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29 Mar 2007 : Column 1767Wcontinued
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the programme making and special events sector regarding the digital dividend review. 
Margaret Hodge: I have received representations from the organisation Equity. The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator of communications, is responsible for managing civil radio spectrum in the UK, including the allocation and licensing of frequency bands used by the programme making and special events (PMSE) sector. Any representation on Ofcom's spectrum consultations is a matter for the regulator; any received by the Department will be passed on to the chief executive officer.
As part of its digital dividend review, Ofcom published a consultation paper on the Ofcom website (www.ofcom.org.uk) in December 2006. The consultation period is open until 20 March, during which time all interested parties, including those with a specific interest in PMSE requirements, are encouraged to make their views known.
They have received significant interest in their consultation from the programme making and special events (PMSE) sector and are planning a further consultation on this matter in the near future.
I do understand that the PMSE sector is one of the current users of the DDR spectrum which is being required to change its use and that this has cost implications. As such, a period of transition may be necessary, and fully understanding the impact of any changes on the sector is vital. Officials have, and will continue to engage with stakeholders and Ofcom following the consultation. By exploring the issues, and working together, we hope that a solution can be found which meets the public interest and ensures that the PMSE sector can access appropriate spectrum fit for purpose.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on waste incineration. 
Malcolm Wicks: Officials of both Departments collaborate routinely and on a wide range of issues. These have included waste incineration matters.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding (a) the North West Development Agency, (b) one NorthEast, (c) the London Development Agency, (d) the East of England Development Agency and (e) the South East England Development Agency provided to (i) the IPPR and (ii) IPPR Trading Ltd in each year since their creation. 
The following tables show North West Regional Development Agencys, One North Easts, London Development Agencys, East of England Development Agencys and South East of England Development Agencys payments to the Institute for
Public Policy Research (IPPR), their total grant in aid budget and the proportion of payments to IPPR as a percentage of their total budget from 2002-03 to the
present date. I am informed that no payments have been made to the Institute for Public Policy Research Trading Limited by these RDAs.
|Total budget (£ million)||IPPR (£000)||Percentage||Total budget (£ million)||IPPR (£000)||Percentage||Total budget (£ million)||IPPR (£000)||Percentage|
|Total budget (£ million)||IPPR (£000)||Percentage||Total budget (£ million)||IPPR (£000)||Percentage|
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1778W, on nuclear power, which stakeholders (a) he, (b) departmental Ministers and (c) officials have met to discuss the use of nuclear energy in the United Kingdom since the publication of the Energy Review Report. 
Malcolm Wicks: Government are taking forward development of the policy proposals set out in the Energy Review Report and is preparing for a further consultation on nuclear power. Formal and informal discussions with stakeholders have been a key part of informing this work. We expect to publish the Energy White Paper and the new nuclear consultation in May.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with EU counterparts on the European Community patent. 
Malcolm Wicks: UK Ministers and officials have had ongoing discussions with the European Commission and others, following the consultation launched by the Commission in 2006 on the Community Patent and other initiatives to improve the European Patent system. Negotiations on a Community Patent have been ongoing for a number of decades, and have been complicated by questions around language and jurisdiction. As the European Commission Consultation in 2006 noted, there appears no imminent prospect of achieving the unanimity required in order to establish a Community Patent. The consultation aimed to find steps which could be taken to improve the European patent system in the near future, which would help us to make progress towards the long term goal of a Community Patent. We anticipate that the Commission will publish its Communication on those next steps in the next few months.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in his Departments inquiry into Phoenix Holdings
involvement in MG Rover; what the costs to all parties involved have been to date; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The Companies Act Inspection is being conducted independently of the DTI. The inspectors are not constrained by any Government target date for completion as the Government do not want to impede the thoroughness of the Inspection. The Inspectors do intend to complete this inspection as quickly as possible, consistent with a proper and fair process. The total costs of the inspection to the Department as at 28 February 2007 were £6,557,614 plus VAT of £1,207,257 and disbursements of £340,999.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will postpone the abolition of Postwatch until the end of the consultation on the Post Office closure process. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Discussions between Post Office Ltd and Postwatch are in progress and we expect to set out Postwatchs role in developing local area closure proposals when our decision is announced in May.
The Government have included specific provision in the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill to ensure that the new National Consumer Council has a statutory role, as Postwatch does now, in advising on the number and location of post offices and their accessibility to users. The provisions in the Bill are designed to strengthen consumer representation in the postal services sector.
We are working closely with Postwatch, Energywatch and the National Consumer Council to ensure that the new arrangements are implemented effectively and with the minimum of disruption to consumers.
Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the Governments policy on (a) the proposal by the EC Radio Spectrum Committee to allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G use and (b) how to address historic spectrum allocations in implementing such a policy in the UK. 
Margaret Hodge: The matter is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executives letter will be placed in the Libraries of the Houses.
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on the research councils' budgets of not authorising them to utilise end-of-year flexibility in 2007-08; 
(2) what steps he plans to take to elicit the necessary authorisation from HM Treasury to allow the research councils to utilise end of year flexibility during 2007-08. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answers 28 March 2007]: The Department of Trade and Industry continues to have access to End Year Flexibility in the normal way and this will continue to be available to cascade down to Research Councils. My officials are in discussion with Treasury officials about drawdown of End Year Flexibility in 2007-08. An early consultation by DTI officials with the Research Councils has provided robust and realistic forecast spending requirements for 2007-08.
Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the science budget is for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Darling: The science and technology budget this year is £3.4 billion, having doubled since 1997, and last week in the Budget my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a further rise in spending to £3.9 billion in 2010-11; the figure of £4.9 billion referred to on 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1358, is incorrect and is in fact £3.9 billion.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to announce his decision on the application by Npower Renewables for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the development of the Gwynt y Mor wind farm. 
Malcolm Wicks: I cannot give a firm indication of when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be in a position to reach a decision on the Gwynt y Mor consent application. The applicant is currently engaged in a programme of discussions with stakeholders about issues raised in response to the application. No decision will be taken until the applicant has responded formally to the Department on these matters.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from officials following their visit to Ascension Island in March. 
Officials reported their discussions with the Ascension Island Council on new policies, including housing, to my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, on 19 March. Officials noted that it was difficult to reach agreement on some issues, but that agreement was reached on much of the detail of the
draft housing policy; and that discussions concluded with an acknowledgement that there was more work required.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts are being made to engage with those living on Ascension Island on the future plans for the island. 
Mr. Hoon: Before the recent resignations by councillors, the administrator held regular informal and formal meetings with the Ascension Island Council. The Governor also participated regularly in meetings of the council. Following the councillors' resignations, we are considering urgently how to proceed, and are taking steps to ensure that those working and living on Ascension Island are fully informed. The Acting Governor will issue a leaflet this week providing advice for those on the island considering standing for election.
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