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26 Jun 2007 : Column 617W—continued

Tobacco: Retail Trade

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the Government has any plans to license tobacco retailers; and if she will make a statement. [145991]

Caroline Flint: The Government considered different ways of further controlling the selling of tobacco products, including positive and negative licensing, and consulted on these options last year. A copy of this consultation document “Consultation on Under-Age Sale of Tobacco”, published on 3 July 2006, is available in the Library. In line with the proposal in the consultation, the Government intend to introduce a negative licensing system at the first legislative opportunity. Under this scheme, retailers who repeatedly flout the law on under-age sale of tobacco will be liable to orders prohibiting them from selling tobacco.

Tomography: Wales

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many patients from Wales were referred to (a) fixed location positron emission tomography (PET) scanners and (b) the mobile PET scanners in England in the last 12 months for which figures are available; [144181]

(2) how many positron emission tomography scans were procured from private operators in England for NHS patients from Wales in the last 12 months. [144365]

Andy Burnham: These are issues for the National Assembly for Wales.

Voluntary Work: Publicity

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the departmental publication Opportunities for Volunteering Scheme 2007 cost to produce. [145637]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: A finalised invoice for the production and distribution of the 2007 Opportunities for Volunteering report has not yet been received by officials at the Department. The initial estimate provided was £6,906.

Prime Minister


Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister if he will request the House of Lords Appointment Commission to publish all recommendations for appointment of non-party political peers and all nominations for peerages made by political parties for peerages since it was established. [145956]

The Prime Minister: As has been the practice of successive Governments, and continued by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC), nomination forms for peerages are confidential.

HOLAC publishes a list of the individuals selected for appointment as non-party political peers on its website (

Trade and Industry

Bank Services: Fees and Charges

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which UK banks the Office of Fair Trading (a) is monitoring and (b) plans to monitor, with respect to the bank charges levied against individuals who exceed their overdraft limit or where a cheque or direct debit is refused. [146012]

Mr. McCartney: The OFT market study into personal current accounts is being undertaken in consultation with a range of interested parties, including major current account providers and their representatives.

At present the consultation with interested parties remains confidential. This exercise involves collecting and assessing sensitive information and, if the names of the persons involved in an ongoing investigation of this nature were vulnerable to disclosure, this could prejudice the full and frank disclosure of information as part of the investigation, and discourage co-operation with future OFT investigations.

The findings of the study are due to be published by the end of 2007.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to require banks to publicise their methods of calculating the penalty charges levied on customers when overdraft limits are exceeded or cheques or direct debits are returned. [146013]

Mr. McCartney: It will be for the OFT to take or recommend any action in the light of its market study findings, including its investigation into the fairness of current account charges under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCRs).

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Construction: Environment Protection

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to incentivise the use of environmentally friendly practices by the home construction industry. [144243]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Government are working closely with the house building industry to improve the environmental sustainability of how it operates and what it delivers.

The changes already made in the Building Regulations mean that the energy efficiency of new houses has improved by 70 per cent. compared to pre-1990 levels. We have also consulted on further strengthening Building Regulations such that all new homes will be required to be zero carbon from 2016.

In addition the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Stamp Duty exemption that we have announced for new zero carbon homes will encourage the development of highly sustainable housing. We have already consulted on whether to make a rating against the code mandatory from April 2008 and will shortly consult on the detail of how we propose to do this.

Energy Performance Certificates will also be required on all newly constructed homes from 1 January 2008. The production of the certificates will be built in to the Building Regulations completion process, and will give the new owners or occupiers an understanding of the energy efficiency and environmental impact of their new home.

Other initiatives such as the Carbon Challenge and Eco-towns proposals will also encourage innovation and challenge the housebuilding industry to deliver overall improvements in sustainability.

Government are also intending to consult shortly on a new ‘Strategy for Sustainable Construction’. The aim of this new initiative will be to set the direction in which government and industry together should be heading to tackle issues affecting the construction sector up to the year 2020 and their ability to respond to the important issue of environmental sustainability.

