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Waste Strategy 2007, which was published on 24 May this year, sets out the Governments policy on waste incineration and energy from waste. The Strategy places a strong emphasis on links with energy policy and the need to consider the overall impacts of managing waste, including the greenhouse gas
emissions generated by various waste management options. The biodegradable fraction of waste is a renewable resource and energy generated either directly from waste, or through the use of a refuse derived fuel, increases our energy security.
Anaerobic digestion, in particular, has significant carbon and energy benefits over other options for managing food waste. We are therefore encouraging local authorities and businesses to consider whether anaerobic digestion has a role to play in meeting their objectives. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) will continue to promote this technology for treating commercial and municipal food waste through its capital support programme and work with the Carbon Trust and the food industry.
As mentioned in the Waste Strategy 2007, DEFRA is also considering ways to raise public awareness of the options and issues relating to waste management infrastructure. The aim is to provide evidenced-based information which will aid public comprehension of the options. Communications activity is tentatively planned for early 2008.
DEFRA also operates the New Technologies Demonstrator Programme to demonstrate innovative waste treatment technologies as possible alternatives to landfill. The programme aims to prove the economic, social and environmental viability of each selected technology. Each site will have a visitor centre, which will be open throughout the plants participation in the programme. These will enable representatives from local authorities and the waste sector to learn more about the particular strengths and weaknesses of each technology. There will be a series of impartial reports, presentations and advice from experts working on behalf of the Department.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average percentage change in domestic water bills has been in each local authority area in the East of England since May 1997. 
Average bill information is not available at local authority level. Changes in average household bills since 1997 for companies serving the East of England including Anglian Water, Cambridge Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, Severn Trent Water and Tendring Hundred Water, are set out in the following tables (in 2007-08 prices):
|Water and sewerage companies|
|Anglian Water||Severn Trent Water|
|Cambridge Water||Essex and Suffolk Water||Tendring Hundred Water|
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has (a) to update the publication Protecting Whales: A global responsibility and (b) to distribute it in advance of next years International Whaling Commission meeting in Chile; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will shortly deliver an updated version of the publication Protecting WhalesA Global Responsibility to host Governments to encourage more nations to join the effort to protect these species and maintain the moratorium on commercial whaling.
The UK and its allies have taken every opportunity to try to persuade new anti-whaling countries to join the International Whaling Commission. There has been some success; eight have joined in the last three years.
At official level we do have regular contact with other like-minded countries, including those EU countries who are, like the UK, parties to the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling and thus members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what funding his Department provided for Advantage West Midlands to subsidise the move by Severn Trent Water plc from Birmingham to Coventry; whether the subsidising by the regional development agency (RDA) of a company's move within the region is in accordance with his Department's policy on the appropriate use of RDAs' funds; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the debt owed to the Export Credits Guarantee Department by the Maldives was (a) in each of the last five years and (b) on the most recent date for which information is available; what plans he has to write off outstanding debt owed by the Maldives; what recent representations he has received on this; and if he will make a statement. 
ECGD has a small amount of exposure (£3.9 million) in respect of a loan which is being guaranteed by ECGD, where repayments are being made to the financing bank on time. The loan relates to a contract for the upgrade of an airport.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will consider the merits of providing support and assistance to the furniture industry to take account of recent increases in the prices paid by furniture manufacturers for materials. 
Mr. Timms: Government provide a range of support through the Businesslink service to help companies from all sectors improve their competitiveness. We are also providing support to the furniture industry with funding of £1.75 million over four and a half years, from 2003 to March 2008, to establish UK First, the furniture sector industry forum to help companies in the sector to improve performance on quality, cost and delivery.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many former miners' compensation claims cases are awaiting responses in relation to employment records enquiries from private mining companies; what assessment he has made of the impact of the time taken to respond to such enquiries by such companies on the time taken to conclude such claims; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department is not able to readily identify the number of claims in which information is awaited from private mining companies in relation to employment records. Certainly, some vibration white finger claims have taken longer to reach settlement because the Department's claims handlers had to obtain employment records from co-defendants and this is sometimes a lengthy process. There are 82 small mine and 62 UK coal respiratory disease claims with wage and pension loss issues that the Department
is currently unable to make offers on due to information being held by third parties. This is partially due to the lack of an agreed process between the parties. The Department will soon be proposing new protocols in an attempt to agree such a process.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on coal mining operators and the claims handling agreement; and what steps the Government plan to take to ensure that outstanding former miners' claims are settled. 
Malcolm Wicks: The number of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims affected by co-defendant policy issues has dropped dramatically over time due to the number of decisions implemented within the system and different parties accepting the terms of the claims handling agreement. The UK coal agreement will pave the way for another large number of claims to progress to settlement, subject to calculator development. However, issues remain outstanding with other post successor companies that bought out collieries following privatisation of British Coal. My Department is working to achieve a swift resolution.
A large number of co-defendants have signed up to parts of the claims handling arrangement for vibration white finger claims, and a large proportion of co-defended claims have been settled. In order to resolve more complex co-defended claims a number of initiatives including Insurer Liaison and Solicitor Liaison programmes are in place to try to facilitate speedier progression. In addition, a co-defendant protocol has been negotiated which details the obligations of all parties involved in the progression of claims.
Malcolm Wicks: The number of former miners' coal health compensation claims that have not yet been settled for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims is 114, 464 and for vibration white finger 11, 669 as at 14 October 2007.
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his assessment is of the role local authorities can play in increasing the use of micro-generation for supplying energy for domestic and commercial consumption. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Micro-generation Strategy, published in March 2006 commits to tackling the barriers currently preventing widespread uptake of micro-generation. Local authorities have an important role to play, in taking action on their own estate and housing stock, in motivating the wider community to take action and in exercising their planning responsibilities. We have recently published an energy measures report for local authorities compiling information they can use to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the levels of micro-generation in their communities.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was allocated for training for the Ministry of Defence Police in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what the projected funding is to be made available for each of the next five years. 
|Financial year||£ million|
|Financial year||£ million|
The allocations include funding for training staff salaries, professional fees and external training. The figures also include the training allocation for the Ministry of Defence Guard Service, which was fully subsumed into the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency on 1 April 2004.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) if he will make a statement on the progress being made by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on the decommissioning of magnox nuclear power plants; and when he expects work to begin; 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 October 2007]: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has set out its plans for decommissioning of the Magnox nuclear power stations in its strategy and successive annual plans. The annual plan for 2007-08 and other documents are available on the NDA website at:
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