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Renewable Energy

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of renewable energy generated in the UK in the last period for which figures are available came from landfill gas; and how many landfill gas sites there are. [67139]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2004, 28 per cent. of the electricity generated in the UK from renewable sources came from 327 landfill gas sites.

Road Fuel Prices

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set up an inquiry into (a) possible price gouging by oil companies and (b) the reasons for recent price increases of petrol and diesel; and if he will make a statement. [65476]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will not be setting up inquiries into either issue. Pricing issues may be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) if they are the result of anti-competitive agreements or behaviour.

The recent increase in the price of petrol and diesel reflects the increased cost of crude oil, caused partly by recent developments in oil producing countries such as Nigeria, Iraq and Iran.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had during each week of 2006 with oil companies about the price of petrol and diesel; and if he will make a statement. [65477]

Malcolm Wicks: The data is not available in the format as requested. It is the Government's policy not to intervene in commercial price setting, as it believes the consumer is best served by the operation of open competition between companies.

The Government do, however, recognise the concerns about the current high price of oil products such as petrol and diesel. This was an issue, which I discussed at length with my ministerial colleagues from OPEC, among others, at the International Energy Forum in Doha last weekend.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce legislation to penalise oil companies who are found to be price gouging of (a) petrol and (b) diesel; and if he will make a statement. [65480]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government do not intend to introduce new legislation.

The Competition Act 1998 prohibits anti-competitive agreements and conduct which amounts to an abuse of a dominant position under chapters I and II respectively. In general, the price a retailer sets for a product or service is a matter for its own commercial judgment. The OFT has an enforcement role under the
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Competition Act 1998, if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that prices are arrived at by an arrangement contrary to chapter I, or reflect an abuse of a dominant position within a market contrary to chapter II.

Shareholders' Voting Rights

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures have been taken by his Department to increase the effectiveness of shareholders' voting rights. [67588]

Alun Michael: The Government are committed to encouraging the exercise of share ownership rights. That is why we have already required all quoted companies to seek shareholder approval for the directors' remuneration report, and continue to support the work of the Shareholder Voting Working Group.

The Company Law Reform Bill builds on this by including provisions to ensure that voting processes are more transparent and that companies can enable indirect investors to enjoy or exercise various governance rights. In addition, the registered shareholder will have the right to appoint more than one proxy, thus enabling indirect investors acting as proxies to exercise all the meeting participation rights of the registered shareholder.

Sunday Trading Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the operation of Schedule 1, paragraph 2(4) of the Sunday Trading Act 1994. [66867]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994 large shops (over 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft) are required to remain closed on Easter Sunday. We are reviewing this as part of the current review of Sunday shopping.

Technology and Engineering Education

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the terms of reference are of (a) Technology and Engineering in Schools Strategy and (b) Engineering Education Alliance; who the members are; and what assessment he has made of its effectiveness to date. [64716]

Barry Gardiner: The Technology and Engineering in Schools Strategy (TESS) was initiated by Lord Sainsbury in 2005 and is a programme through which the engineering community has agreed to work together to provide better coordinated support for the promotion of engineering and technology in schools.

It is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering and involves the engineering institutions and other bodies active in promoting engineering and technology to schools at a national level. Membership currently comprises: The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Office of Science and Innovation, the G15 of Engineering Institutions, the ETB (and, through ETB,
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its Business and Industry Panel), SETNET, the BA, The Institute of Physics, The Association of Science Educators, The Learning Grid.

The TESS mission is to give every primary and secondary school in the UK, regardless of geography or local circumstances, equal access to a good number of quality-approved, high impact, coordinated schemes in engineering and technology related education. This will be achieved by the coordination of existing national-scale engineering and technology education schemes that deliver curriculum enrichment and/or teacher CPD. It will cover the promotion of engineering, the provision of information and the delivery of educational enrichment activities in engineering and technology to young people.

The TESS strategy was agreed in late November 2005 and the TESS project was initiated early in 2006. There has been no formal assessment of its achievements to date. The project has included wide consultation with the engineering community and with the science institutions has been followed by the development of an implementation plan to deliver the first phase of TESS by September 2006. This will be a directory of approved schemes in engineering and technology and a methodology for colleagues in science to customise and build upon. The approval process for schemes will be transparent, draw on existing best practice, be based on a set of criteria agreed by the TESS Steering Group, and any national engineering and technology scheme will be free to apply.

The Engineering Education Alliance (EEA) was formed in March 2002 following consultation with the engineering institutions and related organisations to provide a forum for coordinating information on education and skills initiatives related to engineering and technology. As of February 2006 membership of the EEA consisted of the following organisations:

Association of Cost Engineers, British Computer Society, The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Engineering Council (UK), Energy Institute, Engineering Professors' Council, Engineering and Technology Board, Institution of Agricultural Engineers, Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Chemical Engineers, The Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, Institution of Engineering Designers, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Fire Engineers, Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, The Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management, Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers, Institution of Lighting Engineers, Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Measurement and Control, The Institution of Nuclear Engineers, Institute of Acoustics, The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Institute of Physics, Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, Institution of Structural Engineers, Institution of Water Officers, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Aeronautical Society, The Royal Institution of Naval Architects, Science Engineering Technology Mathematics Network, Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, The Welding Institute.
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The aims of the EEA are to:

There has been no formal assessment of the EEA's achievements to date. It has completed two projects. The first (March to October 2003) was to research and publish a set of criteria to be used in assessing the many initiatives and externally initiated projects involving the promotion of 'engineering' in schools. These published guidelines were particularly aimed at those within the Science, Design and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) community who are considering developing, or assessing for continuation, any STEM activity which seeks to involve schools, teachers or pupils.

The second EEA project completed its first phase in late 2005 and is about simplifying the engineering message and making entry into the profession more user- friendly. EEA members produced recommendations on how to increase the number of well-qualified and motivated entrants to engineering and identified key barriers to entry and how these should be tackled. This was published the EEA report Entry to the world of engineering".

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