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Minimum Wage

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans there are to extend coverage of the national minimum wage to under 18s; [90639]

Alan Johnson: We have asked the Low Pay Commission to produce their Fourth Report on the national minimum wage by February 2003 and will carefully consider any recommendations that the Commission make on these issues in that report.

BAE Systems

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with BAe Systems regarding the sale of the aerostructures division. [90725]

Alan Johnson: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has had no specific discussions with BAe Systems regarding the sale of the aerostructures division.

At a meeting in October last year at which a wide range of issues was discussed, representatives of BAe Systems informed me that the future ownership of the company's aerostructures business was under review. On 20 November, the BAe Systems' Board approved a recommendation to divest the aerostructures business and the company made an announcement to this effect on 25 November 2002.

Syd Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings her Department had with officials of Financial Dynamics since 1 December. [88855]

Ms Hewitt: DTI officials attended two meetings with officials of other Government Departments during the past few weeks at which Financial Dynamics representatives were present.

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Electricity Trading and

Transmission Arrangements

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when legislation will be introduced to enable the introduction of the BETTA system; and if she will make a statement. [88038]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 19 December 2002]: The Government are committed to bringing forward legislation on the British electricity transmission and trading arrangements (BETTA) as soon as parliamentary time allows. The Government intend to introduce legislation in order to have British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements in place no later than April 2005.

Business Links

Mr. Kidney : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) rules, (b) guidance and (c) advice she has published on declarations of interest and withdrawal from meetings in respect of the members of boards of Business Links. [90150]

Nigel Griffiths: Clauses 7.1 to 7.3 of the Business Link Operator Appointment outlines the responsibilities of Business Link Operators under Corporate Governance and Management. I am sending a copy of these to my hon. Friend and place a copy in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many responses had been received from businesses as a result of the Business Link advertisement campaign before 31 December 2002. [90568]

Nigel Griffiths: The main objective of the current Business Link advertising campaign, which was launched in September 2002, is to raise awareness of the business advice service and improve understanding of the variety of professional help available through Business Link.

The campaign generated an increase of 61 per cent. in weekly calls to our national 0845 telephone number and a 63 per cent. increase in web sessions to businesslink.orgsite.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the estimate is of the costs of the Business Link advertisement campaign by (a) news and print papers, (b) radio and (c) television in the calendar year 2003. [90569]

Nigel Griffiths: Costs committed to date for the continuation of the current Business Link advertising campaign are detailed as follows

(a) News and print papers491,533
(b) Radio490,702
(c) TV912,078

The current campaign runs until March 2003. Plans for advertising from April have yet to be agreed.

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Child Care Tax Credit

Mr Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the advertising campaign on maternity and paternity leave rights will include information about financial support with child care costs. [90769]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness among both employers and employees about the new employment legislation which affects both expectant parents and parents with children under six or disabled children under 18.

The Inland Revenue is already advertising the two new tax credits in the national press and on national television, of which the child tax credit includes an element specifically to help parents with child care costs; and the Department for Work and Pensions produces a booklet, Babies and Children, covering all the benefits for expectant parents and those caring for children, which is freely available from Jobcentre Plus offices and post offices.

Company Directors (Disqualification)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what grounds courts may disqualify a person from acting as an (a) executive and (b) non-executive company director; and what plans she has to extend them. [89251]

Miss Melanie Johnson: When it falls to a court to determine whether a person's conduct as a director makes him unfit to be concerned in the management of a company, the court will take into account the circumstances of the case and must have regard in particular to the matters for determining the unfitness of directors set out in Schedule 1 to the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

It is also possible for a court to make a disqualification order on conviction of a relevant indictable offence, for persistent breaches of companies legislation and for fraud discovered in the course of a winding up.

The effects of disqualification legislation extend to being a director or being concerned or taking part in, directly or indirectly, the promotion, formation or management of a company, except with the leave of the court.

We have no plans to extend the grounds on which a person may be disqualified.

Development Agencies

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the level of accountability of development agencies in respect of their use of public money; and if she will make a statement. [88588]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 14 January 2003]: RDAs are non-departmental public bodies which operate under strict HM Treasury rules for all expenditure incurred. The annual accounts of the RDAs are audited by National Audit Office. The RDAs also have their own internal auditors and Government offices monitor payments made to the RDA.

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The Department also receives monitoring reports from the RDAs on a regular basis to ensure that expenditure is properly incurred. The RDAs set out their broad spending plans in Corporate Plans which are submitted to Government for approval; these Corporate Plans are expected to deliver a number of targets which are set by the DTI in collaboration with other Government Departments to reflect the policy interest of those funding the agencies.

Nuclear Power

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will calculate the cost of generating one unit of electricity from a new-built (a) nuclear power station, (b) coal-fired power station, (c) gas-fired power station, (d) offshore wind facility and (e) onshore wind facility; assuming average size in each case, and the write-off of capital costs over a 30-year period. [89088]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 8 January 2003]: The costs of generating electricity are a commercial matter for generators.

Costs can be estimated on a variety of bases, and will vary from plant to plant. For example, figures can include all cost items, including depreciation and return on capital, or can refer only to the additional costs associated with continued operation. The costs of plant using fossil fuel will vary as fuel prices change.

Estimates of the cost of generating electricity from new and existing coal and gas-fired power stations were published in chapter 5 of the 1998 White Paper, XConclusions of the Review of Energy Sources for Power Generation" (

This suggested that the cost of new gas-fired generation might be in the range 1.8 to 2.2p/kWh, and new coal stations between 2.6 and 3.25p/kWh.

More recent estimates of the cost of generation costs from different types of plant are contained in the PIU Energy Review and a report by an inter-departmental analysts group, both of which were published in February 2002.

The PIU estimated the costs of gas-fired generation, new nuclear build and onshore and offshore wind generation as follows:

Estimated generation cost (p/kWh)
Gas2 to 2.3
Nuclear2.5 to 4
Onshore wind1.5 to 2.5
Offshore wind2 to 3


Estimate for onshore and offshore wind are for developments in 2020 and exclude additional costs occurring as a result of their intermittent nature.

Both reports are available in the Libraries of the House.

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