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10 May 2006 : Column 266W—continued

Renewable Energy

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent by Government on (a) research into and (b) grants and subsidies to promote renewable energy in each year between 1979 and 1997. [65832]

Malcolm Wicks: It would entail disproportionate cost to identify how much was spent by Government on research, grants and subsidies to promote renewable energy in each year between 1979 and 1997. However, information on how much was spent by Government on renewable energy research, development, dissemination and demonstration, between 1989 and 1997, was published by my hon. Friend, the then Energy Minister to the hon. Member for Lewes, on 24 March 2000, Official Report, column 715 W.

The statistics indicate that investment in renewable energy remained broadly unchanged between 1989 and 1996 at under £26 million a year. This compares to Government spending of around £500 million in renewables and other low carbon technologies between 2002 and 2008. The Chancellor also recently announced in the Budget a further £50 million, on top of the £30 million that I had previously announced, for the Low Carbon Building Programme, which supports microgeneration and energy efficiency measures.

Research and Development

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding his Department has given to research and development via (a) grants, (b) loans and (c) incentive schemes since 1997. [68546]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The net DTI expenditure, leaving aside the research councils, between 1997 and 2006on R and D via (a) 'grants' represents a cost of£2,490.8 million, (b) 'loans' are not currently used by the Department to fund R and D, (c) 'incentives' in the form of R and D tax credits are owned by the Treasury and as such do not represent an expense on the Department.

Severn Barrage Project

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the merits of a reappraisal of the Severn barrage project as part of the Government's energy review. [67242]

Malcolm Wicks: We are aware of the potential of a Severn barrage scheme, the most recent study of the case for a reappraisal carried out by the Severn Tidal Power Group (available at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/renewables/publications/Severnbarrage.shtml) being published in 2003.

The Department is currently part way through an energy review that will consider all options and opportunities for ensuring we meet our energy goals in the medium to long-term.


10 May 2006 : Column 267W

Sexual Harassment (Tribunal Rulings)

Derek Conway: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employment tribunal rulings on cases of constructive dismissal found in favour of the claimants where allegations of sexual harassment of a subordinate were upheld in each of the last five years. [67961]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Employment Tribunals Service does not record separately figures for claims which specifically relate to constructive dismissal, nor does it hold separately records of claims where allegations of sexual harassment are made.

Small Shops

Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to promote the economic viability of small local convenience shops. [65976]

Margaret Hodge: DTI's role is to drive up UK productivity and competitiveness. A key part of that work involves creating the conditions for the success of businesses that help to generate the UK's wealth. The support we provide enhances and encourages innovation, enterprise, best practice and investment. We assess its effectiveness in achieving our strategic goals through rigorous monitoring, analysis and evaluation.

Small local convenience stores are eligible for the same range of support measures as other small businesses. These include a range of grants, funds, loan guarantee schemes and advice available through Business Link. In addition, we ensure that representative bodies of smaller retailers are involved with our key retail fora: Retail Policy Forum (better regulation); Retail Innovation Group (identification and exploitation of good practice); and have been invited to be part of the steering group for the fledgling Regional Retail Strategy that is exploring good practice in working with retail at regional/local level. We also ensure that the main trade associations representing small shops are notified directly about relevant public consultations.

Sub-post Offices

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have closed in Staffordshire since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [68351]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I understand from Post Office Ltd. that information on the Post Office¬(r) branch network has historically only been held at a national level. More recently records have been maintained at a Government office region and at parliamentary constituency level and this level of data commenced from the end of 2001-02.


10 May 2006 : Column 268W

The number of post offices in the constituencies that cover the Staffordshire county area is as follows:

Number of Post Office¬(r) branches( 1)
Staffordshire

2001-02

305

2002-03

297

2003-04

263

2004-05

229

(1) The network totals include 5 branches that are directly managed by Post Office Ltd.

Uranium

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has made an assessment of the future security of supply of uranium. [69476]

Malcolm Wicks: In the context of the energy review, DTI is considering a range of assessments of the future security of supply of uranium, including the recent analysis by the Sustainable Development Commission.

