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Employment Legislation

Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans his Department has to allow employers more time to respond to consultations on employment legislation; [133083]

Mr. Alan Johnson: We fully recognise the need to allow adequate time for responses in public consultations and for adequate periods of notice for employers and others affected by new legislation to adapt to its requirements. For consultation periods, we aim to comply with Cabinet Office guidelines, which currently prescribe eight weeks as a general minimum, and will take account of any revised guidance in this area resulting from the current consultation on a new code of practice. So far as implementation periods are concerned, we aim where possible to give at least three months' notice of entry into force, in line with the Government's response to the Better Regulation Task Force's report "Helping Small Firms Cope with Regulation--Exemptions and Other Approaches".

We recognise the need for employers, unions and workers to have access to the information they need to understand their rights and obligations under new legislation, and the necessity of ensuring that relevant and accessible information and advice is available. It is part of the remit of the Small Business Service to work across Government to improve the quality of information and advice on regulation in order to meet better the needs of small businesses in particular.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is well aware of the Employer's Forum on Statute and Practice's concerns, having corresponded with them and having received a report of their meeting with his officials, and does not consider a further meeting would be useful at this time.


Mr. Prior: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with electricity generators to monitor the need for additional generating capacity; and what licence is required by generators to site power stations. [133626]

Mrs. Liddell: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of that letter in the Libraries of the House.

Gas Supplies

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what compensation is available, and from

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which company, to those residents of Lambourn, Hungerford, and the surrounding areas whose gas supplies were cut off in late March and the first week of April this year. [133441]

Mrs. Liddell: Under the Network Code, if the major public gas transporter, Transco, is responsible for an interruption of gas supply to domestic gas consumers, it compensates domestic households at a standard rate of £20 per day if the interruption exceeds 24 hours. If, as in this case, the gas supply is interrupted because of damage to the gas main caused by a third party, Transco declares force majeure, which means it is under no obligation to pay compensation. If the third party refuses to accept liability, consumers are obliged to wait until any legal dispute between Transco and that company has been resolved. It is for the company concerned to consider whether, while liability is being established, it should itself make an ex gratia, interim payment to residents. Where residents have suffered loss or damage as a result of an interruption to supply, it is also open to them to seek payment from their own insurers.

Oil Pollution Incidents

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the oil pollution incidents above 0.01 tonnes in the Irish Sea from 4 December 1999 to the present, stating the date, the size of the incident, the name of the company that reported the incident and the name of the company which was responsible for the spill. [133432]

Mrs. Liddell: The information relating to oil spill incidents in the Irish Sea Basin, reported to the Department of Trade and Industry, from 4 December 1999 to the present date is as follows:

Date Reported by:Amount (tonnes)
13 January 2000British Gas Hydrocarbon Resources Ltd.0.0155
25 July 2000British Gas Hydrocarbon Resources Ltd.0.0157

DTI only receives reports for oil spills from or attributed to offshore installations.

Renewable Energy

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department's total budget is for support for renewable energy technologies and low carbon technologies for the years 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. [133480]

Mrs. Liddell: The budget for new and renewable energy R&D for the current financial year is £14 million. The outcome of the Government's Spending Review announced on 18 July set new spending totals for all Departments for 2001-04. The DTI settlement specifically made available nearly £40 million from the Climate Change Levy fund over the three years 2001-04 for a number of demonstration projects for technologies with potential in the longer term, such as offshore wind and energy crops. Detailed allocations of the rest of the Department's budgets for 2001-02 to 2003-04 have yet to be made.

Separately, the Department covers within its Departmental Expenditure Limits expenditure incurred by Regional Electricity Companies (RECs) for renewable

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electricity generated under Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) contracts, in which the Department has no locus. The RECs are compensated for this expenditure by receipts under the Fossil Fuel Levy. The Department's allocations for this expenditure are:

£ million

Expenditure under NFFO is demand led. If expenditure turns out to be higher than these allocations there is a ring-fence arrangement in place agreed with Treasury enabling access to the Reserve, to ensure that the actual level of expenditure will be covered.

While the Department does not provide specific funding to low carbon technologies, it supports several programmes of research, development and demonstration and assistance to business which may have the effect of encouraging the development and uptake of such technologies. For example, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has a research programme into low carbon technologies with approximate spend plans of:

£ million

Nuclear Inspections

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has received from the Chief Nuclear Inspector in respect of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate inquiry into problems of inspection channel plugs in Magnox reactors. [133551]

Mrs. Liddell: Unusual marks were discovered in inspection channels in the reactor core of Reactor 2 at Wylfa power station in North Wales during routine maintenance. I was informed of this in the normal way following the shutdown of Reactor 1 at Wylfa, as a precautionary measure, because it has similar features to Reactor 2. I have received no reports of similar occurrences at other Magnox reactors.

Competition Commission

Ms Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes he proposes to make to the terms of service of the members of the Competition Commission. [133940]

Mr. Byers: I propose to make a number of changes in the terms and period of appointment of all members of the Competition Commission, including the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and President of the Appeal Tribunal. I have reviewed the terms of service following the judgment of the Scottish Court in the Starrs case. The changes are modelled closely on the principles applied by the Lord Chancellor in his recently announced changes to

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the terms of service of part-time judicial office holders in England and Wales, and reflect the particular characteristics of the Competition Commission's work.

Details of the changes, which emphasise the value we place on the independence of members of the Competition Commission, are set out in the relevant press notice.


Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the reports submitted to his Department, by bodies that were created after May 1997 and that include significant and plural membership from outside the Civil Service, stating in each case the body writing the report, the date the report was submitted, how many recommendations were made, the number of those recommendations that have been implemented to date and the number of recommendations that have been rejected; and if he will make a statement. [133558]

Mr. Byers: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 27 July 2000, Official Report, column 799W, and to the list of information on task forces, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews which was published by the Cabinet Office on 11 January 2000. Copies of the list are available in the Libraries of the House. The detailed information concerning the numbers of recommendations made, implemented, and the number rejected, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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