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Energy Review

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library the reports commissioned by the Energy Review team for the Energy Review from (a) Deloitte, (b) Ernst and Young, (c) Jackson Consulting, (d) Morgan Stanley, (e) Oxera, (f) Oxford Economic Forecasting and (g) Global Insight. [98470]


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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 31 October 2006]: As part of the Energy Review process we commissioned a number of reports and studies by consultants. Many of these are already on the DTI website at:

However, we will not be placing the other reports in the Libraries of the House at this time. Some of those reports contain commercially confidential information from third parties, and disclosure at this stage may affect the open and frank discussions that we have with those third parties. Other reports relate to policies which are still being formed, and therefore it is not appropriate to place them in the Libraries of the House at this stage. Over time it may be possible to place more of these reports in the Libraries of the House and on the DTI website.

Farepak

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent meetings he has had with HBOS on the continued trading of Farepak between August and October. [99215]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 6 November 2006]: I made contact with the Chairman of HBOS and will have further discussions with him after the debate in Westminster Hall on 7 November titled ‘Farepak and the voucher/hamper industry’, raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon.

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to investigate whether money continued to be collected by agents of Farepak Christmas hampers after the company had collapsed. [100398]

Mr. McCartney: In a statement issued by the administrators on 27 October 2006, the administrators said:

Fireworks

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the (a) effectiveness and (b) enforcement of regulations on the control of fireworks; and if he will make a statement. [99368]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 6 November 2006]: I have received a small number of representations from members of the public on the effectiveness and enforcement of the fireworks regulations.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick) set out the Government position on fireworks in the Adjournment Debate on 6 November 2006, Official Report, columns 689-92.


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Former Employees (Compensation)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much his Department has paid in compensation to former employees in each of the last 10 years; what the reason for compensation was in each case; what his policy is towards compensating former employees; and if he will make a statement. [99411]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department of Trade and Industry paid out a total of £11,951.67 in compensation to former employees in the financial year 2005-06. To provide information for earlier years would incur disproportionate cost.

The £11,951.67 compensation paid in 2005-06 comprises the following categories of payments:

The policy towards compensating former civil service employees is laid out in ‘Government Accounting’ which all Departments apply. DTI follows Government Accounting rules in considering a compensation payment to a former employee.

Miners' Compensation

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many requests he has made for repayment of sums wrongly taken by UDM/Vendside from his Department in the last month; and for how much. [100250]

Malcolm Wicks: No such request has been made. The Department has, however, asked the Union of Democratic Mineworkers for comments on their relationship with those solicitor firms to which they have referred work.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice his Department is providing to individual consumers on complaining to the Law Society about double charging by solicitors for miners’ compensation claims. [100258]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department explains that it pays solicitors’ fees and that it does not expect claimants to have to make additional payments. The Law Society have advised that, unless full information was given to the miner at the start of the case that most firms of solicitors did not make additional charges in these cases, any charges the solicitor makes to the claimant is likely to give rise to a finding of inadequate professional service.

Claimants are also advised that the Law Society has a Helpline (0845 608 6565) which claimants may contact with any complaints about individual firms of solicitors. The Department has been active in encouraging claimants to contact the Law Society in this respect and included this information in its most recent Compensation for Miners newsletter.


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Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners have received a full and final payment of less than £1,000 for chronic bronchitis and emphysema in each of the last three years. [99892]

Malcolm Wicks: The number of miners who have received payments of less than £1,000 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the last three years are shown in the following table.

Number of claims settled by payment( 1)

1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004

14,630

1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005

15,109

1 January 2006 to 31 October 2006

6,842

Total

36,581

(1)where total value is less than £1,000 in period

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in establishing a minimum compensation payment for former miners suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. [99893]

Malcolm Wicks: The Claimants’ Group (CG) have indicated that solicitors are currently implementing a simplified minimum payment scheme and payments should start to be made shortly to eligible claimants. We welcome this initiative and hope it is successful in settling unresolved low value claims.

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many successful claims there have been from former miners in Barnsley East and Mexborough for (a) chronic bronchitis and emphysema and (b) vibration white finger; and what the total value is of such claims. [99894]

Malcolm Wicks: As at 30 September 2006, the number of claims made by miners in Barnsley East and Mexborough for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, vibration white finger (VWF) that had been settled by payment was 12,537. In total, £100.4 million had been paid to Barnsley East and Mexborough constituents.

