Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Dec 2005 : Column 2108W—continued


Animal Welfare

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with Guide Dogs for the Blind on the impact of louder fireworks on dogs and other animals. [37842]

Mr. Sutcliffe: None.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will remove textured coatings from the list of licensed materials that only licensed, trained and insured asbestos contractors are authorised to remove. [30909]

Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Commission is currently consulting on a proposal that would mean that work with textured coatings containing asbestos would no longer need to be done by licensed asbestos contractors. It is one of a number of proposals set out in the consultative document 'Proposals for revised Asbestos Regulations and an Approved Code of Practice' which seeks to implement amendments to the European Asbestos Worker Protection Directive and to simplify and rationalise the legislative regime by combining the three sets of current asbestos regulations—on controls, licensing and prohibitions—into one.
14 Dec 2005 : Column 2109W

Under current asbestos legislation and the proposed revisions, all work with asbestos, whether or not it needs to be done by a licensed contractor, requires a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, adequate control to prevent or reduce exposure, and trained personnel.

Employers are also required to hold insurance under the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act and there are no changes proposed to this legislation.

Carbon Capture

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with (a) oil and gas exploration companies and (b) power generation companies about potential liability for carbon reservoirs created in former oil and gas cavities as part of a carbon capture and storage scheme. [36928]

Malcolm Wicks: This issue has been raised by several stakeholders as a key issue for the implementation of carbon capture and storage. This is currently being considered by the Department as part of the broader issue of how to license and regulate carbon dioxide storage.

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made by his Department of the relative (a) ease of installation and (b) effectiveness of carbon capture technology applied (i) pre-combustion and (ii) post-combustion; and whether there are significant cost differences between the two extraction methods. [36962]

Malcolm Wicks: These technologies along with oxy-firing, were considered in the Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy. Based on current information we cannot distinguish between post and pre-combustion on the basis of ease of installation and effectiveness. Also, the estimated costs of the technologies are comparable.

Clean Coal Technology

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the costs and benefits of clean coal technology. [37616]

Malcolm Wicks: Since 1999 the Department has provided £13 million to the Cleaner Coal Technology Programme and an additional £3.5 million for collaborative Cleaner Coal Technology Projects with the USA.

The Department has supported work on the development of Clean Coal Technologies to reduce atmospheric pollution (oxides of nitrogen and sulphur) and carbon dioxide emissions. The costs and benefits of reducing atmospheric pollution have not been assessed because the need for these technologies was driven by regulations such as the Large Combustion Plant Directive, and the methods for valuing the benefits of pollution abatement have a wide range of uncertainty.

The cost of carbon dioxide abatement through the application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been examined in the DTI's Carbon Abatement Technologies Strategy (June 2005). This drew on a wide range of sources including programmes organised by the International Energy Agency as well as a public consultation, and estimated costs of £38-£127 per tonne of carbon for
14 Dec 2005 : Column 2110W
abatement on coal fired plant. This should be compared to the social cost of carbon dioxide emissions, which is highly uncertain although a recent report for DEFRA indicated a range from £35-£1,000 per tonne of carbon emitted.

Company Law Reform Bill (Explanatory Notes)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why the Explanatory Notes to the Company Law Reform Bill [HL] were not made available at the same time as the Bill itself; on what date they were published; what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that Explanatory Notes to Government Bills sponsored by his Department are published at the same time as the Bill itself; and if he will make a statement. [37558]

Alun Michael: Our departmental policy is to publish Explanatory Notes at the same time as Bills are published wherever possible. The Company Law Reform Bill is a very substantial Bill, and the Explanatory Notes were not ready to be published until 17 November 2005. Explanatory material on key clauses was made available on the day that the Bill was published.

Concessionary Coal

Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former mineworkers or beneficiaries in Midlothian are in receipt of (a) cash in lieu and (b) concessionary coal. [37560]

Malcolm Wicks: In the Midlothian constituency, 1,189 former mineworkers or beneficiaries are in receipt of cash in lieu and 237 are in receipt of concessionary fuel.

Domestic Gas Supplies

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what charges gas companies may make for the installation of domestic mains gas supply; [36823]

(2) what (a) grants and (b) other assistance are available to rural communities to receive mains gas supply. [36824]

Malcolm Wicks: Gas transporters are obliged, on request, to connect a domestic property within 23 metres of an existing gas main. Under normal circumstances, the gas transporter will apply a standard charge, agreed with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) for providing such a connection. This charge varies slightly between different parts of Great Britain. The transporter will ordinarily bear the cost of installing the first 10 metres of pipe in the public highway. Gas transporters are able to recover the reasonable costs of providing connections to properties more than 23 metres from a gas main. Connections may also be arranged through gas suppliers, which will oversee the process, but will charge the customer for this service.

There are no grants for the provision of connections to the mains gas network. Grants to install gas central heating systems are available to qualifying households under the Government's Warm Front scheme.
14 Dec 2005 : Column 2111W

Environmental Best Practice (Businesses)

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to promote environmentally responsible behaviour by British businesses. [37307]

Malcolm Wicks: We expect companies to comply with the legal requirements on environmental matters and we encourage them to exceed those standards in addressing the environmental impacts of their activities. The Government's approach to encouraging responsible business practice is outlined on the Government website on Corporate Social Responsibility—

We promote environmentally responsible behaviour in a number of ways, for example, through the Envirowise advisory service which we fund with DEFRA for companies wishing to improve their environmental efficiency.

The Department is also helping to return landfill tax monies from the Business Resource and Efficiency Programme back to business through:

Next Section Index Home Page