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Malcolm Wicks: The Government propose to provide a clear legal framework for activities associated with offshore gas storage in salt caverns. When, subject to Parliament, legislation is in place, companies will be able to use new technology to create salt caverns offshore and store gas over the next decade. It will not be possible for any projects to be proposed, consented, constructed and commissioned as early as winter 200607.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has asked the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for the costings of the
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options of (a) re-opening the thermal oxide reprocessing plant (THORP) at Sellafield and (b) the final closure of reprocessing activities at THORP. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is currently undertaking detailed work to understand the full implications of the re-opening and final closure of THORP, which will include costings. The NDA will advise the DTI of its conclusions when this work is complete.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations the Government has received from the EU on the review of the implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive announced in December 2005; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 18 January 2006]: We have not received any representations from the EU regarding the review announced in December 2005. Officials will be keeping the Commission informed of progress towards implementation.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what mandatory targets the UK implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive will put in place regarding (a) the reduction and (b) the recycling of electronic and electrical waste. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive contains targets for reduction and recycling, which the UK is obliged to meet. The implementing UK regulations will be the means by which those targets are delivered; but no targets will be included in the text.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of electronic and electrical waste came from domestic users in 200405; which sector produced the largest amount of electronic and electrical waste in 200405; what measures are in place to deal with this waste; and what further measures the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive will put in place. 
Malcolm Wicks: There are no official data on the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the UK. The Industry Council for Electronic Recycling (ICER) published in 2005 estimates for the volume and number of items of WEEE arising in the UK for the year 2003. This suggested that there are some 93 million units representing around 1 million tonnes of WEEE from domestic users arising in the UK annually.
WEEE is currently dealt with via existing UK waste legislation. A significant volume of WEEE by weight is currently recycled or re-used in the UK. The remaining WEEE is disposed of in a similar manner to other forms of domestic waste.
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The WEEE Directive requires the UK to promote the separate collection of WEEE from other forms of domestic waste to facilitate increased recycling and re-use of WEEE as a way of promoting sustainable development in Europe. The WEEE Directive also requires the pre- treatment of WEEE prior to recycling to prevent the dispersion of hazardous substances into the environment.
Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the incremental costs that will be borne by (a) local authorities and (b) the recycling industry as a result of the postponement of the implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive announced by his Department on 15 December 2005. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government have agreed to meet all new burdens that result from the delay to implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. The exact sum has yet to be determined, but it will be based on the costs that local authorities will incur.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what the Government's policy is on mothers who wish to stay at home and bring up their children full-time; and what measures are in place to support those that do so. 
Meg Munn: Parents are the best people to make decisions about the interests of their children. The Government's role is to support families and to ensure they have meaningful choices about how they live their lives. The core aim of the Work and Families Bill is about helping to give children the best start in life and how to enable all families to have genuine choices about how they balance their work and family caring responsibilities.
As a result of the Government's reforms to the tax and benefit system since 1997, by October 2005, in real terms, families with children are, on average, £1,400 a year better off, while those in the poorest fifth are, on average, £3,200 per year better off.
The 2005 budget improved this situation still further by announcing a commitment to increase the child element of child tax credit at least in line with average
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earnings up to and including 200708. It is currently worth up to £1,690 a year per child, benefiting 7 million children in 3.6 million families.
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are taken to monitor access to cancer treatments for patients in (a) the North East and (b) Gateshead East and Washington West; and what steps are taken to ensure access meets the targets the Department has set. 
Mr. Byrne: The Department, in the NHS Cancer Plan, has set out new goals to reduce waiting times for diagnosis and treatment. There is a maximum two-month wait from urgent general practitioner referral for suspected cancer to start of treatment for all cancers by the end of 2005. For those patients who are routinely referred but subsequently diagnosed with cancer there is a maximum one month wait from diagnosis to treatment by the end of 2005.
The monitoring of access to cancer treatments in the North East and Gateshead East is a local matter. However, most recent figures for Northumberland Tyne and Wear strategic health authority show 99.4 per cent. of urgent referrals are seen within two weeks. At Gateshead Health National Health Service Foundation Trust 98.2 per cent. of urgent referrals are seen within two weeks.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to implement the recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee report on Complementary and Alternative Medicines. 
Caroline Flint: The Government's response to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology's report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CM 5124) was published in March 2001. A number of commitments made in response to the recommendations have been, or are being, implemented. This includes work to improve the regulation of herbal medicines and most recently proposals to prepare the ground for the statutory regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture practitioners.
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