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The most recent publication, "The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy 5th Annual Progress Report 2007", available at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file42720.pdf, shows that in 2004 there were approximately 2 million fuel poor households in the UK (1.2 million in England), rising to approximately 2.5 million in the UK in 2005 (1.5 million in England). This report covers up to 2005, the last year for which published statistics are available.
The Energy White Paper, published in May 2007, held projections to 2006. It estimated that an extra 1.2 million households in England were fuel poor in 2006 compared to 2004, this increase being caused by rises in fuel prices.
This shows that in 2005 there were approximately 288,000 fuel poor households in a "Village, hamlet or isolated dwelling". This is 14.6 per cent. of the total 1,980,000 houses defined as being members of this category.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to ensure proportionate liability for consultants and engineers in construction projects. 
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when the Minister of State will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire dated 20 November 2007, about people whose assets place them on the margins of eligibility for state aid. 
The hon. Members letter was for my colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions to respond to. I apologise that the transfer of the letter
was delayed over the Christmas period, but it was completed on 15 January. The hon. Member will receive a response in due course.
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many persons he estimates are working (a) at below the minimum wage, (b) at the minimum wage, (c) for between £5.53 and £7.00 per hour, (d) for between £7.01 and £8.00 per hour, (e) for between £8.01 and £9.00 per hour, (f) for between £9.01 and £10.00 per hour and (g) for between £10.01 and £12.50 per hour; and what percentage each of these groups are of the total work force. 
(a) It is estimated that there are 292,000 jobs which were paying below the applicable NMW rate in April 2007.
Some people may be paid below the NMW due to non-compliance with the legislation. The Government have announced their intention to introduce new penalties for all employers who underpay the national minimum wage and a fairer system of paying arrears. These measures are included in the Employment Bill announced in the Queens Speech 2007. However, not all those that are paid less than the NMW reflect non-compliance. There are a number of circumstances where the national minimum wage does not apply and so individuals may legitimately earn less than the appropriate national minimum wage rate for their age. For example, individuals may be on Government training programmes or apprenticeships, where they are exempt for the first year, up to the age of 26. Employees may also not be receiving the national minimum wage in cash terms because employers can legitimately reduce rates to take into account the cost of accommodation provided, for which there is a standard level of deduction.
(b) The estimates of those at the NMW level are not available from the Office of National Statistics, as hourly earnings are calculated from weekly earnings divided by the numbers of hours, it is not possible to be so precise. However, the number of jobs less than the NMW plus 5p are 921,000 (3.6 per cent.).
(c) 3,939 jobs (16.5 per cent.)
(d) 2,279 jobs (9.5 per cent.)
(e) 2,062 jobs (8.6 per cent.)
(f) 1,777 jobs (7.4 per cent.)
(g) 3,342 jobs (14.0 per cent.)
The numbers are from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). They are indicative as they exclude some employees (such as those whose pay has been affected by loss of earnings or those who are not on adult rates) in order to give a better measure of earnings. Therefore, the proportions are more meaningful than the absolute numbers.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will bring forward proposals to increase the minimum wage for (a) adults and (b) young workers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: National minimum wage rates are set by the Government based on the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC). The Low Pay Commission is due to report to Government in February.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government has taken to encourage individuals and companies to set up businesses in the West Midlands in the last five years. 
Mr. Timms: Over the last five years, the Business Link service in the West Midlands has provided a wide range of support and guidance to companies and individuals who want to set up new businesses. It provides advice on key issues as well as training workshops and mentoring. Since 2002, the Business Link service in the West Midlands has offered a bespoke high growth start-up programme called Mustard. This service includes advice on how to access non-traditional sources of finance including venture capital and business angels. Companies also receive specialist advice from accountancy and finance specialists. Over 500 start-up businesses every year have taken part in this bespoke programme.
The Business Link service in the West Midlands has also supported the Young Enterprise and Princes Trust initiatives which encourage young people to start their own businesses and has run bespoke programmes to encourage women, ethnic minority and social entrepreneurs to set up businesses.
|Number of individuals who have been supported at least once with advice or training on how to|
|Financial year||Start up and manage a new business||Operate their business during their first 12 months of trading|
The regions important manufacturing sector has benefited from support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service which offers companies access to a range of services as part of the wider larger business support network.
The Manufacturing Advisory Service in the West Midlands (MAS-WM) has been successful in attracting individuals and businesses to the region particularly through its specialist sourcing service which encourages inter-trading between local suppliers.
Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the regional development agency, also has in place a further range of initiatives to increase the creation, growth and survival of economically sustainable new businesses. AWM also administers the selective finance for investment (SFI) grant for manufacturing and service projects. Under SFI, between April 2004 and March 2007, 234 offers of grant made by AWM were accepted. These grant offers are expected to create 2,782 jobs and safeguard 3,325 jobs. In total, £35.1 million of grant funding has been provided.
