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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many value for money exercises on the use of (a) management consultants and (b) professional advisers were conducted by his Department in each of the last five years for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. 
A review of the engagement and management of consultancies (incorporating both (a) and (b)) was carried out from July to November of 2003. The review examined how value for money in the engagement and management of consultants could be
optimised. The Department adopted the findings of the review. This has resulted in a reduction in consultancy costs in each subsequent financial year as follows:
Furthermore in the current financial year an enhanced internal approval process has been implemented for proposed consultancy engagements exceeding £50,000. This enables transparency of decision making, based on sound business case proposals for provision of best value for money in each case.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Departments annual budget is for employing workers on a consultancy basis; and how much of this budget was used in each of the last five years for which records are available. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: DTI does not have a specific annual budget for engaging workers on a consultancy basis. Consultancy requirements reflect specific and changing business needs within the Department. However our spend over the last five financial years has been as follows:
Malcolm Wicks: In December 2005, one million gas customers and 1.2 million electricity customers were repaying a debt through their prepayment meter or by repayment arrangements. Around 60 per cent. of these customers owed less than £100 to their energy suppliers.
On 13 July I met a delegation from the Metals Forum, including a representative of the trade association UK Steel, to discuss energy costs and a range of other issues affecting the metals sector. Since then several hon. Members have raised this matter in writing on behalf of steel operations in their constituencies. In addition, DTI officials have discussed the issue on a number of occasions in their day-to-day contacts with key companies in this sector.
Furthermore, the Department has set up the Business Energy Forum which is jointly chaired by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Richard Lambert of the Confederation of British Industry to look at prices, supply and the winter outlook for all industries. This is an area the Department takes very seriously and we are grateful to the representatives of UK industry that work with us on these matters.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes in expenditure his Department is making to the non-household sectors of the low carbon buildings programme to fund the additional expenditure on household grants announced by the Energy Minister on 27 October. 
Malcolm Wicks: When the Low Carbon Buildings programme phase one was launched in April 2006, we allocated £6.5 million to the household stream. On 25 October, we announced that a further £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding was to be re-allocated to the household stream for allocation up to June 2008. This is being achieved by transferring the bulk of public sector projects to the Low Carbon Buildings programme phase two, where £50 million is being made available to support projects in the public and not for profit sectors.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the £6.2 million funding for the household section of the Low Carbon Buildings programme (LCBP) announced on 27 October is (a) new funding and (b) the re-allocation of existing LCBP funds. 
Malcolm Wicks: On 25 October 2006 we announced that £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding for the Low Carbon Buildings programme phase one was to be re-allocated to the household stream from all other streams. There has been no increase in funding.
The Government have undertaken work to measure the administrative costs to business, charities and the voluntary sector arising from legislationincluding European Union lawin force in England. The results of this exercise are due to be published before the end of this year in departmental simplification plans. These plans will include departments proposals to reduce administrative costs arising from EU law where it is appropriate to do so. The European Commission has also recently proposed a strategy to measure and reduce administrative burdens across the European Union.
Mr. McCartney: I do appreciate the concerns that people have regarding the costs of insolvency proceedings, but insolvency legislation attempts to leave the matter of the practitioners remuneration to the creditors, as they have most interest in the matter.
In my dealings with the Administratorswho have been most helpful in providing information and advice to the Family Fund and myselfI have noted how they have tried to keep their costs to a minimum so that as much money as possible can be returned to Farepak customers.
It is not possible for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to intervene in determining the amount of the administrators remuneration. The basis on which an administrators remuneration may be calculated is set out in the Insolvency Rules 1986.
