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8 Jan 2007 : Column 303W—continued

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in how many cases in each year since the entry into force of the Insolvency Act 1986 creditors have (a) attempted to claim and (b) successfully claimed remuneration under section 217 of that Act. [113419]

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Mr. McCartney: No statistics are maintained in relation to legal actions taken by creditors under section 217 of the Insolvency Act 1986, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is not a party to them.

Legal Advice

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent by the Department on external legal advice in each of the past five years. [109091]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Expenditure figures have been available centrally only since 2003. The DTI’s spend on the provision of external legal advice since that time is as follows:

Amount (£)









National Consumer Council

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what occasions the National Consumer Council has challenged Government decisions in the courts since May 1997, in cases where all proceedings are complete. [109322]

Mr. McCartney: There have not been any challenges.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research projects have been undertaken by the National Consumer Council funded from the public purse since May 1997; and at what cost. [109335]

Mr. McCartney: The National Consumer Council (NCC) consists of three Councils: the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) based in Glasgow, the Welsh Consumer Council (WCC) based in Cardiff, and NCC London.

A list of research projects has been placed in the Library of the House.

The Department pays the NCC in the form of annual grant in aid as shown in the following table; this covers the vast majority of its costs and is not identified on a project-by-project basis.

A comparable set of figures is not available owing to changes to accounting rules for non-departmental public bodies with cash-based allocations until 2002-03, and resource based allocations since then. The total budget includes both the resource/grant in aid from DTI and income from (in the past DTI and) other sources that is for specific projects. An example of the major sources is given for last year. Fuller information on sources and amounts involved is detailed in annual reports available in the Library of the House.

Approximately 15 per cent. of NCC’s grant in aid is allocated to SCC, then 11 per cent. to WCC, leaving 74 per cent. to be spent in London.

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Resource budget (£ million) (DTI DEL) Cash budget (£ million) (rounded to £000) NCC total budget (£ million) (rounded to £100,000)


































(1) Indicative
(2) Cash supplied
(3) For example included £897,000 from Scottish Executive and £45,000 from DEFRA

Nuclear Energy

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the minimum nuclear generating capacity is that his Department plans to have in place in (a) 2010, (b) 2015, (c) 2020 and (d) 2025. [103253]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The Government's recent Energy Review concluded that new nuclear plant could be part of the future energy mix but it is not for Government to decide on exactly how much nuclear generating capacity there should be in the UK. Any new nuclear power stations would be proposed, developed, constructed and operated by the private sector.

Nuclear Power Facilities

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the height above sea level is of the nuclear power facility sites at (a) Berkeley, (b) Bradwell, (c) Calder Hall, (d) Capenhurst, (e) Chapelcross, (f) Dungeness A, (g) Hinkley Point A, (h) Hunterston A, (i) LLW Repository, (j) Oldbury, (k) Sellafield, (l) Sizewell A, (m) Trawsfynydd and (n) Wylfa; and if he will make a statement. [109053]

Malcolm Wicks: The approximate height above sea level of the nuclear power facilities is as follows:

Metres above sea level





Calder Hall






Dungeness A


Hinkley Point A


Hunterston A


LLW Repository





20 to 30

Sizewell A






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Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any of the reports commissioned from consultants as part of the Energy Review refer to the siting of new nuclear power stations. [107333]

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 plant—this will be for the private sector to decide, should it decide to bring forward proposals for new build.

The report prepared for the Review by Morgan Stanley focused on the investment and market conditions under which new generating capacity of any technology might come forward. There were references to the availability of sites as part of this.

There were no other reports that referred to the siting of new nuclear power stations.

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date his Department was informed of boiler tube cracking at British Energy power stations Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B. [107611]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 4 December 2006]: Boiler tube cracking is a recognised phenomenon at Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B. HSE’s Nuclear Safety Directorate has monitored the situation since the early 1990s and BE disclosed the phenomenon in its recent re-listing prospectus. The Department was informed of the recent incidents of boiler tube cracking at these stations shortly before British Energy made its announcements to the market.

Nuclear Waste

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the safety implications of storing nuclear waste on-site during the operating lifetimes of (a) existing and (b) future nuclear power stations; and if he will make a statement. [103229]

Mr. Darling: Responsibility for regulating the safety of radioactive waste storage on nuclear power stations sites rests with the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, which undertakes a rigorous regime of inspection and enforcement for all nuclear licensed sites and would make any such assessments. Waste storage at any new nuclear power plants would also be subject to NII's regulatory oversight.

Phoenix Companies

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many calls regarding phoenix companies have been received by his Department’s enforcement hotline since February 2005; how many have been referred for investigation; and how many resulted in (a) disqualification of a director and (b) a successful criminal conviction. [113417]

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Mr. McCartney: It is likely that complaints regarding so called “phoenix companies” will be recorded as a complaint under section 216 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (reuse of a prohibited name after a certain type of insolvency). It is possible that section 216 may also apply to new businesses run by directors of other insolvent companies which have no connection with the activities of the previous businesses and consequently would not be considered to be “phoenix” companies. Section 216 applies to any director of an insolvent company, independently of any wrongdoing. The number of complaints received via the Hotline since February 2005 which relate specifically to section 216 is 10 and none have yet resulted in either disqualification or prosecution of a director.

Post Offices

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average population is of towns with a post office. [104955]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I understand that Post Office Ltd does not hold this type of information, because it is not required for operational purposes.

Post office branches are classified as being in either a rural area (in a settlement under 10,000 population) or an urban area (settlements over 10,000 population); the latest figures show that there are 7,754 branches classified as rural and 6,509 branches classified as urban.

Postal Services

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his statement of 14 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1026-28, on the post office network, how many post offices in (a) Shropshire and (b) Shrewsbury he expects to close. [112790]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government's proposals for the post office network are the subject of a public consultation which runs until 8 March 2007.

Following the Government response to the national consultation, Post Office Ltd will draw up local area implementation plans within the framework of our final decision. Post Office Ltd will, after discussion with sub-postmasters, Postwatch and Members of Parliament, consult publicly on its proposals for closures and other changes in service provision for six weeks, providing the opportunity for local representations and suggestions.

Decisions on how best to restructure the network will then be a matter for the company, ensuring that no one part of the network or no particular group of people is significantly more adversely affected than any other.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the (a) provision of benefits, (b) payment of utility bills and (c) sale of licences through post offices was worth to the Post Office (i) in monetary terms and (ii) as a percentage of total revenue in each year between 1995 and 2006. [112808]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: This is a commercially confidential matter for Royal Mail.

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which postal districts do not meet the criterion of having 95 per cent. of the population within six miles of a post office outlet. [113190]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I understand from Post Office Ltd that, of the 2,795 UK postcode districts, the following 38 do not meet the Government’s proposed criterion for 95 per cent. of the population in postcode districts to be within six miles of a post office outlet:

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