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Combined Heat and Power

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much CHP capacity has been put out of service since the new electricity trading arrangements came into effect. [5181]

Mr. Meacher: No information is available on whether any CHP capacity has been decommissioned since the introduction of NETA. However, the recent report by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, "Report to DTI on the Review of the Initial Impact of NETA on Smaller Generators", issued last month, indicates that the export of power from CHP has reduced by around 60 per cent.

Energy Efficiency (Government Estate)

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to legislate for a 30 per cent. improvement in the energy efficiency of the Government Estate. [5669]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 20 July 2001]: Further to the current 20 per cent. improvement target, we are developing new realistic, but challenging energy efficiency targets for the Government estate. These will be based on an assessment of the estate's performance against national standards, which will be available next year.

We are currently analysing the latest information about the estate's energy efficiency performance over the past decade, details of which will be announced next month.

Livestock Markets

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the resumption of operation of livestock markets. [7891]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 October 2001]: Veterinary and scientific advice is that there is an inherent risk of spreading the disease by mixing animals together and then dispersing them. Any livestock keeper with poor standards of biosecurity might attend markets from anywhere in the country and put at risk others attending the market. Even in designated free counties, it would take only one such lapse in biosecurity precautions to spread disease. It is right to be cautious at this stage but the situation will be kept under review.

17 Oct 2001 : Column: 1251W

WALES

Tourism

9. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on support for small businesses in the tourism sector in Wales. [4199]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I regularly meet the First Secretary of the National Assembly to discuss a variety of issues, including the tourism sector in Wales.

Over the last six months, I have made many visits to different parts of Wales, meeting representatives of local business communities, hoteliers and other organisations to listen to their concerns.

12. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on financial assistance for small businesses in the tourism sector which have been affected by foot and mouth disease. [4202]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular meetings with the First Secretary to discuss a variety of issues, including the tourism sector in Wales.

The Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Touhig), recently visited my hon. Friend's constituency and met representatives of the local business community, hoteliers and other organisations to listen to their concerns on the effects of FMD on the local economy.

17. Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the use of the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme for promotion of businesses in tourism. [4208]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, a UK-wide scheme, is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

This scheme, which has been running since 1981, helps viable small firms access loans where conventional finance is unavailable because of a lack of security. Under standard scheme terms and conditions many business sectors are eligible including some within tourism.

The scheme was temporarily extended in April 2001 to assist businesses affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Coverage was extended to a number of business sectors normally excluded, including retailing, catering and others within tourism.

Health Service

10. Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales on the health service in Wales. [4200]

24. Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on the health service in Wales. [4215]

Mr. Touhig: My right hon. Friend and I meet regularly the National Assembly First Minister and the Assembly Health and Social Services Minister to discuss the NHS in Wales.

17 Oct 2001 : Column: 1252W

As my hon. Friends know the NHS (Wales) Bill received advance- drafting authority and we have therefore been in constant touch in order to make progress.

Transport

11. Donald Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on transport in Wales. [4201]

Mr. Touhig: My right hon. Friend meets the First Secretary of the National Assembly on a regular basis to discuss wide-ranging current issues affecting Wales, including transport.

Transport generally is a matter for the National Assembly, though railways, air and ports remain, generally, the responsibility of Central Government, working closely with the Assembly on matters affecting Wales. I am keen to continue dialogue with the Assembly and Cabinet colleagues in order to determine how best to meet the transport needs of Wales.

27. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on transport in Wales. [4218]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary of the National Assembly on a regular basis to discuss wide- ranging current issues affecting Wales, including transport.

Transport generally is a matter for the National Assembly, though railways, air and ports remain, generally, the responsibility of Central Government, working closely with the Assembly on matters affecting Wales. I am keen to continue dialogue with the Assembly and Cabinet colleagues in order to determine how best to meet the transport needs of Wales.

Manufacturing Industry

13. Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on manufacturing industry in Wales. [4203]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues, including manufacturing in Wales.

I am pleased to note the announcement of some 7,500 jobs in manufacturing operations across Wales in the past 12 months, particularly in the light of heavy job losses in the steel sector.

18. Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on manufacturing industry in Wales. [4209]

28. Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on the manufacturing industry in Wales. [4219]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues, including manufacturing in Wales.

17 Oct 2001 : Column: 1253W

I am pleased to note the announcement of some 7,500 jobs in manufacturing operations across Wales in the past 12 months.

19. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on manufacturing employment in Wales. [4210]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I am pleased to note the announcement of some 7,500 jobs in manufacturing operations across Wales in the past 12 months.

Higher Education

14. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills about higher education in Wales. [4205]

Mr. Touhig: My right hon. Friend and I have had a number of meetings and discussions recently to discuss education in Wales. These discussions have included the provision of higher education.

The Assembly's Education and Lifelong Learning Committee is conducting a comprehensive policy review of higher education in Wales, to inform a 10-year strategy for the sector. The review's findings are expected later this year.

Environment

15. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the mechanisms for determining cross-border environmental issues. [4206]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Such issues are a matter for the National Assembly for Wales, in discussion with the lead Whitehall Department and where appropriate the Environment Agency. The Wales Office would only become involved if I were asked to intervene to help resolve a difficulty.


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