In addition, a comprehensive report of uranium supply and production is published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—"Uranium 2003: Resources, Production and Demand" (The Red Book). An updated version of this report is due for publication on 22 May 2006.

Vehicle Licensing Tax

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment the Government have made of the impact that their policy of encouraging drivers to renew their vehicle licensing tax by (a) telephone and (b) the internet is having on rural post offices. [68387]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Decisions relating to vehicle licensing are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Post Office Ltd. continues to act as an agent for the DVLA with 95 per cent. of the population within two miles of a Motor Vehicle Licence issuing office.

Government continue to broaden the way that they offer their services to reflect a changing world and to respond to the new ways that the public wish to access these services. The Post Office is one of a number of ways to deliver Government services and still has an important role to play. We want to see a Post Office network that meets the needs of today and the future and not those of 20 or 30 years ago and have made an unprecedented investment of over £2 billion in the network since 1999, including £750 million to help maintain the rural network to 2008.

Transport

A1

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average traffic levels were at each interchange of the A1 Western bypass from North Gosforth to the New Tyne crossing, Newcastle in each of the last five years. [69573]


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Dr. Ladyman: The following table provides the average annual daily totals (AADT) of vehicles using the A1 between the interchange of the A1 with the
10 May 2006 : Column 270W
A1056, north of Gosforth, to the A1 interchange with the A694, to the south of the New Tyne crossing.

2001 AADT 2002 AADT 2003 AADT
Location NB( 1) SB( 2) Total NB( 1) SB( 2) Total NB( 1) SB( 2) Total

A1056-A696

33,000

33,400

66,400

34,400

34,300

68,700

35,900

35,500

71,400

A696-A167

38,900

41,000

42,600

42,600

85,200

A167-A69

43,500

42,500

86,400

43,500

43,900

87,400

46,500

47,700

94,400

A69-A694

44,000

41,600

81,900

45,500

43,500

89,000

46,500

45,000

91,400


2004 AADT 2005 AADT
Location NB( 1) SB( 2) Total NB( 1) SB( 2) Total

A1056-A696

36,500

36,800

73,300

37,700

37,500

75,200

A696-A167

44,300

44,100

88,500

44,300

43,600

87,900

A167-A69

48,400

51,000

99,400

48,700

47,900

96,600

A69-A694

48,100

46,400

94,500

48,500

46,800

95,300

(1 )NB = Northbound. (2 )SB = Southbound.

DIRECTS Report

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place a copy of the report into the DIRECTS project in the Library. [69566]

Dr. Ladyman: The data collection phase of the DIRECTS (Demonstration of Interoperable Road user End-to-end Charging and Telematics Systems) project concluded at the end of March 2006. I expect the analysis and conclusions will be published in the 4th quarter of 2006 and a copy of the report will be made available to the Library and published in the usual way on the Department's website.

Equal Pay

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are undertaken within his Department to ensure that women are obtaining equal pay to men doing work of equal value. [65847]

Derek Twigg: The Department of Transport (Centre) and each of the Department's agencies are individual business units. Each unit is an equal opportunity employer.

Each unit has carried out a full equal pay review for staff below the senior civil service within the last three years with further full reviews to be undertaken this year. If any disparities are identified these are to be investigated and rectified accordingly. Pay systems are reviewed on an annual basis.

Home Working

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people in his Department have been enabled to work from home in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [67990]

Derek Twigg: The following numbers of DfT staff have been enabled to work away from the office over the last three years:-

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06

DfT (Central)

384

292

477

DVLA

49

94

188

HA

59

66

64

MCGA

(1)

(1)

(1)

VOSA

2

2

2

VGA

30

40

46

GCDA

6

6

8

DSA

0

0

2

(1) Figures unavailable.

The figures represent those enabled to work away from the office by means of remote access IT links. This will include home working, but also working from other official locations. The Department and its agencies have a flexible approach in helping staff meet work life balance commitments. Although the Department does not have a formal home working policy, it has other policies which cover a variety of working patterns, such as flexible working hours, staggered hours, part-time working and job share. Requests to work from home on an ad hoc basis are subject to line agreement.


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