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Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many responses were received to the Government's nuclear policy consultation document (a) on-line and (b) in hard copy submissions; what communications his Department has received from non-governmental groups that formally withdrew from the consultation; and what requests were received from interested parties for the release of support documentation for the consultation. 
Malcolm Wicks: The total number of (a) online responses received to the Government's nuclear policy consultation document recorded on 11 October was 2,144. (b) The total number of hard copy submissions recorded on this date was 623.
Detailed breakdown on communications received from non-governmental groups that formally withdrew from the consultation, and requests received from interested parties for the release of support documentation, is currently not available.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he plans to maintain responsibility for the granting of offshore oil and gas consents under the Petroleum Act 1998; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Yes. As the North sea continues to mature it remains a key Government objective to ensure that economic recovery of UK hydrocarbon resources is maximised. The current regulatory regime, which has been refined over the years to encourage exploration and development and attract investment, is ensuring that industry is in the best position to realise the full potential of the UKs oil and gas reserves.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on what date he plans to announce the future of Post Office branches in Greater London; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: On 17 May my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the Governments response to public consultation on the Post Office network. Now that the Government have announced their decisions it is for Post Office Ltd. to strategically develop the network through around 50 local area implementation plans over the next 15 months.
According to the timetable set out by Post Office Ltd., which is publicly available on its website, the local consultation on the Greater London implementation plan is scheduled to begin in April 2008. Final decisions on closures will be taken by POL in light of responses to the consultation.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to encourage a settlement in the postal dispute that takes into account postal workers views of changes to working practices and pensions. 
Mr. McFadden: The Secretary of State and I continue to encourage both the Royal Mail and the CWUCommunication Workers Unionto resolve the current dispute through talks. We have done so at a number of meetings and will continue to do so.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what meetings he has had with representatives of (a) Royal Mail Ltd. and (b) the Communication Workers Union at which the resolution of the postal strike has been discussed. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what criteria are used to appoint individuals to the boards of regional development agencies (RDAs); and how many appointments in each RDA are (a) trade union appointments and (b) party political appointments. 
Mr. Timms: A detailed specification is drawn up for each role on the Regional Development Agency Boards. These specifications are subject to public consultation with national and regional stakeholders and subsequently set out in the adverts for the posts. Applicants are asked to complete an application form detailing their competencies against the requirements set out in the specification.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much has been committed for the installation of (a) wind turbines, (b) wood fuelled boiler systems, (c) solar thermal hot water, (d) solar photovoltaics, (e) small hydro projects, (f) heat pumps, (g) ground source heat pumps and (h) biomass room heaters and stores under phase one of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (i) in total and (ii) in each region to date in each month since the scheme began; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the projection is of the percentage of energy in the UK which will be produced from renewables by 2020. 
Malcolm Wicks: DTI projections in May 2007 indicated that by 2020, on the basis of existing policies, renewables would contribute around 5 per cent. of the UKs energy consumption. However once a decision has been reached on each member states contribution to the EUs target of 20 per cent. renewable energy by 2020, we will bring forward the appropriate measures, beyond those set out in the Energy White Paper, to make our contribution.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to meet the EU target of 20 per cent. of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. 
Malcolm Wicks: As set out in the Energy White Paper, once a decision has been reached on each member state's contribution to the EU's target of 20 per cent. renewable energy by 2020, we will bring forward the appropriate measures to make our contribution. In the meantime, the measures and market framework set out in the Energy White Paper allow us to make significant progress on this important agenda.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will establish a 2020 Renewables Taskforce to assist in meeting the UK element of the EU renewables directive; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 10 September 2007]: I do not believe it necessary to set up a new 2020 Renewables Taskforce as the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB) is an existing NDPB set up by government specifically to advise on these issues. RAB exists to improve Government understanding of the obstacles and opportunities for the development and deployment of renewable technologies in the UK and make specific recommendations for this purpose. It is already providing valuable assistance to us in our consideration of the EU 2020 renewable energy target, including by setting up a specific sub-group to advise on the EU 2020 target.
Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to help rural households to overcome planning issues to implement alternative sources of energy, including microgeneration, and to become more energy efficient. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Microgeneration Strategy, published in March 2006 commits to tackling the barriers currently preventing widespread uptake of microgeneration, including issues around planning. With regard to planning issues, the Government have consulted on proposals to help householders install microgeneration technologies without the need to apply for planning permission and responses to the consultation are currently being considered. We have also recently published an energy measures report for local authorities compiling information they can use to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their communities.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 10 September 2007, Official Report, columns 2042-43W, on the Research Council: finance, what restructuring of British Energy was involved; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: As part of the restructuring of British Energy (BE) in January 2005, the Government took on responsibility for the companys historic spent fuel liabilities for the period up to the restructuring. The total cost of these liabilities was estimated in the Departments 2006-07 accounts as £2.4 billion, and is based on the forecast payment schedule up to 2029 which is set out in the waste processing contracts agreed between BE, BNFL and the Department.
Payments since 2004-05 have been approximately £200 million per annum, and future payments are estimated to be £200 million (undiscounted at March 2007 prices) per annum until 2013-14. Amounts are then expected to fall each year thereafter until 2029.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions his Department has had with representatives of Royal Mail Ltd. on the proposed changes to the pensions scheme for Royal Mail staff. 
Mr. McFadden: Royal Mail has developed its proposals on the reform of its pension scheme following discussions with the workforces representatives. My department received a briefing on the final proposals from Royal Mail but has not been involved in their formulation.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposed changes to the pensions scheme on Royal Mail staff. 
Mr. McFadden: I have not carried out an assessment of the impact of the proposed changes to the pension scheme on Royal Mail employees. Royal Mails proposals document sets out how the changes would affect staff.
Mr. McFadden: During the period 1995-2002, the pension fund was in surplus. In 2001, the fund was some 105 per cent. funded. The current deficit arose because of market changes, revised assumptions in life expectancy and the new accounting standards, which required pensions to be reported on company balance sheets. Royal Mail is now addressing the deficit through additional contributions to the fund.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the proposed feasibility study for a Severn Barrage energy scheme will include a full environmental impact assessment. 
Malcolm Wicks: The feasibility study will include detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of a barrage including mitigation and compensation aspects and compliance with the relevant legislation.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) phone calls and (b) meetings took place between (i) Ministers and (ii) civil servants and (A) the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and (B) Vendside in (1) 1998, (2) 1999, (3) 2000 and (4) 2001. 
The Department does not keep records of the number of phone calls between the Department and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers or Vendside. Officials have had formal business meetings with UDM/Vendside but we do not have comprehensive records of these, and an accurate number is not, therefore, available. I should also add that similar business meetings have also taken place
with the Claimants Solicitors Group. There is no record of any Minister having met the UDM or Vendside.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many records there are of (a) gifts and (b) hospitality received by civil servants from his Department and its predecessors from solicitors acting for (i) the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and (ii) Vendside in cases concerning miners' industrial diseases in (A) 1998, (B) 1999, (C) 2000 and (D) 2001. 
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what measures he is taking to prevent energy companies demanding payments arising from not recalibrating token meters and subsequently seeking backdated payments; 
(2) what recent discussions he has had with the energy regulator on energy suppliers who charge backdated payments after delays in the recalibration of token prepayment meters; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what measures he plans to take to assist households who have received backdated payment requests by energy suppliers who have not recalibrated token prepayment meters; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, including matters related to prepayment meters, and I have no plans to meet with the energy suppliers on this issue. I welcome Ofgems commitment to working with suppliers to improve their performance in recalibrating and replacing certain prepayment meters. My Department continues to monitor progress. Ofgem has provided regular updates on suppliers progress, with the latest published in a letter of 9 August from its Director of Governance. This letter, which included details of the progress on customer communication made by Scottish Power, Powergen and npower, is available from Ofgems website at:
Paul Rowen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to his Pre-Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review Statement on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 167, when he expects the Governments target of a 50 per cent. reduction in child poverty to be attained; 
(2) on the Pre-Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 167, how many children will be lifted out of poverty in each of the years between 2008 to 2010 according to the measure proposed in his statement. 
Building on Budget 2007 announcements that will lift 200,000 children out of poverty by 2010-11, the pre-Budget report and comprehensive spending review announced additional financial support for low income families with children, including an increase in the child element of child tax credit by £50 a year above earnings indexation by April 2010, and substantial increases in disregards for child maintenance in income-related benefits. Together these measures will lift around 100,000 additional children out of poverty by 2010-11.
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