Previous Section Index Home Page

19 July 2007 : Column 539W—continued

The main priorities for the TPU over the last 12 months have been: to deliver the ‘national level’ commitments set out in ‘Teenage Pregnancy Next Steps: Guidance for Local Authorities and Primary Care Trusts on Effective Delivery of Local Strategies’—designed to accelerate progress towards
19 July 2007 : Column 540W
our target to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2010; and to develop a strategy to improve outcomes for teenage parents and their children, which will be published shortly.

There are currently five civil servants who work in the TPU. Their job titles are:

No data are available on the proportion of teenage fathers in education, employment or training (EET). The proportion of teenage mothers aged 16-19 in EET has increased from an average of 23.1 per cent. for the period 1997-99, to an average of 29.2 per cent. for the period 2004-06.

Young People: Unemployment

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many 16 to 24 year olds in Gravesham are not in employment, education or training. [149995]

Beverley Hughes: We estimate from data provided by the Connexions Service that 2,970 16-18 year olds were not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the Kent local authority area at the end of 2006. This information cannot be broken down for the Gravesham area. Equivalent information is not available for 19-24 year olds.

Data provided by Connexions services are used to set and monitor local authority NEET targets. However, it should be noted that figures are necessarily calculated on a different basis from that used in the Department’s estimate for the national target; the national figure is a proportion of all young people whereas the local figures cover only those known to the Connexions Service.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Companies: Renewable Energy

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what incentives his Department has put in place to encourage local businesses to support the use of renewable energy in their offices and factories. [150610]

Malcolm Wicks: The Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1 with a budget of £36 million over three years provides capital grants for the installation of microgeneration to households, schools, social and local authority housing, businesses, charities and the public sector. Further information on the programme can be found at

The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the Government’s key mechanism for supporting new renewable generation and by 2010 it will be worth around £1 billion per year in terms of support to the renewables industry. It requires licensed electricity
19 July 2007 : Column 541W
suppliers to source a specific and increasing percentage of their sales from renewable sources. Eligible renewable generators receive one Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) for each 1 MWh of electricity generated. However, to encourage more renewable generation from a wider range of sources, the Government are proposing to change the RO so that renewable technologies are awarded differentiated levels of support, for example, offshore wind could receive 1.5 ROCs/1 MWh and wave 2 ROCs/1 MWh. The Government are currently consulting on these proposals.

Departments: Legislation

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what criminal offences have been created by primary legislation sponsored by his Department’s predecessor since October 2006. [149597]

Mr. Thomas: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much (a) biogas derived from waste digestion processes, (b) methane recovered from mine workings and (c) methane recovered from landfill was produced in the last 12 months. [149942]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2005, the latest year for which statistics are currently available, the following quantities were used:

Thousand tonnes of oil equivalent

Biogas from waste digestion processes


Colliery methane


Landfill gas


Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics, 2006

Internet: Terrorism

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to regulate the hosting of websites which contain information on bomb-making. [149239]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 16 July 2007]: This is a matter of concern across Europe. The European Commission has indicated that it will propose amending the Framework Decision on combating Terrorism to criminalise the incitement to terrorism and the intentional transmission of information useful to terrorism, such as bomb-making instructions. A conference was held by the European Commission in March to discuss these proposals, at which officials from the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office participated. Government officials continue to be engaged in discussions.

There are provisions in the Terrorism Act 2006 to cover the hosting of websites which contain
19 July 2007 : Column 542W
information on bomb-making. Under section 1, it is an offence to publish a statement that is likely to be understood as encouraging terrorism. Under section 2, it is an offence to disseminate a terrorist publication. These offences could cover the act of making available information on bomb-making on a website if the elements of the offences are satisfied.

In addition, sections 3 and 4 of the Act establish an internet ‘Notice and Takedown’ procedure under which those such as content providers, editors and hosts of websites can be served with a notice requiring them to remove from public view or amend material which is considered to be unlawfully terrorism-related.

Where the position of those who host websites is concerned, the Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulation 2007, which implements the Electronic Commerce Directive in relation to the Terrorism Act, provides that where a host has actual knowledge that it is hosting unlawful terrorism-related material and it has failed to take down the material expeditiously on acquiring such knowledge, it may be liable under the Terrorism Act.

Postal Services: Scotland

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with Scottish Ministers on the determination of access criteria for postal services in deprived and vulnerable communities in Scotland. [149987]

Mr. McFadden: The Secretary of State for Scotland was a member of MISC33, the Ministerial Committee that agreed Government’s response to consultation, announced on 17 May 2007.

Retail Trade: Small Businesses

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the merits of providing incentives and funding to support the economic viability of independent town centre retailers. [151078]

Mr. Timms: No such assessment has been made. The Government are working in partnership with the retail industry to address issues of concern to all parts of the sector and create the conditions for its success. Independent retailers also have access to a full range of business support available to companies through the Business Link service.

Shops: Community Development

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if his Department will take steps to safeguard the role played in local communities by independent locally-run shops. [148965]

Mr. Timms: The Government recognise the importance of small and independent shops to vibrant and sustainable communities. We are also aware that there are concerns over the future of small and independent shops, particularly in the face of competition from large retailers. The Competition
19 July 2007 : Column 543W
Commission currently has an inquiry underway into the grocery market, and is expected to publish its report in February 2008, well within the statutory deadline.