Constituency statistics for COPD and VWF are updated monthly and are available from the DTIs website:

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons Capita refuses to pay claimants for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger directly in circumstances where the claim is settled and the fee has been returned by Vendside Ltd. to Capita. [100124]

Malcolm Wicks: Under the Claims Handling Agreement, payments are made to a claimant’s representative with whom all correspondence relating to a claim is exchanged. Claims are settled once an offer has been accepted and payment made. If Vendside Ltd. returned the compensation cheque, it may be that they no longer represent the claimant. In these circumstances, the claimant would need to appoint another representative.


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Minimum Wage

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people in Scotland aged (a) 16 and 17 and (b) between 18 and 21 years are receiving the relevant rate of the national minimum wage. [99575]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is not possible to estimate the number of jobs paid exactly at the national minimum wage, but the DTI can make estimates based on data from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2006.

In April 2006, the number of jobs in Scotland (a) held by employees aged between 16 and 17, paid between £3.00 and £3.10, was less than 1,000 and (b) held by employees aged between 18 and 21, paid between £4.20 and £4.30, was around 8,000.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland have received the young workers rate of national minimum wage since its introduction. [99576]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Although it is not possible to estimate the number of jobs paid exactly at the national minimum wage, the DTI can make estimates based on data from the Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2005 and 2006.

In Scotland, the number of jobs held by 16 and 17-year-olds paid between £3.00 and £3.10 was 2,000 in April 2005, and less than 1,000 in April 2006.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused by ministerial travel in his Department. [98766]

Jim Fitzpatrick: All central Government ministerial and official air travel is being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.

Full details of the central fund (the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund) is available on the DEFRA website at the following address:

Mr. David Mills

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what investigations or inquiries the Government have initiated during the last three years into the dealings of Mr. David Mills in connection with the sale of aviation spare parts and equipment to Iran in contravention of United Nations and European Union trade sanctions; and what the results were. [55096]

Mr. McCartney: It has not proved possible to respond to the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the time available before Prorogation.


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Nuclear Power

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what applications his Department has received to fund research and development work on new nuclear reactor designs from (a) the University of Manchester and (b) other organisations; what responses have been given to each application; and if he will make a statement. [100010]

Malcolm Wicks: Applications were submitted in response to the Department’s invitation to organizations to bid for funds to carry out Generation IV International Forum research. The Department subsequently withdrew from active participation in the Forum and the invitation to bid was cancelled. The applicants were informed of the Department’s decision not to proceed with the research on 11 October 2006.

The organisations that applied for funding were:

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with his European Union counterparts on the proposed co-ordination of nuclear power research programmes across the European Union; and if he will make a statement. [99496]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has had numerous discussions with regard to the Euratom Framework Programme 7 (FP7) covering research into fusion energy and nuclear fission and radiation protection. Negotiations on FP7 continue and agreement with the European Parliament is expected at the second reading at the end of November.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry, Lord Sainsbury, has had several discussions with member states covering wider FP7 negotiations in which Euratom was included as part of the discussions.

Nuclear Waste

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the cost of disposing of the nuclear waste resulting from (a) British Energy’s nuclear power stations and (b) the Ministry of Defence’s nuclear weapons and nuclear- powered craft. [100440]

Malcolm Wicks: The NDA assess British Energy’s estimated costs for decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal each year (as set out in British Energy’s annual liabilities report). This is consistent with the figures reported in British Energy’s annual report and accounts.

The Ministry of Defence will provide details in due course after further investigation, when the Minister will respond in writing.


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Personal Borrowing (Interest Rates)

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what mechanisms are in place to protect consumers from unduly high interest rates on personal borrowing; and if he will make a statement. [99669]

Mr. McCartney: Currently sections 137 and 138 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 regulate extortionate credit bargains. These ensure that where bargains are extortionate, the courts may reopen the credit agreement and set aside the whole or part of any obligation on the debtor, require the creditor to repay the whole or part of the sums paid, return surety or alter the terms of the agreement. These provisions will be replaced by a test of whether a credit relationship is unfair when the Consumer Credit Act 2006 comes into force. This will enable the courts to take into account all the circumstances of the relationship between the borrower and lender, not just the terms of the agreement when it was made. The new Act will also strengthen the test of fitness to hold a consumer credit licence and provide the Office of Fair Trading with greater powers to take action against lenders who do not behave in a fit and proper manner.

In addition, we have already introduced new legislation to ensure that consumers are more aware of the terms and conditions associated with any credit agreement before they sign. This increase in transparency will enable consumers to shop around with confidence, choosing the right product to suit their needs.

The Government will continue to monitor the impact of these measures.


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