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6 Nov 2006 : Column 735Wcontinued
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) salary and (b) other costs were of the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee in each of the last five years. 
Ian Pearson: The Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee's salary and other costs including Employers National Insurance contributions, with travel and subsistence since April 2002, are shown in the following table:
|(1) Projection based on expenses incurred until July end 2006|
The Chairman of the Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee undertook 73 official trips in 2004-05 and 48 official journeys in 2005-06. The travel costs during this period totalled £7,640.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the costs relating to the running of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee were in each of the last five years. 
Ian Pearson: The costs of running the Wessex Flood Defence Committee for 2005-06 were as follows:
No detailed figures are available for the cost of running the Committee in previous years. Since the number of meetings each year has not changed in the last five years, the costs will be of the same order, allowing for inflation. The costs for 2006-07 are projected to be £24,500, based on the costs incurred in the first six months of this year.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reconsider the proposal to make wildlife officers compulsorily redundant. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 30 October 2006]: The Department issued compulsory redundancy notices to 19 wildlife officers (WOs) on 27 October. These WOs are based on two sites at Polwhele (near Truro) and Aston Down (near Stroud).
There has been no work for the WOs since April 2006, and there is no prospect of future work for the WOs at the WLU sites in future. Although no announcement has been made on any future badger culling policy, Ministers have made it quite clear since last December that, if there was to be a culling policy, it would not be delivered by Government employees. DEFRA can no longer justify retaining these staff when there is no work for them to do.
Every effort has been made to redeploy the WOs affected, including retraining and experience postings. Of the original 77 WOs:
46 have taken voluntary redundancy since April;
12 are on temporary loan or experience posting or secondment and will not be issued with notice at this stage; and
19 remain without work or redeployment, and will be issued with notice on 27 October.
Those issued with notice will have six months notice of redundancy during which efforts to redeploy and retrain will continue. The Department remains committed to making every effort to avoid compulsory redundancy. However, in this case, the conclusion has been reached that there is no option and nothing to be gained by any further delay. Consultation with departmental and national unions has taken place, and the Department has followed the guidelines issued to all civil service departments to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what change there has been in levels of production of biofuels in the United Kingdom since 2000. 
Dr. Ladyman: I have been asked to reply.
Detailed information on the production of biofuels in the UK in the year 2000 is not held centrally, but the total amount produced is likely to have been very small. In July 2002, the Government introduced a 20- pence-per-litre fuel duty incentive for biodiesel, and in January 2005 it introduced a similar fuel duty incentive for bioethanol. These have led to a steady increase in UK biofuel sales, which in September 2006 were running at some 25 million litres a month. Approximately two-thirds of current sales are made up of biodiesel, the great majority of which is produced in the UK.
The Government announced in November 2005 that they would introduce a renewable transport fuel obligation, the effect of which will be to create a large new market for biofuels in the UK. This has led to a significant amount of investment in new UK biofuel production facilities. There are currently two major biodiesel production plants in operation in the UKthe ArgentEnergy plant near Motherwell and the Biofuels Corporation plant in Teessidewhich between them are capable of producing some 300 million litres of high quality biodiesel a year, some of
which is exported. A number of other biodiesel plants are at the planning and construction stage, including a Greenergy plant at Immingham which is due to come on stream in 2007. No bioethanol is yet produced in the UK, although a number of plants are at the planning and construction stage, including a British Sugar plant at Wissington in Norfolk and a Green Spirit plant at Henstridge in Somerset.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money his Department has provided to the Bridges Community Development Venture Fund; and what plans he has to allocate further funds. 
Margaret Hodge: The Government have committed £20 million to the Bridges Community Development Venture Fund, of which £15,454,434 has been drawn down to date. There are no plans to allocate further funding.
Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the regulatory arrangements for the utilities sector in Bulgaria on UK companies investing in that sector. 
Malcolm Wicks: While there has been no formal assessment of the potential impact of the regulatory arrangements for the utilities sector in Bulgaria by the Department, an important consideration for many UK companies wishing to invest in the utilities sector overseas is transparent, independent regulation.
