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7 Mar 2007 : Column 1978Wcontinued
|Electricity( 1) Bill||Gas Bill|
|(1) The bills for standard electricity do not include customers who are on economy 7 tariffs.|
(2) Regional average bills are not available prior to 1998. The Electricity average bill given for 1997 is for England and Wales. The average bill shown for gas in 1997 is for Great Britain.
Data are derived from the DTI's quarterly survey of domestic energy supply companies. Bills relate to the total bill including VAT in cash terms received during the calendar year. For electricity an annual consumption of 3,300 kWh is used, whilst the equivalent figure for gas is 18,000 kWh.
Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps (a) his Department and (b) Ofgem have taken to improve the level of protection for small business consumers in the energy market. 
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 my hon. Friend about the information she has sought.
Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research the Government are undertaking on the effect on (a) energy efficiency and (b) carbon emissions of using microgeneration twinned with electric heating. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Regulatory Impact Assessment for the changes to Part L of the Building Regulations (which came into operation in April 2006) contained assessments of the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of different heating systems, including electric heating, but no specific assessment was done of twinning electric heating with microgeneration.
We will be undertaking research this year, jointly with representatives of the microgeneration industry and other interested stakeholders, into the wide-ranging benefits of microgeneration, but without a specific focus on the effect of using microgeneration twinned with electric heating.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice he has given on probate matters to claimants for deceased mineworkers. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 February 2007]: Probate advice to claimants is, of course, the responsibility of their representatives. The CHA requires the provision of valid probate documentation before a payment will be made. This ensures that the Department makes valid payments to the correct claimant.
Occasionally, if requested, the Department will provide standard publicly available information on probate matters in relation to the Schemes.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many miners' compensation cases are in dispute because of probate issues. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 February 2007]: To date no miners compensation cases have progressed to formal dispute because of probate issues.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many deceased miners claims have been accepted as valid but not paid because of probate proceedings. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 February 2007]: The Department is not aware of any claims that have not been paid due to probate proceedings.
As at 26 February 2007, 3,214 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease full and final offers are still outstanding and are awaiting receipt of the relevant probate documentation.
In addition, under the Deceased Operational Risk Offer Scheme 11,128 acceptances have been received to date and have qualified in all categories, save for the receipt of Probate or Form of Indemnities.
There are also 79 Vibration White Finger full and final offers which remain outstanding whilst the appropriate probate documentation is received.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many miners compensation cases were accepted by his Department as valid claims but subsequently dropped because of probate disputes. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 February 2007]: No claims have been dropped by Capita, the Departments claims handler, because of probate disputes. All claims struck out to date have either been withdrawn by the Claimants representative or because they failed to meet cut-offs or failed for other reasons.
It is not usual for the Claimants representative to attempt to obtain probate until they have had a confirmed acceptance of liability.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the extent of differences in (a) pay and (b) terms and conditions between established and migrant and newly-arrived workers in the UK economy; and what steps his Department is taking to minimise such differences. 
The Government have not undertaken any specific research on differences in pay, and in terms and conditions between established migrants, and new-arrived workers in the UK. Legislation on employment rights, such as the national
minimum wage, does not differentiate between established, migrant and newly arrived workers working legally in the UK.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the possible effect on the science research base of the recent decision to reduce the Science Research Councils budget. 
Malcolm Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Cambridge (David Howarth) on 2 March 2007, Official Report, column 1602.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what method he used to determine the proportion of the recent overall reduction in the Science Research Councils budget which would be borne by each of the research councils. 
Malcolm Wicks: In calculating the distribution of the EYF reductions between the eight research councils, we examined the predicted EYF balances for each council and their allocations for 2007-08, and then we determined the amount of the reductions so as to minimise the overall impact on the research objectives reflected in the Departments PSA objective.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how he applies the Renewable Obligations scheme to river microhydro projects; and whether any changes are planned. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 5 March 2007]: Run of river micro hydro is treated in the same way as all eligible renewables generators whereby they can claim one renewables obligation certificate (ROC) per MW of renewable generation.
There are proposed changes to the renewables obligation (RO), to come into force in April this year, of which three may have an effect on some micro hydro generators. These are;
1. To allow agents to act on behalf of small generators in all aspects of RO participation.
2. To require agents, for the purpose of claiming ROCs, to amalgamate the generation from two or more generators, and
3. Remove the requirement for sale and buy back agreements for generators.
There are further longer-term changes that are being considered with regards to banding the RO so that different renewable technologies receive differing levels of ROCs per MW of generation dependent on the technologies need. A public consultation on the level of the technology bands will be issued on this later in the year.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential for the contribution of river micro hydro technology to community energy supplies. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 5 March 2007]: A study (Potential for Microgeneration: Study and Analysis, 2005) undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the DTI provides estimates of cumulative capacity of micro-hydro installations under different support scenarios. Under the most favourable scenario micro-hydro schemes of under l00MW could provide approximately 100MW of electrical capacity by 2050.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the science budget was spent in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) England and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 5 March 2007]: Science Budget national expenditure for the period 2001 to 2006 are set out in the following table.
|Science Budget national expenditures for the period 2001 to 2006|
(e) Other including overseas, international subscriptions and Research Council central expenditure
|(1) A small number of minor lines of expenditure where statistics are not collected on a national basis have been excluded from the total. These include funding for the National Academies and for Science and Society activities.|
A full breakdown of Research Council national expenditure was provided in the answer given to the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) on 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 15.
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