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25 May 2005 : Column 111W—continued


IVF Treatment

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why IVF treatment is not available to service personnel or their spouses in Germany through (a) his Department, (b) the British Forces Germany Health Service and (c) primary care trusts. [743]

Mr. Touhig: A number of options are available to Service personnel and their dependants requiring IVF treatment while posted to Germany:

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The Department is currently reformulating its policy on IVF treatment to ensure it is consistent with the standards contained in the current National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Royal Air Force

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of producing 'Air Publication 3003: A Brief History of the Royal Air Force'; and how many copies of this book were produced. [671]

Mr. Touhig: The total cost of producing 'AP3003: A Brief History of the Royal Air Force' was £100,668.00. 60,000 copies were produced.


British Energy Ltd.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public money British Energy Ltd. has received since 1996. [754]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have provided rescue and restructuring aid to British Energy during and as a result of the company's financial restructuring which started in September 2002 and was completed in January 2005. The rescue aid took the form of a loan facility to British Energy which has been repaid in full with interest. Payments made to date by Government in relation to restructuring aid relate to the funding of historic liabilities. The following documents, which are in the public domain, provide the relevant information:

Energy Policy

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish recent analyses carried out by his Department on the opportunities provided by nuclear power. [64]

Malcolm Wicks: There has been no recent analysis carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry on opportunities provided by nuclear power.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to undertake emergency repairs to ensure security of supply in the gas sector. [41]

Malcolm Wicks: This is a matter for National Grid Transco. NGT has responsibility for maintenance, investment and operation of the high pressure National
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Transmission System (NTS) system and for keeping the gas network in balance. NGT currently also has responsibility for the low pressure regional gas distribution networks.

Similarly, the repair and maintenance of facilities for offshore production, on shore gas storage and gas importation is a matter for the owners of this infrastructure.

The 0800 111 999 national gas emergency service remains the same and will be managed by Transco even after the impending sales of four of the regional gas distribution networks.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on security of supply (a) from UK energy sources and (b) to the UK gas system. [43]

Malcolm Wicks: As required by Section 172 of the Energy Act 2004, I will report to Parliament on the security of energy supplies later this year, and annually thereafter.

National Grid Transco's preliminary winter outlook report will be published shortly. This will consider the supply and demand position on electricity and gas for the forthcoming winter.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will discuss with Ofgem halting their reform of the gas exit regime. [44]

Malcolm Wicks: This is a regulatory matter for the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority. The authority plans to introduce new exit arrangements as part of the regulatory, commercial and operational framework necessary to protect customers in a divested industry structure following the potential sale of Transco's gas distribution networks.

These arrangements will be necessary as both distribution networks and shippers will be competing to secure transmission system exit capacity from Transco. Ofgem have undertaken a public consultation on its proposals, which should also improve the operation of the gas market by providing investment signals to Transco that would assist it in ensuring that pipeline capacity for GB is delivered on an economic and efficient basis.

Hydrogen Energy

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when his Department will respond to the recommendations made to his Department in December 2004 concerning a strategic framework for hydrogen technology; when he expects the UK to have a hydrogen energy strategy; and if he will make a statement. [578]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2004, the Department for Trade and Industry commissioned E4Tech, Element Energy, and Eoin Lees Energy to prepare a report of how the UK might develop a strategic framework for hydrogen
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energy activities in the UK. The report has been published on the Department's website and can be found at:

The study considers the costs and environmental benefits of a number of possible hydrogen energy chains, and concludes that by 2030 six hydrogen energy transport chains could provide, for the UK, cost-competitive CO 2 reductions and greater energy security. The Government are currently considering the report's recommendations, and will publish these, together with a considered response soon.

Miners' Compensation Scheme

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria his Department used in making the decision to refuse compensation claims for surface workers employed by British Coal in coal prep plants. [474]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 23 May 2005]: The Department's medical advice is that the levels of dust in coal preparation plants were insufficient to cause disabling lung disease. The Claimants' Solicitors Group withdrew their court action in December 2004. It would be inappropriate for the Department to make any payment where there is no liability to do so. However, the Department would investigate any detailed claim brought by a surface worker in compliance with the relevant pre action protocol for industrial disease claims.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library papers prepared in relation to the signing of the agreement with Vendside Ltd. for miners' industrial disease compensation. [475]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 23 May 2005]: The Department have held discussions with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers with regard to the signing of claims handling agreements for both respiratory and vibration related disabilities for former miners. The Department will not be disclosing the content of background papers relating those discussions as the release of such information would inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation.

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