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6 Feb 2007 : Column 888W—continued

In all cases the payments have been made because of loss or damage while on official business; and where the loss/damage is not covered by insurance policies; and where the Department considers it has a liability to meet the loss or damage.

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Credit Reference Agencies

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many credit files on consumers held by credit reference agencies in the UK show a record of one or more county court judgments (CCJ) against a particular consumer; and how long the record of a CCJ remains on a consumer's credit file. [112486]

Mr. McCartney: Records of the number of consumers who are subject to county court judgments (CCJs) are not held centrally. However, in December 2006 there were 6,319,599 CCJs held on file in the UK. Of that number, 434,471 have been satisfied - that is wholly or partly paid off.

County court judgments are held for six years from the date of judgment on a consumer's credit file.

Departmental Art Works

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent on artwork by his Department in each year since 1997. [117921]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There has been no expenditure on works of art by the Department since 1997.

Departmental Conferences

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what conferences have been funded in whole or in part by his Department in the last 12 months; how many people attended each; and what the cost of each conference was to his Department. [117927]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information requested is not readily available and can be collated only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether (a) his Department and (b) his non-departmental public bodies have any role in animal (i) health and (ii) welfare. [118213]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is as follows:

(a) This Department supports the best use of science within Government, in animal health and welfare as in other areas.

This Government established in May 2004 the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to provide a centre for the promotion, development and implementation of the 3Rs in animal research and testing. The centre is funded by the Home Office, Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, The Dow Chemical Company, SC Johnson, Syngenta and Unilever.

(b) Research into animal health and welfare is funded by Research Councils, through directed and responsive mode schemes. Animal health and welfare is one of the three major themes in the Biotechnology
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and Biological Sciences Research Council's 2005 strategy for research in its institutes. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has a responsibility under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 to monitor British seal populations which it discharges through its sponsorship of the Sea Mammal Research Unit. Some of NERC's research and collaborative centres also study the health of fish and bird populations.

Any research funded by the Research Councils that necessitates the use of animals is undertaken in accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and the accompanying regulations.

Departmental Structure

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions are taking place on the future structure of his Department. [116489]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Machinery of Government issues are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Our focus is on delivering against the priorities and objectives we have set, and on helping to shape our objectives for the next spending review period. To support this, we of course keep our internal organisation and resources under regular review.

Departmental Training Courses

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what training courses were offered to (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department in the last 12 months. [117952]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 1 February 2007]: Individuals and their line managers identify learning and development needs, and the appropriate courses to attend, over the course of the year. Individuals can access a variety of courses to meet their requirements either through the Departments preferred supplier, PTSC, or other suppliers where PTSC do not offer the required training.

Details are not held centrally as learning and development is devolved across the Department.

Ministers make their own arrangements to identify and access learning and development for their own particular needs.

Doorstep Selling

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to protect the elderly from doorstep selling. [118197]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 February 2007]: On 7 September 2006, I announced the Government's response to the public consultation on doorstep selling and cold calling. These measures will provide consumers, including the elderly and vulnerable, with stronger protection from rogue door-to-door sales people. The measures will:

(a) give consumers similar cancellation rights and cooling off periods for all sales concluded or agreed with a trader in a consumer's home, to those
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consumers currently have for unsolicited visits (where they are able to cancel a contract within seven days).

(b) require cancellation notices to be provided within contracts; and

(c) encourage greater transparency on prices and greater willingness to provide written quotes.

The Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Bill was introduced to the House of Lords on the 16 November 2006, which will provide powers to amend the regulations to allow extension of the cancellation rights and cooling-off period to solicited visits.

The announcement has been widely welcomed by interested parties including Age Concern and Citizens Advice.

This year we will also implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive into UK law, which introduces a general duty on traders not to treat consumers unfairly and provides new protections against aggressive marketing and selling methods. Cold calling is not illegal and OFT's market study in 2004 concluded that doorstep selling from reputable traders did provide some benefits to consumers. These new measures are designed to tackle "rogue" traders and protect vulnerable consumers.

