25. Mr. Bryant:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent progress has been made in the payment of compensation for former miners and their dependants. 
In relation to compensation for respiratory disease IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered almost 170,000 claims to date. 54,230 individual payments have been made, amounting to £221 million. The main outstanding issues have now largely been resolved. This means that where previously only interim payments could be made, these claims can now be settled in full. Although it will take some time for the process to ramp up fully in all respects, the Department's aim is that IRISC will have made 50,000 offers by the end of next year.
The Department continues to adhere to the prioritisation agreement set out in the Handling Agreement, whereby the most elderly and ill claimants are dealt with first. Widows are also being prioritised, above those by other estates. The Department aims to process the most vulnerable claims by spring 2002.
In relation to compensation for vibration white finger (VWF), IRISC have registered over 130,000 claims. There have been 73,527 individual payments made, amounting to £408.9 million.
26. Norman Baker:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Government's policy in respect of nuclear power generation capacity. 
Nuclear power contributes to our broad energy policy objectives of ensuring secure, diverse, sustainable supplies of energy at competitive prices by providing about one quarter of UK electricity generation and helping limit carbon emissions. In common with all other energy options, nuclear's role in UK energy policy
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is being considered by the current performance and innovation unit energy review which is due to report to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister by the end of the year.
Manufacturing (Rural Areas)
27. Mr. Drew:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to help manufacturing in rural areas. 
Manufacturing companies in rural areas benefit from the strengthened regional support we have introduced and the wide range of policies we are pursuing to foster productivity, encourage enterprise, and raise innovation and skills.
My hon. Friend the Minister responsible for small business announced on 7 November 2001 the establishment of the Development Fund for Rural Renewal. This £3 million support programme will provide funding for projects that offer support to enterprises, including manufacturing, in areas facing difficulties due to the effects of foot and mouth disease.
Gender Pay Gap
28. Mrs. Calton:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Government's strategy to eliminate the gender pay gap. 
Earlier this year we asked Denise Kingsmill to examine and report on possible measures to improve women's employment prospects and so reduce the pay gap. We are currently considering her report, which will be published next week. It would be premature to make a statement today.
Climate Change Levy
29. Dr. Pugh:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received recently from manufacturing industry on the effects of the climate change levy. 
The Department has received a number of representations from individual businesses, trade associations and other organisations about the climate change levy.
32. Mr. McCabe:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to increase the power of shareholders to determine directors' remuneration. 
Miss Melanie Johnson:
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) on 19 October 2001, Official Report, column 1376W.
Clean Coal Technology
33. Rachel Squire:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the prospects for clean coal technology. 
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Future coal-fired power generation will need to reduce its current levels of greenhouse gas and other emissions and to this effect the Government support a programme of research and development into cleaner coal technologies. We are also reviewing the case for a cleaner coal technology demonstration plant and are due to report our findings in the near future.
Regional Development Agencies
34. Mr. Dhanda:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she will take to enhance the role of the regional development agencies. 
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is continuing the process of enhancement of the RDAs started last year with the announcement of additional funding, more spending flexibility and a stronger economic focus. Implementation culminates on 1 April 2002 when the RDAs' existing programmes are brought together into a single, broader and more flexible programme managed through testing outcome and output targets. She also announced on 22 November 2001, Official Report, column 396W, a series of changes to the structure and operation of her Department. One change will be the transfer of responsibility for some Regional Selective Assistance grants from Regional Government Offices to the RDAs.
Mr. Kevan Jones:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes in board membership there have been in each of the regional development agencies in the last 12 months. 
[holding answer 27 November 2001]: In the 12 months to 26 November, there have been four resignations: Mike Bird resigned from the board of Advantage West Midlands and Sal Brinton, Chris Mole and Peter Dawe resigned from the board of the East of England Development Agency.
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 24 October 2001, Official Report, column 250W which announced re-appointments to the boards.
I am currently consulting on the new appointments to the eight English Regional Development Agencies outside London, as required by the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. An announcement on the outcome of the appointments process will be made in due course.
Appointments to the London Development Agency are the responsibility of the Mayor of London.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to create a healthy environment for encouraging the growth of high-tech businesses. 
The DTI is committed to supporting high-tech companies and is engaged in a range of activities to assist these companies reach their full growth potential.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent representations her Department has received regarding the technology and engineering involved in hydrological fracturing; 
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(2) what recent research has been done by her Department into the effects of hydrological fracturing; 
(3) what (a) quantitive and (b) qualitative research methods were used in studies by her Department on hydrological fracturing; who commissioned such studies; and what examples of field trial stages have been published; 
(4) what recent research has been completed by the relevant authorities on the environmental, commercial and social effects of hydrological fracturing. 
