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John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what legal advice was given to his Department on the signing of separate coal health agreements with Vendside Ltd. and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. 
Following the judgments against British Coal in both the vibration white finger and respiratory disease litigations, the High Court ordered the DTI to set up schemes, in agreement with miners' solicitors, to assess compensation for both types of claim. Claims had by then been registered through the Claimants Solicitors Group (the CSG), some of which were sponsored by the main mining unions, the NUM and NACODS. The UDM had also registered a large number of claims directly on behalf of their members, through their dedicated claims handling company, Vendside Ltd. The CSG and the UDM were unable to work together or enter into single arrangements for historical reasons. The legal advice received by the Department was that it was appropriate to enter into
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separate claims handling arrangements with the CSG and the UDM, provided that the compensation delivered to the claimant under both schemes was the same.
Malcolm Wicks: Vendside Ltd. were, at the time of entering into the claims handling arrangements, the vehicle through which the UDM presented claims on behalf of their members. Vendside Ltd. entered into the vibration white finger claims handling arrangement for and on behalf of the UDM. The legal advice received at the time was that Vendside Ltd. had authority to enter into arrangement for and on behalf of the UDM.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many times (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department met the Union of Democratic Mineworkers in (i) 1998 and (ii) 1999 regarding coal health claims. 
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the claimants' solicitors group was first informed of the (a) Vendside and (b) Union of Democratic Mineworkers coal health agreements by his Department. 
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress made to date in introducing a minimum payments scheme for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims by former miners and their families. 
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of claims for compensation for cases of vibration white finger initially classified as Group 3 and for which liability was denied by claims handlers were reclassified to Groups 1 or 2 on further review; and what proportion of claims initially classified as Group 3 were accepted on review as Group 3 with exposure. 
Malcolm Wicks: A total of 169,197 claims have been received for vibration white finger of which an initial Group 3 denial was made in 46,913 cases. This denial was contested in 16,260 cases and 9,937 of these cases have been investigated, with further information being provided at this stage. Completed investigations show that 36 per cent. of investigated claims are classified as Group 1 or 2 and 9 per cent. are accepted as Group 3 with exposure. So, of the 46,913 initially classified as Group 3 and denied, so far, 8 per cent. have been reclassified as Groups 1 or 2 and 2 per cent. have been accepted as Group 3 with exposure.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the performance of claims handlers in accurately determining liability in claims for compensation for vibration white finger. 
Malcolm Wicks: Decisions which confirmed occupational group (and therefore liability) were originally taken by claims handlers. From late 2001, disputed Group 3 claims have been investigated by a separate team who have substantial direct mining experience. This team also reviewed all claims which were initially denied to ensure the correct liability decision had been made. I am confident that the significant experience of this team, amounting to some 1,300 years in total, has resulted in sound decisions on liability being made. There are dispute procedures where claimants think otherwise
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the size of the fund administered by Ofgem resulting from surplus revenue collected by the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency has been in each year since 2001; how much and what percentage of the fund
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was invested to promote the use of renewable energy in each year; and for what purposes the remainder of the fund was allocated in each year; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the surplus revenue to be collected by the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency in the 200506 financial year; and what percentage of that revenue he plans to invest in the promotion of the use of renewable energy. 
|Year ending March||Size of the fund (£ million)|
Section 7 of the Sustainable Energy Act 2003 authorised the transfer of £60 million on 14 July 2004 for the support of renewable energy projects. This £60 million forms part of the £500 million that the Government are spending on R and D and capital grants for emerging renewable and low carbon technologies between 2002 and 2008. The remainder will be returned to the Consolidated Fund, which is held by HM Treasury, subject to the need to keep a £30 million reserve.
In its business plan, the NFPA projected a forecast surplus of about £100 million for the financial year 200506. This would increase the fund to approx. £270 million by the end of March 2006 if no further distribution were made from the fund during this year.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether consent from the Scottish Executive is required for nuclear generation stations to be built or extended in Scotland. [R] 
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