theoretical estimate of around 270 TWh/yr available in 2025 from installing PV on all available walls and roofs for the entire building stock. More realistically, if PV were to be installed on all south-facing roofs and facades this would yield an annual output of around 70 TWh, or a little over 22 per cent. of current electricity consumption, which stands at around 324 TWh/yr. Alternatively, if 50 square miles (about 0.1 per cent. of the UK's total land area) were covered

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with PV panels, this would have the technical potential to generate about 15 TWh of electricity (about 5 per cent. of current consumption). The extent and rate at which this longer term potential is exploited will depend on a number of factors, principally on the rate at which costs are reduced, itself the subject of much debate.

Clean Coal Technology

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what initiatives his Department is taking to promote clean coal technology. [106935]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government's policy on cleaner coal technologies is set out in Energy Paper 67: "Cleaner Coal Technologies--Future plans for research, development and export promotion", which was published in April 1999. The promotional activities that my Department has initiated as part of the policy set out in Energy Paper 67 includes:



    undertaking a DTI led mission to China with UK industry in September 1999 to promote UK expertise (A further DTI led mission to India will take place in September this year);


    publishing an export directory and a series of capability brochures on UK expertise in cleaner coal technologies; and


    publishing a number of reports on the technology status of cleaner coal technology and the financing the development of the technologies.

Copies of Energy Paper 67 are available in the Libraries of the House and on the DTI website (www.dti.gov.uk/ent/coal), together with other publications arising from the programme. The DTI website is being used to help promote UK capability in cleaner coal technologies and provide up to date information on developments in the DTI programme.

Defence-related Exports (Nigeria)

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the Export Credits Guarantee Department's 1998-99 exposure in unrecovered claims for exports to Nigeria is for defence-related exports. [105932]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 24 January 2000]: Nine per cent. of the unrecovered claims relating to Nigeria are defence-related. These claims were all authorised prior to 1996 and are currently recorded on ECGD's Balance Sheet as assets.

Roads and Bridges (Philippines)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has had concerning British involvement in the National Roads and Bridges Project in the Philippines; and if he will make a statement. [107375]

Mr. Caborn: We have discussed the National Roads and Bridges Project in the Philippines with interested companies. Several consortia are involved and the question as to whether this should be a competitive tender or a negotiated contract has arisen. However, this Project is being funded by the Department for International Development and the companies should keep in close contact with them.

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Benefit Payment Methods

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations he has received about the proposed payment of benefits directly into bank accounts rather than at post offices; and how many of these representations are (a) in favour and (b) against. [104723]

Mr. Rooker: I have been asked to reply.

Letters often cover a number of subjects but we have received around 500 dealing with ACT in some way.

Starting in 2003, we will be moving to a more modern, secure and efficient method of paying benefits through automated credit transfer (ACT). Payment by ACT will become the norm for paying benefits.

However, we have given an assurance that those benefit recipients, whether paid by ACT or otherwise, will continue to have a choice of where they access their cash, with those who wish to collect at post offices still being able to do so.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 13 January 2000, Official Report, column 231W, on stakeholder pensions, what have been the findings of recent departmental surveys on (a) the number of people with non-mortgage debt and (b) the distribution of non-mortgage debts among persons with annual earnings in the range £9,000 to £21,500 who are not members of an occupational or personal pension scheme. [106805]

Mr. Rooker: The necessary combined information on non-mortgage debt, earnings and pension provision is not available from departmental surveys. Some data are available from one wave of the British Household Panel Survey, which showed the following distribution of reported non-mortgage debt among survey respondents with earnings between £9,000 and £21,500 and who were not current members of an occupational or a personal pension scheme. Reliable estimates of the numbers of such persons with non-mortgage debt cannot, however, be derived from this source.

Level of non-mortgage debtPercentage of respondents
Nil55
Less than £50012
£500 to £1,50011
£1,500 to £4,00013
Over £4,00010

Notes:

1. Sample base--respondents with earnings between £9,000 and £21,500 (in current earnings terms) who reported no current membership of an occupational or personal pension scheme.

2. The size of debt is self-assessed debt.

3. Figures do not sum to 100 per cent. because of rounding.

Source:

British Household Panel Survey, wave of interviews conducted between September 1995 and June 1996.


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