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Wind Energy

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance his Department is giving to support offshore wind generator research, development and manufacturing; and if he will make a statement. [128145]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government recognise the potential of the offshore wind energy industry both in the UK and internationally. Accordingly, offshore wind energy is a priority area within my Department's research and development programme for new and renewable energy.

The programme has so far committed £790,000 in two projects. One will monitor and evaluate the installation and performance of the UK's first offshore installation of two 2 MW turbines being installed off Blyth Harbour this summer. The other is supporting the development of a new rotor hub, aimed at the offshore market, being assembled in the UK using UK components. In addition, the programme also has several high-value research proposals currently under consideration to develop and evaluate installation systems and techniques for offshore wind farms with prospects for reducing costs.

A further aim of our programme is to establish the environmental effects of offshore wind farms. A project providing an initial assessment of all the potential effects has been completed and is being followed up by scoping studies focusing on the effects on sea wild life, birds and coastal processes such as erosion and deposition.

The Government are also considering the scope for additional support for offshore wind in the context of the new renewables obligation.

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of offshore wind energy to electricity production; and if he will make a statement. [128146]

Mrs. Liddell: An analysis of the potential contribution of offshore wind energy and other renewable energy technologies was produced for my Department in March 1999 by the Energy Technical Support Unit (ETSU) and formed the Supporting Analysis to the Consultation Document on Renewable Energy then published. A copy of the Supporting Analysis is in the Library of the House.

The UK's wind resources are potentially much greater offshore than onshore. They are limited only by practicable working water depths, the use of maritime areas for other activities, and the costs of achieving linkage with the onshore electrical network. Moving from onshore to offshore need not require major changes in the technology, but additional technical problems arise because of the more hostile environment. Offshore installations could increase the contribution from wind power substantially.

3 Jul 2000 : Column: 24W


Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what interest the Government hold in a patent on hyperlinking; and if he will make a statement. [128322]

Ms Hewitt: The Government hold no interest in any patents on hyperlinks.

Magnox Fuel

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the technical papers on the dry storage of previously wet stored magnox fuel that he has commissioned; and if he will place copies of all such papers in the Library. [127962]

Mrs. Liddell: My Department has commissioned no such technical papers. Government policy is that the owners of spent fuel are responsible for its management subject to meeting regulatory requirements.

Export Credit Guarantees

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the net savings to the Exchequer in each of the next 10 years from restricting export credit guarantees to non-military exports; and if he will make a statement. [127502]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 27 June 2000]: If the hon. Gentleman's question is intended to ascertain the effect of a general restriction on export credit guarantees to non-military exports, the answer is that I do not envisage any net savings given that ECGD supported business caught by it would have been priced and managed with a view to at least breaking even. Additionally, while such a restriction would tend to reduce ECGD's exposure to interest make-up risk, it cannot be predicted at the outset whether this would generate net savings or expenditure for the Exchequer.

Indeed there would be a cost to the Exchequer from such a general restriction arising not only from forgone tax revenues which would arise otherwise from business thwarted by the restriction but also from any consequent reduction in employment.

If however the question is intended simply to elucidate the effect of the Chancellor's announcement of 11 January, extending the UK's unilateral ban on export credits in respect of "unproductive expenditure" to include a further 22 countries, then assuming recent trading patterns continue I would not envisage any costs or savings to the Exchequer given that, from information readily available, the £775 million business with these countries supported by ECGD guarantees over the last five years falls within the productive expenditure criteria against which future export credit business will be assessed.

3 Jul 2000 : Column: 25W

Electricity Consumers Committees

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of the regional electricity consumers committees. [128024]

Mrs. Liddell: The new Gas and Electricity Consumers Council (GECC), being established under the Utilities Bill, will replace the Gas Consumers Council and the electricity consumers committees. An announcement was made in both Houses on 23 June on GECC's future organisation. It will have a head office based in London, an office in Glasgow serving Scotland, one in Cardiff serving Wales and further offices in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Newcastle and Bournemouth serving England.


Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which organisations were represented at the meeting on 23 May to discuss the work of the Hawley Review Group; and what was the outcome of the meeting. [127736]

Mr. Alan Johnson [pursuant to the reply, 27 June 2000, c. 456W]: Unfortunately the list of organisations shown in the answer was incomplete. Following is the full list:

After discussing a report from the Chairman of the Engineering Council, Dr. Robert Hawley, those present expressed their support for the work to date of the Hawley Group and confirmed their support for the future direction of the project.

3 Jul 2000 : Column: 26W


New Deal

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answers of 7 June 2000, Official Report, column 288, and 14 June 2000, Official Report, column 934, if he will reconcile the figures given in the two answers for the number of jobs created under the New Deal; and if he will make a statement. [127588]

The Prime Minister: Over 250,000 people have found jobs as a result of the New Deal, 210,000 of whom have been young people.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Prime Minister how many parliamentary questions were tabled to his Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April which requested information, pursuant to his previous answers. [128009]

The Prime Minister: Of the 454 written answers I provided within the specified period, 41 were in answer to questions pursuant to previous answers.


Tall Ships Race

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the economic impact of the Tall Ships Race in Scotland. [127714]

Dr. Reid: I understand that Inverclyde Council and Renfrewshire Enterprise commissioned an economic impact evaluation of the visit of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race to Greenock in summer 1999. This showed that new expenditure of £8.5 million was generated in the Inverclyde Council area. It was estimated that this level of expenditure would support a notional 248 jobs for one year in Inverclyde.

Assisted Areas

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many representations he has received from (a) hon. Members, (b) MSPs, (c) local councils and (d) local enterprise companies in connection with the definition of assisted area status submitted to the Commission on 10 April. [128561]

Dr. Reid: I have received the following representations in connection with the definition of assisted area status submitted to the Commission on 10 April:

(a) 12 from hon. Members (six of these hon. Members are also MSPs but they have not been included in the number at (b))
(b) Eight from MSPs
(c) 19 from local councils
(d) Five from local enterprise companies.

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