Departments: Aviation

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many flights to overseas destinations were taken by (a) civil servants and (b) Ministers in his Department in each of the last three calendar years; and what the total cost of such flights was. [144932]

Mr. Darling: In each of the last three calendar years the Department undertook the following number of flights to and from overseas destinations and the total cost of these flights was:

Flight spend (£) Number of flights










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The above data includes flights taken by both Ministers and officials in the core DTI and two of its agencies (Patent Office and the Competition Commission). The Department and its travel agent do not separately record details of flights taken by Ministers and flights taken by civil servants.

Departments: Smith Institute

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) meetings and (b) seminars were held by the Smith Institute as part of the Government’s Review of Maternity Pay and Leave and Parental Leave; and which (i) individuals attended and (ii) companies were represented at each. [144964]

Jim Fitzpatrick: As far as our records show, the Smith Institute held no meetings or seminars on behalf of DTI during the Government’s Review of Maternity Leave and Pay and Parental Leave.

Energy: Meters

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research has been undertaken (a) by and (b) on behalf of his Department into the use of smart meters in non-residential properties. [145075]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 25 June 2007]: Between 2004 and 2006, the Carbon Trust, a Government-funded organisation, conducted field trials of advanced metering with 580 businesses. The results of the trials are available at

Foreign Workers: EC Nationals

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of whether British workers have been displaced from jobs by incoming workers from new EU accession states. [143307]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I have been asked to reply.

Research published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year showed that there is no discernible statistical evidence that migration from the EU accession states has increased claimant unemployment. This is in line with international evidence on the impacts of migration which finds little discernible evidence of adverse effects on wages or employment of native workers.

The DWP research report can be accessed here:

Fuel Poverty

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to publish the fifth annual report on the UK fuel poverty strategy. [144829]

Mr. Darling: The Government expect to publish the Fifth Annual Report on the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy in summer 2007.

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Iran: Export Credit Guarantees

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the level of UK Export Credit Guarantee Department export credit guarantees to Iran was in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [139612]

Mr. Darling: In the financial year from 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007, ECGD supported two export contracts with an aggregate exposure of £4.97 million. To date, no support has been provided for any exports in the financial year beginning 1 April 2007.

The current level of ECGD exposure to Iran is approximately £290 million.

Low Carbon Buildings Programme

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date the last domestic grant award was made under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme; and if he will make a statement. [136969]

Malcolm Wicks: The last domestic Low Carbon Buildings Programme grant award was made on 1 March 2007. Since then, it was announced in the Budget 2007 that a further £6 million would be made available to the household stream taking the total available to householders to more than £18 million.

Taking this into account, we took the opportunity to suspend the scheme so that we could work with stakeholders on re-structuring the household stream to ensure we made best use of the monies available and delivered against the programmes objectives.

The scheme was re-launched on 29 May 2007 with a number of changes, including the removal of the monthly cap, a pre-requisite for planning approval in the application process and a shorter grant claim period. We hope changes to the programme will allow
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us to reach a wider audience. We will continue to monitor and report on grant commitments and payments.

More information on the restructured programme is available on the programme’s website:


Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken on the impact of misleading and copycat packaging on (i) shoppers and (ii) UK manufacturers of consumer goods. [140405]

Mr. McCartney: The Department has not commissioned any research on the impact of misleading and copycat packaging on shoppers and UK manufacturers of consumer goods.

Research: Tax Allowances

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had on the potential to amend his Department’s guidelines on the conditions to be satisfied for research and development tax relief to include expenditure on the design process. [145905]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had no recent discussions on this subject. The DTIs guidelines on the Meaning of R and D for Tax Purposes, 5 March 2004 already allow for expenditure on the design process to be claimed “when achieving design objectives requires the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty within a project.” The Government consider that the economic case has not yet been made for incentivising design more generally, outside the scope of R and D, even if the practical problems of definition and state aids could be overcome.

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 26 June 2007


Defence: Finance

Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the current HM Treasury financial delegation to the Ministry of Defence. [145204]

Mr. Timms: I have today placed a copy of the current HM Treasury delegations to the Ministry of Defence in the Library, as requested.


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what meetings representatives of (a) his Department and (b) the Valuation Office Agency have had with (i) the company Hometrack and (ii) its representatives in the last 24 months; [145230]

(2) what representations (a) his Department and (b) the Valuation Office Agency have received from the company Hometrack in the last 24 months. [145231]

Dawn Primarolo: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with and receive representations from a wide range of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings and representations.

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