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15 Mar 2005 : Column 225W—continued


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many inspections of the MOX facility at Sellafield have been carried out by Euratom since 1 May 1997; on what dates; and on which occasions Euratom expressed concerns about the operation of this facility. [221566]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 14 March 2005]: Euratom safeguards measures are to detect the diversion of nuclear material from its declared uses. The frequency of Euratom safeguards inspections at the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) has been a function of the type and form of nuclear material and the processing activities involved. Such inspections were performed at intervals ranging from two weeks to a month in the run-up to plutonium commissioning of SMP in 2002, with the frequency increasing thereafter—and currently running at an inspection every two weeks. Our information shows that the plant has been subject to approximately 240 safeguards inspections during the period in question.

Materials accountancy and safeguards issues that arise in the course of particular safeguards inspections are addressed during the inspection and by means of follow-up correspondence from the European Commission. Such correspondence is classified by the Commission, and this classification must be respected
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by the UK Government. The Commission does however publish an annual report of its safeguards activities and their findings. Reports are available for the years 1999 to 2003 (references COM (2001) 436, COM (2002) 566, COM (2003) 764 and COM (2004) 861 respectively) and include information on Euratom safeguards activities at SMP.

Small Firms

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the small firms productivity growth referred to in Public Service Agreement Target 6 of her Department's Business Plan 2005–8 is measured; and what small firms productivity growth was in each year between 1984 and 2004 on the basis of this measurement. [220697]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 7 March 2005]: Productivity growth in small firms is collected through a special analysis of the Office for National Statistics' Annual Business Inquiry. The ABI is an annual survey of around 70,000 businesses. Productivity is measured as Gross Value Added per employee, with small firms defined for this purpose as registered enterprises with 0 to 249 employees.

Data on small firms productivity growth between 1999 and 2002 are set out in the following table. They show that small firms productivity has grown by at least 3.5 per cent. each year over the last three years.

Data in this series are not available for periods before 1999. Data for 2003 will be available later this year.
Productivity growth in small firms


Small Firms Loan Guarantee

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government intends to implement the findings of the Graham Review relating to the future of the Small Firms Loan Guarantee. [221316]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 14 March 2005]: In his pre-Budget report in December 2004 my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer committed the Government to implementing the 38 recommendations of the Graham Review by the end of 2005.

Surplus Assets Sales

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether her Department sold any surplus stock on the eBay auction website, in each year since 2000–01. [220949]

Ms Hewitt: The Department has not sold surplus stock on eBay to date. Most of our IT hardware is owned by Fujitsu Services Ltd., our PFI services provider.


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the
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likely effects of additional tax rises on businesses in the UK in the period 2005–07 on national (a) private sector employment growth, (b) productivity growth and (c) competitiveness. [214199]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

Changes to taxation will be set out by the Chancellor in the budget tomorrow. Prospects for employment, productivity, and competitiveness will be contained in the corresponding Economic Fiscal and Strategy Report.

Tidal Power

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of reports on tidal lagoon electricity generation made available to her Department by WS Atkins and AEA Technology. [221790]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has carried out an assessment of both reports in order to inform its thinking on these matters. We have already provided feedback on the AEA Technology report to the company behind the project and are willing to provide similar feedback on our assessment of the WS Atkins Study.

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representation she has received on the proposal for tidal lagoon electricity generation in Swansea Bay. [221791]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has received a number of representations regarding a tidal lagoon project in Swansea Bay and these discussions are ongoing.

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) for what reasons tidal lagoon projects were not included for support under the proposed Marine Renewables Development Fund; [221792]

(2) what financial support is being given by the Government to companies that have demonstrated an interest in tidal lagoon electricity generation as a contribution to the Government's renewables objectives. [221793]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Marine Renewables Deployment Fund implements a main recommendation of the Renewables Innovation Review. That is to assist emerging technologies, which show significant potential for cost reduction, to bridge the funding gap between research and development and commercialisation.

Tidal lagoons are technically feasible being the application of available and well understood technology and are eligible for support through the Renewables Obligation.

If claims about the favourable economics of these schemes are correct and the projects are sound they should have no difficulty in attracting commercial funds to develop projects.

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the potential generating capacity of tidal lagoons in UK offshore waters. [221794]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Tidal lagoons as with other forms of large-scale barrage have the potential to contribute to the UK's renewable energy targets.

There have been a number of published studies that considered the potential for tidal barrages. These have provided a good understanding of the potential to exploit variations in the tidal range in a range of locations.

In assessing particular sites, developers will need to consider both the economics and potential environmental impacts of any scheme.

Vehicle Imports

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many vehicles were imported into the UK in each year since 1997. [221452]

Jacqui Smith: According to figures published by HM Customs and Excise, the numbers of motor vehicles imported into the UK were as follows:
Number of motor vehicles imported into the UK 1997 to 2004


Motor vehicles are defined as codes 781, 782 and 783 of the Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3, (SITC Rev 3).

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effect of implementing a system of collective responsibility for all future waste electronic and electrical products on (a) the incentives for electronic and electrical producers to implement eco-design policies and (b) the ability of producers to avoid contributing to recycling costs by going out of business or other methods. [207759]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government have consulted on draft Regulations to implement the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which proposed provisions to allow producers to discharge their producer responsibility obligations in relation to household WEEE from their own products, within a system of collective responsibility.

The Government will be taking final decisions shortly on the shape of the final implementing regulations. The Government are considering how best to reflect the Directive's objectives in relation to individual producer responsibility for new household WEEE, bearing in mind the encouragement this provides towards sustainable design.

The Government are considering carefully the consultation responses, which have shown varying producer views on collective and individual producer responsibility. It appears from discussions with
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producers that individual producer responsibility is, in many instances, not yet practical, but it may become so in the future. The Government are concerned in UK implementation both to deliver the objectives of the WEEE Directive and to establish a workable UK system for separate collection, treatment and recovery of WEEE.

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