In Bulgaria, the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission has been set up to provide the administrative infrastructure and the authority to implement efficient regulation in these sectors. In general, because its procedures follow closely those of OFWAT, this should be an advantage to UK companies, who are familiar with working in a regulated environment.
The implementation of these regulatory procedures is, however, at an early stage in respect of the water utilities.
Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the investment climate for UK companies wishing to invest in Bulgaria. 
Malcolm Wicks: Bulgaria's stable political and economic environment has created a favourable climate for inward investment resulting in approximately$2,324.2 million of foreign direct investment in 2005, including $245 million from the UK.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps with his EU counterparts to bring the EU trade regulations affecting imports of Burmese origin into line with those in the USA. 
Malcolm Wicks: The UK and Burma are both members of the World Trade Organisation and are obliged to abide by its rules. To require imports from Burma to be compulsorily labelled as to their country of origin would be incompatible with the non-discrimination obligations of the WTO. Such labelling/marking is not currently a compulsory requirement for any goods sold in the European Community whether imported or EU-produced.
Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factories in Europe produce chlorofluorocarbon gases; and for which UK products such gases produced in Europe are supplied. 
Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.
Only one company in Europe produces chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) gases for UK companies and this company is based in Spain (Arkema). Some of this production is for two UK companies and the CFCs are used for some CFC-based metered dose inhalers for asthma patients, and to help satisfy needs in developing countries.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on new initiatives to make all new coal-fired power stations carbon neutral. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department allocated £35 million for the demonstration of carbon abatement technologies, which include both cleaner coal and carbon capture and storage. The first call is worth £10 million with the remaining £25 million being split between two additional calls in the future. Some £20 million annually is also allocated in the Department's technology programme for research and development into a range of clean energy technologies including carbon abatement technologies.
The EU emissions trading scheme is intended to provide a strong commercial incentive for the take-up by new and existing coal-fired power stations and other carbon emitting installations of these technologies, if and when they become a cost-efficient way of reducing or avoiding carbon emissions.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the Colombian government with regard to bilateral trade in the telecommunications sector. 
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current level of credit card debt. 
Mr. McCartney: Figures from the Office of National Statistics record total consumer credit card debt at £55 billion in August 2006.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which of his Department's databases are (a) wholly and (b) partly operated by external organisations or individuals; and which organisations and individuals own those databases. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Under the private finance initiative contract Fujitsu operate the MATRIX (electronic document record management), CALIPSOE (human resource personnel) and CAPRI (correspondence handling) systems on behalf of the DTI headquarters.
Under a service contract AMEY operate the MENTOR (Financial) system on behalf of the DTI HQ.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which databases operated by his Department are located (a) wholly and (b) partly outside the UK; and where each of those databases and parts of databases is located. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The DTI HQ operates no databases outside the UK.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its work-force, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-50s the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time off; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The information is as follows:
(a) The Department regularly monitors the age profile of its work force.
(b) The Department has developed a diversity action plan in order to meet its aim of enabling all staff to reach their full potential, in discussion with the trade unions and the Department's diversity advisory groups and in line with the
commitments set out in the Cabinet Office 10-point plan on diversity. The Department is committed to addressing discrimination on all grounds, including age and will complete diversity impact assessments on relevant policies to ensure that staff are treated fairly.
(c) As part of our annual appraisal process all staff are encouraged to identify and support training needs appropriate to their individual situation. Individuals and managers regularly review these as part of the reporting process.
(d) The Department is fully committed to flexible working and to providing its staff with the opportunity for good work life balance., Therefore all staff, of whatever age, are eligible for to apply to work flexibly and their applications are given careful consideration. Any member of staff may apply for special leave with pay to undertake approved adult further education.
As part of the diversity action plan the Department will be delivering diversity awareness training to all staff in the Department that will cover age discrimination.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) its (i) agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies were affected by the rise in the minimum wage on 1 October 2006. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Across DTI, its executive agencies and its non-departmental public bodies, two employees were affected by the rise in the national minimum wage on 1 October 2006.
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