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15 Jan 2007 : Column 806W—continued

Doha

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made as part of the Doha trade talks to (a) the EU Trade Commissioner, (b) the US Trade representative and (c) the Indian Government on (i) subsidy reductions for agriculture, (ii) tariff reductions in manufacturing and (iii) global market liberalisation in trade in services. [113844]

Mr. McCartney: The UK Government have made and will continue to make frequent representations to WTO members across the range of issues covered by the Doha trade talks.

Electric Cars

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with representatives from the car manufacturing industry on the development of electric cars. [114866]

Margaret Hodge: Given the importance of low-carbon transport, the Department has been in discussion with niche all-electric vehicle manufacturers over plans to introduce electric cars, vans and trucks. Support is also provided to electric vehicle projects. For example Modec has been awarded a Selective Finance for Investment in England grant of up to £1.39 million to support the production of an electric delivery van with drivetrain developed by Zytek, a UK automotive technology company, using up to 85 per cent. UK components. Cenex, the UK's low carbon and fuel cell centre of excellence, is also supporting Zytek to convert up to 200 Daimler Chrysler Smart cars to all-electric operation.

The Foresight Vehicle technology road map developed by the Department in collaboration with industry highlights the importance of electric drivetrain technology not just for electric-only vehicles, but also to hybrid systems including those potentially using fuel cells.

Energy End Use Directive

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with representatives of the electrical industry regarding the implementation of the Energy End Use Directive, with particular reference to the issue of smart metering. [114237]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has held two seminars with stakeholders as part of the energy review consultation process on metering and billing which also
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encompasses the Energy End Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive. In addition, the Department has held a number of meetings with electricity suppliers and meter manufacturers.

Energy Market

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to energy retailers requesting that they reduce prices in line with falling wholesale costs of energy on world markets; and if he will make a statement. [114276]

Malcolm Wicks: Ofgem, the independent regulator, is responsible for regulation of the UK gas market, operating within a framework set by Government. We welcome the fact that Ofgem is calling for the recent reductions in the wholesale price of gas to be passed on to consumers. Ofgem indicates, however, that there can be a time lag. Within this competitive market, individual pricing decisions are a matter for each of the energy companies, and the Government cannot direct Ofgem as to its approach on prices.

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.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) regulatory and (b) self-regulatory protection is afforded to (i) domestic and (ii) small business consumers in the energy market. [114282]

Malcolm Wicks: Domestic energy customers are protected by general consumer law, by specific regulations overseen by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), and by industry self-regulation in areas such as doorstep selling, billing and disconnections.

As in general consumer law, business energy customers do not have access to the range of protection available to domestic customers, although, like domestic customers, they may seek assistance from the statutory consumer body, Energywatch, as well as seeking redress through the courts.

Energy White Paper

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government expects to publish the forthcoming Energy White Paper. [115073]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government expects to publish the Energy White Paper in March 2007.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions the Government expects to have with stakeholders ahead of the publication of the Energy White Paper. [115074]

Malcolm Wicks: Formal and informal discussions with stakeholders have been a key part of informing the energy review process and the wide range of work and formal consultation we have been taking forward
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since publishing the Energy Review report in July 2006. We will continue these discussions in the lead up to the Energy White Paper.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make the distinction in the Energy White Paper between the objectives of climate change and those of security of energy supply. [115075]

Malcolm Wicks: As the July 2006 publication “The Energy Challenge” made clear, reducing carbon emissions from energy production and use, and ensuring security of energy supply represent two key long-term challenges for UK energy policy.

The Energy White Paper will set out our strategy for tackling these challenges.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Energy White Paper will discuss the role of electric heating and hot water appliances within a low carbon and sustainable energy future. [115076]

Malcolm Wicks: The Energy White Paper is taking forward development of the policy recommendations made in the Energy Review, including those made on energy-using products and energy efficiency. The Energy White Paper is due to be published in March.

Enterprise Insight

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much Enterprise Insight has spent on consultants in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006 to date. [113173]

Margaret Hodge: Enterprise Insight informs us that the amount spent on consultants is as follows.

£

2004

0

2005-06

(1)19,991

2006-07

(2)2,996

(1 )this covers a 15 month period when Enterprise Insight changed its end of year date from December to March
(2 )this covers nine months expenditure to December 2006

Furniture Safety

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide guidance to trading standards officers to ensure consistent implementation of the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988; and if he will make a statement. [108669]

Mr. McCartney: I met the all-party parliamentary furniture group in December 2006 to discuss issues relating to fire safety regulations for furniture. While the Department has no plans to issue guidance for trading standards on the implementation of the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire ) (Safety) Regulations 1988, at the meeting I invited industry to get involved in the DTI funded Scambuster pilots for trading
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standards to help them target those traders that sell substandard furniture that does not comply with the regulations.

