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In the event that, following the consultation, the Government decide to allow private sector energy companies to build new nuclear power stations, it will be for the private sector to bring forward proposals for
new reactors and for the regulators to be assured of the safety, security and environmental emissions of a design before it can be licensed.
Fast breeder reactors are currently a long way off in terms of being able to be deployed on a commercial scale and thus none are going through the first steps of the generic design assessment process.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many UK citizens had their views directly solicited in respect of plans for an increased number of nuclear power stations; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: We intended our public consultation on whether it is in the public interest to give private sector energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations to hear from a wide range of different people across the UK. To that end, as well as publishing a consultation document, we advertised the consultation in the press; held meetings for interested organisations, which were attended by a total of about 400 representatives; held meetings near existing nuclear facilities attended by a total of about 200 people; and held nine day-long events attended by about 1,000 members of the general public. We also sent direct mail to over 5,000 community organisations, and placed copies of the document together with a poster in public libraries. In addition to the views expressed at the meetings, we received over 2,700 written responses from individuals and organisations. Following consideration of these responses we will announce our decision in the new year.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what projections he has made of annual volumes of (a) high, (b) intermediate and (c) low-level nuclear waste that may arise from the introduction of a new generation of nuclear power stations. 
Malcolm Wicks: It is the Governments position that, if we conclude private sector energy companies should be allowed to invest in nuclear power, it will be for private sector energy companies to bring forward plans to build any new nuclear power stations. This means that we cannot be sure of the number or design of stations that might be proposed, or of the volumes of waste that could arise.
In the consultation document The Future of Nuclear Power, we considered an example scenario that had been referenced in the Committee on Radioactive Waste Managements (CoRWM) Inventory Report which would rather more than replace existing nuclear capacity. For this estimated scenario, the CoRWM Inventory Report summary information document shows that it would, over the lifetime of the new stations, add 8 per cent. to the UKs existing volume of radioactive waste.
In the event that the Government conclude in favour of allowing private sector energy companies to invest in new nuclear power stations, we will continue to explore these issues as part of our programme of facilitative actions.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether it is his policy to require the nuclear installations inspectorate to establish commercial demand from utility companies for each of the nuclear reactor types they are assessing. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 13 December 2007]: The approach of the regulators (which includes the nuclear installations inspectorate) to generic design assessment (GDA) of new nuclear reactor designs is to provide a rigorous and structured examination of the safety, security and environmental aspects of possible new nuclear reactor designs. Before GDA began, we carried out a prioritisation process to ensure that the regulators could focus their resources on those designs that have the greatest chance of being built. This process required all applicants for GDA to have the support of a credible nuclear power operator. The result of this process was that four designs are being assessed in the initial stage of GDA.
As we set out in the consultation document, if more than three designs remain viable following this stage, a prioritisation process will be needed to select no more than three designs to proceed to the detailed stage of the assessments. This second stage of prioritisation would also take account of the designs likelihood of being deployed in the UK by 2016-22. We will announce the detail of how this prioritisation process would operate in due course. This prioritisation will only be necessary if the outcome of the consultation on the future of nuclear power is that private-sector companies should be allowed to invest in new nuclear power stations.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what studies have been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by his Department on the peak oil phenomenon; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department is aware of a wide range of academic and industry studies which look at future world oil supplies, including the peak oil phenomenon, and meets experts regularly to discuss this and other oil market issues.
The Governments assessment is that the worlds oil resources are sufficient to prevent total global oil production peaking before 2030. This is consistent with the assessment made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2007 World Energy Outlook (WEO).
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the proportion of the UKs energy needs which will be met by UK North Sea reserves in (a) 2008, (b) 2012, (c) 2015, (d) 2020 and (e) 2030. 
Malcolm Wicks: Estimates of the proportion of UK primary energy demand met by UK oil and gas production can be derived from Updated Energy and Carbon Emissions Projections, published alongside the May 2007 Energy White Paper at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39580.pdf, but only for the years 2005, 2010 and 2020.
On the basis of the central production projections, central fossil fuel price assumptions and central estimates of the impact on demand of policy measures in the Energy White Paper included in that paper, the proportion of the UKs energy needs which were or would be met by UK North sea reserves in (a) 2005, (b) 2010 and (c) 2020 are (a) 70 per cent., (b) 58 per cent. and (c) 24 per cent.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many and what proportion of members of each trade union with a political fund have exercised their right to opt out of the political levy, according to records held by (a) his Department and (b) the Certification Officer. 
The Certification Officer has provided the following figures. These are based on the latest returns made to the Certification Officer by the relevant trade unions. The proportion of members who have exercised their right to opt out of the political levy is calculated against members contributing to the union rather than the total number of members.
|Name||Total number of union members contributing to General Fund||Number of members who have completed an exemption notice and therefore do not contribute to the Political Fund||Number of members who have completed an exemption notice and therefore do not contribute to the Political Fund as a percentage|
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which trade unions with political funds offer discounted membership or a rebate to union members who opt out of the political levy. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 13 December 2007]: When trade union members opt out of contributing to their unions political fund, the union must ensure that they do not make payments to the political fund and their payments to the union must be set or adjusted accordingly. There are no grounds to believe that trade unions with political funds are failing to comply with these legal requirements.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) for how long each power station in the United Kingdom has been shut down for (a) safety concerns and (b) essential maintenance in each of the last 10 years; 
Planned or unplanned closures of this nature are commercial and/or technical decisions
for the companies that own and operate the power stations to take in conjunction with the relevant health and safety authorities. My Department therefore does not keep records of the operating decisions of individual power stations.
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