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22 Mar 2006 : Column 392W—continued

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what requests he has made to (a) the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, (b) the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and (c) Nirex for assessments of the quantity, type and capacity of facilities to handle additional radioactive waste created by new nuclear reactors built and operated in the United Kingdom. [56894]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2006]: No requests have been made regarding specific numbers of facilities. We currently await CoRWM's recommendations.

As part of its work towards making recommendations to Government on the best option or combination of options for long-term management of higher activity wastes, CoRWM has already considered some new build scenarios, drawing technical information from industry sources. The results of this work were published in the CoRWM Inventory in July 2005. CoRWM have confirmed that waste from a new build programme could be technically accommodated within any of the options they have short-listed for long-term waste management.

Renewable Energy

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many households installed solar panels in each year between 2000 and 2005. [58733]

Malcolm Wicks: Under the Photovoltaics Demonstration Programme, which has been running since 2002, the following numbers of households have stalled solar panels.

Financial year

Total amount of grants offered to
householders (£)
2005–06 to date3922,351,723

Solar Photovoltaic Technologies

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the amount of grant funding to be allocated to solar photovoltaic technologies in 2006–07 from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. [60362]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 March 2006]: The new programme is technology neutral, there is no specific allocation to any technology. We will be looking to ensure all technologies are supported, but this will also depend on projects that come forward.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total amount of grant funding spent under the Solar photovoltaic Major Demonstration Programme was in 2004–05. [60368]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 March 2006]: £5.99 million has been spent on both Stream 1 and 2 grants to date for the financial year 2004–05.

Unsolicited Telephone Sales Calls

Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what further plans he has to regulate unsolicited telephone sales calls. [60517]

Alun Michael: Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, consumers are offered protection from unsolicited telephone sales calls through the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) scheme. This has proved to be an effective deterrent with 11.2 million registrations to date. No one is allowed to make an unsolicited telephone sales call to a subscriber who has either previously notified the caller that they do not wish to receive such calls or has been registered with the TPS scheme for at least 28 days.

Wave Power

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many wave power research and development projects have been financially supported by his Department over the last three years; and at what total cost. [60221]

Malcolm Wicks: Over the last three financial years a total of 13 wave energy projects have been supported under the DTI's Technology Programme. The expenditure in each year is given as follows.
Year in which invoices were paidSpend (£)


Annual Efficiency Gains

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department has taken to realise total annual efficiency gains of at least £4.3 billion by 2007–08. [60624]

Bill Rammell: The Department is reporting steps taken to achieve our efficiency target of £4.3 billion through existing Departmental reporting processes. We reported most recently in the Department's 2005 Autumn Performance Report and will report further progress and steps taken in the 2006 Departmental Report that we expect to publish in May.

Business Education

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to improve and expand business education in universities in the North East. [60009]

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Bill Rammell: The Department works mainly through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to deliver business education provision via higher education institutions in England. The following are just some examples of the steps my Department is taking to support business education in universities in the North East.

Preparing students for business through business education.

Professional and other business services1 was identified as a priority at level 4 in the North East skills action plan, so HEFCE were keen to ensure this subject area received additional student numbers (ASNs) from the managed growth allocation last year. They were identified as one of HEFCE's priorities in the selection process, and in the end they allocated 388 full-time equivalents (25 percent.of the total North East allocation) to business related subjects.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the North East are committed to business and management, not least because leadership has been identified as a key contributor to the economic future of the region. For example, the University of Northumbria is in the midst of expanding its business school in the centre of Newcastle. The school (together with law and design) will be moved into new high profile, high spec premises as part of a strategy to ensure these three key schools gain synergies from closer working through co-location. There are other campus developments across the region that may not directly improve the infrastructure of business studies, but will improve the facilities for business to interact with the university.

More generally, HEFCE have encouraged institutions to think about getting students ready for business through their HEROBC and HEIF funding. Over the years these funding streams have provided placements, developed employability skills, encouraged graduate entrepreneurship, facilitated spin offs, established incubator space and created real links between business and students. Between August 2006 and July 2008, over £9.4 million will go into the North East in HEIF III funding through the core institutional allocations.

Reaching out to business through business education

This is slightly different, as business is the end user. HEFCE have targeted investment in this area through HEROBC and HEIF. The HE business and community interaction survey ( provides a good breakdown of where the funding has been used in the past, for example to increase the amount of continuing professional development (CPD) and short courses run businesses.

The North East Higher Skills Network (NEHSN)—the region-wide Lifelong Learning Network— will also impact on this in the future as it will aim to increase the skills levels of those at work in the North East in three key employment sectors (manufacturing, health and business). The region successfully bid for £5.5 million last year to establish the NEHSN, and we hope to see activity take over the next year. The network will encourage progression for employees from vocational backgrounds and provide information, advice and guidance on how their careers could be enhanced through further study. It will also create links with employers and Sectors Skills Councils (SSCs) to ensure qualifications are fit for purpose and meet the needs of
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business. We expect the network to look at ways of accrediting work based learning and also interact with Train to Gain, Business Links and other regional business service providers.

Through previous HEIF rounds, a number of specific employer related initiatives have been established. There is a region wide New Technology Institute that is now funded by the RDA, but which came from a HEFCE funded imitative from 2001. Knowledge House has received several years of funding through HEIF competitions and is a gateway for business as well as research consultancy. More recently two Centres for Knowledge Exchange in the region have been funded.

Sunderland (Global Automotive Technology Exchange —GATE) was established to identify emerging technologies in the automotive sector and develop exploitation routes for the benefit of UK manufacturing industry, involves transferring existing technology from the UK HEI partners to industry, developing technology with industrial partners and promoting these via the GATE partnership. GATE has been successful in supporting joint R and D projects and encouraging academics to become more proactive in seeking out and servicing the requirements in industry (significant rise in the numbers of academics and students engaging in technology transfer). Teesside—Digital Knowledge Exchange (DKE) has helped to develop advanced services in digital media. It has helped Teesside to create a core team of experienced developers, researchers and business people able to respond rapidly to the needs of digital sector. The team also acts as a focus for further activity drawing on additional help from external research teams, academics, graduates, students and partner bodies.

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