|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment (a) his Department and (b) the Certification Officer has made of the number of trade unions which affiliate more members to the Labour Party than they have members paying the political levy. 
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with (a) the Post Office and (b) others on the timetable for the Network Change Programme consultation; what changes have been made following these discussions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: The timetable for the Network Change Programme was set out in July of this year. In line with the Cabinet Office guidelines on consultations during local elections POL have now agreed to suspend the process during the local election campaign. As a consequence of these changes, the start of consultations and announcements of decisions on plans which were previously scheduled for after 1 May 2008 are put back by four weeks on average.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent representations his Department has received on security provision in the event of (a) an accident and (b) a terrorist attack involving nuclear waste in transit in (i) an urban and (ii) a rural environment; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government believe that the risks of transporting nuclear materials are very small and that there is an effective regulatory framework in place to ensure that these risks are minimised and sensibly managed by industry.
The Government set out their preliminary view on the future of nuclear power in the consultation document, published on 23 May 2007. The consultation ended on 10 October 2007 and the Government are currently carefully considering the responses received before they make the decision early this year.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what criteria were used to allocate the funding referred to in the answer of 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 195W, on regional development agencies: finance to each regional development agency; and what the reasons were for the variation between regional development agencies of their administrative costs as a percentage of their respective grants. 
Mr. Timms: The regional development agencies' budgets for 2007-08 were allocated to the RDAs following the Spending Review 2004. Grant in aid was divided between the RDAs using a funding formula which takes into account the needs of the region (including skills, worklessness and productivity).
Once the overall budgets were set, the RDAs produced corporate plans in which they set out their
requirements for pay and non-pay administration costs. Those plans were approved by Ministers.
Differences in the proportion of the total budget spent on administration by RDAs arise for a number of reasons. These include the different geographic size and population of the region, the different sizes of the RDAs total budget and the different choices which the Agencies make in terms of whether they deliver particular objectives themselves or whether they operate through sub-regional partners.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his policy is on underwriting the Sakhalin II oil and gas development; when he expects to make a decision on underwriting exploration; and how much he expects to underwrite. 
A decision on whether to support the project and on the amount of any such support will be made after ECGD has completed its financial, technical, environmental and other due diligence. This will take into consideration comments received on the project from other interested parties, including NGOs.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions on the timetable of pension and benefits payments in the period before Christmas 2007. 
Mr. McFadden: None. However, I understand from Post Office Ltd. that it 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 its systems closely in the days preceding the holiday period and has comprehensive contingency plans in place.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned, (b) undertaken and (c) evaluated on the effects of changing to daylight saving time in the UK. 
Mr. McFadden: There are no plans to change the current summer time arrangements or to undertake additional research as the Government are not convinced that a change would be in the best interests of the UK.
Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what steps Ofgem is taking to encourage improvements in consumer complaint-handling by energy suppliers; what discussions he has had with Ofgem on this; and if he will make a statement; 
Malcolm Wicks: Under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007, Ofgem is required to make regulations that set standards of performance for complaint-handling standards for gas and electricity customers. Ofgem is currently consulting on proposals that meet this requirement. Among other things, Ofgem has proposed that companies provide information about the number of complaints they receive. Its consultation also seeks views on what other informationsuch as customer satisfaction or speed of resolutionmight be provided by companies. My officials, and other interested parties, have been in discussion with Ofgem about this activity.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimates he has made of the average UK household (a) electricity and (b) gas bill in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what research his Department has carried out into mapping the potential for heat capture in the UK. 
In the Energy White Paper we said that we would conduct further work into the policy options available to reduce the carbon impact of heat including the capture and use of surplus heat. This
work is being led by the Office of Climate Change and officials from my Department along with other Departments.
The OCC's Heat Project aims to improve the understanding of how heat can be cost-effectively decarbonised, including how heat can be supplied from renewable sources. This work is being taken forward under the four workstreams:
(i) Carbon Markets;
(ii) Renewable Heat;
(iii) Community Heating; and
(iv) Large Scale Heat.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the cost of decommissioning a 2MW wind turbine, including the cost of removing concrete foundations, access roads and associated infrastructures, and restoring sites to their original condition; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that such decommissioning is properly carried out. 
Malcolm Wicks: No such estimate has been made. Decommissioning conditions are applied to onshore wind farm planning permissions to ensure restoration of the site to the satisfaction of the local authority once the planning permission lifetime has expired. It is common practice for developers to enter into agreements pursuant to section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to ensure funds are available for such decommissioning work.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils aged (a) three to 15, (b) 14 to 15 and (c) 16 to 19 there are expected to be in academy schools in each year between 2008-09 and 2010-11. 
Jim Knight: The following table shows the estimated number of pupils aged (a) three to 15, (b) 14 to 15 and (c) 16 to 19 that are expected to be in academy schools in the following academic years 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11.
These estimates are based on 200 academies being open by 2010; they are subject to change as we move towards opening 400 academies. This is consistent with the projections published in Department Annual Report 2007 and the submission of 16 May 2007.
|Projected numbers of pupils( 1) in academies|
|(1) Full-time equivalents, counting each part-time pupil as 0.5. The numbers have been rounded to the nearest one thousand. Note: Projections use 2006 School Census Data and are being updated in early 2008.|
The National Foundation for Educational Research ("Admissions: who goes where? Messages from the statistics", published July 2006) found that academies tended to be situated in areas where the community populations included higher proportions of children eligible for free school meals (FSM); with special educational needs (SEN); of black or ethnic minority origin; and of lower key stage 2 (KS2) ability; and that academies admit higher proportions of pupils eligible for FSM and with SEN than the proportion living in the local postcode districts. Furthermore, they admit a lower proportion of pupils of higher KS2 ability compared to the proportion living within the local postcode districts.
There is a large body of evidence from independent reports and examination results that the academies programme is succeeding in raising aspirations and attainment in the communities they serve. The National Audit Office concluded that pupils' achievements in 2005 and 2006 indicated a strong trend in raising attainment, and that if this trend continues, the academies programme will meet its objective of raising attainment in deprived areas ("The Academies Programme", National Audit Office, February 2007, page 8). The Government agree with this assessment, which is why the Secretary of State in his statement to the House of 10 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1319-23, announced a series of measures to accelerate the academies programme, and the Department plans to open 50 new academies in each of the next three years on its way to opening at least 400 academies.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what external assessments of the academies programme will be (a) completed and (b) published in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: In February 2003, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to conduct an independent five-year evaluation of the academies programme. The aim of the evaluation is to assess the overall effectiveness of the programme in terms of its contribution to educational standards, and to examine the impact of key features of academies including sponsorship, governance, leadership and buildings. The first four reports have already been published and the fifth and final report will be published in summer 2008.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|