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ONE Pilots

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the impact of the results of the ONE pilots on the proposed restructuring of the Benefits Agency in Liverpool, Mersey District. [115845]

Angela Eagle: The ONE pilots, which are operating in 12 parts of the country, do not currently affect Liverpool, Mersey District. No decisions have been made about whether to extend the service nationally. However, the Department for Education and Employment and this Department are currently working jointly on the design and development of a new agency for delivering labour market and benefit services for people of working age, and this will provide a better framework for delivering all of our welfare to work initiatives--in Liverpool, as well as in the rest of the country.

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the progress made with ONE pilots. [115846]

Angela Eagle: All 12 of the ONE pilots are making good progress in helping people plan ways to become independent. The level of service we provide has also been improved by the Benefits Agency, Employment Service, local authorities and private and voluntary sector bodies working in partnership.

Although it is too early to judge the level of success, we are already helping people move from welfare into work and the initial response from clients using the new service has been very encouraging.


Renewable Energy Research

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the budget allocation for renewable energy research made by his Department for each year from 1989-90 to 1999-2000; and what is his Department's expected expenditure for 2000-01. [115382]

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Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 21 March 2000]: Spend under the DTI New and Renewable Energy Programme, including research, development, dissemination and demonstration for the indicated years is shown in the table.

Year£ million

(2) These figures allow for the payment and recovery of VAT

The budget allocation for 1999-2000, as announced in "New and Renewable Energy: Prospects for the 21st Century" (DTI, 1999), is £11.5 million. That for 2000-01 is £14 million and that for 2001-02 is £18 million.

In addition, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council currently funds 61 grants with a total value of £8.1 million for research in renewable and clean electricity generation. This includes the design and development of new plant and machinery for renewable and clean electricity generation (e.g. hydro, wave, solar, wind, and fuel cells). The EPSRC also launched a managed programme in 1999 entitled "Renewable and New Energy Technologies". This funds research in biomass, tidal current, wave, wind, solar, fuel cells, hydropower and energy from waste; it is also funding associated technologies such as grid interconnection and energy storage and recovery.

The commitment for new grants from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 and that planned for 2000-01 is as follows:

Year£ million

Mineworkers' Pension Schemes

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received in respect of the Mineworkers' Pension Schemes surpluses; and what the nature of the representations were. [115557]

Mrs. Liddell: I have received a number of representations on the subject of coal pension surpluses. Some have called for a re-examination of the guarantee/ surplus sharing arrangements established in 1994 to safeguard members' pension entitlements; some have drawn attention to pension entitlements in respect of pre-1975 service, while others have urged greater access to early pensions.

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Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been made to him by the trustees of the Mineworkers' Pension Schemes seeking renegotiation of the agreement relating to the 50 per cent. clawback by Government of the pension funds surpluses; and on what dates these representations were made. [115554]

Mrs. Liddell: I met the Chairman of the Trustees of the coal pension schemes on 20 January to discuss the proposals in the recent Coalfield Communities Campaign report "It's the Miners' Money", as well as alternative ways of building on the success of the schemes' investments.

The Trustees of the coal pension schemes (the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme and the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme) made no representations to me relating to renegotiation of the Government guarantee/surplus sharing arrangements established with the Schemes in 1994.

My Department is, however, in regular discussion with the Trustees over ways in which future benefits might be improved.

Mail Services

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of first-class mail was delivered the next day by the Royal Mail by constituency, in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998 and (b) 1999. [116077]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that such data are not compiled on a parliamentary constituency basis. Quality of service statistics for first and second-class letters are published by postcode area in the Post Office Annual Report and Accounts, copies of which are laid annually in the Library of the House.

Super Jumbo Aircraft

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he made of the long-term demand for super jumbo aircraft prior to his proposed loan to BAe Systems. [115932]

Mr. Alan Johnson: In my Department there is a team which has considerable expertise in making forecast of the future demand for civil aircraft. They made an independent assessment of the likely demand for the A3XX, which concluded that there was a robust market case for this aircraft.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress in encouraging investment in e-commerce businesses in (a) Shropshire and (b) the West Midlands region in the last three years. [116047]

Mr. Caborn: Electronic Commerce lies at the heart of the Government's vision for building a modern, knowledge driven economy in the UK. Its importance to an area like Shropshire is recognised.

In September 1999, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister launched the PIU report "" which set out the vision and strategy for e-commerce. This built on target to make the

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UK the best place in the world to trade electronically by 2002, set out in the Competitiveness White Paper "Our Competitive Future: Building the Knowledge-Driven Economy".

By 2002, this means 1.5 million SMEs connected and one million actually trading on-line, with a higher proportion of e-commerce to transactions and a higher proportion of Government services transacted through e-commerce than in the rest of G7.

In the West Midlands there are also a wide range of European Funded e-commerce related projects supporting the development of e-commerce businesses, benefiting Shropshire and elsewhere. In 1997 Business Link Shropshire was granted £100,000 to establish an Information Society Initiative Local Support Centre. This funding, spread over three years, has enabled the BL to advise and support local businesses in the introduction and use of ICT. This project has linked well with services available from the Business Link's Information Technology Adviser, who has been able to give expert advice to local companies on how to make the best use of IT and explain the benefits of e-commerce. In the last three years over 800 companies have received advice/support.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the performance of manufacturing industry in (a) Shropshire and (b) the West Midlands region in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [116048]

Ms Hewitt: At this stage, official figures relating to the economic performance of the regions and their sub- regions in 1999 are not available. However, we know from the most recent such figures that manufacturing industry continues to contribute a greater share of regional GDP and to provide a higher proportion of regional employment in the West Midlands than in any other region. We also know that manufacturing's share of employment in the combined areas of the county of Shropshire and the Telford and Wrekin Unitary Authority is significantly above the national average, and that GDP per head (96 per cent. of the national average) in this area is higher than that in the West Midlands region as a whole (94 per cent. of the national average).

Business surveys conducted in the West Midlands region in the latter part of 1999 all point to an improved outlook for manufacturing industry. The most recent editions of the West Midlands Regional Group of Chambers' Quarterly Economic Survey, the West Midlands Business Survey, the CBI's Regional Trends Survey and the Engineering Employers Federation West Midlands Business Trends Survey all reported improvements in manufacturing sales and orders, along with a strengthening in confidence among the region's manufacturing sector when compared to their findings in surveys conducted in late 1998 and early 1999. These results are broadly in line with the findings of national business surveys and reflects the renewed growth in UK manufacturing output during the second half of 1999.

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