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Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Energy Council meeting held on 28 to 29 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. 
I represented the UK at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 29 November.The Council considered several matters of interest to the United Kingdom. Chief among these were the Energy Services Directive and the Security of Electricity Supply Directive.
A general approach on the Security of Electricity Supply Directive was agreed, though the Commission, which seeks a more interventionist regulator-led approach to promote actively new interconnector build and thereby competition, maintained a reserve on Article 7 on interconnector construction.
An orientation debate was held on the proposed Energy End Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive. Member states expressed a strong preference for indicative not mandatory energy saving targets though views were mixed on whether a uniform target at EU level would be helpful; many delegations preferred individually set targets. There was general recognition that the public sector could play a leading role in promoting energy efficiency but the majority of member states opposed specific targets for the sector. On the question of the placing of obligations on suppliers there was a clear preference for a broader more flexible approach rather than a focus on one energy efficiency approach-energy services. There was broad agreement that a harmonised approach to measuring energy savings was needed, but there was a split on whether a top down or bottom up approach was best.
The UK noted our support for a uniform, but indicative, six-year target taking account of already captured efficiency gains; a more broadly defined obligation on energy suppliers to actively offer and promote energy efficiency; and agreement with the Presidency proposal for either a top down or a hybrid approach to measuring efficiency gains.
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The Commission's preference for a mandatory target reflected what they saw as the poor record of achievement against indicative targets and they suggested that flexible mandatory targets might be the way forward. The Presidency concluded by proposing an annual debate on progress towards achieving indicative national targets, the first of which would fall to the UK Presidency, and looked forward to concluding the dossier in the Luxembourg Presidency.
The Commission reported progress on the negotiations of the Energy Community for South East Europe Treaty, which it hoped would be a model for other sectors. Signature was foreseen for 2005. Some member states had substantive comments on the language regime, others on the distinction between participating and observing member states. The next negotiation meeting on 13 December will be an opportunity to discuss outstanding matters.
The Commission reported on its communication on progress on the EU/Russia energy dialogue 200004, claiming it showed positive outcomes across a range of fields. More progress in Russia was needed on the reform process, energy efficiency and Kyoto implementation, promoting and protecting investment and positive developments in the gas and oil markets. The Commission undertook fully to involve member states.
The Presidency concluded by noting, in the context of the recent Energy in Motion" conference aimed at improving cleaner road traffic, that transport accounted for a third of energy consumption. The conference conclusions would be discussed at the next Transport and Environment Councils and the Commission were urged to take account of them.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it is the intention that the provisions of the Equality Bill should change the legal status of certain types of religious discrimination. 
The Equality Bill, which was published on 3 March with its explanatory notes, will make unlawful (save for the exemptions specified in the Bill) discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in respect of the provision of goods, facilities and services, the management and disposal of premises, education, and public functions. The Bill does not affect the scope of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, which already make unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in respect of employment and vocational training. The definition of religion" and belief" for the purposes of these Regulations has been reformulated, but this does not have any material impact on the effect of the Regulations.
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the EC-India RTD Co-operation Steering Committee met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: The first meeting of the EC-India S&T steering committee with India took place in Brussels on 3 March 2004 and the second will take place in Delhi on 29 April 2005. These meetings are convened by the Commission and Member States are not invited to participateUK officials do not therefore attend.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the Committee for Implementation of the Action Programme to Promote Gender Equality met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: The EU Committee for Implementation of the Action Programme to Promote Gender Equality meets twice a year in Brussels. The meetings do not necessarily tie in with the presidencies and the last three meetings were held on 11 November 2003 (during the Italian presidency), 20 July 2004 and 15 October 2004 (both of which were in the Dutch presidency). There was no meeting during the Irish presidency. A DTI representative attended all three of these meetings.
Ms Hewitt: The difference between male and female salaries for the DTI as at 1 April 2004 was 16 per cent. 1 The earliest period for which I can give an accurate comparable figure is April 2001 when it was 18 per cent.
The DTI has successfully taken measures to reduce the gender pay gap and continues to do so. In 2003 a new pay system was introduced as part of a 3 year proposal and includes transparent pay progression to a target rate for the job within a specified period of time. Moreover, there has been significant shortening of pay scales over the past two years and further action is planned this year.
Diversity implications are considered as a matter of importance, and continuous promotion of flexible working practices and family friendly policies encourage women to join the DTI and to stay. The Department has also introduced a course Development for Women" which is specifically targeted at helping women develop their careers within DTI.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding she plans to allocate to the multilateral collaboration with France, Japan, Canada and the United States on research and development for Generation IV Nuclear Reactors; what mechanisms will apply to the administration of the funds; and whether the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will have a role in this research. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: DTI expects to provide funding of up to £5 million per annum for UK participation in international research collaborations on advanced nuclear reactor systems. The mechanisms for administering these funds are under development. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) does not have an interest in Generation IV research, except where that research relates to decommissioning plants in the future.
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