Previous Section Index Home Page

26 Feb 2007 : Column 1042W—continued

26 Feb 2007 : Column 1043W

Severn Barrage

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what his most recent estimate is of the cost of building the Severn Barrage; [122207]

(2) when a full evaluation of the Lynmouth sea flow project is expected. [122209]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The final report on the project known as Seaflow and entitled ‘Development, Installation and Testing of a Large-Scale Tidal Current Turbine’ (ref: T/06/00210/00/REP—URN 05/1698) can be viewed at:

26 Feb 2007 : Column 1044W

A project summary document can also be viewed as an online PDF document at:

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate he has made of the contribution the Severn Barrage could make to the UK’s electricity needs: [122208]

(2) what evaluations of the Severn Barrage he is (a) commissioning and (b) supporting. [122210]

Jim Fitzpatrick: A major study of tidal power in the UK is currently under way. The DTI together with the Welsh Assembly Government, are working with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising on the tidal resource in the UK. The study will include consideration of the potential of the Severn Estuary, including the cost of a barrage and the contribution it could make towards UK electricity demand. The £400,000 study is expected to report in early summer 2007. Further information can be found at:

The most recent study of a Severn barrage scheme carried out by the Severn Tidal Power Group(1) available at estimated that a Severn barrage could contribute up to 17 TWh per annum or ~5 per cent. of UK demand, the cost of building the scheme was estimated to be in the range £10.3 billion to £14 billion.

Utilities: Fees and Charges

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has (a) to abolish utility standing charges and (b) to improve utility pricing for those on low incomes; and if he will make a statement. [121810]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The decision to levy standing charges is a matter for individual companies. In the energy sector, the majority of gas and electricity customers no longer have to pay standing charges, while in the telecoms and water sectors standing charges are still normally applied.

The Government continue to encourage telecoms and energy companies to consider their most vulnerable consumers when considering price or service changes, and welcome the initiatives companies have introduced in this area. We encourage everyone to use the competitive market to get the best deal.

For water, moving suppliers is not possible. However Government have already introduced the vulnerable groups tariff and are currently looking at the impact of a range of tariffs on low income households as part of the follow up to the cross-Government review of water affordability, and will report on this later in the year.

Britain’s gas and electricity industries are regulated by Ofgem, who have specific duties to ensure that low income customers are not disadvantaged. The regulator in the telecoms sector (Ofcom) and the regulator in the water sector (Ofwat) have similar duties.

26 Feb 2007 : Column 1045W

Utilities: Meters

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure that utility companies recalibrate pre-pay meters to account for price increases in a timely fashion. [122310]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 22 February 2007]: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), is responsible for the regulation of gas and electricity supply. I understand that Ofgem has been in detailed discussion with suppliers about the issue of recalibration of certain prepayment meters.

Wind Power

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received on the connection of windfarms to the national grid. [122565]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department regularly receives by e-mail, post, telephone or in person, representations on wind farm connections to the grid system. They typically relate to planning applications being progressed by DTI, representations regarding the development of the offshore transmission system for offshore renewables, or general information on individual project grid connection offers. The Department also meets with national grid and Ofgem regularly to discuss and seek solutions to the issues surrounding efficient connection of renewables to the grid.

Work and Pensions

Benefit Claimants

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the claimant off-flow rates from (a) incapacity benefit and (b) severe disability allowance were in each month since January 2005, broken down by reason for leaving the benefit. [102150]

Mrs. McGuire: The available information has been placed in the Library.

Child Maintenance Payments

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of children that child maintenance payments have lifted out of deep poverty as defined by households with income less than 40 per cent. of median national income. [113536]

Mr. Plaskitt: The requested information is not available due to small sample sizes. The 40 per cent. of median income level is not a recommended indicator of poverty. The 60 per cent. median income level, before housing costs, is the internationally recognised threshold of low income. Using this measure, it is estimated that child maintenance currently lifts 100,000 children out of poverty.

26 Feb 2007 : Column 1046W

Children: Poverty

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how often the Joint Committee on Child Poverty involving the Government and the devolved administrations has met over the last two years; on what dates it has met; and if he will make a statement. [120890]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 20 February 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

The Joint Ministerial Committee on Child Poverty, chaired by the Chancellor, has met three times: on 9 December 1999, 26 May 2000, and 18 September 2002.

There is effective liaison through other forums. These include the British-Irish Council, the National Action Plan on Social Inclusion, and the Joint Ministerial Committee Poverty Working Level Steering Group. Since 2002, officials from the devolved Administrations and Whitehall Departments have met regularly.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many penalties the Child Support Agency has issued in Scotland for (a) failure to provide information and (b) providing false information in each of the last eight years. [102169]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

Scottish prosecutions only
1 April to 31 March each year Section 14A(2) Offence: Misrepresentation of Information Section 14A(3) Offence: Failure to Provide Information













2006 to date






26 Feb 2007 : Column 1047W

Departmental Websites

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people completed the online quiz ‘myths and facts about Pensions in the UK’ on the Pensions Reform website in the last six months. [118767]

James Purnell: The online quiz, ‘Myths and Facts about Pensions in the UK’, was designed to present information to users, rather than gather statistics on user views.

Therefore the system did not record the number of people who completed the quiz, how far each user progressed or details of responses.

However we can provide figures for the number of people who accessed the quiz.

Figures in the following table show the visits and unique visitors in the last six months:

Period Visits( 1) Unique visitors( 2)

August 2006



September 2006



October 2006



November 2006



December 2006



January 2007



(1) Visits: Number of times a visitor or visitors came to the site. Each visit is recorded separately for every visit more than 30 minutes apart. (2) Unique visitors: Individuals who visited your site during the report period. If someone visits more than once, they are counted only the first time they visit.

Next Section Index Home Page