My Department, as part of its Cleaner Coal Technology Programme, has funded a number of projects that included work on hydrological fracturing, although it has not commissioned specific R&D on this subject.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has funded research into hydrogeology, including the hydrological fracturing of rock and other media. NERC's British Geological Survey (BGS) has undertaken work reviewing the use of the technology of fracturing in Coal Bed Methane production. A list of the NERC research portfolio, including grants funded through NERC's Micro to Macro programme, is listed below on Annexe 1.
Hydrological Fracturing: Grants funded by NERC 199798 to date
ROPA Seismic imaging of subseismic natural fracture systems (199698, British Geological Survey)
Basement structural controls on fault architectures, accommodation zones and sedimentation in rift systems (19962000, Royal Holloway)
Fracture characterisation of deep repository sites (199899, Imperial College)
Self-organisation of fluid flow, chemical reactivity and rock strength in porous reservoir rocks (19992001, Edinburgh University)
The hydraulic properties of rock fractures under normal and shear loading (199697, Imperial College)
Submarine rifting laboratory studies of tensile and extensional fracture in mor rocks, leading to numerical models of tectonic and hydrothermal process (199597, University College, London)
Localised flow in fractured rock masses: mechanisms, modelling and characterisation (19992002, Imperial College)
Modelling porosity development and flow in heterogeneous media (19992001, British Geological Survey)
Scaling of fluid behaviour associated with flow through complex geological structures (19992001, Leeds University)
Fully determined fluid velocity fields for complex 2D media with multi-scaled heterogeneity (200003, University of Ulster)
Fracture induced anisotropic seismic attenuation (200103, Imperial College)
Characterisation of the unsaturated hydraulic properties of the Sherwood Sandstone using combined cross-borehole radar and resistivity tomography (19982000, Lancaster University)
The significance of saline fluids in high-temperature deep-crustal metamorphism (19992002, Edinburgh University)
Vadose zone flow mechanisms in hydraulically layered aquifers using time domain reflectometry (200002, Leeds University)
Molecular modelling of clay-fluid interactions under sedimentary basin conditions: the structure and mobility of water and light hydrocarbons (19992002, University College London)
Exceptional porosity in oil-bearing sandstones (200002, Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre)
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Thematic grantsMicro to Macro programme
Analysis of reaction and flow in stochastically heterogeneous porous media (19992001, Cambridge University)
New micro-geochemical traces of fluid and solute transport in sedimentary basins (19991999, Edinburgh University)
Scaling properties of fluid flow in fractured rocks (19992002, University College London)
Controls of matrix and fracture flow from geochemical analysis of produced oil (200002, Reading University)
Localised flow in fractured rock masses mechanisms, modelling and characterisation (19992002, Southampton University/ Imperial College)
Determination of hydraulic properties of distributed fractures using seismic techniques (19992002, Cambridge University/ British Geological Survey)
Modelling porosity development and flow on heterogeneous media (19992001, British Geological Survey)
Scaling of fluid behaviour associated with flow through complex geological structures (19992001, Leeds University)
Quantifying the effects of biofilm growth on hydraulic properties and on sorption equilibria: micro to macro measurements (200002, Manchester University)
Multi-scale fluid-flow path analysis: calibration and modelling using mineralisation systems (200002, Imperial College)
Cementation of oilfield sandstones: micro-geochemical tracers, reveal macro-fluid hydrogeology (200002, Edinburgh University)
Fully determined fluid velocity fields for complex 2D media with multi-scaled heterogeneity (200002, Ulster University)
The scaling behaviour of fluid rock flow in rock fractures (200002, Aberdeen University)
Novel flow and transport models for systems exhibiting non-integer flow dimensions (200002, University College London)
Determination of hydraulic properties of distributed fractures using seismic techniques (19992002, British Geological Survey/Cambridge University)
Modelling porosity development and flow in heterogeneous media (19992001, University College London)
Multi-scale fluid-flow path analysis calibration and modelling using mineralisation systems (200002, Leeds University)
Quantifying the scaling of physical transport in structured heterogeneous porous media (200104, Birmingham University)
Thematic grantsOcean Drilling Programme
High resolution fluid flow patterns at the Nankai convergent plate margin (200104, University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Grants relating to coal measures and methane
Hydrogeology of flooded, abandoned mine workingsan integrated hydraulic/hydrogeochemical analysis (20002000, Newcastle-upon-Tyne University)
Urban regeneration of coalfields: generic studies of contaminated land and groundwater issues exemplified in Wolverhampton (19982002, Sheffield University/British Geological Survey).