Previous Section Index Home Page

30 Mar 2006 : Column 1140W—continued


John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to promote the manufacturing industry in the North East. [61134]

Alun Michael: The importance of manufacturing to the North East of England, and to the whole UK economy, is reflected in the Department of Trade and Industry's Manufacturing Strategy. Launched in 2002, the strategy sets out the actions needed to create a high value, high skill manufacturing sector capable of introducing new products and processes into our economy, creating new markets, and delivering a huge boost to our prosperity. In response to the strategy, and the subsequent review in 2004, we have:

30 Mar 2006 : Column 1141W

Regional Development Agency, ONE NorthEast, administers the Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE), and Grant for Research and Development schemes in the region on behalf of DTI. Total spend (in £ million) since 2002 on these schemes in the North East of England is set out in the following table.
Total spend (£ million)
SFIEGrant for R & D

ONE North East)

In addition, ONE NorthEast's North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA) has successfully assisted a large number of manufacturing companies to gain from enhanced engineering expertise, leading to significant productivity improvements.

The Department of Trade and Industry also provides funding through a wide number of schemes, initiatives and collaborative programmes of direct and indirect benefit to the manufacturing sector in the North East of England, including :

In addition to the specific initiatives mentioned, measures to streamline business support, ensure better business regulation, open up international markets, provide support for exporters, build flexible labour markets, foster science and innovation, deliver secure and sustainable energy, encourage knowledge transfer, support the implementation of best practice, and reform company law, are currently being pursued. These measures—along with providing strong economic stability through low inflation, low interest rates and low unemployment—will benefit all business sectors, and will allow manufacturing businesses across the North East of England to plan and invest with confidence for the long term.

Micro Renewables

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the
30 Mar 2006 : Column 1142W
impact on jobs and investment in the UK's micro renewables sector of his Department's decision to end annual grant support to micro renewable customers from 2006 to 2009; and if he will make a statement. [61678]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department will continue to fund the micro renewables sector between 2006 to 2009 through a new Low Carbon Buildings programme, which will continue to offer grants for the installation of renewable technologies. The original budget of £30 million was also increased in the Budget 2006 with an additional £50 million.

Our longer-term commitment to this sector is demonstrated through our microgeneration strategy, which was launched on the 29 March.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the occasions on which the Minister of State for Energy has met (a) the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and (b) British Energy in the last 12 months. [60904]

Malcolm Wicks: I have met Gordon McKerron once in his capacity as chairman of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management during the last 12 months.

I have met with British Energy once in the last 12 months. This was as part of the Department's formal monitoring arrangements that it has put in place following the company's restructuring in 2005.

Natural Gas

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the implications of the capping of natural gas prices in (a) Russia and (b) China. [62136]

Malcolm Wicks: International gas market issues are important elements of the UK's approach to energy security as set out in the document UK International Priorities-The Energy Strategy" produced jointly by Department of Trade and Industry, FCO and DEFRA. It is available online at:

The strategy recognises that low (or capped) gas prices in Russia (and by implication China) deter investors from building new capacity in production and infrastructure and reduce incentives for energy efficiency. DTI, FCO and DEFRA will continue to assess the implications to UK energy security in the context of all the issues identified in the strategy.

Non-fossil Fuel and Renewables Obligations

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consideration his Department has given to extending the Renewables Obligation beyond 2027. [63069]

Malcolm Wicks: The Renewables Obligation (RO) will remain in place until 2027 to ensure investor confidence in the long-term. Although the Government
30 Mar 2006 : Column 1143W
is not currently considering extending the RO beyond 2027 the RO will continue to be monitored to ensure investor confidence is maintained.

Post Offices

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of (a) post office services in rural areas and (b) the rural network. [59010]

Barry Gardiner: The Government have made available up to £300 million to support the non-commercial part of the rural post office network until 2008. In addition, Post Office Ltd. has published its report on the findings of its trials of new, innovative and cost-effective ways of delivering post office services to rural communities.

This report will help stakeholders and customers to understand better the range of delivery options being tested by Post Office Ltd. and will make an important contribution to the wider consideration and ongoing discussions about the most effective way to deliver post office services in the 21st century. For that reason the no avoidable closures policy for rural post offices has been extended until the Autumn.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have closed in the West Midlands since 1997. [61789]

Barry Gardiner: This is an operational matter for the Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook, the Managing Director has been asked to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Next Section Index Home Page