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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations have been made to her Department regarding (a) the level of hacker activity against the energy industry and (b) the origin of such activity. 
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations her Department has received and by what measures she assesses the economic competitiveness of (i) nuclear, (ii) renewable, (iii) coal and (iv) fossil-fuel energy. 
Mr. Wilson: Following the Performance and Innovation Unit's Energy Review, the Government launched a consultation on energy policy on 14 May with a view to publishing a White Paper around the turn of the year. The consultation document states that competitiveness is a key objective of energy policy.
We shall shortly be posting the early replies which we have received to the consultation on the DTI's website, and a number of these have raised issues related to the competitiveness of different energy sources.
Our view of the competitiveness of particular fuels is influenced by the extent to which external factors such as the impact on the environment or security are significant and have been taken into account.
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John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment the Government have made of the trend in the number of transfers of fuel supply by energy companies without customers' consent. 
Mr. Wilson: The number of complaints about the erroneous transfer of gas supply received by Energywatch rose from 2,511one and a half per 1,000 transfersin January to June 2001 to 4,204two per 1,000 transfersin July to December 2001. In the same period, the number of complaints about the erroneous transfer of electricity supply rose from 2,905one per 1,000 transfersto 4,837one and a half per 1,000 transfers. Complaints about marketing for 2001 also include involuntary transfers that occurred as a result of the sales process. The number of gas marketing complaints rose from 1,201 in January to June 2001 to 1,753 in July to December 2001. In the same period, electricity marketing complaints rose from 1,776 to 3,116. Energywatch complaints figures will shortly incorporate erroneous transfers arising from both administrative or data error and mis-selling. Although involuntary transfers remain very low in relation to the level of transfer activitythere were almost 1 million registrations in 2001the Government are concerned about the distress and inconvenience caused by erroneous transfer of energy supply. They welcomed the Erroneous Transfer Customer Charter, which came into force on 1 January 2002. They have also encouraged the industry in its development of an action plan to address mis- selling, which should remove a key cause of erroneous transfers.
Mr. Wilson: The gas and electricity supply industry is working with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) and Energywatch on an action plan to address the problem of sales malpractice. Among other things, this will involve the establishment of an industry-wide code of practice. Six companies will also pilot the Electricity Association's EnergySure scheme, which was launched on 15 July. This will ensure that all agents are trained to an agreed, externally monitored standard. It will specifically require that sales agents understand the range of general and specific regulations that protect energy consumers.
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Mr. Wilson: The treatment of erroneous transfers is governed by the Erroneous Transfer Customer Charter, which was developed by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) and Energywatch. The charter, which is intended to improve co-operation between suppliers with a view to resolving problems quickly, with minimal involvement on the consumer's part, was agreed by the industry last year and came into force on 1 January 2002. OFGEM will review the industry's performance against the charter in October 2002, and has made clear that, if the industry's performance against the charter is inadequate, it will consider the modification of standard licence conditions or the introduction of guaranteed standards of performance, which carry an automatic right to compensation.
Where erroneous transfers arise from mis-selling, the mis-selling may be dealt with under the appropriate consumer legislation or under condition 48 of the gas and electricity supply licencethe marketing licence condition. OFGEM may take a wide range of action in respect of breaches of licence conditions, including levying financial penalties.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 27 June 2002, Official Report, column 988W, on Consignia, if she will list the total severance pay, broken down by (a) redundancy pay, (b) pension contribution and (c) other payments, for (i) Neville Bain and (ii) Mike Kinski; what notice period was served by each; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Neville Bain's employment ceased at the end of a fixed-term contract. No redundancy or other payment was provided. Mr. Bain is in receipt of a pension in accordance with his contract. There was no explicit notice period other than the duration of the fixed-term contract.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on small businesses in rural areas of (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) England of the proposal to impose charges for delivery of mail prior to 9 am. 
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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the implications for United Kingdom postal services of the decision of the European Commission that Deutsche Post should repay illegal state aid. 
Mr. Timms: The Government have not yet studied the details surrounding the Commission's decision in this case. However in general we welcome the Commission's determination to tackle state aid which illegally distorts competitive markets. The decision will have no impact on our proposed funding for the post office network and mails business as this will be dictated solely by the need to ensure that the company continues to perform its vital social and economic role in a context of growing competition in postal services. Such objectives are legitimate in state aids terms and we will ensure that any aid or investment we provide will be fully compatible with the European rules.
Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether provision will be made in the review of the urban and rural post office network for the provision of disabled access for those offices that need them. 
Mr. Timms: As a matter of general policy, provision for disabled access to post offices will be taken into account in reviewing the future structure of the network. Compliance with the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act at any specific post office location is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. in respect of Crown offices and of the individual subpostmaster in respect of sub post offices.
I have been informed by Post Office Ltd. that subpostmasters have been provided with packs enabling them to audit their own offices for Disability Discrimination Act compliance and that advice will be provided by Post Office Ltd. throughout this process.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list, by region, the post offices that are accessible by the disabled; and what proportion these post offices comprise of the total in their respective region. 
Mr. Timms: Accessibility for the disabled at post offices is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. together with individual subpostmasters and I have asked the chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
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