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6 Nov 2002 : Column 379Wcontinued
Mrs. Liddell: I refer the hon. Member to my answers of 29 October. Up to 6 November 2002, the Scotland Office had recruited a total of 142 Friends of Scotland (this figure is updated on a monthly basis).
Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what discussions she has had with Ofgem about the state of preparedness of (a) electricity generation and (b) electricity distribution companies to cope with emergencies arising from severe weather conditions. 
Mr. Wilson: The Department is in regular contact with Ofgem regarding aspects of the resilience of the electricity generation, transmission and distribution system. In particular Ofgem participated in the steering group for a study of the emergency preparedness of the transmission and distribution systems which we published in May. Following Sunday's storms I announced that we would be testing the conclusions of this study, which were generally positive, against the actual response in difficult conditions. I have asked for a review of how companies performed and for recommendations to help them ensure that future supplies to consumers are not affected to the same extent. Ofgem will be fully involved in the review.
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Ms Hewitt: The quinquennial review of the Council for Science and Technology was launched on 19 August. The Science and Technology Select Committee was informed in advance and sent copies of a consultation letter which was sent out to learned societies and other stakeholders such as Universities UK, the CBI and the Engineering Employers Federation. The consultation letter was also placed on the web (http://www.ost.gov.uk/policy/qreview.htm).
The first stage of the review, which addressed whether the CST is still needed, has recommended that it should continue in being, but that steps must be taken to make it more effective. The Government have accepted this recommendation. The second stage of the review will look at how the CST might best be used in future.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what figures she collates on how many UK-based petroleum geologists and geophysicists are working in (a) the UK and (b) abroad. 
Mr. Wilson: My Department does not collate such figures. However, under a recent Government/industry PILOT initiative, a questionnaire on UK Continental Shelf exploration activity is being circulated to all UKCS exploration managers. Within this, companies are being asked how many geoscientists are currently working for their organisation on the UKCS and how this compares with 3 years ago. The survey will conclude by December 2002, and the results will then be analysed and presented to PILOT in due course.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what the planned expenditure for the South East England Development Agency on (a) corporate entertainment and (b) conferences was during the financial year 200203. 
Alan Johnson: (a) As part of SEEDA's marketing budget for 200203, #12,000 is provided for events hosted by the Chairman and / or the Board and #13,000 for other open consultation and communication events.
(b) SEEDA itself does not host conferences, but may contribute to cost of holding events which relate to economic development and other related purposes. The budget for SEEDA staff attending conferences and events is #49,000.
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Mr. Wilson: I am pleased to say that the Department and four Regional Development Agencies (East Midlands, South East England, East of England, and West Midlands) jointly funded a major industry-led initiative called Energy Efficient MotorSport (EEMS). An EEMS working group was established, consisting of a number of companies and individuals with relevant interest and expertise which resulted in a feasibility study published in August 2002, which was commissioned through the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA).
The aim of the study was to assess the role that motorsport could play in the promotion and development of energy efficiency automotive technologies. A follow up EEMS presentation was recently made by the MIA to the world governing body of motorsport to explore how the proposals of the study could be demonstrated in a motor racing context. DTI, RDAs and other involved in the EEMS initiative are planning an industry showcase event and other activities to encourage industry to implement its findings.
In addition, the DTI led Foresight Vehicle programme, the UK's national automotive R & D programme, continue to support collaborative R & D in range of areas including environmental performance (e.g. fuel efficiency, emissions, light weight materials).
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what plans she has to introduce a system of licensing for (a) independent motor vehicle garages and (b) franchised motor dealers; and if she will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: I have no plans at present to introduce a system of licensing for garages or motor dealers. Car buyers have the same rights as all consumers to expect that the goods they buy are of satisfactory quality and as described. With regard to car servicing and repair, my Department is working closely with the industry and other stakeholders to develop an independent national voluntary scheme to enable consumers to identify garages across the sector which are committed to delivering consistent minimum standards of customer service.
Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, how many successful prosecutions have been made by local authority trading standards departments against licensees or landlords for delivering short measures in each of the last five years. 
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Miss Melanie Johnson: As a general rule, local authorities do not currently initiate prosecutions for short measure draught beer unless the deficiency exceeds 10 per cent. The Department is aware of 13 successful prosecutions over the last five tax years:
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, when her Department and the Claimant Solicitor's Steering Group expect to agree a dust figure for the occupation of Strata Engineer in respect of relevant mining compensation claims. 
Mr. Wilson: Dust factors for jobs not explicitly covered in the Claims Handling Agreement (CHA), like that of Strata Engineer, are decided by the Dust Reference Panel, experts who are jointly instructed by the DTI and the Solicitors' Co-ordinating Group (CG).
The Department's claims handlers, IRISC, have only one claim that is currently outstanding for a Strata Engineer. This case will become the subject of an individual referral to the Dust Reference Panel (DRP).
The DRP are currently working with the Department and the Solicitors' Co-ordinating Group to produce guidance that will aid the referral of individual cases to the DRP. This will be issued shortly and individual cases can then be referred when the claimants' solicitor and IRISC have assembled the necessary evidence, in accordance with the guidance.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what assessment he has made of whether the patents system as it applies to biotechnology inventions continues to operate in the public interest; and if he will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: It is important to ensure that the patent system in this rapidly developing area continues to operate in the public interest. The Department is commissioning a study on the impact which current patenting practice in the field of genetics has on research and competitiveness in the UK. The Department of Health is conducting a study on Intellectual Property generally and the NHS. In addition, the report published in September of the independent Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, set up by right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, makes recommendations in this area in terms of the impact on developing countries. The Government are currently considering these recommendations.
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