Small retailers can access the same support and advice as any small business. Driven forward by my Department’s Enterprise Directorate, we are continuing to improve and build on the delivery of services through the Business Link brand. Business Link provides the information, advice and support needed to start, maintain and grow a small business.

In addition, the Government’s Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI), which is sponsored by this Department, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and HM Treasury, is seeking to boost the local economies of England’s most disadvantaged communities through enterprise development and investment. LEGI provides local institutions and communities with the authority and freedom to best determine local needs, options and solutions for enterprise development, which can include any that may be identified around local retail development.

Solar Power: Heating

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, what proportion of residents use solar water heating systems in England. [150619]

Malcolm Wicks: The former DTI commissioned the Energy Saving Trust to carry out a study into the potential for microgeneration that was completed in November 2005. As part of the study, industry estimated that there had been 78,270 solar water heating system installations in the UK as at March 2005. Further information can be found at:

Tidal Power: Severn Estuary

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has to commission an independent strategic evaluation of the options for exploration of tidal power in the Severn; and if he will make a statement. [150985]

Malcolm Wicks: A study of ‘Tidal Power in the UK’ currently under way and led by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) working together with my Department, Welsh Assembly Government, the devolved Administrations and the South West Regional Development Agency is looking in some detail at the issues arising on tidal power.

The study will provide a strategic, independent and evidence-based consideration of all the environmental, social and economic aspects of and options for tidal power both in the Severn estuary and the wider UK from a sustainable development perspective.

The final report is expected to be published in September and will help inform any future consideration of these issues. Further details of the study can be seen at

19 July 2007 : Column 544W

Utilities: Fees and Charges

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with Ofcom on the review of utility bill charges for people who do not pay by direct debit. [150759]

Mr. Timms: None, but my ministerial predecessor the right hon. Member for Barking (Margaret Hodge) raised the matter with the chief executive officer of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator. Ofcom announced on 6 June that it will carry out a full review of communications providers’ additional charges. Ofcom expects to announce the conclusions of its review in the autumn and progress may be monitored on its website

The review will cover charges for non-direct debit payments, as well as other additional charges including late payment, restoration of service and early termination fees. It will cover fixed and mobile operators, and pay TV services. Ofcom will look at the nature and level of charges levied by communications providers and how well signposted and transparent such charges are. It will investigate how far consumers are aware of additional charges, whether they are able and willing to shop around on the basis of core prices and additional charges rather than just core prices, and whether there are certain groups of consumers who are unable to do this and therefore may be disadvantaged.

On investigating this issue, it has become clear that it would be wrong to look at BT in isolation. More than 40 per cent. of homes are provided with telephony services by operators other than BT, and the differentials for payment by non-direct debit range from no extra charge to £15 a quarter. Some providers provide no payment option other than direct debit.

Home Department

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will discuss with the Secretary of State for Transport extending the network of automatic number plate recognition cameras. [149607]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 16 July 2007]: Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is an established technology that the police use to identify vehicles of interest through pattern recognition software. It is used to target terrorism, serious and organised crime, volume crime (such as burglary) and some vehicle documentation offences (for example, uninsured driving and road tax evasion). Police officers using the technology are achieving a significantly higher arrest rate and offences brought to justice rate when compared to conventional policing methods. The recent terrorist incidents in London and Glasgow demonstrated the usefulness of ANPR as an intelligence and analysis tool.

The Government have invested over £32 million to support the deployment of ANPR for traffic and wider policing purposes. A number of other public
19 July 2007 : Column 545W
organisations also use the technology, for example to support traffic management and congestion charging. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is in regular contact with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on matters of shared interest, including roads policing and enforcement and the role of technology in this and wider security matters. We will ensure that any benefits to engage criminality that can be derived from the use of the ANPR network will be balanced against the need to safeguard human rights and the privacy of individuals.

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of alerts from the automatic number plate recognition system were found to be in error in each year since 2004. [150573]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 18 July 2007]: Police forces conduct rigorous pre and post-sales inspections of all ANPR equipment technology with the manufacturers to ensure for the long-term accuracy and reliability of the equipment.

The proportion alerts from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems found to be erroneous in each year since 2004 is not held centrally. However, the Home Office Police Standards Unit's evaluation ‘Driving Crime Down—Denying Criminals the Use of the Road’, published in October 2004, said that

Border and Immigration Agency: Finance

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the total cost was of establishing the Immigration and Nationality Directorate as the Border and Immigration Agency; [149764]

(2) what the cost was of redesigning the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website, www.ind.homeoffice., for the new Border and Immigration Agency; and whether external consultants were involved in the redesign. [149765]

Jacqui Smith: The transition to Agency status of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate is a continuing project. It is expected that the transition to shadow Agency status will be delivered within the current resources available to the Department.

The redesign of the website www.bia.homeoffice. did not incur any extra costs as the work was done by an in-house developer.

Next Section Index Home Page