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29 Oct 2007 : Column 701W

Industrial Disputes: Arbitration

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what research his Department has undertaken on mediation in employment disputes in the last 12 years. [151293]

Mr. McFadden: This Department commissions periodic surveys of claimants and employer respondents which include information related to Acas conciliation and the role of parties’ representatives. The last survey was carried out in 2003, and the findings published in the Employee Relations Survey Report No. 33 “Findings from the Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications 2003”. The next survey is expected to take place in 2008 and will include questions on the parties’ attitudes to mediation.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 10 September on climate change and UK energy. [161261]

Malcolm Wicks: I responded to the hon. Member's letter on 18 September. A copy of my letter has been faxed to the hon. Member's parliamentary office.

Microgeneration: Climate Change

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his assessment is of the potential contribution of microgeneration in the UK to tackling climate change; and if he will make a statement. [159102]

Malcolm Wicks: As recognised by the Microgeneration Strategy, microgeneration has a significant role to play in meeting our energy policy goal of sustainable and secure energy for all. It will help meet our goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 60 per cent. by 2050. We have recently commissioned research which will quantify the future potential of microgeneration which is due to be completed by spring 2008.

Migrant Workers: Conditions of Employment

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what measures he is taking to encourage migrant workers to report instances of forced labour and exploitation. [160117]

Mr. McFadden: Steps have been taken to raise migrant workers’ awareness of their workplace rights and how to report instances of abuse. All accession country (A8 and A2) workers required to register under the Home Office’s Worker Registration Scheme now receive a one page ‘Know Your Rights’ leaflet alongside their registration documents. The leaflet—available in six languages—includes telephone numbers and website addresses for the workplace enforcement bodies and other advice bodies. ‘Know Before You Go’ leaflets are also available to Lithuanian, Polish and Portuguese nationals before they leave for the UK.


29 Oct 2007 : Column 702W

It is now easier for migrant workers, whose main language is not English, to report instances of abuse to the workplace enforcement bodies. Translation services are available for those who wish to use the various enforcement helplines, and complaints can be submitted by e-mail. Reports about abuses of the National Minimum Wage regulations, for example, can be made to the helpline on 0845 6000 678 or via e mail using the complaint form at www.hmrc.gov.uk/nmw/complaint.htm. Where migrant workers work through an employment agency, and they have concerns about mistreatment, they can contact the Employment Agency Standards helpline on 0845 955 5105, or send an email to eas@berr.gsi. gov.uk.

This year’s enhanced National Minimum Wage publicity work includes a campaign targeted at migrant workers, including publicity for the NMW helpline. Other enforcement bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority also have publicity and awareness-raising work in train aimed at migrant workers.

The Department’s Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum, set up to look at employment rights abuses, and identify ways of improving the enforcement framework is considering, as part of its work, whether more can be done to encourage vulnerable workers, including vulnerable migrant workers, to report problems.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the budget is for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09, (c) 2009-10 and (d) 2010-11. [159958]

Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has a programme budget settlement of some £2.47 billion for 2007-08. The Authority believes that this settlement will give it and its contractors the certainty they need without impacting on the planned programme of nuclear clean up work. The settlement strikes a proper balance between what is desirable and what is affordable, and it ensures that safety remains the paramount concern.

Over the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007 period, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will oversee the NDA to ensure that the UK's civil nuclear liabilities continue to be managed safely, securely and cost effectively. The NDA will be informed of their settlement shortly.

Nuclear Power Stations

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has received from (a) industry and (b) other parties regarding the timescale for making a decision on new nuclear power plants. [158707]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 October 2007]: The Nuclear Consultation process ended on 10 October 2007.


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We have received over 2,500 responses by website and post from stakeholders and the general public, which we will publish except where the respondents have asked for their responses to remain confidential.

We will make a decision, after we have carefully considered and analysed all the responses and information we have received during the consultation period.

Nuclear Power Stations: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with British Energy on the number of nuclear power stations it has shut for maintenance and repair; and if he will make a statement. [161688]

Malcolm Wicks: On 22 October, British Energy updated the market on the status of its Hartlepool and Heysham 1 nuclear power stations. Operational issues are a matter for BE, which is a publicly listed company, and so it would be inappropriate for Government to comment any further.

