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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1645W—continued

Equitorial Guinea

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total value was of exports to Equitorial Guinea in (a) 2000 and (b) 2005. [50765]

Ian Pearson: Information on the UK's exports of goods is not yet available for the whole of 2005.

The latest data available is for the period January to November 2005. In 2000, the UK's exports of goods to Equatorial Guinea amounted to £28.1 million. In January to November 2005 the UK's exports of goods amounted to £35.9 million.

Estate Agents

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many estate agent businesses there were in each year since 1997 in (a) Leicester and (b) England. [49739]

John Healey: I have asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the national statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 13 February 2006:

Analysis shows the count of VAT based local units in England and Leicester UA from 1997 to 2005 for S1C2003,7031, real estate
Data as at March of each year

Local unit count by specified yearEnglandLeicester UA

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the scale of windfall profits made by the energy generating sector as a result of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [51175]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the member for Morley and Rothwell (Colin Challen) on 19 January 2006, Official Report, column 1511W.
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Fair Trade

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much and what proportion of his Department's catering budget was spent on Fair Trade produce in the last period for which figures are available. [49971]

Alan Johnson: Sales of fairly traded products on DTI premises including sales in the staff restaurants and coffee bars is estimated at approximately £700,000 which equates to 38 per cent. of total sales.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department's policy is on the procurement of Fair Trade produce for consumption on its premises. [49972]

Alan Johnson: DTI has adopted a policy to use fairly traded produce within its catering operations for a number of years and includes clauses within its service contract specification with its catering service provider.

Freedom of Information Act

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what total sum has been received by his Department for the provision of information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in its first year of operation. [48489]

Alan Johnson: My Department did not charge for information released under the Freedom of Information Act during 2005.

The Freedom of Information Act allows for public authorities to determine when the cost of processing a request will exceed the appropriate limit, which for central Government is set at £600 and for the wider public sector £450. In this instance the public authority may decide to either approach the applicant to help them refine their request and where possible to bring it under the appropriate limit. Alternatively, public authorities may charge the applicant the cost of processing the request. There is, however, no obligation for Departments to provide information if the cost of processing the request exceeds the appropriate limit.

Public authorities may also charge for disbursements when handling requests where it is deemed appropriate. Further information on the FOI fees regime can be found on the DCA website at

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of how many people fall into fuel poverty for each percentage point increase in energy prices; and if he will make a statement. [50537]

Malcolm Wicks: We estimate that for each percentage point real increase across energy prices a further 40,000 vulnerable households would become fuel poor in England, with a proportionate increase in the devolved administrations. Each percentage point real increase in income reduces the number of vulnerable households in fuel poverty by about 40,000 households.
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Work on the best ways to tackle fuel poverty in the light of rising energy prices is being taken forward in the context of the energy review.

Gas Storage Capacity

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to increase the UK's gas storage capacity. [48613]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government's policy is to ensure an effective gas market, to provide the price signals that incentivise commercial gas storage projects. Some 10 new projects are currently being developed, which (if they all proceed to commissioning) would more than double GB's gas storage capacity; the projects are listed in my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's First Report to Parliament on Security of Gas Supply and Electricity Supply in Great Britain", available at The reports of JESS (the Joint Energy Security of Supply Working Group), also on the Department's website, help the market to work effectively by publishing information about the potential contribution of proposed gas infrastructure projects to gas supply. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced that the Government are reviewing the onshore consents regime for gas supply infrastructure, with new legislation if appropriate; and that the Government propose to introduce legislation to facilitate the construction of offshore salt caverns for gas storage. In addition, my right hon. Friend is preparing for submission to Parliament a statement of the national need for additional gas supply infrastructure, including storage facilities, to reinforce the existing arrangements for informing planning authorities. The Energy Review, and the Barker Review of the Planning and Land Use System, are also considering related issues.

Harlow North Sustainability Symposia

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the representatives from his Department and public bodies for which his Department is responsible who attended the Harlow North Sustainability Symposia on 6 June. [37446]

Alan Johnson: No representatives from this Department or its public bodies attended the Harlow North Sustainability Symposia.

Home Credit Companies

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the status of the consultation on improving the transparency of the process used by home credit companies to obtain written permission to offer a cash loan; and if he will make a statement. [50082]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government announced their intention to consult stakeholders seeking views on ways to improve the transparency of the process whereby home credit companies gain the written permission needed to offer a cash loan on the doorstep through the credit agreement on another product, in Promoting Financial Inclusion" which was published alongside the pre-Budget report 2004. Subsequently the Office of Fair Trading referred the supply of home credit to the Competition Commission and an inquiry is ongoing.
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The canvassing of loans is one issue being considered by the Competition Commission as part of this inquiry. The Government will decide what further action may be necessary following the publication of the findings of this inquiry.

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