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[holding answer 8 June 2006]: The Department has Claims Handling Agreements (CHAs) with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM)/
Vendside for processing vibration white finger and respiratory disease claims. The Department has a further agreement with the UDM for handling hearing loss claims.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the process is by which claimants for coal-related health compensation represented by UDM/Vendside and not by a solicitor can (a) apply for and (b) receive a copy of their claimant file. 
Malcolm Wicks: We have clear records of the following Ministers having met Vendside Ltd.: Peter Hain and Brian Wilson on separate occasions in 2001 and Nigel Griffiths in 2004. We cannot be certain that other Ministers did not also meet Vendside Ltd.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether his Department has established a procedure for claimants of coal-related health compensation to complain about poor services provided by claims handlers. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 June 2006]: No such procedure has been established. The majority of claims handled by claims handlers are processed in accordance with a Claims Handling Agreement agreed between the Department and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers/Vendside Ltd. We have also received a few other claims from claims handlers which are processed under the terms of the Claims Handling Agreement agreed with solicitors.
Claimants who are unhappy with their representation are free to transfer their claim to an alternative representative. The Compensation Bill currently progressing through Parliament will introduce a regulatory framework for claims handlers.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discounts are available in relation to hotel accommodation used by (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department. 
The Department keeps no record of discounts available in relation to hotel accommodation for (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers. To provide this information would entail disproportionate cost.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations he has received from members of the public since 1 January (a) supporting and (b) opposing the extension of nuclear energy generation. 
In relation to the Energy Review consultation, releasing figures for only some of the responses, out of context and without accompanying analysis, has the potential to mislead the public by focusing on the views and comments of only one section of the respondents.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the operation of (a) the Petroleum Act 1998 and (b) the Fossil Fuel Levy Act 1998; and what recent representations he has received about the operation of each Act. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Petroleum Act 1998 consolidated previous enactments about petroleum, offshore installations and submarine pipelines. In brief, part I of the Petroleum Act 1998 empowers the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to grant to such persons as he thinks fit licences to explore for, drill for and extract petroleum; Part II applies criminal law to offshore activities; Part III empowers the Secretary of State to control the construction and use of offshore pipelines; and Part IV deals with the abandonment of offshore installations.
The Petroleum Act 1998 is a key part of the regulatory regime that allows the Government to manage the UKs oil and gas resources, with the overall aim of maximising economic recovery. The Government continue to work closely with industry in PILOT, the oil and gas taskforce that I chair, to ensure that we have the licensing, environmental and business frameworks that will attract the investment needed to deliver the North seas full potential. The operation of the Petroleum Act 1998 naturally forms part of that wider picture, alongside a range of positive initiatives.
The Fossil Fuel Levy Act 1998 (which amended section 33 of the Electricity Act in its original form) was repealed by the Utilities Act 2000, which introduced the renewables obligation. However, provisions dealing with the Fossil Fuel Levy continue in a modified form by virtue of the Electricity from Non-Fossil Fuel Sources Savings Arrangements Orders made in 2000 and 2001. The fossil fuel levy is currently set at zero. The contractual arrangements made under the non-fossil fuel obligation also remain in place by virtue of the NFFO Savings Order. I have received no recent representations about the fossil fuel levy.
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 12 June 2006]: The question the hon. Member has asked relates to operational matters for which Post Office Ltd. is directly responsible. However, Post Office Ltd. have provided the following figures relating to the numbers of post office branches in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.
|Number of Post Office branches open|
Jim Fitzpatrick: The question the hon. Member has asked relates to operational matters for which Post Office Ltd. is directly responsible. However, Post Office Ltd. have provided the following figures relating to the number of post office branches in Hove constituency.
|Post Office branches open in Hove|
| Note: Data on post offices closed in Hove constituency since 1997 is not available prior 2000.|
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices have been closed in villages and towns with a population smaller than 10,000 inhabitants in each year since 1997. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The question the hon. Member has asked relates to operational matters for which Post Office Ltd. (POL) is directly responsible. However, POL have provided the following figures relating to the net reduction in rural Post Office branches by year.
|Net reduction in rural branches|
Post Office branches are classified as being in either urban or rural areas, with rural areas being defined as settlements with less than 10,000 inhabitants, this definition follows that of the Countryside Agency and was adopted at the end of 1999-2000 in preparation for the PIU report.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of the UKs energy came from renewable energy sources in 2005-06; and what steps his Department is taking to increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources. 
Malcolm Wicks: Full details of generation from renewable energy in 2005 will be published in the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics on 27 July 2006, a copy of which will be available from the Libraries of the House.
The Governments main mechanism for delivering new renewable generating capacity is the renewables obligation (RO). The RO requires electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of their electricity sales from eligible sources of renewable energy.
As support to the RO, the Government are also investing around £500 million, between 2002 and 2008, in capital grants and research and development on renewable energy. Money that has already been allocated includes £50 million for the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund and £117 million for offshore wind. The Chancellor also 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.
Ms Diana R. Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress in extending choice and competition in telephone and internet services to the residents and businesses of Kingston upon Hull. 
Margaret Hodge: The matter raised is the responsibility of the regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to my hon. Friend. Copies of the chief executives letter have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cases have been settled by Thompsons Solicitors in (a) North Durham and (b) County Durham. 
(1) County Durham is made up of North Durham, North West Durham, City of Durham, Easington, Sedgefield and Bishop Auckland constituencies.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Officials check that the employer has complied with the statutory advance notification requirements of 90 days notice of 100 or more proposed redundancies in a 90-day period, or 30 days notice of between 20 and 99 proposed redundancies in a 90-day period. The information is then passed to the relevant local government offices and agencies so that they can take any appropriate measures to assist or retrain the employees in question. Job centre plus offers access to a range of support schemes designed to help those facing redundancy. It provides information on job searching; compiling CVs; further education and training for individuals who need to develop new skills; as well as benefits information. It liaises with the employer and other partners (The Regional Development Agency, the Local Learning and Skills Council (LLSC), the local authority, Chamber of Commerce), to assess the scale of any redundancy situation. If local partners agree it is large scale Job centre plus calls on its Rapid Response Unit, which is a flexible service, tailored to the needs of the particular area, sector and company. The help required is agreed in discussion with the employer, and in liaison with the local government office and the LLSCs.
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