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Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she has taken to support the competitiveness of British manufacturing since 7 June. [10991]

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Mr. Wilson: We are strengthening assistance to manufacturing industry through our increased support for the regional development agencies to raise innovation, enterprise and skills. We are taking forward the announced initiative to provide a manufacturing advisory service, based on provision of services on a regional basis. We are also introducing measures to help workers develop their skills and increase their prospects of finding new, better employment if they lose their jobs. These and other issues will be discussed at the manufacturing summit in Birmingham on 5 December.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures have been undertaken by her Department since 1997 to assist British manufacturing. [13502]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 12 November 2001]: Since 1997 we have established a favourable macro- economic framework to ensure the future competitiveness of British manufacturing. We have built on this support with policies to foster productivity and help firms innovate and grow. We have established regional development agencies to raise innovation, enterprise and skills in every region. We are improving university and industry links to bring new products and processes in key industrial sectors to market. We are helping established industries to modernise through adopting best practice in production and supply chain management. We have strengthened the knowledge base for manufacturing through increased investment in the science infrastructure. We are creating a manufacturing advisory service, based on a centre for excellence in every region to help firms to innovate and improve their productivity. We are also introducing measures to help workers develop their skills and increase their prospects of finding new, better employment if they lose their jobs.

Electricity Trading Arrangements

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the new electricity trading arrangements. [10646]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 30 October 2001]: Ofgem published on 31 August a review of NETA's performance over the first three months. Their key findings were that:

In a competitive market, we expect changes in wholesale prices to feed through to final customers. Domestic customers are seeing lower electricity prices with prices down by around three per cent. as are industrial customers with prices down around 11 per cent. We expect that further prices reductions will take place as wholesale prices feed through fully.

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The impact of NETA on smaller generators continues to be a concern. Ofgem also published a report on the impact of NETA on smaller generators in the first two months of its operation. This report highlighted the areas where further action was needed to assist smaller generators. A consultation document was issued on 1 November 2001 aimed at addressing these concerns.


Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the initial findings of the Office of Fair Trading's inquiry into BSkyB's position in the pay TV market will be made public. [12091]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 2 November 2001]: The conduct of Competition Act inquiries and the publication of their findings are a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading.

Gas Prices

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effect of increased gas prices on (a) the expansion of combined heat and power plants and (b) future emissions targets. [12442]

Mr. Wilson: The DTI's energy projections published in November 2000 included projections of CHP capacity based on assumptions about future oil and gas prices. Those assumptions are still reasonable in the longer term but the Government recognise that high gas prices this year have reduced substantially the attractiveness of investment in new CHP plant in the short term. The Government remain committed to their CHP target of at least 10,000 MWe capacity by 2010, as well as their emission targets. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be issuing a draft CHP strategy in the coming months that will set out how the target will be achieved.

Nuclear Power

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the total level of Government financial support to the nuclear industry in each year since 1990, including (a) research grants, (b) transfer of debt from privatised utilities, (c) non-fossil fuel levy, (d) investment in BNFL facilities, (e) running costs of UKAEA and NIREX and (f) other sources. [12789]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 7 November 2001]: Funding to the UK nuclear industry has been provided primarily in the form of grant and grant-in-aid to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). This funding has been primarily to enable the UKAEA to discharge historic nuclear liabilities arising form past civil nuclear research programmes and to decommission those research facilities and restore sites to normal use—with the exception of funding in respect of the UKAEA nuclear fusion research programme at Culham which complements the UK's participation in the European Union's Framework Programme V.

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In the period 1999–2000, the DTI (Department of Energy prior to May 1992) provided grant/grant-in-aid to the UKAEA as follows:

£ million

YearGrant and grant in aid(6)FusionOther nuclear

(6) Grant in aid to the UKAEA includes provision for its running costs

(7) Grant payment

(8) Prior to 1995 the UKAEA was a trading fund with a negative external financing requirement


Figures are from Government Expenditure Plan Reports

As regards the privatisation of the nuclear industry (which included both AEA Technology, and British Energy respectively) arrangements at the time included provision for debts to be included in the privatised companies balance sheets and for those debts to be paid back to the Government at fixed periods.

Turning to the non-fossil fuel obligation (NFFO), this obliged electricity suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity from non-fossil sources (nuclear and renewables). Nuclear Electric plc received a premium over and above the market price for electricity in the period 1990–96, as follows:

£ million

YearPremium income

These additional costs incurred by electricity suppliers in meeting their NFFO obligations were reimbursed through the fossil fuel levy on electricity supplied in England and Wales.

BNFL, as a commercial company, does not receive investment capital from Government, although Ministers have provided assurances from time to time in respect of the Government's willingness to accept responsibility for any future liabilities which might arise.

The costs of UK NIREX are met by subscriptions from its members (UKAEA, BNFL, British Energy).

Financial Aid

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the total amount of public money given to support (a) farming, (b) the steel industry and (c) all manufacturing industries in each of the last 10 years. [13718]

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Mr. Wilson: The primary responsibility for farming support rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I understand from colleagues that information on public expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy and on national grants and subsidies is contained in the publication "Agriculture in the UK", and that copies of this publication are available in the Library of the House. My Department provides support for farming under the small firms loan guarantee scheme. The amounts paid against claims relating to farming under the guarantee since 1991 are as follows:

YearAmount paid (£)
2001nil to date

The provision of state aid to steel companies which produce products covered by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) treaty is governed by the Steel Aid Code of the treaty. This code permits aid, only in limited circumstances, for research and development, environmental protection and the permanent closure (not rescue) of a steel company. The only instance of aid to a company covered by the treaty was in the mid-nineties when British Steel was provided with aid of around £180,000 towards a research and development project under the Link programme. Further details on aid to this industry could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department currently spends around £1 billion a year in support for business of which a very significant proportion directly and indirectly benefits manufacturing industry. Because of the wide-ranging nature of DTI support quantifying the exact proportion of public money given to support particular industries (e.g. manufacturing or farming) in each of the last 10 years would raise problems of definition and would also incur disproportionate cost.

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