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25 July 2006 : Column 1532W—continued

Rural Post Office Network

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government plan to consult on its proposals for the rural post office network; and if he will make a statement. [88626]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We are at present carefully considering options for the network beyond 2008, though we are not working to a fixed timetable. There has already been extensive informal consultation with key stakeholders and we expect to consult more widely in due course.

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government expect to decide whether to extend the Social Network Payment to support rural post offices beyond 2008. [88627]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government are committed to supporting the rural post office network with annual Social Network Payments of £150 million for the next two years. We are at present carefully considering options for the network beyond 2008 and will take decisions only after proper consideration of all the issues.

Security Passes

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in his Department in each year since February 2004. [88558]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of DTI identity passes which have been lost or stolen on a year-by-year basis, March to April, since February 2004 are as follows:

Passes lost/stolen

March 2004 to February 2005


March 2005 to February 2006


March to July 2006


The Department’s records do not differentiate between passes reported as lost or stolen. There is nothing on the pass to identify the pass holder as a member of DTI’s staff nor to which buildings it enables access.

Severn Barrage

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the expected timetable is for the proposed study into a Severn Barrage for the production of tidal power. [85562]

Malcolm Wicks: During the course of the energy review consultation we have received a range of views on tidal generation, in particular on the plans for a Severn Barrage, which could provide around 5 per cent. of current UK electricity demand by 2002. This could cost in the region of £14 billion. It is clear that, while attractive in terms of energy generation and associated benefits, plans for a Severn Barrage would raise strong environmental concerns in view of the designations that apply to the Severn Estuary.

We are however interested in improving our understanding of how to make best use of the potential tidal resource in UK waters. Together with the Welsh Assembly Government, we will therefore work with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising on the tidal resource in the UK, including the Severn Estuary,
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including potential costs and benefits of developments using the range of tidal technologies and their public acceptability.

Sir Alistair Graham

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his answer of 18 July 2006, Official Report, column 301W, on Sir Alistair Graham, how many days work per week were expected of Sir Alistair Graham as Chairman of the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of the Telephone Information Services. [88611]

Margaret Hodge: Sir Alistair Graham is contracted to ICSTIS for an average of two days per week.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what occasions a statutory instrument sponsored by his Department has been reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as defective since October 2005. [85178]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department of Trade and Industry has had five Statutory Instruments reported for defective drafting by JCSI since October 2005. They are as follows:

In each case the Department responded with a Memorandum.

Reports from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments contain full details of the statutory instruments which they have reported.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has commissioned to fill the data gap identified by Strategic Environmental Assessment 6. [88866]

Malcolm Wicks: For the purpose of this answer I assume that the data gap referred to is on the impact of underwater noise on marine mammals.

In the Post Consultation Report to SEA 6 it was stated:

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An extremely large study on noise and its impacts on marine mammals has recently been commissioned by a consortium of oil companies under the management of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) and data gaps identified in SEA 6 may be filled through that process.

On marine mammal calving/nursery grounds—the DTI is awaiting the results of the SCANS II (Small Cetaceans in the European Atlantic and North Sea) survey conducted in summer 2005 and in the light of these may commission through the SEA process a review of the science base of breeding biology of selected marine mammals in British waters. The scope of this review would be discussed with our statutory advisers and a number of interested stakeholders.

SEA 6 post consultation report is available on the following website:

Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many meetings he has had with each of the members of the Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board in each of the last five years. [87560]

Mr. Darling: The Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board (SEPAB) was established in December 2003. Ministers in this department and other government departments have met members of SEPAB a number of times since 2003.

Timber/Coal Mining

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to support the (a) timber and (b) coal mining industries in the UK. [88600]

Margaret Hodge: The information requested is as follows:

(a) DTI provides a range of business support services for industry and has provided funding to the timber sector through Selective Finance for Industry for the development of a computer operated timber frame production system. We liaise closely with the key timber trade associations and raise the industry's issues and concerns across Government. In addition we support the industry's "wood for good" campaign which aims to boost wood's market share in the UK. In addition the Forestry Commission provides business support to the forestry and timber industries through the England Forest Industries Partnerships (EFIP) and Scottish Forestry Cluster. The Department for the Environment, Food and Regional Affairs has set up the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) to help public sector bodies and their suppliers source legally harvested timber from well-managed forests. This is a free advice service which helps to support the timber industry's response to Government demands for legal and sustainable timber.

