Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Jan 2004 : Column 781W—continued


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it is her policy to seek an end to dumping of agricultural produce by developed countries on developing countries as part of a development treaty agreement with the World Trade Organisation. [146640]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The ultimate goal in WTO agriculture negotiations is to create freer and fairer world markets in agriculture. The Doha mandate commits all WTO members to substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and reductions, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidy. If agreed, this will make a significant contribution to reducing dumping of subsidised produce on developing country markets.

Electricity Grid

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action her Department is taking to ensure that the national electricity grid is able to cope in the winter months. [148268]

Mr. Timms: We expect the national electricity grid to be robust over the winter months. However, there are always some exceptional circumstances capable of leading to supply problems. We are not complacent and will continue to monitor the situation with National Grid and Ofgem.

Employment Directive

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the volunteering sector will be covered by the Employment Directive. [146425]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 January 2004]: The European Employment Directive applies to employment and vocational training. While it does not cover unpaid volunteers, therefore, people employed in the voluntary sector enjoy the same rights under it as those employed in the private and public sectors.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it will be possible to claim discrimination on more than one ground under the Employment Directive. [146426]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 January 2004]: Yes. The grounds covered by this Directive are not mutually exclusive. As with other employment discrimination legislation, parties covered by the Employment Directive will be able to claim discrimination on any of the grounds on which they believe they have been discriminated.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how her Department will define the legitimate aims an employer may use to justify age discrimination. [146428]

14 Jan 2004 : Column 782W

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 January 2004]: The consultation on proposals for age discrimination legislation ended on 20 October 2003. It sought views on the legitimate aims that employers might use to justify age discrimination. We will decide what kind of approach to take in the light of our analysis of the responses to the consultation. We will consult on the draft regulations this Spring.

Employment Tribunals

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long it took on average in each year since 1999 for employment tribunals to issue a decision after a hearing has finished. [147004]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 January 2004]: In the last four financial years, based on the information currently held in the Employment Tribunal Service's statistical database, the average length of time taken to issue a decision was as follows:



Employment Tribunals Service.

Energy Policy

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meteorological studies her Department has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned on average percentage levels of availability at different points during the year of (i) onshore wind farms, (ii) offshore wind farms and (iii) wave power installations.[R] [147516]

Mr. Timms: Last year my Department commissioned a study in order to assist in determining the priority areas for future commercial exploitation of renewable energy.

The study 'Atlas of UK Marine Renewables' will among other things provide a spatial quantification of offshore wind and wave resources and will also consider the temporal variation of the energy parameters. The first results from the study are expected shortly.

Other supported projects which have included meteorological studies include; 'Predicting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER), 1 project which developed a novel wind resource assessment methodology which can produce long-term and spatially detailed estimates of the wind conditions at offshore sites and the 'Forecasting Short-Term Wind Farm Production' 2 project which developed a method that applies a model to provide site specific forecasts of wind speed and power from one to 36 hour horizons.

Additionally, the Department of Trade and Industry's Wind Speed Database contains estimates of the annual mean wind speed throughout the UK. The database uses the Ordnance Survey grid system each

14 Jan 2004 : Column 783W

value stored in the database is the estimated average for a 1km square at 10m, 25m or 45m above ground level.

Full reports of both mentioned projects together with the Wind Speed Database can be seen on the DTI website at

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department has taken in the last six months to ensure that the nuclear energy option remains open. [R] [147519]

Mr. Timms: Skills and Research and Development are key areas for maintaining nuclear power as an option for the future.

The Government have been assisting in the establishment of a Sector Skills Council to represent the needs of the nuclear industry. Cogent Sector Skills Council is undergoing the development process for licensing early this year. It will aim to ensure that the education and training base meet the nuclear employers current and future needs.

New opportunities for fission research, with funding up to £5 million over four years, were recently announced as part of the Research Council's "Towards a Sustainable Energy Economy" (TSEC) initiative. This funding comes from the £28 million allocated to the Research Councils for sustainable energy research under the 2002 Spending review.

We have also been looking closely at energy research needs across the board in the light of the Energy White Paper, including nuclear fission. DTI funding is being

considered as part of the 2004 Spending Review, which covers the period 2005–08.

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment her Department has made of the report, "An Essential Programme to Underpin Government Policy on Nuclear Power", published by the Nuclear Task Force in July 2003.[R] [147520]

Mr. Timms: The report's recommendations are being considered in the wider context of UK energy research requirements as part of the 2004 Spending Review, covering Government expenditure for the period 2005–08.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the Renewable Energy Capital Modernisation Fund was allocated in 2003–04, as referred to in her Departmental Report 2003; and what amounts were allocated through non-nuclear expenditure directly related to the creation of open markets in each year since 1997. [147797]

Mr. Timms: The Renewable Energy Capital Modernisation Fund is providing £60 million of the additional £100 million for renewable energy announced by the Prime Minister in March 2001. The allocation of this £100 million to different activities in the renewable energy sector was announced in November 2001 and is set out as follows.

14 Jan 2004 : Column 784W

£ million
Capital grants for offshore wind25
Biomass capital grants:30
Energy crops infrastructure (DEFRA)3.5
Innovative photovoltaic (PV) projects10
Community and household schemes10
Planning facilitation2.5
Metering, storage and control technologies4
Wave and tidal demonstrations5
Support for "blue skies" research (OST)10

Inclusive of the Prime Minister's £100 million, the Government are allocating £348 million over four years in direct support for renewable energy. This is over and above the incentive to renewable energy provided by the Renewables Obligation. All this support will contribute to opening up market opportunities for renewable energy.

Engineering Construction Industry

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make it her policy to ensure that the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry is made mandatory. [145490]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government believe that voluntary collective agreements should not be legally enforceable unless all the parties covered by such agreements want it. To do otherwise would undermine the voluntarist nature of collective bargaining in this country and dissuade parties from entering voluntary agreements.

Next Section Index Home Page