Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Dec 2007 : Column 1471W—continued


Nuclear Power

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what work is being undertaken by the Generation IV International Forum in examining new forms of nuclear reactor technology; and what role the UK is playing in the forum. [173862]

Malcolm Wicks: The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) aims to develop, by research collaboration, the most promising advanced nuclear energy systems for international deployment from around 2030. More information is available at www.gen-4.org.

The UK stood down as an active member of the Forum in summer 2006. The decision to stand down reflected the need to match financial and other resources with the Department’s strategic priorities. While valuable in some respects, further involvement in the Forum was not considered to be as relevant to the Department’s mission as other competing priorities.

Post Office: Christmas

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he has sought assurances from the Post Office that the Horizon payments system will cope with the number of transactions expected to take place on 24 December 2007. [174868]

Mr. McFadden: I understand that Post Office Ltd. is confident that its Horizon system has the capacity to cope with the number of transactions expected to take place on 24 December. State pensions for 1.4 million Post Office card account holders will be payable from 21 December giving those pensioners the choice of three days on which to draw their pensions and spreading the transaction volumes for sub post offices and the Horizon system. Post Office Ltd. will monitor performance of their systems closely in the days preceding the holiday period and has comprehensive contingency plans in place.


18 Dec 2007 : Column 1472W

Post Office: Wales

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many submissions the Post Office has received in its consultation on the Cardiff and Glamorgan Valleys Area Plan. [173871]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 13 December 2007]: 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.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Post Offices: Access

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many functioning sub post offices are required to meet the Government's access criteria as outlined in the Network Change Programme; [172488]

(2) if an update has been undertaken of the analysis within the 2000 Performance and Innovation Unit Counter-revolution report on the minimum number of sub post offices required to meet certain distance-based access criteria, based on present post office numbers and the Government's new access criteria as outlined in the Network Change Programme. [172489]

Mr. McFadden: [holding answer 12 December 2007]: Post Office Ltd currently estimates that the minimum size of network necessary to meet the access criteria is around 7,500 offices but it is Government policy to maintain a sustainable network of around 11,500 post offices. The £1.7 billion funding package announced on 17 May supports the network at that level to 2011.

The access criteria set a minimum floor for the network size and Post Office Ltd are being asked to undertake, in consultation with Postwatch, an updated study and analysis of the minimum number of post offices required to meet the access criteria.

Post Offices: Christmas

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what assurances he has sought from the Post Office that all pensioners will be able to receive their pensions from post offices before Christmas 2007; [175023]

(2) what contingency plans there are should pension and benefit claimants be unable to access their payments from post offices before Christmas. [175024]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 17 December 2007]: I understand that Post Office Ltd. is confident that its Horizon system has the capacity to cope with the number of transactions expected to take place on 24 December. State pensions for 1.4 million Post Office card account holders will be payable from 21 December giving those pensioners the choice of three days on which to draw their pensions and spreading the transaction volumes for sub post offices and the Horizon system. Post Office Ltd. will monitor
18 Dec 2007 : Column 1473W
performance of their systems closely in the days preceding the holiday period and has comprehensive contingency plans in place.

Post Offices: Closures

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with Post Office Ltd. on the factors to be taken into account in setting the timetable for the Post Office Closure Consultation Programme; and if he will make a statement. [171990]

Mr. McFadden: In preparing the Government’s response to the national public consultation on the post office network, discussions were held with Post Office Ltd. about the overall timetable for the network change programme. It was the company’s view that implementation of the changes was deliverable by the end of 2008 and the Government response confirmed that the aim was to complete the programme within that period. In July, Post Office Ltd. published an indicative timetable for local consultations on their area plan proposals to complete the programme by the end of 2008. In finalising their timetable for local consultations for post office closures and new outreach services, Post Office Ltd. were asked to take into account Cabinet Office guidelines regarding election periods. These clearly state that consultations should not be launched, and decisions relating to them announced, in a local election period. Successive administrations of both parties have observed these arrangements for many years. The aim remains to complete the network change programme by the end of 2008.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when the Government (a) decided to defer the Post Office network change programme in England and Wales and (b) informed and instructed Post Office Limited to impose a freeze on running any public consultations prior to the May 2008 municipal and local authority elections in England and Wales. [173482]

Mr. McFadden: Post Office Ltd was advised in early November of the need to apply the principles set out in the Cabinet Office guidelines relating to public consultations in the period preceding local elections.

