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Estate Agents

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultation and discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly Ministers on the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill; and if he will make a statement. [122337]

Mr. McCartney: My officials have been in regular contact with the Welsh Assembly Government over the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill. Welsh Assembly Ministers were consulted over and agreed the Bill before it was introduced into Parliament. Welsh Assembly Government was also consulted over and agreed the Government amendments made in the Lords to clarify the functions of the Welsh Consumer Council.

Flexible Working

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many men with child care responsibilities have requested flexible working arrangements in his Department since 6 April 2006; and what estimate he has made of the number of such men making such requests in England. [119014]

Jim Fitzpatrick: All requests for flexible working arrangements in the DTI are handled at the local line management level. It would entail disproportionate costs to provide these data.

Figures are not available for the number of men with child care responsibilities requesting flexible working arrangements in England since 6 April 2006. However, the third work-life balance employee survey, conducted on DTI's behalf in early 2006, found that, in the previous two years, 12 per cent. of male employees in Great Britain with dependent children had approached their current employer to make a request to change how they regularly work. Separate figures are not available for England.

Minister for London

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) official visits, (b) meetings with (i) hon. Members, (ii) members of the public, (iii) Greater London Assembly members, (iv) local councillors and (v) representatives of voluntary organisations (A) he and (B) his predecessors undertook as Minister for London in each of the last 10 years, broken down by month. [121050]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Minister for London has in the period from May 2006 to February 2007 (period to date, based in DTI) carried out the following visits and meetings. Information prior to May 2006 is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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2006 2007
May June July August September October November December January February

Official visits including receptions/speeches:

1

2

1

2

3

2

1

Meeting with:

i) hon. Members

(1)4

ii) Members of public

1

iii) GLA members/ London councils/ Mayor/London councillors

2

3

1

1

2

iv) Representatives of voluntary organisations(2)

2

2

1

1

1

1

2

(1) Relating to GLA Bill
(2) Including not for profit business organisations

Natural Gas: Prices

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to assess the level of profits made by gas companies which fail to adjust price downwards after a fall in energy prices and the impact of such action on consumers. [122908]

Malcolm Wicks: The profits of retail gas supply companies reflect conditions in a competitive market, including the time lag between changes in wholesale and retail prices. Ofgem, as the independent sectoral regulator, keeps the level of competition in the gas market under review, and has the powers it needs to deal with any failure of competition. The Government continue to encourage gas companies to consider their most vulnerable consumers when considering price or service changes.

Office for Civil Nuclear Security

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects arrangements to be completed for the transfer of the administrative location of the Office for Civil Nuclear Security to the Health and Safety Executive. [123437]

Malcolm Wicks: We are currently working on the basis that the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) will transfer to the Health and Safety Executive on 1 April 2007. After the merger, OCNS will continue at its current location in Harwell. A further statement will be made in due course.

Post Offices: Chorley and Penrith

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which areas of Chorley constituency are considered to be (a) urban, (b) rural and (c) remote under the access criteria for the post office network. [125328]

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what areas of Penrith and The Border constituency are considered to be (a) urban, (b) rural and (c) remote under the access criteria for the post office network. [124007]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The classification of post offices is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook, the managing director, has been asked to reply direct to the hon. Members.

Research Councils: Finance

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effects on universities of the change in budgets of the research councils consequent on the Spring Supplementary Estimates of his Department.[R] [123702]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 27 February 2007]: Before making the changes that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced at the time of the Spring Supplementary Estimates, to reallocate part of the accumulated unspent science budget, my officials discussed with the Research Councils the likely impact on their planned activities of the reduction in the End-Year Flexibility.

Research projects already being funded will not be affected by this change. The Research Councils are considering detailed options, including the effects on grants to universities from 2007-08, and will make individual announcements when they have reached decisions on these.

The sum involved amounts to less than 1 per cent. of nearly £10 billion awarded by Government to science over the current three-year spending period.

