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Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to increase the accessibility of post boxes. 
Mr. Timms: These are matters that fall within the day to day responsibility of Consignia and I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much financial support RDAs have provided for building projects on previously undeveloped land in the last financial year. 
Alan Johnson: During the three years after the RDAs were created on 1 April 1999 up to the introduction of their single programme funding on 1 April 2002, the RDAs reported to each funding Department individually on the outcome of their separate programmes. Building projects on undeveloped land were funded by what is now the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Accordingly DTI does not hold any figures for the last financial year.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which bodies carry out the training of new recruits to the Office for Civil Nuclear Security. 
Mr. Wilson: The Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) employs applicants with a suitable background in the area. In addition to providing specialist training within its own organisation, new recruits undergo training as applicable and necessary with a number of other Government agencies.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the answer of 11 June 2002 to the hon. Member for Workington (Tony Cunningham), Official Report, column 1157W, on the Director of Civil Nuclear Security, when she received a copy of the report from the Director of Civil Nuclear Security; whether a press release was issued to accompany the release of the report; and to which individuals, bodies and organisations in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) elsewhere the report has been sent. 
Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry received a copy of the Director of the Office for Civil Nuclear Security's (OCNS) first annual report during May. No press release was issued about its publication. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Workington (Tony Cunningham) on 11 June 2002, Official Report, column 1157W when I said that the report was being placed in the Libraries of the House that day and was also being made available on the DTI website, www.dti.gov.uk. The report was also sent to all civil nuclear companies in the United Kingdom subject to security regulation, to overseas liaison contacts of OCNS and other Government Departments and agencies as appropriate.
Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has
17 Jul 2002 : Column 354W
had with the Ofgem board about the development of renewable energy in the UK; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I have regular discussions with the chairman of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, who is also the chief executive of Ofgem, on matters including the development of renewable energy.
The responsibilities of Ofgem are defined by legislation. The aim of discussions between this Department and Ofgem is to explore how Ofgem, in carrying out its statutory responsibilities, can best assist in the furtherance of Government energy policy objectives, including the development of renewable energy.
Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the levels of remuneration for members of the Ofgem board. 
Mr. Wilson: The non-executive members of the board are paid £12,000 per annum.
The executive members of the board are paid annual salaries as follows:
|Range (£)||No. of members|
|95,000 to 100,000||1|
|110,000 to 115,000||1|
|120,000 to 125,000||1|
|140,000 to 145,000||1|
|160,000 to 165,000||1|
Ofgem Annual Report
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had on the proposed EU Commission directive on public procurement relating to environmental criteria; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Wilson: The Government have been heavily involved in discussionsboth domestically and in Brusselson the proposed new public procurement directive which, among other things, clarifies the scope to take account of environmental issues in public procurement. My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers and Markets, signed up to a political agreement on the proposed directive at the Internal Market Council on 21 May. The proposed new directive will make it clear how environmental issues can be taken into account at all stages of the procurement process. This clarification, which is very much in line with UK objectives, should be particularly helpful in confirming the scope to take account of green production processes, eco-label criteria and environmental management systems.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will take steps to support integration of environmental considerations into the public procurement process at the EU Council meeting in September; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Wilson: Political agreement was reached on the proposals to simplify, clarify and update the existing public procurement directives at the Internal Market Council on 21 May. In the discussions leading up to this agreement, the UK strongly supported proposals to incorporate legitimate environmental considerations into the procurement process. The proposed new directive will, in particular, clarify the scope to use non-discriminatory specifications, which can include relevant eco-label criteria and green production processes. It will also confirm the scope to consider relevant elements of a company's environmental management systems in selecting tenderers, and to take account of whole life cost and quality issues, such as energy and disposal savings which benefit the contracting authority, at the award stage. This is all very much in line with UK objectives. Discussions are continuing on parallel proposals to amend the utilities directive, where it is expected that the scope to take account of environmental issues, under this directive, will be very similar to that for the public sector. It is not yet clear whether procurement will be a matter for the September Internal Market Council.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to incorporate environmental criteria into public procurement policies by EU member states. 
Mr. Wilson: Each member state is responsible for its own public procurement policies within the framework set by the treaty and the EC public procurement directives. The Government have been very activeboth domestically and in Brusselsin considering how environmental issues can be taken into account in public procurement within the EC legal framework and the Government's policy of achieving value for money for the taxpayer. The UK played a full part in the discussions in Brussels leading up to the publication of the Commission's interpretative communication on environmental issues and in the clarifications, in the proposed new public sector directive, of how environmental considerations can be taken into account at each stage of the procurement process.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account she has taken of the treaty of Amsterdam in seeking to integrate environmental considerations into policy decisions by the EU; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Wilson: Especially bearing in mind the treaty of Amsterdam, the Department has played an active and constructive part in those formations of the Council where the Department leads, to implement the conclusions of the Cardiff and subsequent Councils on integrating the environment and sustainable development in all areas of European Union policy making.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what extra resources have been granted to the Official Receiver to ensure that the distinction between culpable and non-culpable bankrupts under the Enterprise Bill can be made. 
17 Jul 2002 : Column 356W
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Insolvency Service has been given additional funding equivalent to some 8 per cent. of the Service's gross administration budget for the next two years to train specialist staff and introduce the procedures and new IT systems required to deliver the reforms, including the new BRO process.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long she estimates it will take to process the compensation claims by ex-miners who are suffering from vibration white finger, chronic bronchitis and emphysema; what steps she is taking to speed up the processing of claims; what plans she has to simplify and speed up the medical assessments required in compensation claims; and how many claimants have died while awaiting compensation. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 16 July 2002]: We currently receive around 700 new claims per week for vibration white finger (VWF) and around 900 per week for respiratory disease. It is therefore not possible to estimate how long it will take to process all claims.
In order to speed up the claims process, we are continuing to work closely with the contractors and the claimants' solicitors, and have systems in place such as national ministerial monitoring groups in order to monitor the process. We are therefore ensuring that all parties are able to work together to make sure that any delays are dealt with promptly.
The medical assessment processes for both respiratory disease and vibration white finger are detailed thoroughly in order to ensure that each claim is dealt with fairly and on an individual basis. They were agreed between the parties and there are no current plans to change them. The medical assessment is not a bottleneck causing delay in either scheme.
The handling agreement for compensation for VWF was formally signed on 22 January 1999, and the respiratory disease handling agreement was formally signed on 24 September 1999. Claims under either scheme could not have been settled before this date. The number of claimants who initiated their claim after the date of the agreement, but have died since registering their claim, is 9,071 for respiratory disease and 3,151 for VWF.
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