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Energy Policy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what increase in non-fossil fuel resources and/or reduction in energy demand would be needed to compensate for the expected closure of almost all existing UK nuclear plant by 2020. [127480]

Mrs. Liddell: Nuclear output in 1999 is estimated to have been about 88TWh, forming some 28 per cent. of the total net supply from major power producers. In the DTI's recent Working Paper on energy projections, nuclear output was projected to fall to around 27TWh in 2020, representing a reduction of 61TWh from the 1999 level. If non-fossil sources were to substitute for the 61TWh of output entirely, this would require an increase in output from non-fossil sources of 500 per cent. from current levels or an increase of 67 per cent. from the projected level in 2020. To compensate for the 61TWh

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of output through reductions in electricity use, including losses, would require electricity demand in 2020 to be some 17 per cent. less than projected.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulatory procedures are in place to ensure the competitive balance of the internet. [128498]

Ms Hewitt: Many activities in the internet sector can be subject to regulation by OFTEL under telecoms regulations. One of OFTEL's key objectives in the area of internet markets is to ensure that the UK regulatory framework is appropriate to encourage the development of the internet so that the UK can be a world leader in e-commerce. Further, qualifying mergers are considered under the EC Merger Regulation, or the Fair Trading Act 1973, as appropriate, taking into account the impact of the merger on all relevant markets.

999 Calls

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how he ensures that OFTEL meets its responsibilities to ensure that 999 calls receive priority over other telephone calls and are correctly routed; and if he will publish OFTEL data on the performance of the three companies which handle 999 calls in their call centres. [128499]

Ms Hewitt: OFTEL actively participates in the Home Office's 999 Liaison Committee which provides a forum for the emergency authorities and telecommunications companies to identify and resolve issues regarding the emergency calls service.

All Public Telecommunications Operators are required under their licences to provide a free 999/112 emergency calls service. Each Operator makes arrangements with BT, Cable & Wireless or Kingston Communications for the answering of such calls and their onward connection to the individual emergency services. The Operators licences also require that they take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the availability and integrity of their networks and the services that run over them, with particular regard to the needs of the Emergency Services. 999 calls receive absolute priority over all other calls and there are several in-built safeguards to ensure that these calls are routed and answered with the highest reliability.

OFTEL monitors the performance of the emergency calls service and receives reports from BT and other operators of all occasions when access to the 999 service is temporarily lost. Major incidents are investigated by OFTEL, which may recommend remedial actions.

The performance of the emergency calls service is published by OFTEL each year. The results for 1999 were as follows:

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OFTEL intend to publish this year's information on their website.

Electricity Pylons

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much compensation the National Grid Company will pay to landowners on whose land trees must be felled or lopped along the proposed route of pylons from Lackenby to Shipton; [128369]

Mrs. Liddell: On 7 December 1999, the National Grid Company applied to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for determination under a planning condition requiring a replacement tree planting scheme to be agreed before the North Yorks power line could be implemented. The Department is currently considering the matter in the light of the views of the Company, the relevant local planning authority and the affected landowners who have responded to the Department's consultation. My right hon. Friend's responsibility is to approve or not approve a tree planting scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the impact of the consented development. The question of compensation is not a matter for my right hon. Friend.

Gas and Electricity Industries

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in developing the future regulatory and consumer representation arrangements for the gas and electricity industries; and if he will make a statement. [129299]

Mrs. Liddell: The Utilities Bill currently before Parliament will result in substantial benefits to consumers. In order to provide a sound basis for the implementation of those aspects of the new legislation for which it will have responsibility, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets plans to undertake preparatory work right away. My Department also needs to undertake some preparatory work on appointments to the new Gas and Electricity Markets Authority and Gas and Electricity Consumer Council, which will be established once the Utilities Bill get Royal Assent. However, while candidates designate will be identified by the recruitment process, no appointments will be made until the Utilities Bill has received Royal Assent.

Parliamentary approval to these activities will be sought in Estimates for the OFGEM Vote (Class IX, Vote 10) and DTI Vote (Class IX, Vote 1). Pending that approval,

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urgent preparatory expenditure estimated at £1 million for OFGEM and £0.3 million for DTI will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his oral answer of 15 June 2000, Official Report, column 1102, on electricity trading arrangements, if he will publish the names and qualifications of the Embedded Generation Working Group, its terms of reference and work programming; and if he will make a statement. [128848]

Mrs. Liddell: The names, positions and contact details for the joint industry-government working group on embedded generation network access are published on the DTI website at: along with its terms of reference, work programming, and minutes of past plenary meetings. This group focuses on network access issues. The position of such generators in respect of the new electricity trading arrangements (NETA) is handled separately.

Within the NETA process, a number of expert groups have been established, including the Specials Expert Group, the work of which includes the position of licence exempt generators under NETA. The terms of reference of the expert groups was published in paper DISG 21/04 which is available on the Ofgem website. They are

The Specials Expert Group has developed a range of proposals to assist licence exempt generators to manage their commercial position in the NETA market, and that work continues. The membership of the Group is: Tony Bramley (Tanaris Energy); Graham Meeks (ETSU); David Smol (ILEX); Louise Elder (NGC); Robert Hockland (Scottish and Southern); Peter Clubb (ALEC); Stephen Andrews (ILEX); Andrew Wood (NFPA); Afrose Miah (PowerGen); Wyn Jones (Alcan); Liz Aveyard (Corus); Bob Brown (Norweb); Andrew MacDonald (Concert Energy); Steve Garrett (Slough Heat and Power); and Maurice Smith (Campbell Carr).

Post Offices

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many post offices have closed in (a) Derbyshire and (b) each Derbyshire parliamentary constituency since 1979; [129010]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that it does not hold historical data by county or parliamentary constituency for the numbers of post offices which have closed or opened.

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices there are in (a) Derbyshire and (b) Amber Valley constituency. [129003]

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Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that as at October 1999, the latest date for which such information is available, there were 37 post offices in the Amber Valley constituency and 337 in the county of Derbyshire.

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