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In the financial year 2005-06, 79 per cent. of employment tribunal cases had a first hearing within 26 weeks of the claim being received. The latest comparable figure for the current financial year, from 1 April 2006 to 31 October 2006, is 80 per cent.
Employment tribunals aim to hear cases allocated to the short conciliation track in the 8th week after the claim has been sent to the respondent and claims allocated to the standard track in the 14th week.
Employment tribunals have a number of cases received in 1994-95 that are still awaiting disposal all of which relate to pension access by part time workers.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if the Government will assess the merits of mandating a minimum level of functionality for smart metering under (a) the Energy End Use and ESCO Directive and (b) future energy efficiency commitment schemes; 
Mr. Darling: On 14 November 2006, the Government issued a consultation document, Energy Metering and Billing: Changing Customer Behaviour, which sought views on the proposals about metering and billing that were contained in the Energy Review, and also took forward the implementation of the Energy Services Directive. Interested parties may respond to this consultation by 6 February 2007. The Government will take responses on all aspects of metering and billing, including smart metering, into account before setting out its further views. The Government expects to begin a statutory consultation about the third phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment, covering 2008-11, in spring 2007.
David Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent steps have been taken by (a) his Department and (b) Ofgem to promote an effective competitive energy market for small business consumers. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for the regulation of gas and electricity supply, including the operation of the competitive market. I understand that the Chairman of Ofgem will write to the hon. Member about the information he has sought.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what level of protection small businesses receive in the energy market; and what discussions he has had with Ofgem on the level of protection for small businesses in the energy market. 
Malcolm Wicks: The level of regulatory protection in respect of gas and electricity broadly reflects that in general consumer law. Ministers discuss general regulatory approaches with Ofgem, but it is for Ofgem to decide whether the level of regulatory protection in any particular area is sufficient.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research was commissioned by the Energy Review team on the siting options for nuclear power stations; and if he will place in the Library copies of such research. 
Malcolm Wicks: As part of our analysis for the Energy Review we commissioned Jackson Consulting to undertake a high-level assessment of the suitability of the existing nuclear generating sites to support possible new power stations. The purpose of the report was to help us form a view on whether nuclear could play a role in the future generating mix. The study was not aimed at the potential siting of new plantthis will be for the private sector to decide, should they decide to bring forward proposals for new build.
Subject to confirming our view that nuclear has a role to play alongside other low carbon options, in the
Energy White Paper next year, we intend to carry out a strategic siting assessment. We will publish the preliminary technical assessment that we undertook for the Energy Review once this strategic assessment is finished. We believe that publishing it before the strategic assessment would prejudice that assessment.
Malcolm Wicks: Ernst and Young contributed to our work in the Energy Review on modelling, to provide estimates of the relative cost of electricity generation technologies under different scenarios, and assumptions to inform policy analysis. An overview of this work was included in the Energy Review report The Energy Challenge, published in July 2006 (annex B, pages 182-198). More detailed information is also available on the DTI website at:
Ernst and Young also prepared two informal papers for the Energy Review, one looking at the management and financing of long-term nuclear waste management, and the other covering the financing of decommissioning nuclear power stations. Redacted versions of these two papers will be available shortly.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the (a) total UK renewable energy supply and (b) total UK energy supply is accounted for by (i) industrial wood, (ii) domestic wood, (iii) co-firing, (iv) waste combustion, (v) landfill gas, (vi) sewage gas and (vii) other biofuels; and if he will make a statement 
|Renewable sources used (thousand tonnes of oil equivalent)||Percentage of UK renewable energy supply||Percentage of total UK primary energy demand|
The contribution of renewables to total UK primary energy demand has grown from 1.3 per cent. in 2003 to 1.5 per cent. in 2004 and 1.7 per cent. in 2006. Thermal renewable sources appear to make a larger contribution to energy supplied by renewables when measured in primary energy terms because, by definition, the
primary inputs of non-thermal sources such as wind and hydro are equal to the electricity produced and there are thus no conversion losses.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff are employed by Enterprise Insight; and what the cost was of employing those staff in (i) 2004-05 and (ii) 2005-06. 
20041 January 2004 to 31 December 2004
20051 January 2005 to 31 March 2006, a 15-month period during which Enterprise Insight made the transition from a December to a March year end.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from which budget the building of maintenance of flood defences to protect nuclear power stations is met; what the cost of (a) building and (b) maintaining flood defences to protect nuclear power stations was in each year since 1990; how such costs are taken into account in assessment of the economic viability of nuclear power stations; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The building and maintenance of flood defences is the responsibility of the nuclear power station operators British Energy and Magnox Electric. The operators cover their own costs for both flood defences and coastal protection activities when the need arises.
British Energy has incurred no costs in building flood defences at any of its eight nuclear station sites since 1990, as the need has not arisen. British Energy has maintained flood defences at the Sizewell and Dungeness sites as a planned and natural consequence of the decision to employ soft-shore flood defence strategies at the two sites.
Magnox Electric has spent £20,000 on a minor flood protection project at Berkeley and estimates that it spent approximately £60,000 per year on beach feeding at Dungeness between 1990-2000, and £460,000 in total since then.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of people living in fuel poverty in (a) Chelmsford local authority area and (b) Essex in each of the last five years. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 19 December 2006]: Fuel poverty statistics are available only at Government Office region level. Latest available figures are sourced from the 2004 English House Condition Survey and show that in 2004, 141,000 households in the east of England (6.1 per cent. of all households in the east of England) were in fuel poverty. This statistic cannot be broken down further. Figures for fuel poverty in the east of England in 2001, 2003 and 2004 are given in the table. Figures for other years are not available.
|Households in fuel poverty|
Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he (a) is taking and (b) has taken to prevent the sale of second hand gas cylinders on internet auction sites; if he will bring forward regulations to restrict those sales; and what representations he has received on the sale of those cylinders on eBay. 
Mr. McCartney: The second hand sale of these products, including on internet auction sites, is governed by the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, if the supply is made in the course of a commercial activity. The Regulations require that product supplied must be safe.
It should be noted that the majority of refillable gas cylinders made available to consumers remain the property of the gas company that initially supplied them. Internet auction sites strictly forbid the sale of stolen property and fully support the police and other enforcement agencies in their efforts to recover stolen property.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to encourage suppliers to pass reductions in wholesale gas prices on to domestic consumers. 
Malcolm Wicks: Britains gas market is regulated by Ofgem, the independent regulator, operating within a framework set by Government. The Government welcome the initiative taken by Ofgem in calling for reductions in wholesale prices to be passed on to domestic customers. The regulatory framework provides for Ofgem to fine companies up to 10 per cent. of annual worldwide turnover if it finds evidence of anti-competitive behaviour. Ofgem can also refer the market to the Competition Commission if it finds evidence that competition is not working.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) arrests, (b) charges and (c) successful prosecutions under sections 216 and 217 of the Insolvency Act 1986 have been made in each year since that Act came into force. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table details the number of s.216 Insolvency Act Offences prosecuted and number of convictions obtained for each year since the Act came into force. S.217 of the Insolvency Act is not an offence provision and relates only to civil liability. The figures relate to years running from 1 April to 31 March; 1993-94 is the first year where prosecutions/convictions are recorded, and 2005-06 is the most recent annual figure available. None of the individuals prosecuted were arrested. DTI Investigation Officers do not have powers of arrest.
|Number of offences|
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