Electric Heating

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions (a) he and (b) his Ministers have had with stakeholders about the merits of electric heating ahead of the publication of the Energy White Paper. [112569]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have held discussions with a variety of stakeholders on numerous issues since the publication of the Energy Review Report to inform the Energy White Paper, which we intend to publish in March.

Energy Supply Contracts

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps (a) his Department and ( b) Ofgem has taken to encourage the making clearer and more user-friendly for small business consumers of terms and conditions in energy supply contracts; and what progress has been made. [117775]

Malcolm Wicks: The existing level of regulatory protection in respect of gas and electricity broadly reflects that in general consumer law. It is open to Ofgem to consider whether additional regulatory protection is required. I understand that the chairman of Ofgem will write to the hon. Gentleman about the information he has sought.


Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings he has had with senior representatives of British power companies since taking office; and on how many occasions such meetings have taken place. [117644]

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Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and other DTI Ministers meet regularly with senior representatives of British power companies.

Since taking office, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has met with the following major electricity generators:

Date Electricity generator

8 November 2006

British Energy

13 September 2006


20 July 2006

Drax Power Limited

22 June 2006


18 December 2006


19 July 2006

RWE Npower

9 October 2006

Scottish Power

European Energy Review

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the European Commission’s report “The Strategic European Energy Review”; and if he will make a statement. [115803]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK welcomes the publication of the Strategic Energy Review, which delivers on the mandate first given to the Commission at Hampton Court under the UK presidency of the European Council; the publication of the climate change communication; and the final report of the sector inquiry. The publication of these documents together serves to underline that climate change and energy policy are mutually reinforcing as well as setting out concrete steps towards a coherent common energy policy for the EU so that all EU citizens can benefit from environmentally sustainable, secure and affordable energy.

We particularly welcome the Commission placing climate change at the heart of energy policy, and the emphasis on putting the EU on track to a low carbon energy future. Tackling climate change is the greatest challenge we face and requires an international response, but it is achievable and affordable with the right policies in place, as Sir Nicholas Stern’s report recently outlined.

The UK believes that the Commission has got the overall thrust of the proposals right and that the SER can be welcomed by Heads of State and Government at the spring European Council meeting.

Flood Defences

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2007, Official Report, columns 303-04W, on flood defences, what the cost was at today’s prices of building coastal defences at (a) Sizewell and (b) Dungeness nuclear sites. [111348]

Malcolm Wicks: The nuclear sites at Sizewell and Dungeness utilise soft-shore flood defences. The initial cost of establishing these structures was only a minor component of landscaping the site frontages after construction.

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The cost of maintaining flood protection works at Dungeness has been approximately £140,000 per annum in 2006 terms, with £100,000 of this being for the maintenance of the shingle recycling procedure there. The remainder is for associated surveillance, engineering and geomorphological advice which is led by BE on behalf of both station operators (BE and NDA/Magnox). The costs are apportioned between the two parties under the terms of a cross-company contract.

At Sizewell there has been no need for engineering maintenance activities to date. The cost of surveillance and geomorphological and engineering advice over this period has been approximately £30,000 per annum in 2006 terms. BE lead on behalf of both operators with costs again apportioned under a cross-company contract.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will issue a labelling order to ensure that fur on sale is easily identifiable by the consumer. [108952]

Mr. McCartney: The Textile Products (Indications of Fibre Content) Regulations 1986 (as amended) require that all textile products bear an accurate indication of their fibre content and that the indication should consist only of EU permitted generic names for the fibres.

In general, manufacturers who label their products must provide accurate information to consumers about a product regardless of whether it has been labelled voluntarily or through mandatory obligations, and action can be taken to prevent misleading labelling under the Trade Description Act 1968.

House Building Industry

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the contribution to the UK economy of the house building industry was in each year since 1997. [118961]

Margaret Hodge: The Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for statistics on construction in Great Britain only. The total value of public and private house building in Great Britain in 1997-2005 was:

£ million
Current prices Constant (2000) prices




























Note: Data for 2006 will be published on 2 March 2007.

Current prices series is the price prevailing in the relevant year.

6 Feb 2007 : Column 894W

Constant (2000) prices series show the change in construction after the effects of inflation have been removed. This information is published in the Construction Statistics Annual 2006, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

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