Through one of the key delivery mechanisms for delivering the West Midlands Economic Strategythe High Technology Corridors-AWM has supported the creation of 148 new business, and assisted a further 1,786 businesses.
The West Midlands region has a good track record of attracting inward investment. The West Midlands is home to around 2,300 foreign owned firms from over 40 countries which employ around 250,000 people.
AWM manages inward investment activity for the region, working with a range of regional, national and international partners. Support for potential inward investors includes land and property searches, help with staff recruitment training and assistance with developing partnerships, particularly with universities.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what communication has occurred between (a) the Secretary of State and (b) other members of his Department and BSkyB, News International or any News Corporation controlled company following BSkyBs acquisition of a 17.9 per cent. stake in ITV; and what form this communication has taken in each case; 
(2) whether his Department has been contacted by BSkyB, News International or any other News Corporation controlled company during the past four weeks in relation to the Competition Commissions final report into the BSkyB acquisition of a 17.9 per cent. stake in ITV published on 20 December 2007; 
(3) whether his Department has been contacted by BSkyB, News International or any other News Corporation controlled company during the past four weeks in relation to the Competition Commissions final report sent to him on 14 December 2007. 
Mr. Thomas: Since receipt and publication of the Competition Commissions final report of its inquiry into British Sky Broadcasting Group plcs (BSkyB) acquisition of a 17.9 per cent. shareholding in ITV plc, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received written representations from BSkyB as well as from Virgin Media, ITV plc, Rapture Television, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and by Mr. David Hammond. In addition, BERR officials have met with representatives of BSkyB to receive further oral representations.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to paragraph 3.77 of the White Paper on Nuclear Power, CM 7296, what steps may be taken by Ministers to ensure a level playing field between nuclear power and other forms of electricity generation. 
As set out in the White Paper, it is not intended that incentives will be provided through the fiscal regime to invest in nuclear power generation
in preference to other types of generation. Should it be determined that the timing of nuclear decommissioning creates a tax disadvantage for nuclear operators, the Government will consider whether it might be appropriate to take action to ensure a level fiscal playing field between nuclear power and other forms of electricity generation. There are no proposals for measures at this stage.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he expects to post on his departmental website the written submissions received by the consultation on nuclear energy policy held in 2007; and if he will list those individuals and organisations that made submissions, but requested their content not to be published by the Department. 
Malcolm Wicks: I placed the written responses on our consultation website at www.direct.gov.uk/nuclearpower2007 on 10 January 2008, the day that we published our White Paper on nuclear power. Where respondents requested confidentiality, we have not published their names or their submissions.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to paragraph 3.4 of the White Paper on Nuclear Power, Cm 7296, whether an inquiry looking into an application for a new nuclear power plant will be permitted to examine any potential local effects of such a plant being built and operated. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Planning Bill proposes that the Government should set out the case for nationally significant infrastructure projects in National Policy Statements. There would be public consultation before the National Policy Statement was finalised. This would allow relevant local and regional factors to be considered where the statement identified specific locations. National Policy Statements would be subject to scrutiny by Parliament.
Developers would be required to consult local communities before they submit a planning application, allowing the community greater opportunity to influence the outcome. The inquiry stage will be easier and quicker for members of the public to engage with and anyone who registers an interest will have a right to be heard subject to the normal qualifications ruling out irrelevant, repetitious evidence. There will also be extra funding to help hard to reach groups have their say.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the average cost of producing one kilowatt of energy from a nuclear power station. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department carried out an extensive cost-benefit analysis of the costs of nuclear generation for the Energy Review in 2006 and the Energy White Paper in 2007. This compared the costs of nuclear against those of other low carbon generation options as well as against the cost of generation from gas.
The cost-benefit analysis included a number of sensitivities for the costs of nuclear generation, including variations in the construction cost, discount rate and waste management and decommissioning costs.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether it is intended that the Independent Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning Fund, as described at paragraphs 3.46 to 3.76 of the White Paper on Nuclear Power, Cm 7296, should be available to pay for such functions including those necessary in the event of unplanned release of radioactivity in the case of an accident involving a breach of containment at a nuclear power station. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government have determined that independent funds, outside of the control of nuclear operators, should be created to accumulate and manage payments from operators to meet the full costs of decommissioning and full share of waste management costs. These funds will only be accessible to pay for decommissioning and waste management.
The arrangements being put in place through the Energy Bill 2008 are not designed to respond to the event of unplanned release of radioactivity in the case of an accident involving a breach of containment at a nuclear power station. However, should decommissioning result from such an event, the fund could be made accessible to contribute to the associated costs. Should the cost estimates of decommissioning liabilities increase as a result of such an event, operators would be required to make provisions to cover the increase in costs.
Under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, nuclear operators have strict and exclusive liability for nuclear incidents causing personal injury or damage to property. This liability is capped and in the UK is currently £140 million. The operator must demonstrate that they have the financial security (through insurance or other means) to cover this amount.
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