Low Carbon Buildings Programme

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of trends in demand for domestic grants under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme; and if he will make a statement. [113902]

Malcolm Wicks: When the Low Carbon Buildings Programme was launched in April 2006, £6.5 million was set aside for the household stream. In order to meet the higher than anticipated demand, a further £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding was re-allocated to the household stream on 25 October 2006. We continue to monitor the uptake of grants going forward.

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been allocated to domestic renewable energy installations under his Department’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme for (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09. [113903]

Malcolm Wicks: When the Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1 was launched in April 2006, £6.5 million was set aside to be allocated to the household stream over three years. Due to higher than anticipated demand, we announced on 25 October 2006 that we would be re-allocating £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding to the household stream. This will give a total pot of £12.7 million, which on projected demand levels should allow householder funding to continue until June 2008. By this time, some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, and we believe the sector may have matured to a point where householder grants are no longer necessary.

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been allocated to domestic renewable energy installations since the start of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. [113904]

Malcolm Wicks: Since the launch of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1 in April 2006, £6.4 million has been allocated to 4,370 successful applicants.

Further information can be found at www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk, and by going to the information and resources section.

Mining Industry Claims

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many surface workers have had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease health tests paid for by his Department since 1999. [113740]

Malcolm Wicks: 3,896 surface workers have been examined as part of the Medical Assessment Process.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the merits of further
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interim payments to coal health claimants where claims are not being settled due to action by contractors. [113748]

Malcolm Wicks: Where it is possible to assess the Department's share of liability, interim payments have been made.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding has been allocated in anticipation of potential claims (a) from surface workers in the mining industry and (b) for bursitis for each of the next three years. [113774]

Malcolm Wicks: No funding has been allocated for such potential claims.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what checks are carried out on the (a) competence and (b) eligibility of claims handlers to act in lieu of solicitors for industrial disease claims from miners (i) prior to and (ii) since 2006. [113775]

Malcolm Wicks: The Union of Democratic Mineworkers' claims handling company, Vendside, handles claims in accordance with a claims handling agreement (CHA) which largely mirrors the CHA for solicitors. Vendside engage solicitors where they decide it is necessary to do so. The Compensation Act 2006 introduced the requirement to be authorised by the Regulator to be able to provide claims management services.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when Stuart Bell Associates was registered as a solicitor under the compensation for miners claims handling agreement; and by whom. [113776]

Malcolm Wicks: Stuart Bell Associates first registered a claim in September 1995. At that time, the Department's claims handlers believed Stuart Bell Associates to be a firm of solicitors.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has held with Venside Ltd. on the release of papers relating to the industrial disease claim of Mr. Stephen Todd of Bassetlaw constituency. [113777]

Malcolm Wicks: No such discussions have been held.

National Grid: Proposed Pipeline

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when public consultations will be held on the National Grid’s proposed gas pipeline through the Cotswolds; what assessment he has made of (a) alternative routes, (b) the depth necessary for the pipeline and (c) the possible impact of the pipeline on the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and which bodies will be consulted. [113848]

Malcolm Wicks: National Grid has not submitted an application to install a gas pipeline through the Cotswolds. If it does then details of alternative routes, depth, size, and quality of landscape traversed, etc. will
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have to be submitted. The local Planning Authorities, Natural England and other interested parties will be consulted on any such proposal before any decision is taken.

North-west Regional Government

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the North West Regional Development Agency Chief Executive and Chair last met North West right hon. and hon. Members to discuss regional issues. [115137]

Margaret Hodge: The North West Regional Development Agency held a briefing session for all North West Members of Parliament in the House of Commons on 1 March 2006 and has since met with smaller groups of Members regarding particular key regional projects.

The next regional parliamentary briefing is scheduled for 26 February 2007.

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from what sources the Lancashire Economic Partnership receives funding. [115138]

Margaret Hodge: The Lancashire Economic Partnership receives funding from the following sources:

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff work for the North West Regional Development Agency. [115139]

Margaret Hodge: As at 31 December 2006 the North West Regional Development Agency had a full-time equivalent (FTE) headcount of 410.


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