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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the latest position on obtaining EU approval for the Low Carbon Building Programme; and what the deadline is for submission of any future funding for approval by the EU under this scheme. 
Malcolm Wicks: Officials are currently preparing a submission to the EU for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme state aid approval. We aim to have this clearance in time to start the programme in April 2006. There is no deadline for any future funding.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the issue of crossover of claims relating to different conditions to be resolved in relation to claims under the miners' compensation scheme. 
[holding answer 5 December 2005]: Agreement in principle has been reached with the Claimant Solicitor Group (CSG) on how these claims
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should be processed. Revised examples of the complex calculation determining compensation were sent to the CSG on 14 November 2005. These incorporate all of the negotiated changes to the calculation. We await acceptance from the CSG. Once we have this, it will take 6 weeks to make the necessary system changes before offers can be made.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to recover from solicitors moneys paid from the public purse following the judicial ruling of October in the case of Walker v. UK Coal. 
Malcolm Wicks: The judgement is currently being clarified and we are monitoring the position. If there have been any overpayments then action will be taken to recover them where the Department is so advised.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many hearing loss claims involving Vendside Ltd have been (a) registered and (b) paid out since the beginning of the summer parliamentary recess 2005. 
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the ending of the Multi-Fibre Agreement on (a) Taiwan, (b) Mauritius and (c) Costa Rica; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The end of the MFA will bring significant benefits to the world economy over the longer term, but entail adjustment pressures for some producing countries. It is too early to assess the precise impact on individual economies.
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 8 November 2005, Official Report, column 296W, on the national minimum wage, whether the 1.3 million figure quoted for those benefiting from the increase in the minimum wage refers to (a) individuals and (b) jobs. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The DTI estimated that 1.3 million individuals will be covered by the October 2005 uprating of the National Minimum Wage. This estimate was based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2004 taking into account earnings inflation from spring 2004 and October 2005.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the EU to repeal the directives requiring member states to keep minimum oil stocks, as stated in COM (2005) 535. 
Currently, there are seven directives relating to oil stocking. Later directives amend paragraphs from the earlier versions. The proposal set out in COM (2005) 535 is to simplify the legislation by recasting these seven directives into a single directive
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and says that it is the intention to do this at some stage in 2006. There is no intention or plan to reduce the level of EU emergency oil stocks.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to provide continuity of grant support to (a) schools and (b) other community renewable energy projects pending the launch of the new low carbon buildings programme in financial year 200607. 
Malcolm Wicks: £1.5 million has been brought forward from the £30 million for the low carbon buildings programme to minimise any potential funding gap between the existing and new programme. The Department is also looking to work in partnership with major private sector players in the energy field in order to expand the micro generation sector, with a particular emphasis on renewable energy technologies on schools.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide additional funds to enable (a) schools and (b) other community buildings to benefit from renewable energy technologies. 
Malcolm Wicks: £1.5 million has been brought forward from the £30 million for the low carbon buildings programme to minimise any potential funding gap between the existing and new programmes. We will continue to support school and community buildings renewable projects under the new programme, which will start in April 2006, subject to EU state aids clearance. The Department is also looking to work in partnership with major private sector players in the energy field in order to expand the micro generation sector, with a particular emphasis on renewable energy technologies on schools.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff in his Department are seconded from accountancy houses; and how many of his officials have worked on secondment to outside accountancy houses. 
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many ventures have been backed by the South West Regional Venture Capital Fund; and what funds have been committed. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of the impact of paying statutory adoption pay for 26 weeks at £106 per week and statutory maternity pay at six weeks
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at a level of 90 percent. followed by 20 weeks at £106 per week on (a) the number of people coming forward to be adopters and (b) the impact of adoption on families of a reduced income; what plans he has to review the levels of payment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The number of adoptions of children from care increased by 38 percent. between 19992000 and 200405. In 20045 there were 3,800. Although assessing social workers do look into the income and money management skills of prospective adopters, they do not classify families on the basis of income and none of the statutory returns asks for this kind of information.
Statutory adoption pay (SAP) was introduced in 2003 as a measure of income replacement to help adopters to take time off work when a child is placed with them. Since its introduction the standard rate of SAP has been the same as the standard rate of statutory maternity pay (SMP) and maternity allowance (MA). The Work and Families Bill will enable us to increase the payment period of both maternity and adoption pay from the current 26 weeks to 39 weeks from April 2007 with an ambition to increase to one year by the end of this parliament. It is also our ambition to increase the flat rate of SAP, SMP, MA and statutory paternity pay over time.
SAP needs to be considered as part of the overall package of support for adoptive families. Adopters have a right to be assessed for financial support under the Adoption Support Services Regulations 2003 (which will be replaced on 30 December 2005 by the Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005). We have provided nearly £70 million of ring fenced grant to local authorities over the three year period 200304, 200405, 200506 to fund adoption support services and special guardianship support services. In addition, adoptive families will benefit from other support available to families, including working tax credit and child tax credit.
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