Post Offices: Kent

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many customers use the Shipbourne Road, Tonbridge Post Office on average each day; [174916]

(2) how many customers use the South End, Edenbridge, Post Office on average each day; [174917]

(3) how many customers use the Hectorage Road, Tonbridge, Post Office on average each day; [174918]

(4) how many post offices there are within a mile of (a) the Hectorage Road, Tonbridge, Post Office, (b) the Shipbourne Road, Tonbridge, Post Office and (c) the South End, Edenbridge, Post Office. [174920]


18 Dec 2007 : Column 1474W

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.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Post Offices: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post offices were open in Peterborough constituency in (a) 1997, (b) 2001 and (c) 2006; and if he will make a statement. [174467]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 17 December 2007]: 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. Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Postal Services: Rural Areas

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make an assessment of the effect on postal delivery times in rural areas of the EU regulations which require 7.5 tonne tachograph vehicles to travel at or below 56 mph; and if he will bring forward proposals to exempt postal delivery vehicles from those regulations. [173859]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 13 December 2007]: Royal Mail has responsibility for running the day-to-day operations of the business and has to comply with relevant legislation.

The EU Directive 92/6/EEC concerning all vehicles weighing more than 7.5 tonnes is intended to promote road safety, and to improve working conditions for drivers.

I understand that compliance with this directive has had an impact on Royal Mail's network because vehicles arrive at destinations later.

The Department for Transport has responsibility for the implementation of this directive and it is for them to consider whether there should be exemptions from the regulations.

Postwatch: Finance

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the cost to the public purse was of Post Watch in the latest year for which figures are available. [174919]

Mr. McFadden: Details of Postwatch’s expenditure for the latest year can be found in its annual report for 2006-07 which can be accessed through the Postwatch website at:


18 Dec 2007 : Column 1475W

Power Stations: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether plans exist for minimum efficiency standards for greenhouse gas emissions to be applied to applications for new power plants. [175418]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have issued guidance for all applicants for non renewable fossil fuelled stations to demonstrate they have considered combined heat and power. In addition the Environment Agency consider the efficient use of fuel when considering any large combustion plant application made under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regime.

Radioactive Materials: Waste Disposal

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has to (a) store and (b) dispose of (i) spent nuclear fuel and (ii) other nuclear waste in each 10 year period up to 2077; what sites have been identified for (A) storage and (B) disposal in each case; and if he will make a statement. [174232]

Malcolm Wicks: Spent nuclear fuel is currently stored on the site where it arises or is transported to Sellafield for long-term storage or reprocessing. Spent fuel is not classified as a waste.

High Level Waste (HLW) created by reprocessing spent fuel is routinely put into a passively safe form through a process known as vitrification and then safely and securely stored in a custom built facility at Sellafield.

Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) is generally held in safe and secure storage on nuclear sites where it arises, pending availability of a disposal facility for higher activity waste.

Low Level Waste (LLW) is mostly disposed of at the national Low Level Waste Repository near Drigg in Cumbria, which is expected to operate until 2050. A further near surface LLW disposal facility is currently planned for the Dounreay site in Scotland. Some LLW, not suitable for near-surface disposal, is held in storage pending the availability of a disposal facility for higher activity waste.

In July 2006 the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) reported to Government its recommendations for the long term management of higher activity radioactive waste. In October 2006 Government accepted the primary recommendations of geological disposal coupled with robust, safe and secure interim storage until such time as a geological disposal facility is available. Government also confirmed they wished to explore a site selection approach for this facility based on the concept of voluntarism, as recommended by CoRWM. Government recently held a public consultation on the framework for implementing geological disposal and will report their findings shortly, with a White Paper anticipated in the new year to set out the way forward for the implementation process designed to deliver a geological disposal facility and ensure interim storage remains safe and secure in the meantime.


18 Dec 2007 : Column 1476W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the amount of (a) spent nuclear fuel and (b) other nuclear waste to be disposed of in the UK in each 10 year period to 2077; and if he will make a statement. [174235]

Malcolm Wicks: The last published ‘snapshot’ of the UK Radioactive Waste Inventory, that includes both existing and expected legacy waste volumes, was for a stock date of 1 April 2004. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) drew on this when it compiled its own inventory estimates. The packaged volumes of High Level Waste (HLW), Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) and Low Level Waste (LLW) as reported by CoRWM are as follows:

Material Packaged volume (m3)

HLW

1,290

ILW

353,000

LLW(1)

37,200

(1) This refers to long lived LLW not suitable for near surface disposal.

In addition most LLW is routinely disposed of as it arises to the near surface facility near Drigg in West Cumbria.

From the 2004 UK Radioactive Waste Inventory, given a number of assumptions, if waste is packaged the figures in cubic metres are as follows:

HLW ILW LLW

In stock

1,222

105,570

30,426

Arisings 2004-09

440

27,553

172,881

Arisings 2010-19

92

29,703

260,168

Arisings 2020-29

0

18,218

162,768

Arisings 2030-39

0

12,035

132,534

Arisings 2040-59

0

35,076

228,123

Arisings 2060-99

0

45,445

1,232,787


These figures do not include spent fuel arisings as they are not currently declared as waste intended for disposal.


Next Section Index Home Page