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International Trade Agreements

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action his Department is taking within the European Union to ensure developing countries are not required to open their markets through international trade agreements. [27397]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 11 November 2005]: The UK regularly presses its position on trade in discussion with other EU member states and with the European Commission. The Government believe that:

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Liquefied Gas Imports

Mr. Meale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the projected levels are of liquefied gas scheduled to be imported into the UK for the next three years. [30901]

Malcolm Wicks: Great Britain has one operational LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) import terminal, at Isle of Grain. Two additional terminals, at Milford Haven, are scheduled to commission in 2007–08. Their projected import capacities are published in my right hon. Friend's First Annual Report to Parliament on Security of Gas and Electricity Supply" (July 2005), available at: first_report.pdf.

The actual flows of gas are a commercial matter.

Low Carbon Buildings Programme

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to set the date of the first funding round for the Low Carbon Buildings programme. [27766]

Malcolm Wicks: The new low carbon buildings programme will start in April 2006, subject to EU state aids clearance. We expect to set a date for the first funding round early next year, once a management contractor is in place.


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of manufacturing industry in Staffordshire. [29373]

Alun Michael: At the start of 2004, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 24,710 VAT registered businesses in Staffordshire of which 2,505 (10.1 per cent.) were manufacturing businesses. This picture is broadly similar to 2003 when 2,560 VAT registered businesses were manufacturers out of a total of 24,370 (10.5 per cent.).

During 2003 150 new manufacturers registered for VAT out of 2,460 new registrations (6.1 per cent). In the same year 200 manufacturers de registered out of a total number of de registrations of 2,125 (9.4 per cent.).

Business Link Staffordshire provided general advice and assistance to 2,057 manufacturing businesses in 2004–05, nearly 20 per cent. more than the previous year (1,718) and 226 business received more detailed advice (the figure the previous year being 224). Since its creation, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has provided assistance to 518 businesses in Staffordshire, including Stoke on Trent and during the last year it has responded to 165 enquiries in Staffordshire, conducted 109 manufacturing reviews, and referred 84 manufacturers to other programmes. Businesses benefiting from MAS assistance were spread across Staffordshire including Cannock, Cheadleton, Gailey, Uttoxeter, Tamworth, Stafford, Rugeley and Penkridge.


Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to ensure that
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retailers of micro-bikes make clear to customers the full legal position on the use of micro-bikes at the point-of-sale. [19356]

Hazel Blears: I have been asked to reply.

Where micro-bike nuisance has been identified as a problem locally, we would expect a local strategy to address it. This could involve the local police working with retailers to ensure that customers are aware of the law on the use of micro-bikes.

Mineworkers' Damages

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the basis is of payment to solicitors acting as the claimants' group representing mineworkers' damages claims; and what sums were paid to the group as a whole in performing this function in each year since 1998. [29039]

Malcolm Wicks: As defendants in litigation cases, the Department is required to meet the legal costs of the co-ordinating group of claimants' solicitors. Figures for sums paid are listed as follows:
Total paid (£ million)

These include costs for the original litigation.

Newspapers and Magazines

Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ask the Competition Commissioner to review the news and magazine market. [31624]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 24 November 2005]: The question of whether or not a market should be referred to the Competition Commission for in depth investigation is initially a matter for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to consider. The respective powers of the OFT and Ministers to make references to the Competition Commission are set out in sections 131 and 132 of the Enterprise Act 2002. The OFT has been looking at the newspaper and magazine market in the context of its work to consider the compatibility with the law of distribution agreements for newspapers and magazines. The OFT published a provisional opinion on this matter in May 2005. A final opinion is unlikely to issue until early 2006.


Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) steps his Department is taking and (b) discussions his Department has had with other Government Departments on protecting employees from the possible adverse effects of nightshift work. [31656]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department for Trade and Industry implemented the Working Time Regulations in October 1998. These include limits on working time for night workers, free health assessments for night
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workers, and other provisions related to patterns of work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was given powers by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under the Working Time Regulations 1998 to enforce working time limits and health assessment requirements (for night workers).

DTI and HSE work closely on Working Time Regulation issues, helping to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the Working Time Directive.

DTI has provided training for HSE's Working Time Officers and Infoline Contact Centre staff, to improve further the quality of information to inquirers.

Nuclear Energy

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to ensure the nuclear energy option remains open. [31509]

Malcolm Wicks: Maintaining nuclear skills and a research base are key areas for maintaining nuclear power as an option for the future.

Cogent Sector Skills Council was launched in March 2004. It is taking a strategic view of the nuclear sector to ensure that education and training can meet the nuclear employers current and future needs.

Opportunities for fission research are available as part of the Research Council's Towards a Sustainable Energy Economy" initiative. Up to £6 million is being made available over four years.

The UK is continuing to participate in the development of the next generation of reactors throughthe Generation IV International Forum (GIF) international research programme. DTI funding of £5 million a year has been set aside in 2006–07 and 2007–08.

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate his Department has made of the time between ordering and completion of a new build nuclear energy power station. [31510]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has carried out no assessment on the time taken to build a new nuclear power station since publication of the 2003 Energy White Paper.

The following papers, which include a timeline on new nuclear build, were prepared for the DTI's Energy Advisory Panel and contributed to the keeping the nuclear option open" work on the Energy White Paper:

These papers were placed in the Libraries of the House at the start of this year in response to a written parliamentary question from the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Peter Law) on 23 February 2005, Official Report, column 648W.

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements he plans to make for an informed public debate on new nuclear build; and if he will make a statement. [31519]

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Malcolm Wicks: As part of our general policy to focus on the climate, reliability of energy supplies and affordability for the customer, the Prime Minister has said that we will be publishing proposals on energy policy next year. We will make an assessment of all options, including civil nuclear power. The arrangements, including mechanisms for consultation, for the review are still being considered. The terms of reference will be announced shortly.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much nuclear energy he expects to be produced in the United Kingdom by 2020. [31714]

Malcolm Wicks: The current estimate for the percentage of electricity produced by nuclear generation in 2020 is 7 per cent. of the total.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government's renewables policy from the decision to reassess the role of nuclear energy. [31715]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government remain committed to their renewables target and to the Renewables Obligation, as well as the goals set out in the energy White Paper. In announcing that proposals on energy policy will be brought forward next year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear that the Government would be examining all options for meeting our longer-term goals, including civil nuclear power. We expect to announce the terms of reference of the review shortly.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he made of the merits of making provision for nuclear power when introducing into Parliament the Bill for the Energy Act 2004. [31716]

Malcolm Wicks: The July 2002 White Paper, Managing the Nuclear Legacy: A strategy for action" set out Government proposals for reforming nuclear clean up through the creation of a new public body—the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and for reconstituting the UKAEA Constabulary (ABAC) as a standalone force independent of the nuclear industry.

In part 1 of the Energy Act 2004 provisions were made regarding the Civil Nuclear Industry.

There were primarily two areas which the Act made provision for:

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