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Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make a decision concerning the application by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority to build a new Tyne crossing; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The application by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority (TWPTA) for an order under the Transport and Works Act to authorise a new Tyne crossing was considered at a public inquiry in March 2003. The Department received the inspector's report in September 2003. However, in February 2004 the TWPTA informed the Department that they were reviewing the powers they needed to implement their scheme and, in September 2004, they formally requested many significant changes to their draft order. In the interests of fairness, other interested parties were given an opportunity to make representations to the Department about those changes. Those exchanges concluded in December and the responses are being considered.
Furthermore, the TWPTA's proposed changes to the order have raised a substantial number of detailed drafting points on which my Department has sought clarification. We still await a response from the TWPTA to the drafting points we have raised. Once we receive satisfactory answers we will make every effort to proceed to a decision as quickly as possible.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Minister for Women pursuant to her oral answer of 27 January 2005, Official Report, columns 45051, on pay rates for women employed in social care, what the evidential basis was for her statement on the level of the median female hourly wage; and what the (a) average and (b) modal hourly figures for pay rates for women in the social care sector are. 
Ms Hewitt: The evidential basis of my statement in my answer of 27 January 2005, Official Report, columns 45051, was the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2004) conducted by the Office for National Statistics.
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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Minister for Women pursuant to her oral answer of 27 January 2005, Official Report, columns 45051, on rates of pay for men and women, what the evidential basis of the figure for the gender pay gap was. 
Ms Hewitt: The evidential basis of my statement in my answer of 27 January 2005, Official Report, columns 45051, was the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2004) conducted by the Office for National Statistics. The gender pay gap figure of 14.4 per cent. was derived from the difference in the median hourly pay of men and women working full-time, excluding overtime.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what requirements are placed on UK manufacturers to publish (a) the number and (b) the severity of experimental tests carried out on animals for the purposes of household products; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: There is no requirement for manufacturers to publish such information. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office on 10 January 2005, Official Report, columns 26768W, regarding the use of animals in the testing of household products.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what record is kept by her Department regarding the number of imported products which have been developed using experimental testing on animals. 
Ms Hewitt: There is no requirement for a record to be kept of such products and none is kept. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office on 10 January 2005, Official Report, columns 26768W, regarding the use of animals in the testing of household products.
Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date the registration provisions for civil partnerships in the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 will come into force. 
Ms Hewitt: The Government have indicated that the Civil Partnership Act will be brought into force about a year after Royal Assent. A specific date for the commencement of civil partnership will be announced in due course.
Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Report of the Church of England's Review of Clergy Terms of Service with particular reference to section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: We have been following the Church of England's review, and I chaired the last meeting of the clergy working group on 26 January 2005, where this was raised. We are keen that the clergy should be appropriately treated, and welcome all proposals that will result in this outcome.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate she has made of (a) how many children play computer and video games on a regular basis and (b) how many hours a week on average children play computer and video games. 
Ms Hewitt: Neither my Department nor the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has estimates of the number of children who regularly play computer and video games, nor the average length of time they spend on this activity.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what discussions her Department has had with energy suppliers regarding the (a) accuracy, (b) comprehensibility and (c) timeliness of their bills; and what the outcome has been of those discussions; 
(2) what discussions her Department has had with Ofgem regarding the accuracy, comprehensibility and timeliness of the bills sent by energy suppliers to their customers; and what the outcome has been of those discussions. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien:
The Department has regular discussions with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) and suppliers about a range of consumer issues, including billing. My officials are working with the industry, Ofgem and Energywatch on establishing industry-wide standards that address
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remaining billing problems. We welcome steps being considered by the companies to make billing easier to comprehend.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Under legislation the rules governing meter-readings are the responsibility of the independent regulator, Ofgem. Under their supply licences, gas and electricity suppliers are obliged to ensure that customers' meters are physically read and inspected once every two years, although suppliers will seek to read meters more frequently. Where meter-readers are unable to read the meter, the supplier will estimate usage, and this will be reflected in the bill. Customers may provide their own meter readings instead of accepting an estimated bill. The supplier must accept that reading.
Ofgem figures show that, in September 2004, 1,526,349 electricity and 1,289,419 gas customers were repaying debt to their suppliers. Ofgem does not collect data on how many customers are in debt due to inaccurate billing.
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