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(b) The Government have provided over £220 million of state aid to the coal industry since 2000; £163 million of this was UK Coal Operating Aid paid during 2000-02, £58.3 million was Coal Investment Aid, which has been paid since 2003 and is still being drawn down.



Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which countries are participating in the training of (a) the Afghan National Army and (b) the Afghan police force; and what responsibilities each has been tasked to undertake. [84154]

Des Browne: As outlined in the 2001 Bonn Agreement, and reaffirmed under the recent Afghanistan Compact, the United States and Germany are the lead partner nations for the development of the Afghan National Army and Afghan national police respectively.

Task Force Phoenix is the organisation within Combined Security Transition Command—Afghanistan which is responsible for the provision of embedded training teams and training courses for the Afghan National Army. Task Force Phoenix is led by the US and comprises personnel from UK, France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Romania, Lithuania and Mongolia. A number of other nations also provide specific training courses to Afghan National Army personnel inside and outside Afghanistan.


Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution the armed forces are making to supporting peace and security in Africa. [87210]

Mr. Ingram: UK armed forces personnel are playing an important role in helping build African peace support capacity and teaching the principles of good governance and the democratic accountability of armed forces. British military personnel are providing training and technical assistance to the African Union, to African regional organisations and peace support centres, and bilaterally to key partner countries, in order to help build long-term conflict prevention and peacekeeping capacity. For example, in Sierra Leone, we are helping rebuild the armed forces to ensure future stability, while in Sudan we are directly supporting the African Union Mission in Darfur and providing pre-deployment training of African peacekeeping troops being sent there. UK personnel are also supporting UN missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Defence Analytical Services Agency Website

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Answer of 12 July 2006,
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Official Report, column 1878W, on the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA), for what reasons TPS 6 remains unavailable on the DASA website. [86491]

Mr. Watson: TSP6 has been published on the DASA website since publication was resumed on 12 September 2005 with the production of statistics relating to 1 April 2005. The latest edition, relating to 1 April 2006 was published on 15 June 2006 and can be found at the following URL: and copies are available in the Library of the House. There are two links to this document on the front page of the DASA website: one in the Publications section and the other in the What's new section. Links to earlier editions are listed at the following URL: http// TSP6 is not listed with DASA's National Statistics publications because TSP6's National Statistics status is suspended as a result of doubts over the continuity and timeliness of the supply of information from the relevant data sources.

Defence Food Supply Contract

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his Answer of 17 July 2006, Official Report, column 210W, on the defence food supply contract, what percentage of the meat supplied to British troops under the contract is from British farms. [88610]

Mr. Ingram: During the last financial year, under the current food supply contract, 42 per cent. of the beef, 100 per cent. of the pork and 5 per cent. of the lamb supplied to the UK based armed forces was of British origin.

Departmental Estate

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estate sales his Department has made in each year since 1997; what the value of these sales was in each year; what the current value of the departmental estate is; and what sites he plans to sell. [86995]

Mr. Watson: The disposal receipts for each year are:

£ million

















These are published in the Defence Estates Annual Report and Accounts. A list of the sites in the present programme and those earmarked for future disposal is available as a regularly updated list provided to the House of Commons Library. The next revised list will be available by the end of August 2006. The value of the defence estate worldwide as at 31 March 2005 exceeds £18 billion on an existing use basis.

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Departmental Remuneration Strategy

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to Releasing the resources to meet the challenge ahead, Cm 6889, what reviews he has made of his Department’s work force remuneration strategy. [86915]

Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence has concluded a thorough review of its civilian remuneration strategy which has formed the basis of its negotiating remit for the 2006 pay deal, on which discussions continue with HMT. The MOD also produces an annual civilian work force plan which identifies work force issues relevant to business delivery.

A strategic review of remuneration for the armed forces is currently being conducted.

Forces Pay (Computers)

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the computer system responsible for paying the salaries of members of the British armed forces. [87004]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 20 July 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave on 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 711W and 14 July 2006, Official Report, column 2120W, respectively to the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper). I am now also able to update the figures for overpayments and underpayments in the June Pay run provided in my answer of 14 July. These are as follows: 485 incorrect payments of which: 227 (47 per cent.) overpayments, 258 (53 per cent.) underpayments.

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