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27 Feb 2006 : Column 141W—continued

Small Firm Loan Guarantees

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost to the Exchequer would be of doubling the ceilings for small firm loan guarantees. [52762]

Alun Michael: As a result of the 2003 Graham Review of the Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG), each of the participating lenders were given an annual lending limit. For the high volume lenders this was calculated according to their market share of SFLG lending over the previous three years.

Within the overall constraint of these lending limits the impact on the Exchequer of increasing the maximum amount a business can borrow would be minimal. However, the Graham Review did not find any economic justification for increasing the maximum loan value and to do so would have a potentially detrimental impact as, within the overall lending limits that apply, it would reduce the number of small businesses that could be assisted to borrow.

Solid Fuel Allowances

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the estimated liabilities of solid fuel allowances paid by his Department. [52574]

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Malcolm Wicks: The Department has a responsibility to provide either solid fuel or a cash alternative to around 120,000 beneficiaries of the National Concessionary Fuel Scheme. The number of beneficiaries is declining at around 6 per cent. a year and the liability will continue for several decades. The provision for this liability at 31 March 2005, as published in the Department of Trade and Industry Consolidated Resource Accounts 2004–05 (HC 612, 5 December 2005) stood at £338,759,000.

Special Advisers

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether special advisers in his Department receive an IT allowance. [52697]

Alan Johnson: None of the special advisers in DTI received IT allowances.

Telephone Masts (Leicester)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many telephone masts (a) in Leicester and (b) in the UK have 3G technology; and what proportion of all masts in each area these figures represent. [52696]

Alun Michael: At present there are roughly 45,000 base stations (masts) across the country, including Second and Third Generation networks. We do not hold a central register of 3G or total mast numbers by location. The number of masts required in an area will be affected by the level of consumer demand for 3G services, by commercial decisions related to the design of the networks, by the physical topography and by the requirements of planning authorities.

The location of individual 2G (GSM—Global System for Mobile communication) and 3G (UMTS—Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) masts can be found at: A postcode checker to identify 2G and 3G coverage throughout the country is also available on the five Mobile Network Operators websites.

The operators' licences to operate 3G networks require that 80 per cent. of the population will have access to the network by the end of 2007. The operators have estimated that a further 5,000 base stations will be required to meet their licence commitment. Further information is available at:

Each 3G operator now covers between 60 per cent. and 87 per cent. of the population in the UK, this includes most urban areas and particular sites in rural areas. Most of the 3G operators already cover Leicester.

Tidal Power

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the UK's energy has been generated by tidal power in each year since 1997. [49442]

Malcolm Wicks: Since 1997 there has been no contribution from tidal power towards UK energy demand.
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This is predominantly due to the high costs associated with conventional impoundment type generation schemes that would exploit the large tidal range that exists at a number of locations around the UK.

However, the UK also has a significant tidal-stream resource, estimated to be around 16TWh/y. Since 2000 over £16 million has been committed to the research and development of new technologies that would economically exploit this form of energy. To date, two full-scale prototype devices have been demonstrated and at least three more similar demonstrations are planned for this year.

In addition, a further £50 million Marine Renewables Deployment Fund has been made available to support the continued development of these technologies. The new fund provides a package of measures, central to which is a £42 million DTI Wave and Tidal-stream Energy Demonstration Scheme that will bring forward the first small grid-connected arrays of tidal-stream devices.

Universal Banking Services (Agreement)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what financial contribution was made by each bank and building society which signed the agreement with the Government on the provision of universal banking services. [51314]

Barry Gardiner: The information requested is commercially confidential.

Unsolicited e-mail

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the (a) publications and (b) consultation documents produced by his Department on (i) the internet, (ii) spam e-mails and (iii) e-commerce; if he will place copies of each in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [52413]

Alan Johnson: DTI publications and consultations currently available and notified centrally to my publications team are listed on the DTI publications website

There are 38 currently available in hard copy on the internet, spam e-mails and e-commerce, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

There are 36 currently available on these topics electronically; these can be downloaded from A list of these publications has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Unsolicited Telephone Calls

Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department are taking to protect people against the nuisance of unsolicited automated telephone marketing and sales calls. [54395]

Alun Michael: Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, those who undertake automated marketing recorded calls have to have prior consent and are required to comply with Regulation 19(1) and (2) of the Privacy Regulations, which requires prior consent of the
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consumer. Accordingly unsolicited marketing and sales calls are illegal. Also, Regulation 24(1)(a) requires that all messages must include the identity of the caller and an address or freephone number.

The Information Commissioner has responsibility for the enforcement of the Privacy Regulations and considers complaints about such calls if sufficient information is provided. A breach of their enforcement notice is a criminal offence subject to a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrates court.

In practice, most of these calls request a premium rate service number to be called and are scams and as such it may be more appropriate for the premium rate services regulator, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, to investigate such cases. Those service providers found to be in breach of ICSTIS' Code of Practice can be shut down, barred from operating and fined up to £250,000.

Video Games Industry

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate he has made of how much the video games industry has been worth to the UK economy in each of the past five years; [52698]

(2) what estimate he has made of how many people were employed in the video games industry in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [52699]

Alun Michael: No official estimates have been made of the number of people employed in the video games industry, or the value of the industry to the UK economy, but Screen Digest, the audiovisual industry analysts, have estimated that there were slightly under 9,000 people employed in the development and publishing of video games software in 2004, up from around 8,400 in 2000 1 .

The DTI's 2002 competitiveness analysis of the UK games software industry, From exuberant youth to sustainable maturity", included an estimate of the contribution of the UK games software development and publishing industries to the UK economy of £711 million in 2001 2 .

2 Spectrum Games Industry Forecasts.

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