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29 Oct 2007 : Column 706W

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what agreements sub-postmasters whose post offices have been nominated for closure were asked to sign with Post Office Ltd. before the commencement of the consultation process on the proposed closures. [161310]

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.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Post Office and (b) Postwatch on the programme of post office branch closures; and if he will make a statement. [161545]

Mr. McFadden: I visited Postwatch on 23 July to discuss the post office closure programme and the council’s role. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have met the Managing Director of Post Office Ltd. to discuss a range of matters relating to the post office network including the closure programme.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for what reasons no assessment has been made of the likely effect of the proposed post office closures on greenhouse gas emissions. [161658]

Mr. McFadden: As stated in the Government’s response to the public consultation on the post office network, closures will principally affect a combination of branches in areas of over-provision and those that are least used. Post Office Ltd. will be tasked with taking a strategic overview of service provision to ensure that in areas of over-provision, people should be able to find an alternative branch nearby and the vast majority will still be within walking distance of their nearest office. With the least used, the number of people affected will, by the nature of the offices, be low. The introduction of new access criteria will minimise the impact by ensuring that the network remains readily accessible across the UK—with far greater coverage than any other retailer, financial service provider or public service provider.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will instruct Post Office Ltd. to make an assessment of the likely effect of proposed post office closures on greenhouse gas emissions. [161661]

Mr. McFadden: No. The area plans published by Post Office Ltd. to date indicate that over 95 per cent. of the population in each area will see no change to the post office branch they currently use or will be within one mile of an alternative branch.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many staff in his Department are working on post office closures consultations; and whether these staff are based in areas where consultation is taking place. [161674]


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Mr. Hutton: Department staff are not working on the consultations. Post Office Ltd. is responsible for developing and implementing its network change programme. The company is working to a rolling programme of around 50 area plans drawing on input from Postwatch, local authorities and sub-postmasters. Views on the detailed proposals are then sought during a six-week period of local consultation. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October and will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until next July.

Post Offices: Finance

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the total turnover of post offices was over the last five years, broken down by region. [160129]

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

Postal Services: Industrial Disputes

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what measures he is taking to help bring about a settlement to the dispute between the Royal Mail and trade unions. [158666]

Mr. McFadden: The Government are pleased that issues have now been resolved and agreement has been reached between the CWU and Royal Mail and they urge all postal workers to support their union’s recommendation in the forthcoming ballot.

Postal Services: Strikes

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has for further meetings with representatives of (a) Royal Mail Ltd. and (b) the Communications Workers Union to discuss resolution of the postal strike. [157265]

Mr. McFadden: The Government are pleased that issues have now been resolved and agreement has been reached between the CWU and Royal Mail and they urge all postal workers to support their union’s recommendation in the forthcoming ballot.

Public Houses: Rural Areas

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will seek to hold discussions with brewery companies on support for rural public houses in England and Wales. [155406]

Mr. Thomas [holding answer 17 September 2007]: The Department has no plans to hold discussions with brewery companies on support for rural public houses in England and Wales.


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Regional Electricity Companies: Licensing

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the reasons are for licence conditions requiring companies providing new electricity supplies to treat individuals in the same manner as businesses when determining the costs of providing a new supply; and what estimate he has made of the cost of this to individuals in rural communities. [160669]

Malcolm Wicks: Under section 16(1) of the Electricity Act 1989, electricity distributors are required, upon request, to make a connection to supply electricity to a premises and to provide electric lines or electrical plant or both as necessary. Under section 19(1) of the Electricity Act 1989, the distributor may require any expenses reasonably incurred in providing such a connection (including lines and/or plant) to be defrayed by the person requiring the connection to such extent as is reasonable in all the circumstances.

This legislation is supported by standard distribution licence conditions, including condition 4B (which requires distributors to publish and comply with a methodology for connection charges) and condition 4C (in particular paragraph 1 which requires that

We have made no estimate of the cost of these provisions to individuals in rural Communities.

Renewable Energy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he expects the UK to meet the target of 20 per cent. of its energy use being met from renewable sources by 2020; and if he will estimate the proportion of the UK's energy use in that year which will be met by each type of renewable energy technology. [161354]

Malcolm Wicks: The EU 2020 20 per cent. renewable energy target is to be shared across all EU member states and the UK's contribution to the target is not yet clear. At this stage, we cannot estimate the proportion of the UK's energy use that will be met by each type of renewable energy technology.

