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Export Credits Guarantee Department

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the five clients and companies involved in the highest volume of trade supported by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2004–05. [61489]

Ian Pearson: The Export Credits Guarantee Department's top five customers in terms of value of guarantees supported in the financial years 2003–04 and 2004–05 were:



ECGD support for Airbus aircraft frequently encompasses support for Rolls-Royce aero engines.

Financial Advice (Estate Agents)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will outlaw practices whereby estate agents will not bring forward a property for sale unless a customer uses a financial adviser recommended by that estate agent. [63338]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Discriminatory conduct by an estate agent against prospective purchasers who do not accept additional services, from which the estate agent would derive financial benefit, is classified as an undesirable practice by the Estate Agents (Undesirable Practices) (No 2) Order 1991. Under the Order an undesirable practice includes any 'discrimination against a prospective purchaser by an estate agent on the grounds that that purchaser will not be, or is unlikely to be, accepting services'. The Office of Fair Trading can issue warning orders against persons who engage in an undesirable practice and ultimately prohibit those persons from doing estate agency work.
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Foreign Direct Investment

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the amount of foreign direct investment has been into the UK in each year since 1997 (a) including and (b) excluding mergers and acquisitions. [62244]

Alan Johnson: Information on the total value of foreign direct investment into the UK is given in the following table. Information on foreign direct investment into the UK excluding mergers and acquisitions is not available.
Total foreign direct investment into the UK 1997–2005

£ billion—current prices

Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom balance of payments

Gas Prices

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of gas price rises on (a) elderly and (b) vulnerable people in rural areas. [62564]

Malcolm Wicks: Recent increases in gas prices will have had a negative impact on the affordability of energy for vulnerable groups, including the elderly. Government are addressing this issue through tackling fuel poverty. A household is said to be fuel poor if it needs to spend more than 10 per cent. of its income on all fuel use and to heat the home to an adequate standard of warmth.

Fuel poverty is devolved to the Scottish Executive, and falls within the portfolio of the Minister for Communities. The Fuel Poverty in Scotland Report was published in April 2004. It provides a detailed analysis of the information available on fuel poverty using the 2002 Scottish House Condition Survey. This shows that the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland in
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2002 was 286,000 (13 per cent.). Analysis of fuel poverty data for England suggests that energy price rises will have significantly increased the level of fuel poverty in the UK between 2002 and 2006.

Work on the best way to tackle fuel poverty in the light of rising energy prices is being taken forward in the context of the Energy Review.

Geothermal Energy

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the policy of the Government is on the production of energy from geothermal sources. [62829]

Malcolm Wicks: Between 1976 and the early 1990's the UK carried out a major Geothermal Research Programme at a cost in excess of £50 million. The key conclusions from the programme were that the UK is unlikely to see major developments based upon geothermal aquifers or the hot dry rock (HDR) method due to a limited resource, poor economics and limited scope for their application.

Unless the technical, practical and economic constraints identified under the previous Geothermal Programme can be addressed, the prospects for geothermal power in the UK would appear to be limited.

More recently interest has been growing in the use of Ground Source Heat Pumps. This technology can be applied to buildings of virtually any scale including domestic dwellings. It relies on heat exchange with the ground immediately beneath or close to buildings. There are at least 15 installations connected to commercial or public buildings in the UK, including the recently opened Welsh Assembly building.

Both Defra and the DTI, in collaboration with the Heat Pump Association, have helped establish a UK Heat Pump Network to develop a partnership between manufacturers, specialist advisers, and user groups. This network will ensure that independent and authoritative advice is available on the application and use of heat pumps.

Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the proximity is in metres of the proposed Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm to the nearest shipping lane. [62924]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the environmental statement prepared by the developer for this project. This includes information on traffic data showing vessel tracks across the proposed wind farm site and the developer's proposal for a traffic routeing measure to address some of the navigation safety concerns.

Home Computing Initiative

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was to the Department of offering its staff participation in the Home Computing Initiative. [62454]

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Alan Johnson [holding answer 30 March 2006]: The Home Computer Initiative was offered to DTI, and Insolvency Service staff as part of a wider Salary Sacrifice Scheme covering childcare vouchers and bikes for commuting to work. The costs to the Department of the contract for provision of all three elements of the salary sacrifice scheme should be fully met by the savings in employers' national insurance contributions that results from the salary sacrifices made. A total of £43,000 was spent by the Department and Insolvency Service on payroll testing and in respect of legal fees for setting up the contract for provision of this service.


Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the UK's trading relationship with India. [60842]

Ian Pearson: UK Exports to India show a 27.4 per cent. increase to November 2005 compared to the same period in 2004. UK imports from India increased by 20.1 per cent. during the same period.

The UK is the 5th biggest investor in India with UK companies involved in 9.8 per cent. of all new FDI into India since 1991. Indian investment into the UK is growing rapidly when measured in terms of investment projects and jobs created. Up to the 31 December 2005 UKTI had assisted 33 Indian companies invest in the UK, up 22 per cent. on 2004.

As the Indian economy continues to grow, it is vital that businesses in UK seize the opportunities on offer. The Government will increase its effort to support British business to access the Indian market.

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