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Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library copies of the small business action plans submitted to her Department by each of the Government departments as part of their regulatory reform action plans. 
Nigel Griffiths: Yes. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House when it is published early in 2004.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many public consultations have been conducted by the Small Business Service since its inception; and if she will make a statement on (a) the response rate and (b) the availability and publication of results in each case. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Small Business Service (SBS) has conducted numerous public consultationsformal and informalsince its launch in April 2000. Some have been online consultations, some have been conducted by post, and others have taken the form of public meetings or workshops.
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Three major consultations have been conducted in 2003.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether her Department has used the small firms database supplied by the Small Business Service for use with the Small Firms' Impact Test since its introduction. 
Nigel Griffiths: Yes, on 12 occasions.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to introduce software patents; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt [holding answer 4 December 2003]: Patents have been granted for some forms of software in the UK and elsewhere for many years. My Department has continued to support proposals to clarify the law on the patentability of software-related inventions across Europe. We will continue to work towards that objective, but we have no plans to extend patent protection to cover all software.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will lodge a complaint with the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors about double charging by solicitors for handling coalmining health claims. 
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 4 December 2003]: We have previously referred some cases of concern on other issues to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. Unfortunately the OSS will only accept complaints from a claimant regarding the solicitor they have specifically instructed.
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I have received an assurance from the Law Society that they will investigate all cases about solicitors' charging as a matter of urgency. I have received the agreement of the OSS to operate a dedicated phone line for MPs (01926 822173) who wish to discuss constituents complaints.
Any claimant wishing to make a complaint regarding the conduct of their solicitor should address this to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors, Victoria Court, 8 Dormer Place, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5AE or telephone the OSS helpline on 0845 608 6565.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will obtain an opinion from the Solicitor-General on the legality of the practice of some solicitors double charging for handling coalmining health claims. 
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 4 December 2003]: The Department keeps under review the need for legal advice, including whether or not to seek the advice of the Law Officers.
As my hon. Friend is aware, by long-standing convention and under Exemption 4dinformation covered by legal professional privilege, of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information neither the fact of nor the substance of Law Officers advice is disclosed outside Government.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will issue advertisements informing former miners and their families that solicitors handling coalmining health claims receive payment from her Department in accordance with a fee structure agreed by solicitors representing both sides. 
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 4 December 2003]: Yes.
The Department has issued two advertisements in the national and regional press about the lung disease cut-off date. These informed claimants that there should be no need for solicitors or other claims handling organisations to charge a fee or deduct any compensation from them and if any claims handling organisations suggests other wise they should seek advice elsewhere.
A further advertisement to include this information will be issued in mid December. This advice has also been highlighted in newsletters on the schemes, which are issued regularly, and in update letters to MPs. All coalfield MPs received a note from the claimants' solicitors group on charging issues.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from trade unions regarding the future of employment in the steel industry in the light of the United States imposition of tariffs on steel imports. 
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and DTI Ministerial colleagues have met with representatives of the relevant steel trade unions on a number of occasions to discuss a range of issues affecting the UK steel industry, including the US Section 201 tariffs on steel imports. It would be difficult to calculate in a meaningful way what impact
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these measures would have on future employment in isolation from other factors. However we have been working hard to get these tariffs lifted, and as a result the US Administration announced on 4 December that it had decided to implement the recent WTO Appellate Body ruling by removing the steel safeguards. This is good news for the UK steel industry and everyone who works in it.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will specify the criteria set by Government which proposers of offshore wind farms need to satisfy to secure approval for development. 
Mr. Timms: The process for obtaining approval for the development of an offshore wind farm falls into two main stages.
First developers need to obtain a site lease from the Crown Estate. In July 2003, the Crown Estate invited bids for seabed leases for offshore wind in three strategic areas; Thames Estuary, Greater Wash and the North West. The criteria being used to assess bids include the financial standing and experience of the applicant, environmental aspects of the proposed site location and the impact on other marine users, and the coherence of the business development plan.
Second developers must obtain statutory consents including the Electricity Act 1989 (Section 36) and Coast Protection Act 1949 (Section 34) or the Transport and Works Act 1992. In both cases, a licence under Section 5 of the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) 1985 is needed. Developers are required to submit environmental impact assessments to support their applications, which are considered on a case by case basis.
In assessing whether consent will be granted, departments will take into account the benefits the project will bring in meeting the Government's renewable energy and environmental targets, as well as the impact of the development on the environment, and the other users of the sea, including the fishing and navigation interests.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate she has made of the proportion of total UK power that will be generated by wind in each of the next 10 years; 
Ms Hewitt: DTI does not publish forecasts of the amount of proportion that any particular renewable energy source will contribute towards our electricity supplies in the years ahead.
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