Satellite Communications

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will undertake research into the economic threat to UK companies who use commercial satellites for transacting business of increases in space clutter. [124315]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have not directly funded such a study and have no immediate plans to do so. However, the potential risk is increasingly well known and Government and industry are involved in mitigation practices and the development of relevant international standards.

In licensing UK space activities, a safety assessment is carried out for each application and this includes a
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study of the debris mitigation measures put in place by the applicant for the launch and end of life of the satellite, plus measures taken to minimise debris in the event of an accident to the craft.

BNSC is also developing a database of relevant good practice and standards to support keeping space open for business. This will be used to improve further the safety assessment and be made available to licence applicants.

Defence

Afghanistan

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what requests for additional equipment for UK forces in Afghanistan have been made by (a) UK commanders in Afghanistan and (b) UK commanders in the UK for each month since January 2006; what has been the UK Government’s response to each such request; and if he will make a statement. [111153]

Des Browne: [pursuant to the reply, 8 February 2007, Official Report, c. 1070-71W]: The number of Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) was incorrect. Since the start of planning for deployment into southern Afghanistan, some 150 UORS have been approved, of which 59 have already been delivered. These figures are correct as at 21 February 2007.

Armed Forces: Pay

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many operational allowance tax-free bonuses have been paid to those entitled having completed six-month tours in each month since the announcement by the Secretary of State on 10 October 2006; and what the total value was of such bonuses. [123678]

Derek Twigg: As at 31 January 2007, operational allowance tax-free bonuses had been paid to 31,409 personnel and totalled £34.98 million. These figures include all personnel who have received a bonus irrespective of tour length.

Armed Forces: Retail Trade

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will discuss with the Navy, Army and Air Force institutes the extension of the range of goods that are available for sale in theatre to UK armed forces personnel. [122198]

Derek Twigg: The Permanent Joint Headquarters/NAAFI Customer Service Board regularly review services to armed forces personnel in theatre. In addition, suggestion boxes are in place in theatre which enable personnel to make specific requests. Both the MOD and NAAFI remain committed to continuing to improve the range of goods and services available.

Armed Forces: Training

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on military training in each year since 1997. [121503]


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Derek Twigg: Military training encompasses activity which ranges from low-level individual skills to multi-national, joint and combined exercises. It includes training conducted to convert personnel onto new equipment, educational programmes and personal development amongst a number of other strands. This training is delivered in many ways by different agencies across Defence using a variety of methodologies and media from dedicated specialist training establishments and distributed delivery to web-based self study.

The whole cost of this training is not captured centrally and this could be done only at disproportionate cost to the Department.

Armoured Vehicles: Iraq

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to deliver the (a) Mastiff armoured vehicles to Iraq and (b) Vector armoured vehicles to Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [116782]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 January 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 211W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

The first Vector vehicles will be delivered to the Army shortly; for operational security reasons I am not prepared to go into the detail of the delivery timetable of a new capability into an operational theatre.

Challenger Tanks

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much his Department spent on the provision of spare parts for the Challenger 2 main battle tanks in February 2006; and how much it expects to spend in (a) February 2007 and (b) February 2008; [123815]

(2) what plans he has for the future flow of spare parts to the Challenger 2 main battle tanks. [123816]

Mr. Ingram: The Department spent £2.51 million on the provision of spare parts for Challenger 2 main battle tanks in February 2006. The projected spend for February 2007 is £1.23 million and the forecast spend for February 2008 is £1.30 million. The higher figure in February 2006 includes costs associated with the roll-out of the new Mk2 track.

Under current plans, Challenger 2 will be included in Phase 1 of the Armoured Vehicle Support Initiative. Provision of spares will be an integral part of this programme.

Future Large Aircraft: Procurement

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many A400M aircraft are to be procured for the British military; and at what cost. [123037]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 28 February 2007]: The UK Government have ordered 25 A400M aircraft at a forecast cost of £2,616 million.


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