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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when (a) household grant allocations and (b) large scale community and commercial grant allocations under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme will begin. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2006]: Grants for householders and small-scale community projects will be available when the programme is launched in April. Grants for larger projects will be available once EU State Aids approval has been granted. The Commission has been provided with additional information at their request and we are awaiting their decision.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps have been taken to overcome the absence of a lead-in time prior to the launch of the Low Carbons Building Programme on 1 April; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the amount of lead-in time available on the amount of business generated for registered installers of the technology. 
There should be a limited effect on business for installers as the PV Programme is still accepting grants. Given the time it takes to process applications it is likely the new programme will be up and running by the time grant offers have been given and therefore there will be no gap in business for installers. It should also be noted that there are still a number of outstanding grant installations yet to be completed.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support his Department is providing for the UK Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak experiment at Culham; and if he will make a statement. 
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) receives funding for the UK's own national research programme which includes the development of the UK's own fusion device, the Mega-Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST), and for the UK's contributions to the operation of the Joint European Torus (JET).
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 20 March 2006]: The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) announced on 13 March 2006 that it will proceed with its proposals for the restructuring of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), with various modifications reflecting issues raised by stakeholders' input to the recent public consultation. CEH is a wholly owned research centre of NERC, and decisions on its future are the responsibility of NERC. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has had no discussions with NERC since 13 March on this matter.
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 20 March 2006]: The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is one of eight UK Research Councils, established under Royal Charter. It is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Science and Technology Act 1965 gives a power to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to provide sums of money to NERC and to give directions in respect of such sums, but in accordance with longstanding Haldane principles, Research Council decisions on the funding of specific scientific research are taken independently of Ministers.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the capacity of the building industry to meet the demands of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's programme of work between the present time and 2012, with particular reference to large-scale public sector building programmes competing for manpower. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2006]: This is a matter for the Nuclear decommissioning Authority (NDA). Prior to advent of the NDA in April 2005, the nuclear industry's assessment of its construction skill requirement was made on a site by site basis. The NDA will identify the long term skills requirements for its overall clean up programme in the context of it Strategic plan. In addition, the NDA will tap into the sector skills agreements currently being developed by Cogent (the skills council for the nuclear industry) who for their part have already started a dialogue with organisations such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to ensure that provision is made for the UK as a whole.
Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the review of the operating hours of six nuclear power stations to be completed; and when he expects to receive applications to agree extensions. 
Malcolm Wicks: It would be for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to make any proposals for a lifetime extension of any of their four remaining operational Magnox stations. We have received no such proposals and are unlikely to do so given that the Magnox technology is really very old and there is little, if any, scope for such extensions.
We understand British Energy has taken no decisions about extending the lives of any of its nuclear power stations beyond those dates already announced. Any decisions to seek extensions would be a matter for the company who would need to evaluate the safety, technical and economic cases, within the overall regulatory framework.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what total efficiency savings were achieved by the Office of Fair Trading in 200405; and whether these count towards current efficiency savings targets. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Office of Fair Trading did not quantify efficiency savings during 200405. Efficiency savings achieved by the Office of Fair Trading in 200405 do not count towards current efficiency savings targets.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the efficiency savings targets for the Office of Fair Trading are to be cashable; and under what budget headings these cashable efficiency savings will be re-spent. 
|Efficiency (percentage||Value (£ million)|
Mr. Sutcliffe: Following the Chancellor's pre-budget statement on the enhanced future role of the OFT, the OFT are unable to provide a prediction, of a figure for the target level of employment by April 2008, at this time. The OFT expect to be able to do so before the end of December 2006.
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander), of 14 February 2006, Official Report, column 1866W, on post offices, if he will list the factors that the Department expects to affect the future size of the post office network. 
Barry Gardiner: Factors affecting the future size of the post office network will include: customer usage levels; the success and uptake of new products; the ability to attract new sub-postmasters to take on branches that come onto the market; the potential sustainability of the new ways of service delivery being piloted by Post Office Limited; the level of any support which may be available after 2008; and the outcome of discussions between the Department for Work and Pensions and Post Office Limited on what accounts, other than the Post Office card account, will be available after 2010.
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