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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of fuel poor households in the west midlands fell from over 500,000 in 1996 to around 200,000 in 2001. This mirrors the overall fall in the number of fuel poor households in the UK, a figure which has fallen from about 5½ million in 1996 to about 2¼ million in 2002. Regional breakdowns are not available for 2002.
The Government continues to believe that the development rate of the minimum wage is necessary to help protect the employment prospects of young workers. As the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt) said in her written statement to Parliament on 25 February 2005, Official Report, column 71WS, the Government have accepted the Low
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Pay Commission's recommendation in their 2005 Report that the development rate should be increased to £4.25 an hour in October 2005.
However we have not accepted the Commission's recommendation that 21 year-old workers should be moved onto the adult rate, because the economic evidence on this point remains mixed. We therefore intend to make no change in 2005 but to look carefully at this issue in the future.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action her Department is taking to reduce the number of employers who consistently refuse to pay the minimum wage. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: In their latest report, the Low Pay Commission said that the vast majority of employers support and comply with the minimum wage. However we recognise that a small minority of employers are not paying their workers the minimum wage. We are presently considering a number of options for improving enforcement and intend to make a statement on this in early summer.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The project Exposure of the General Public to Radio Waves near Microcell and Picocell Base Stations ... " was carried out under the auspices of the LINK Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) Programme (see www.mthr.org.uk). The project was designed to establish the best methodology for undertaking such measurements and was not a part of a national measurement audit. The project considered those sites with the accepted characteristics of microcell and picocell base stations. Of the 3,000 sites that fall into this category, 20 sites were randomly selected for survey. The study found that exposures at all sites surveyed werewell below the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) levels (the highest level recorded was 8.6 per cent. of the ICNIRP public reference level). The study demonstrated a viable measurement protocol.
The DTI have no plans to instigate a formal measurement audit of micro and picocell base stations. Microcell and picocell installations may be measured under the Ofcom measurement audit programme see: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consumer_guides/mob_phone_ base_stat/audit_info?a=87101.
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Mr. Sutcliffe: The classification of a post office branch as urban or rural is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). My officials have asked POL to issue a direct reply to the hon. Member.
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will ask Post Office Ltd. to reconsider its decision to close the sub-post offices in (a) Hurcott road, Kidderminster, Wyre Forest, (b) Sutton road, Kidderminster, Wyre Forest, (c) Calder Road, Stourport, Wyre Forest, (d) Lister road, Kidderminster, Wyre Forest, (e) Belmont, Stonecot Hill, Oldfields road, Ewell road, Angel Hill and Church Hill road in Sutton and Cheam and (f) Furnace Fields in Pine Tree road, Bedworth; 
(2) if she will ask Post Office Ltd. to reconsider its decision to close (a) five post offices in north-west Leeds, (b) seven post offices in Harrow, (c) the sub-post office at (i) Aldershot road and (ii) Madrid road, Guildford, (d) six post offices in Weymouth, (e) Tildesley road post office on the Ashburton estate in Putney, (f) three post offices in Pudsey and (g) five post offices in Worcester; 
(3) if she will ask Post Office Ltd. to reconsider its decision to close the sub-post offices at (a) Clifton road, Maida Vale, London, (b) Formosa street, London, (c) Sutherland avenue, London, (d) Furnace Fields, Bedworth, (e) Clifton street, South Swindon, (f) Oxford road, North Swindon, (g) Ferndale, North Swindon, (h) Duffield Road, Derby, (i) Duffield road, Darley, Abbey, Derby, (j) Nottingham Road, Spondon, Derby, (k) Rooseveldt avenue, Chaddesden, Derby, (l) St. Barnabas, Stables street, Mackworth, Derby, (m) Scarborough Rise, Derwent Heights, Derby, (n) Uttoxter Old road, Mackworth, Derby,
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(o) Fulham Palace road, London, (p) Brackenbury road, London and (q) Dukes Avenue, Richmond, London. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Decisions on post office closures and relocations are an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. In accordance with the Code of Practice on Post Office Closures and Relocationsagreed between Post Office Ltd. and Postwatch, the consumer watchdog for postal servicesthe company enters into consultation on all proposed closures. Postwatch are consulted on every post office closure before a decision is made and there is every opportunity for those affected by a proposal, and the local MP, to make representations to the company or to Postwatch.
Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 10 February 2005, Official Report, columns 180102W, on vehicle pricing, what steps she is taking to encourage competition in the car industry as a means of bringing prices of new cars in line with the EU. 
It is too soon for the competition authorities to be able to assess the full effects of the recent changes to competition rules as they apply specifically to this sector. The location clause" of the revised block exemption regulation which will permit car retailers to open additional sales outlets in any part of the EU does not come into force until 1 October this year. It is for car manufacturers to ensure that their agreements with franchised dealers do not contain restrictions of the type outlawed under competition law, and for the competition authorities to enforce the regime.
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