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Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department has had with Canatxx Gas Storage Ltd. and Canatxx Energy Ventures Ltd. with regard to their proposal for a new gas storage facility at Preesall Sawfield, Lancashire. [211592]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 1 February 2005]: As with other major gas infrastructure projects, my officials have had regular and frequent contacts with the company, in order to understand the project, its potential contribution to the operation of the GB gas market, and the extent to which it faces avoidable regulatory barriers. Records indicate my officials have met with representatives of Canatxx seven times since the project was bought to our attention in 2002. The meetings were as follows:

Company Insolvency

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans there are to protect funds owed to employees when a company goes into liquidation. [213362]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Former employees of insolvent employers can claim redundancy payments, basic awards for unfair dismissal, protective awards and awards of other contractual debts such as unpaid wages, notice pay and outstanding holiday pay from
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Redundancy Payments Offices. Trustees of pension funds can claim for unpaid contributions on both the employer and employees' behalf. All payments are subject to statutory limits. Amounts over the statutory limits can be lodged as debts in the insolvency.

Energy Policy

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of developments in the renewable energy industry in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK since 1997; and if she will make a statement on the Government's plans for renewable energy development in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK. [213150]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The prospects for renewables in Scotland is very good.

In 2003 the Renewables Advisory Board commissioned the Supply Chain Gap analysis to look at the state of the renewables industry within Scotland and the rest of the UK. The aim of the study is to assist agencies in determining the most effective means of targeting their effort and resources. This report made a number of recommendations for renewables both in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Government have set a target that by 2010, 10 per cent. of electricity will be generated from renewable sources and an aspiration to double this by 2020. 10 per cent. of supply from renewables in 2010 would save approximately 2.5 MtC per year if the equivalent amount of energy were generated from gas. This is a UK target with specific Scottish issues being a matter for the Scottish Executive.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department has taken (a) to export renewable energy technologies developed within the United Kingdom to the developing world and (b) to market advancements in the field of renewable energy overseas; and if she will make a statement. [213151]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has a Trade Promotion Service, specifically for renewable energy, which works closely with UK Trade and Investment, to facilitate the export and technology transfer of renewable energy into markets around the world.

This service works in both the developing and developed countries and responds to all requests for support from UK companies wishing to export, however it is targeting developing countries in Asia, Thailand, Indonesia and China for example, and has helped companies in both South America and Africa.

The service targets developing countries with strong political and fiscal policies for the development of renewable energy and which provide the best opportunity for UK business to succeed.

Fuel Poverty

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate she has made of the likely change in the number of households containing young children that are fuel poor as a result of recent increases in energy prices; [213319]
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(2) what measures are being taken to alleviate the impact on fuel poverty in households containing young children of recent increases in energy prices. [213320]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of people in fuel poverty fell by three million, from 5.25 million in 1997 to 2.25 million in 2003.

Analysis of the overall effects of changes in fuel prices and incomes suggests that the total number of vulnerable households in fuel poverty is likely to rise by a limited amount in 2004 and 2005—perhaps by up to 200,000 households in England, where vulnerable households are defined as those containing children, the elderly, the disabled or someone with long term sickness. It is not possible to break this figure down further.

Data from the 2001 English House Condition Survey show that 15 per cent. of the 1.4 million vulnerable fuel poor households contained young children.

Responsibility for tackling fuel poverty is devolved, and therefore the devolved administrations will be looking at how they each will meet their fuel poverty targets. In England, families claiming certain income and disability-related benefits with young children are eligible for assistance under Defra's Warm Front programme.

Launch Aid

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been paid by her Department in launch aid in each year since 1997; how much has been repaid since 1997; and if she will make a statement on the effect of the aid on the creation of jobs. [212093]

Jacqui Smith: The Government's continued support through Launch Investment (LI) has secured high value jobs in the most important civil aerospace programme in the UK. It has been estimated that the support since 1997 would generate and safeguard over 100,000 jobs over the life of the programmes on new civil aerospace programmes in the UK. These are long-term programmes (more than 30 years) and therefore the precise number of jobs generated and safeguarded would not be known for some time.

The following figures are the payments and receipts for LI for the years 1997–98 to 2003–04 inclusive.
£ million

Financial yearPaymentsReceipts

Rural Post Offices

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern
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Ireland fall within her Department's definition of rural post offices; and what percentage that represents of the total number of post offices in each case. [212000]

Mr. Sutcliffe: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Swan Hunter

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what financial support her Department has given to the Swan Hunter Shipyard in each of the last five years. [212051]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) on 10 January 2005, Official Report, column 148W.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what obligations she plans to place on the producers of business waste electrical and electronic equipment to finance the building up of the separate collection of such equipment. [212206]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government are working with all stakeholders to implement the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive to achieve the maximum environmental benefit at the least cost. The WEEE directive specifies that producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), sold on a business to business (B2B) basis, should be responsible for the costs relating to its collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal. Producers will finance B2B EEE they place on the market, although they will be free to agree alternative contractual arrangements with their customers. Business end users will have responsibility for disposing of EEE, placed on the market before 13 August 2005, which is not being replaced on a like for like basis. If the equipment is being replaced, it will become the responsibility of the producer supplying the new equipment.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the likely collection rate for operation schemes dealing with business compliance with the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive. [212207]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We estimate that in 2006 there may be approximately 1,250,000 tonnes in total of WEEE arising in the UK. Industry estimates suggest that over 600,000 tonnes of this WEEE may be separately collected at present. A figure for WEEE arising from business users only is not currently available.

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