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Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to reduce the barriers to entry faced by potential small suppliers of electricity to the national grid. 
Mr. Wilson: We recognise that smaller generators have concerns about the NETA market that operates in England and Wales. Significant improvements have been made since the start of NETA, particularly to improve cost reflectivity of imbalance prices and reduce imbalance price risk, which should particularly help smaller generators. There have also been improvements to reduce barriers to the consolidation of the output of smaller generators.
The Government recently announced its intention to bring forward the Electricity (Trading and Transmission) Bill as soon as Parliamentary time allows in order to implement a GB market. The draft Bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny. The improvements above and any future improvements will be carried across to the wider GM market.
As part of this project, the DTI, jointly with Ofgem, will shortly be issuing a consultation document on the treatment of smaller generators under BETTA. This will look specifically at any barriers to entry that may be faced by smaller generators who are connecting to the transmission system in Scotland.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the level of bilateral trade was with (a) Bahrain, (b) Abu Dhabi and (c) Yemen in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
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|UK imports||UK exports|
OTSI: UK trade with Countries Outside the European Community, December 2002
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many responses to the DTI consultation on licence boundaries were received regarding Wales; and how many expressed support for licence boundaries to include areas totally within the boundaries of the devolved Administration. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 March 2003]: 19 responses were received to the consultation. Two of these expressed support for a licence boundary following the border of Wales those from MLL, a telecoms provider, and the Welsh Advisory Committee on Telecommunications.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria were used by the Government to decide the allocation of regions for the auction of 3.4GHz wireless broadband licences; and if she will make a statement about the proposal to disregard the geographical Welsh border. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 March 2003]: The 3.4GHz licence packaging was designed to increase competition and availability of broadband services across the UK. The licence regions were drawn up following market and economic studies to be as economically viable and inclusive as possible, maximising the potential development of sustainable wireless services and the broadband market throughout the UK.
Dividing up spectrum at 3.4GHz along the lines of funded regions, as suggested by the Welsh National Assembly, would produce more areas of the UK with no coverage. It would also lead to a lower capacitythat is, fewer broadband customers in Wales who can be supported, given the spectrum available.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations her Department received from the National Assembly for Wales on allocating regions for the forthcoming auction of 3.4GHz wireless broadband licences; and if she will make a statement; 
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on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, published a consultative document entitled "3.4 and 10 GHz: Scenarios for Spectrum Packaging and Delivery". This consultation document presented a number of scenarios for packaging and delivering licences to establish and use stations and apparatus for wireless telegraphy in the 3.4 and 10GHz bands for the provision of Fixed Wireless Access services ("FWA").
Following a detailed review of the responses to the December consultation document and the completion of further technical studies in the 3.4GHz and 10GHz bands a further consultation document, "PFWA: Proposal by the RA to package and deliver licences at 3.4GHz", published in April 2002, set out the proposal to award spectrum licences for the 3.4GHz band.
Both consultations were carried out nationally and all Government Departments and devolved Administrations were invited, along with industry and the public, to be involved and comment on the proposals. Among the many comments received and meetings held, RA received input and held discussions with officials of the National Assembly for Wales on numerous occasions. This included a proposal from the Welsh Assembly Government for two licences to match EU objective funding areas in Wales. This proposal was included in the public consultation process alongside those of the Scottish Administration and RA.
Of the responses to the consultation, only one industry response expressed support for the proposals from the devolved Administrations, MLL, a telecoms provider with operations in Wales. One industry response to Government's consultation commented "creating two purely Welsh regions could result in insufficient market potential in viable geographic coverage spreads to justify serious bidding". The Welsh Advisory Committee on Telecommunications, part of the Welsh National Assembly, also expressed support.
Since the timetable of the award was announced there have been representations from Welsh National Assembly members about licence areas. Further consideration has been given to this issue but I believe the packaging, which has been accepted by the majority of industry, will produce the best outcome both for Wales and for the UK as a whole.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance she has issued to the assessors of applications for funding to the LINK Programme in respect of the provision of feedback to unsuccessful applicants. 
Ms Hewitt: LINK is a pan-government scheme for the support of collaborative research between UK companies and the science base. It consists of a number of individual programmes which have their own management and feedback procedures agreed by the sponsoring Departments in line with overall LINK Scheme guidelines which aim to ensure that constructive and unambiguous feedback is provided. Each programme funds a number of projects.