Renewable Energy: Standards

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what modelling his Department has conducted on how the UK can meet its share of the EU target of 20 per cent. of energy from renewables by 2020; and if he will publish the results. [161152]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK share of the overall 20 per cent. target will not be clear until draft EU legislation is published, likely to be in January 2008. Modelling work is currently being done under various scenarios and conclusions will be published on completion.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what work his Department has conducted on the (a) cost
29 Oct 2007 : Column 709W
and (b) policy implications of meeting the likely UK portion of the legally binding EU target of 20 per cent. of energy from renewables by 2020 to which the UK is committed; and if he will publish this work. [161153]

Malcolm Wicks: The exact level of the UK share of the overall 20 per cent. target will not be clear until draft EU legislation is published, likely to be in January 2008. We are undertaking work on costs and policy consequences under various scenarios, the conclusions of which will be published on completion.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether his Department plans to maintain the carbon-price based EU Emissions Trading Scheme alongside the EU target to supply 20 per cent. of energy from renewables by 2020. [161555]

Malcolm Wicks: At this year's Spring Energy Council, the EU Heads of Government agreed a package of energy measures including a target to achieve 20 per cent. of the EU's energy from renewable sources by 2020. The conclusions from the Spring Council also highlighted the importance of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As stated in the UK's Energy White Paper, the Government are committed to both and are keen to ensure that the EU target for renewable energy is implemented in a way that is consistent with an effective EU ETS.

Royal Mail: Fines

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many penalty charges were imposed by Royal Mail in the last year for which figures are available. [152127]

Mr. McFadden: I understand from Postcomm that Royal Mail does not record the number of times that underpaid postage surcharge forms are issued to customers. However, the company does record the total value of the forms issued and the total revenue that is received from customers who choose to pay the surcharge.

In 2006-07 the company issued forms with a total value of £21,897,333.23. In the same period the revenue raised amounted to £7, 335, 544.39.

Solar Power: Finance

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what grants his Department makes available to (a) public landlords and (b) owner-occupiers to install solar power in housing; and how many properties in Leeds have received assistance. [159856]

Malcolm Wicks: The low carbon buildings programme phase 1 was launched in April 2006 with a budget of £36 million to be used to demonstrate energy efficiency and microgeneration technologies in a range of buildings to include households and small and medium enterprises (SME's).

SME's could apply for a maximum grant of £1 million or up to 50 per cent. of the total installation
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cost. However, the final rounds in this category closed to new applicants in September 2007. To date, one public landlord has applied successfully to the programme in the Yorkshire and Humberside region for a solar thermal hot water system project. There have been no applications from public landlords for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Owner-occupiers can apply for up to £2,500 per property towards the installation of microgeneration technologies including solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal hot water systems. To date, the number of successful grants applications for householders in the Yorkshire and Humberside region is as follows:

Technology Number. of successful applicants

Solar photovoltaics (PV)

55

Solar thermal hot water

151

Total

206


Trade Unions: Ballots

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Hertfordshire North East of 4 July 2007, Official Report, column 1112W, on trade unions: ballots, if he will place in the Library copies of scrutineers' reports on union ballots on political fund retention produced between June 2001 and July 2006. [158673]

Mr. McFadden: The certification officer asks trade unions to provide him with a copy of the reports produced by the scrutineers of political fund review ballots. He has agreed to make copies of those he has received in the period between June 2001 and July 2006 available to me. I will then place them in the Library.

Trade: Barbados

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he has (a) taken and (b) plans to take to increase trade between the United Kingdom and Barbados; how much his Department has spent on trade promotion between the United Kingdom and Barbados; and if he will make a statement. [161082]

Mr. Thomas: UK Trade and Investment, through its teams based in Barbados and in the UK, provides a range of support to help UK companies do business in Barbados. Support is offered on an individual basis under a number of programmes, and country specific statistics are not kept.

UK Trade and Investment: Defence Export Services Organisation

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what name will be given to the new organisation within UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) which will have responsibility for defence exports; and how many employees of the Defence Export Services Organisation will be transferred to UKTI. [160067]


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Mr. Thomas: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 25 July, the Cabinet Office is leading work on the development of an implementation plan to be ready by the end of this year. An update will be provided to the House when this work is completed.

Union Modernisation Fund

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what total funding has been claimed so far in respect of each project awarded funding under Round One of the Union Modernisation Fund. [159956]

Mr. McFadden: To 30 September 2007 a total of £1,494,306.14 has been claimed by projects under Round One of the Union Modernisation Fund.

Utilities: Billing

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what information his Department holds on which utility companies (a) inform customers that they will instruct and (b) instruct bailiffs in respect of unpaid accounts without a court order; and if he will make a statement. [161022]


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Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, including the operation of debt and disconnection arrangements. The regulator for telecoms is the Office of Communications (Ofcom). The Department does not collect information about the recovery of debt by gas and electricity suppliers or telecoms service providers, or the processes involved in such recovery.

Utilities: Meters

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 451W, on utilities: meters, how many households pay for electricity and gas by (a) direct debit, (b) prepayment meters, (c) online methods, (d) quarterly payments, (e) fuel direct and (f) any other method, broken down by income decile. [161616]

Malcolm Wicks: In the UK, there are around 261/4 million electricity and 21 million gas domestic customers. The number of customers split by payment method and income decile is estimated as follows:

Electricity in thousand customers
Decile group
Lowest 10 per cent. Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh Eighth Ninth Highest 10 per cent.

Pre-payment

870

608

481

429

357

341

267

259

123

41

Standard credit

1,149

1,126

1,128

985

1,021

961

989

888

1,009

1,081

Direct debit

606

890

1,015

1,210

1,246

1,322

1,368

1,477

1,493

1,502


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