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20 Jul 2005 : Column 1745W—continued

Miners' Pensions

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the European Directive on Investment on the Department's role in relation to the (a) Miners' Pension Scheme and (b) British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [12871]

Malcolm Wicks: The schemes are exempt from many of the requirements of Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision by virtue of their Crown guarantee; but changes to scheme provisions were necessary to reflect the requirement that member states may not subject Trustees' investment decisions to any form of systematic notification or prior consent.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the current value of the Investment Reserve Fund in the (a) Miners' Pension Scheme and (b) British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme is. [12872]

Malcolm Wicks: The current values of the Investment Reserve Funds (at 31 March 2005) in respect of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme are, respectively, £487 million and £940 million.

Newspapers and Magazines (Distribution)

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress he has made in promoting agreement between retailers and publishers with regard to the future distribution of newspapers and magazines. [8922]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It is for the companies concerned to make decisions about what distribution arrangements they put in place for their products while ensuring those arrangements comply with the law.

Following a request from certain newspaper and magazine publishers, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has considered whether arrangements for distribution of newspapers and magazines are likely to be compatible with competition law after 1 May 2005. OFT published a draft advisory opinion on 19 May and invited written comments by 17 June. I understand OFT has received representations from all parts of the newspaper and magazine supply chain. I am pleased interested parties are trying to arrange satisfactory solutions. OFT is currently considering all representations.
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Non-agricultural Market Access

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the Government's position on the Non-Agricultural Market Access negotiations. [13774]

Ian Pearson: The UK Government objective in the Non-Agricultural Market Access negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda is for significantly improved real access to markets (except those of LDCs and other weak and vulnerable countries) for all WTO members. The European Commission leads for the European Union in these negotiations.

Nuclear Power

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of nuclear power stations; what proportion of electricity carried across the National Grid is generated by nuclear power; and if he will make a statement on the future of nuclear power in the UK. [13005]

Malcolm Wicks: Existing nuclear power stations are expected to continue in operation for some years, in one case, Sizewell B, up to the 2030s.

Our policy on possible new nuclear power stations remains as set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper. The Government has no specific proposals but does not rule out the nuclear option.

The most recent figure for the proportion of electricity supplied by nuclear power plants is given in the Energy Trends March 2005 which states that in 2004 19 per cent. of electricity was supplied.

Ofgem (Social Action Plan)

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response he will make to the conclusions on prepayment meter users in the Public Accounts Committee's recent report on Ofgem's Social Action Plan. [13318]

Malcolm Wicks: It is for Ofgem to respond to the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.

Regional Development Agencies

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what offices regional development agencies have outside the UK; and what the cost of each was in the last year for which figures are available. [12016]

Alun Michael: The Regional Development Agencies have offices in different countries. The following table gives details of their location by country and the cost associated with those offices.

CountryAdvantage West MidlandsEast of England Development AgencyEast Midlands Development AgencyNorth West Development AgencyOne North EastSouth East England Development AgencySouth West of England Development AgencyYorkshire Forward
North America596(27)200(28)368(22)370(22)370431149(22)352

(22) Collaboration between North West Development Agency, One North East and Yorkshire Forward.
(23) Contribution towards East of England Office (other partners include all local authorities, Government Office-East, Regional Learning and Skills Council, Norfolk Constabulary and Anglia Polytechnic University (Business School).
(24) Partnership with North West Regional Assembly.
(25) Contribution towards Essex county council office in Jiangsu Province, China.
(26) Cost of offices in Osaka and Yokohama.
(27) Joint office with East of England International.
(28) There are offices in both countries, but expenses are paid centrally and cannot be separately identified.

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The London Development Agency do not have any offices outside the UK.

Rental Costs

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was paid by his Department in rent on (a) 1 Victoria Street, (b) 10 Victoria Street, (c) Kingsgate House and (d) 151 Buckingham Palace Road in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and how much he expects to pay in each of the next five years. [10523]

Alan Johnson: The rents paid (ex VAT where payable) for the last ten years are:

An estimate of future costs cannot be given either because of forthcoming rent reviews or because the level of future occupation is under review.

Sickness Absence

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many days the Department has lost due to sickness in the past five years for which figures are available. [11473]

Alan Johnson: These figures contained in the annual report Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" published by the Cabinet Office. Table A of the report gives details of both the average working days absence per staff year and the number of staff years on which that calculation is based. The most recent of which (for calendar year 2003) was announced by Ministerial Statement on 1 November and copies placed in the Libraries of the House. Reports for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 are also available in the Libraries and on the Cabinet Office website at:
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The DTI takes the management of sickness absence very seriously and is tightening up procedures for reporting and improving data collection and handling absences, including coaching managers on dealing with specific cases. Recommendations from the Managing Attendance in the Public Sector" report are being considered and implemented as appropriate.

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