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|Number of households in fuel poverty in England, 1996 to 2004 (Bracketed figures in millions are based on levels using the basic income definition)|
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what percentage of households in the north-west were classified as living in fuel poverty in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of (a) households and (b) vulnerable households in fuel poverty in Tamworth constituency in each year since 1997. 
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which external solicitors representatives of his Department have met to discuss miners compensation; and on how many occasions this has happened in the last three years. 
Malcolm Wicks: From the Departments records we identified meetings with the co-ordinating group representing claimants solicitors which includes representatives of Thompsons, Irwin Mitchell and Hugh James, with whom regular meetings are held to progress issues arising.
In addition, the Departments representatives Capita at meet the solicitors with the most claims through their solicitor liaison programme, and the Departments officials meet claimants representatives through regular monitoring group meetings.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many letters he has received from claimants over his Department's handling of miners' compensation; and how many of those expressed (a) favourable and (b) critical views of his Department's performance. 
Malcolm Wicks: Since September 2002 the Department has received 7,189 pieces of correspondence either directly from claimants or through their respective MPs with respect to the coal health compensation schemes. The Department does not maintain statistical information in the format requested. However, the majority of letters received from claimants are seeking information about the progress of their claims.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what guidance he has issued on obligations for the liquidator of an insolvent firm to (a) consider the Official
Receivers Rate when setting his fees and (b) ensure that a fair and proportionate percentage of the assets owned by the bankrupt firm are used to compensate the creditors. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 6 December 2007]: Statement of Insolvency Practice 9 provides regulatory guidance which insolvency practitioners must follow when seeking approval for their fees. Matters to be considered by the approving body (usually the creditors) include the effectiveness with which the insolvency practitioner has carried out his duties and the value and nature of the assets with which he has had to deal. In October 2004 the court issued a practice statement which provides guidance on matters that will be taken into account when the court is dealing with an application for review of remuneration.
Schedule 6 to the Insolvency Rules 1986 provides the percentage rates that may be charged on both the realisation and the distribution of assets where the remuneration of a liquidator or trustee has not been fixed by the liquidation/creditors committee or the creditors at a general meeting. The percentage scale provided in Schedule 6 is taken from the scale that at one time was applicable to official receivers. However, provisions in the Enterprise Act 2002 introduced a new financial regime for official receivers, whereby creditors pay for the costs of the official receivers administration of cases. Such costs are now provided for in a Fees Order and do not relate to the remuneration limits set out in Schedule 6.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 25 October 2007, Official Report, columns 495-6W, on Macfarlan Smith's: monopolies, what the terms of reference of the analysis of the effect of Macfarlan Smith's position are; when the work began; when the analysis is expected to be completed; which Department is undertaking the work; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: The terms of reference are as set out in the Government response to the Office of Fair Trading, published on 5 September 2006, looking at the prices charged in the UK by MSL and, where possible, contrasting this with the position in other countries. The Home Office is undertaking this work.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he expects to announce the appointment of the first chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear; and when the appointment will begin. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 November 2007]: The shadow board of the academy appointed Jean Llewellyn to the post of chief executive earlier this month. The appointment was announced on the academy and Cogent websites and in press releases.
I am delighted that Jean has been appointed. Her sterling work as leader of the development team for the
academy has given her unparalleled knowledge of the issues and I know she will make a success of the academy.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the fulfilment by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority of its statutory obligations under section 9(2)(a) of the Energy Act 2004 in relation to its dealings with the Harwell site. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority set out its approach to maintaining a skilled workforce in line with its duties under section 9(2)(a) of the Energy Act 2004 in its Strategy, which was subject to full public consultation and approved by the Secretary of State prior to its publication in March 2006. The implementation of all aspects of that Strategy is set out in Annual Plans, which are approved by the Secretary of State and against which progress is monitored. There is no requirement for and has been no site-specific monitoring of the application of section 9(2)(a) to individual sites by the Secretary of State.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussion he has had on changing funding allocations to improve the way in which high hazard facilities are dealt with at Sellafield and Dounreay; what assessment he has made of the likely effect on Magnox funding of an increase in funding for Sellafield and Dounreay; and whether any consideration has been given to mothballing the Magnox site. 