Malcolm Wicks: We do not hold comprehensive data on which local authorities use microgeneration to power council facilities. The closest proxy we have is the data held in relation to capital grants we have awarded. Under our previous programmes (Clear Skies and the Major PV Demonstration Programme) and the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, we have awarded capital grants to the local authorities on microgeneration technologies on a variety of buildings. The document will be placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Iain Wright:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies have received the assistance of the North East Productivity Alliances Best Practice Team (NEPA); in what (a) locations,
(b) industries and (c) fields the companies assisted by NEPA were based; what assessment he has made of NEPAs effectiveness; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The North East Productivity Alliances Dissemination of Best Manufacturing Practice project has helped 286 General Manufacturing companies in the region since its inception in 2003; of which:
35 were based in Tees Valley
92 in County Durham
40 in Northumberland, and
119 in Tyne and Wear
Companies cover all manufacturing sectors in the region, including: Automotive, Aerospace, Food and Drink, Electronics, Plastics, Textiles, Shipbuilding and repair, Oil and gas, Pharmaceuticals, Construction, Marine, Rail, White Goods, Process industries, Printing, Furniture and General Engineering. The project has been evaluated in a number of ways during this time: including through the National Audit Offices assessment of the performance of One NorthEast, and in studies by Tribal HCH (March 2005), KPMG (March 2005 and ERS (March 2006).
Malcolm Wicks: Prior to final disposal, nuclear waste needs to be stored on an interim basis. Interim storage occurs on all NDA and British Energy sites. The search for a final disposal repository location has not yet begun and there are no sites currently under consideration.
On 25 October 2006 the UK Government and Devolved Administrations responded to the report published on 31 July 2006 by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). The Government accepted that geological disposal coupled with safe and secure interim storage is the best way forward for the long-term management of the UKs higher activity radioactive wastes. The Government also confirmed they are supportive of exploring an approach based on voluntarism (that is, willingness to participate) and partnership with local communities.
Malcolm Wicks: Intellectual Property is key to UK competitiveness in a global knowledge economy and the Patent Office is responsible for the IP regime which allows creators and inventors limited privileges, enabling them to lever economic success from their creativity.
The DTI Innovation Report, launched in December 2003 set out how the DTI needed to improve the way it
helped UK businesses to successfully exploit their new ideas. The Patent Offices role has been key in taking forward recommendations arising out of the report which included increased awareness and understanding of IP, improved confidence in IP protection by improving speed and costs of resolving disputes and working with others in tackling IP crime. Outcomes have included a range of tailored awareness raising for SMEs and an educational resource, the introduction of an Opinions service and publication of the first National Enforcement Report and IP Crime Strategy.
A recommendation of Better Government ServicesExecutive Agencies in the 21(st) Century published by the Prime Ministers Office of Public Services Reform in July 2002 was that the central programme of quinquennial reviews of agencies such as the Patent Office (last reviewed in 2001) was abolished and replaced by business reviews of the end-to-end process in achieving specific outcomes. Each year the Patent Office agrees its Business Plan with the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure its objectives match departmental objectives and plans. Agency targets are reviewed on an annual basis and agreed in discussion with the Department and Minister. The Patent Office has a track record of continued improvement on timeliness of delivery of patents, trade marks and designs and has continued to reduce its backlogs (17 per cent. reduction in patents backlog for the financial year 2005-06). Agency targets for 2005-06 were met or exceeded and this trend continues into 2006-07.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the social (a) role played and (b) value provided by post offices in disadvantaged communities; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government have invested more than £2 billion since 1999 in the Post Office network because we recognise the important social value and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban areas. We also recognise that many such post offices can never be commercially viable and will need continued public funding. We will be announcing shortly our proposals for ensuring a long-term stable footing for a national Post Office network.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which public appointments have been made by his Department to former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997. 
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Malcolm Wicks: The Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1 was launched on 1 April 2006, with a budget of £28.5 million available for allocation to successful applicants over three years. This budget was divided into streams 1 and 2 for £10.5 million and £18 million respectively.
Currently, local authorities can apply under streams 1 and 2 of the programme, depending on the scale of their project, while businesses can apply under stream 2 only. Wind turbines are eligible under both streams. Local authorities can also apply for grants under Phase 2 of the programme, where a further £50 million has been made available to the public and not for profit sector, including funding for wind turbines.
Margaret Hodge: The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator of communications is responsible for managing civil radio spectrum in the UK including setting the policy for optimizing its use. S Band is used for mobile satellite communications and the arrangements for its future allocation, and assignment to specific services, is therefore subject to international discussions within the relevant EU Committees. There are a number of potentially competing demands for access to this spectrum for both two-way mobile communication and for mobile TV. Ofcom represents the UK at EU meetings dealing with spectrum issues and regularly consults interested parties. I have not received any representations within the last 12 months, nor have I had discussions with Ofcom, but my officials are in regular contact with both Ofcom and industry representatives.
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