Our electricity system is among the most resilient in the world. All power plants suffer unplanned outages from time to time, which is precisely why there is a safety margin of extra generation for electricity. Even if the nuclear plants taken out of action this week remain out of service through the winter, National Grid still expects there to be 19 per cent. more available electricity generation capacity than will be needed at times of highest demand.

Nuclear Power: Public Participation

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations his Department has made to the Market Research Standards Board's investigation into the Government's nuclear power consultation; and if he will make a statement. [160792]

Malcolm Wicks: Opinion Leader were appointed by the Department in April this year to conduct deliberative research with the public, as one part of the Government's consultation on the future of nuclear power. Greenpeace have made a complaint to the Market Research Standards Council, the professional body which operates a code of conduct for those working in the sector, about Opinion Leader's conduct of this research. I understand that the Council has launched an investigation. My Department has not so far been asked by the Market Research Standards Council to make representations, and has not done so.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the value is of the contract with Opinion Leader Research for the consultation on nuclear energy. [159930]

Malcolm Wicks: Opinion Leader were appointed by the Department in April this year to conduct deliberative research with the public, as one part of the Government's consultation on the future of nuclear power.


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The total value of their contract is £772,626. Of this amount £655,452 was paid to Opinion Leader for activities associated with the design, delivery and reporting for the public deliberative events, and the remaining £117,174 has been paid to cover the costs of Dialogue by Design, a specialist sub-contractor who have managed the online consultation website on behalf of the Department. The final costs of the web-based activity have yet to be determined as they are dependent on the volume of materials received.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the tendering process was for selecting Opinion Leader Research for the consultation on nuclear energy. [160078]

Malcolm Wicks: Opinion Leader Research were appointed by the Department in April this year to conduct deliberative research with the public, as one part of the Government's consultation on the future of nuclear power. They were appointed following a competitive tendering process, which involved three agencies with whom COI hold framework agreements, and the process was overseen and managed by COI.

Oil: Cardigan Bay

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which companies have applied for licences in Cardigan Bay in the 24(th) licensing round. [160284]

Malcolm Wicks: In order to ensure commercial interests are not prejudiced and so as not to undermine the competitive process we do not publish the names of applicants for particular blocks. The names of winning applicants are made public at the time of any award.

Overseas Trade: Milk

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much milk was (a) exported to and (b) imported from the Netherlands in each of the last 10 years. [161134]

Mr. Thomas: Overseas trade statistics data give the following figures for UK trade in milk and cream with the Netherlands:

Thousand tonnes
UK exports of milk and cream to the Netherlands UK imports of milk and cream from the Netherlands

1997

64.6

5.4

1998

31.1

6.8

1999

28.6

8.0

2000

22.9

8.0

2001

19.2

7.0

2002

41.3

7.5

2003

23.0

13.1

2004

13.3

15.2

2005

6.1

19.6

2006

11.5

29.3


29 Oct 2007 : Column 705W

Parental Leave

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what information his Department holds on the relationship between the take-up of parental leave and the income band of those eligible for such leave. [160834]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 25 October 2007]: The Department does not collect any administrative data on parental leave take-up. Some estimates of take-up can be made from survey data, however no survey data are available which provides a complete answer to the tabled question.

The Maternity and Paternity Rights: Survey of Parents was conducted in 2005, with a sample of mothers and their partners who had had a baby approximately 17 months earlier in December 2003. Analysis of this data shows that for both mothers and fathers in work after the birth of their child, there is no statistically significant relationship between income band and take-up of parental leave. It should be borne in mind that this data is representative of only a subset of all workers eligible for this form of leave. Pages 36/37 and 85/86 of the survey report, available at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file27446.pdf. present these findings.

Post Office: Reorganisation

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the average hourly rate paid to his Department's advisers on the restructuring of the post office network was; and where those advisers were located. [152975]

Mr. McFadden: It would not be appropriate to give the hourly rates for the individual advisers used on the post office network restructuring as this is commercially confidential information. The combined average hourly rate for the advisers was £318 per hour. All the advisers used were based in London.

Post Offices

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) urban and (b) rural post offices (i) opened and (ii) closed in each year since 1990. [161765]

Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Post Offices: Closures

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of the 2,500 post offices proposed for closure which will be closed following the consultation process. [161309]

Mr. McFadden: Following the Government’s final decisions, it is now for Post Office Ltd. to develop local area plans for proposals for closures and other changes in service provision on a strategic basis within the framework set by Government.


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