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I believe that my hon. Friend has a particular interest in the LINK Basic Technologies for Industrial Applications programme. Within this programme, all projects are assessed by an independent panel against the criteria for support for the programme, which are included in the guidance notes to applicants and published on the programme website at www.basictechnologies.gov.uk. Aspects considered in assessing project proposals include: the level of innovation including the potential for a step-change in industrial capability; the risks and likely rewards in using the new technology; the feasibility of the proposed approach; the quality, relevant expertise and resources of the consortium; the range of potential beneficiaries; the strength of the UK science base in the technical areas involved; the potential for lasting benefit to UK capability beyond the life of the project; and the level of wider industrial interest.
The programme coordinator provides feedback on the panel's recommendations to all applicants and has been asked to point out both the strengths and weaknesses in the proposal in line with the assessment criteria above. Where possible, guidance is also provided to the unsuccessful applicants on other possible sources of funding where these can be identified. As 140 outline proposals were received under the current call, it was not possible to provide immediate detailed written feedback to all applicants. However, applicants could telephone or e-mail the coordinator for further feedback on the panel's recommendation and over 50 consortia did. With funds available to offer support to less than 20 projects, only the projects which best met all the criteria were invited to come forward as full proposals and inevitably some good projects were rejected.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications for funding have been made to the LINK Programme in the current financial year; and what the (a) name, (b) subject and (c) cost is of each application which has been approved. 
Ms Hewitt: LINK is a pan-government scheme for the support of collaborative research between UK companies and the science base. It consists of a number of individual programmes which run their own calls for proposals. There are currently 25 programmes open for applications. Each programme funds a number of projects.
I believe that my hon. Friend has a particular interest in the LINK Basic Technologies for Industrial Applications programme. In the case of this programme, a call for proposals was announced by my noble Friend, the Minister for Science and Innovation on 26 July 2002, with a closing date of 7 November 2002. 140 outline applications were received, of which 20 were invited to come forward as full proposals to the second stage of the appraisal process. 19 full proposals were received by the closing date of 20 February 2003 and are now being assessed by an independent panel of industrial and academic experts. Therefore, at this stage, no projects have been approved for funding under the programme.
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Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what management arrangements she has established for processing applications under the LINK Programme; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: LINK is a pan-government scheme for the support of collaborative research between UK companies and the science base. It consists of a number of individual programmes which have their own management procedures agreed by the sponsoring Departments in line with overall LINK Scheme guidelines. Each programme funds a number of projects.
I believe that my hon. Friend has a particular interest in the LINK Basic Technologies for Industrial Applications programme. In the case of this programme, my Department is the primary sponsor and has established a 2-stage process for assessing applications to minimise unnecessary work for applicants whose projects may not be strong candidates for support.
Initial outline proposals, consisting of a 3-page project description with a covering application form, are submitted to the programme co-ordinators by the advertised closing date. These proposals are then circulated to an appraisal panel of independent industrial and academic experts, who assess the proposals against the programme's criteria for support, in particular, the degree of innovation and the potential long-term wider benefit for UK productivity. The panel, which has an independent chairman from industry, meets to review the proposals and recommends those which it considers should come forward as full proposals, bearing in mind the funds available for commitment. The project applicants are then informed of the panel's recommendation by e-mail. A telephone contact number and e-mail address are provided for applicants who wish to seek further feedback or discuss the panel's recommendation. The target for the process from closing date to notification is 30 working days, which was achieved in the call currently under way which involved 140 applications. With such a large number of applications, it is not possible to give detailed feedback to all the applicants within the stated target times for processing.
The projects invited to submit full proposals are given a closing date for submission about two months after notification. They are provided with feedback from the appraisal panel and visited by the programme co-ordinators or officials to provide advice on preparing a full application. The full application consists of a 10-page project description with technical annexes plus a LINK summary application form and application forms from each of the consortium members summarising company and financial information. The full proposals are again circulated to the appraisal panel and additional input is sought from other experts where appropriate. The panel meets to review all the proposals and recommends to DTI those which should be supported. The proposals are ranked to enable the available funds to be assigned to the strongest proposals. The applicants are notified of the recommendations of the panel which indicate that, subject to satisfactory financial arrangements being
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completed, the project will be offered grant support. The target to complete the process from closing date to notification is 40 working days.
Information on the programme, including application forms and guidance notes for applicants, are available on the programme website at www.basictechnologies.gov.uk, which is maintained by the programme co-ordinators.
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