Malcolm Wicks: The comprehensive spending review 2007 (CSR07) provides a generous settlement which will enable the NDA to fund a substantial programme of work across its estate in line with its duties, responsibilities and priorities. It is the responsibility of the NDA to allocate its budget in line with its priorities in consultation with its contractors and other stakeholders.
The NDA's draft business plan for 2008-09 was published for consultation on 7 November and the consultation period closes on 31 January 2008. This sets out the NDA's key objectives and plans for delivering its priorities over the next three years, for all the NDA sites and is available on the NDA website at
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the retiring nuclear power stations are to be fully decommissioned and dismantled before any new nuclear power stations are constructed in the same precincts. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department is currently considering responses to the consultation on nuclear power. If the Government were to confirm their preliminary view that it would be in the public interest to allow private sector energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations, we have proposed to undertake a strategic siting assessment (SSA), in combination with a strategic environmental assessment, to develop robust, objective and transparent criteria for assessing the suitability of sites for new nuclear power stations.
With regard to the question of whether retiring nuclear power stations are to be fully decommissioned and dismantled before any new nuclear power stations are constructed in the same precincts, any future uses of retiring nuclear power stations would need to comply with the existing site licence conditions of the Health and Safety Executive, as well as with other relevant safety and environmental regulations.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether there will be enhanced specifications for any new nuclear power stations to strengthen resistance against the possibility of terrorist attacks; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government set out their preliminary view on the future of nuclear power in the consultation document, published on 23 May. In the consultation document the Government recognise that although nuclear power stations pose some unavoidable terrorism risks, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS), the security regulator, is satisfied that the existing security regime is robust and effective and that allowing new nuclear power stations to be built would be unlikely to materially increase the risks to the UK, because any proposals for new nuclear power stations would only be permitted to proceed if they met the stringent regulatory requirements in full, based on the most up-to-date threat assessments. For any new nuclear power stations, the OCNS would be involved in the generic design assessment stage with a view to security being built into the design, rather than retrofitted.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether (a) trade unions and (b) employers are required to (i) notify in advance and (ii) inform trade union members paying through their salaries by check-off should the amount and value of the political levy on their trade union subscriptions change. 
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when the findings of the consultations on proposed post office closures will be published; and if he will extend the consultation period. 
Mr. McFadden: I understand from Post Office Ltd that the consultation period for the east Essex and Suffolk area plan closed on 19 November and that it expects to announce final decisions on its proposals for post office closures and new outreach services on 13 December. No closures will take place until after the Christmas period.
As the Government's response to the national public consultation on the post office network explained, the arguments for a longer local consultation period were considered but the Government decided to confirm their decision on a six-week local consultation period reflecting the approach followed during the latter stages of the urban reinvention programme. The early stages of developing Post Office Ltds area plan proposals involve detailed plan development discussions with Postwatch and the involvement of local authorities in advance of formal public consultation. The Government believe that when combined with the subsequent six weeks of public consultation, this enables sufficiently robust consultations to take place at a local area level. We are also mindful of the fact that the organisation representing sub-postmasters argued for a speedy local consultation to minimise uncertainty for sub-postmasters and customers.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post offices have closed in each of the 41 area plan areas for each year in which figures are available since 1997. 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make a statement on the Post Office's compliance with the Cabinet Office's good practice guidance on public consultations in relation to its current consultation in Sussex. 
Mr. McFadden: The Cabinet Office code of practice on consultation applies to Government Departments and agencies. As required by the code, the Government consulted for 12 weeks on their proposals for the post office network.
Post Office Ltds six-week local public consultations on its area plans are not on the principle of whether there should be post office closures and new outreach services, but on how such changes are to be
implemented at the local level. This was made clear in the letter sent to MPs in July which said,
As you will understand, the consultation in respect of the Local Area Plan will not concern the principle of the need for change of the Network, nor its broad extension and distribution. Rather consultation will be seeking representations on the most effective way in which Government policyas set out in the Response Documentscan be best implemented in the particular Area in question.
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