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Far East Prisoners of War

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if ex-gratia payments to former prisoners of war in the Far East will include civilians. [136528]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the statement in the House on 7 November 2000, Official Report, columns 159-170.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Far East prisoners of war are still living; and what estimate he has made of the numbers residing in East Lancashire. [136554]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces gave him on 18 January 2000, Official Report, column 398W.

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Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on compensation for former PoWs of the Japanese; and what estimate has been made of the numbers involved. [137344]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to my statement in the House on 7 November 2000, Official Report, columns 159-70.

Meteorological Office

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future location of the Meteorological Office. [138176]

Dr. Moonie: The Met Office has recognised for some time that its existing accommodation in Bracknell is becoming increasingly expensive and unsuitable for its future business needs. The overwhelming conclusion of the business case, produced to examine the options, showed that a new site with purpose built accommodation was the best way of meeting its long-term needs and those of its customers. The Met Office plans to relocate by March 2003.

Following a thorough search and careful evaluation of potential sites throughout the United Kingdom, the Met Office selected four--Beaufort Park in Bracknell, Shinfield Park in Reading, Exeter Business park and Norwich Research Park--that it felt could best meet its needs. After detailed consideration of many factors, including cost, staffing issues, proximity to customers and other key stakeholders, planning and environmental issues, Exeter Business Park has been chosen as the preferred site.

This has not been an easy decision since all four shortlisted sites had obvious strengths. Nevertheless, the Met Office is certain that Exeter is the best location from which to build a secure and successful future.

The two consortia with whom the Met Office is negotiating over the provision and ongoing maintenance of the new accommodation will now work up detailed proposals for the Exeter site; tenders are due to be submitted to the Met Office by the end of February 2001 and a contract is expected to be placed by June 2001.


Export Controls

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he received between November 1999 and November 2000 on (a) the timing and (b) the content of strategic export controls legislation from (i) non-Governmental organisations including voluntary and charitable groups, (ii) commercial interests, companies and trade organisations and (iii) other categories; and if he will make a statement. [136601]

Mr. Byers: The Government have received a large number of representations, mostly from individuals and non-governmental organisations, but also from businesses and business organisations, in the period in question. Representations have supported proposals for new strategic export control legislation and called for that legislation to be introduced soon. A number of representations have raised different aspects of strategic

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export controls, including arms trafficking and brokering and licensed production overseas. The Government have undertaken a thorough review of proposals for new strategic export control legislation on the basis of the White Paper (Cm 3989) published in July 1998. We shall announce the outcome of that review shortly. In addition I have announced that the proposed new legislation will include a system of licensing for arms trafficking and brokering. This is a significant change and we are currently considering the details of this. We intend to announce the outcome in the near future.

Small Businesses

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action is being taken to help people who are (a) aged 50 and over and (b) aged under 25 years, and who are not working to set up their own businesses. [136698]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 7 November 2000]: The Small Business Service was launched in April this year to provide information, advice, or access to experts, on all aspects of running a business. The services are available to anyone wishing to set up or run their own business irrespective of age.

In addition, the SBS is working with PRIME (The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise) with a view to supporting that organisation's plans to enhance access to finance for unemployed over 50s seeking to start in business.

The Government also continue to provide support for programmes and initiatives to help the creation of an enterprise culture in the country. This includes support for schemes such as Young Enterprise which aim to double to 200,000 the number of pupils benefiting from enterprise courses in our schools and colleges.

Consumer Policy Institute

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with the Consumer Policy Institute. [137257]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 7 November 2000]: Last June I met with several members of the National Federation of Consumer Groups to discuss their future plans. One of their action points was the creation of the Consumer Policy Institute.

Professor Geoffrey Woodroffe, who leads the Institute, was present at that meeting and gave me a briefing on the aims of the Institute. I understand that the Institute has now been established and wish it well in the future.

Broadband Telecommunications

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures he plans to put in place to limit potential interference from broadband telecommunications systems, such as an asymmetric digital subscriber line; and if he will make a statement. [138155]

Ms Hewitt: ADSL technology will allow broadband data services into people's homes and offices over the local telephone network. It is an important technology in the development of the information society and

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e-commerce. However, because it operates at radio frequencies over cables which may become unbalanced and hence radiate, there is a risk of interference to medium wave broadcasting and to some aeronautical and other services. There is a difficult balance to strike as we want DSL and other similar broadband technologies to be deployable widely, but we cannot allow undue interference.

My Department has therefore been consulting over a standard to be put in place to limit interference from these technologies. Taking due account of the various representations--and they have been strong on all sides--we have decided to adopt the limits in the so-called February draft standard published by the Radiocommunications Agency (RA). I will be making Regulations to implement this standard in due course. Safety of life radio services will be protected as the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 allows immediate close down of interference sources where the Regulations are breached. Officials will also be putting in place a complaints procedure for domestic consumers experiencing broadcast interference from DSL. This procedure will be worked up in consultation with the Radio Authority, the BBC and the radio industry. The Director General for Telecommunications proposes to place an obligation on the operators of DSL systems to take all reasonable steps to remedy any interference caused.

The Government believe that this balanced package will provide a high level of protection to existing spectrum users while allowing deployment of new technology without undue constraint. We will undertake a review in two years--less if necessary--to assess whether the level in the standard has been appropriately set and to decide the timing of any future reviews. We will make the standard tougher if necessary. The review itself will cover the number of unresolved complaints. Further research is being undertaken by the RA on the cumulative effects of DSL as it rolls out and this will further inform our review.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total cost is of the projects approved under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation for (a) waste incineration, (b) offshore wind, (c) onshore wind, (d) solar power and (e) barriers; and if he will make a statement. [137395]

Mrs. Liddell: No payment is made under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) until approved projects are commissioned.

Total project costs and costs to the Fossil Fuel Levy in the year to August 2000 for commissioned projects in these technologies were:

£ million

Total costsCosts to Levy
(a) Waste Incineration22.310.1
(b) Offshore WindNilNil
(c) Onshore Wind13.57.0
(d) Solar Power NilNil
(e) Tidal BarriersNilNil

No projects relating to solar power or tidal barriers have been approved under NFFO. One project relating to offshore wind has been approved under NFFO, but no expenditure under NFFO has yet arisen.

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There will be no further NFFO rounds as the Government plan to impose a new renewables obligation on all electricity suppliers, but existing contracts will be protected.

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what position Her Majesty's Government have adopted on the definition of renewable energy being negotiated for the European Union Draft Renewable Energy Directive; and if he will make a statement. [137393]

Mrs. Liddell: The Draft Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market proposes an indicative UK target of 10 per cent. of electricity consumption to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2010. This indicative target is in line with the UK's policy as described in "The Renewables Obligation Preliminary Consultation" document, published on 5 October 2000. In negotiations the Government's position is to ensure that the Directive's definition of renewable energy is wide enough for the UK to achieve the Directive's indicative target within the UK's policy framework for renewables and the detailed mechanisms for the obligation on which we are currently consulting.

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