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29 Jan 2008 : Column 201W—continued

Underground Assets

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to facilitate the production of a standard accessible electronic register of underground assets. [182652]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has provided financial support to the National Underground Assets Group (NUAG), which is working to establish an effective and efficient means of recording, storing, sharing and displaying information on underground assets. The group has representatives from industry and local authorities as well as Ordnance Survey and the Association for Geographic Information. The Government support other related initiatives such as:

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The three projects complement each other and share their conclusions to ensure compatibility of proposals.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Departmental Performance Appraisal

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many officials in his Department have been identified as lacking core skills as a result of the annual review process; and what measures are planned to ensure any such deficiencies are rectified. [180353]

Mr. Lammy: The Department is in the process of conducting and collating skills audits. As a consequence it is too early to offer any conclusions at this stage. The Department is also in the process of defining a skills strategy which will look to establish policies and methods for enhancing skills in Department employees going forward. Again this strategy is in the development stage. The Department has also made the skills pledge, a public commitment to support all employees to develop their basic skills, including literacy and numeracy, and work towards relevant, valuable qualifications to at least Level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs).

Departmental Training

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what training financed by his Department is offered to trade unions representatives in his Department. [178089]

Mr. Lammy: No training is offered to trade unions representatives financed directly by this Department, though like all employees they do receive funding for their work and personal development training as any good employer would. All trade unions representatives receive their TU training and funding through the Union Learning Fund setup in 1998.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Arms Trade: Nigeria

Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what proportion of export credit outstanding at the end of financial year 2004-05 for Nigeria was for military goods. [180895]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 January 2008]: Information on ECGD business supported prior to 1991 is not held on a basis which enables defence to be identified separately from other sectors. ECGD has however supported no defence business on Nigeria since that date.

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Bankruptcy: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many businesses filed for bankruptcy in Peterborough constituency in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [182809]

Mr. McFadden: It is not possible from records held centrally and in a readily available format to provide all the information requested. The following table provides the statistics which could be compiled in the time available and which most closely match those requested.

Business bankruptcies in Peterborough constituency
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006( 1)






















Total bankruptcies







(1) January to June
1. The Insolvency Trade Classification (ITC) was used to classify trading-related bankruptcies (and company liquidations) until end September 2006. However, only the period from January to June 2006 is provided because of the way the data are held.
2. The figures above include bankruptcies filed on either the petition of the debtor (trader) or of a creditor.
3. The geographical information presented above is based on bankrupts' postcodes and is subject to an element of missing or unusable data. Nationally, this has been decreasing from around 9 per cent. in 2001 to 4 per cent. in 2006.

Company Liquidations

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many administrations and liquidations began over (a) 10 years ago and (b) 15 years ago have not been finalised. [178530]

Mr. McFadden: Companies House records show that the number of companies which entered into an administration or liquidation process more than 10 years ago and which are still shown as live on the register are:

In practice, it is likely that the number of insolvency processes which began more than 10 years ago and remain ongoing is significantly lower than this. It would be unusual for an individual process to continue for as long as 10 years. The implication is that, in a significant number of cases, the administrator or insolvency practitioner may not have notified Companies House that a process is complete. Companies House is considering, in discussion with the Insolvency Service, what further steps it could take to clarify how many companies fall into this category. At present, it is not possible to say what the true figure is.

In addition to their obligation to keep the public record up to date, the relevant insolvency office holder is required to give regular updates to creditors and, where appropriate, members of the company.

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Energy: Carbon Emissions

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what funding his Department has allocated for green energy technologies in each of the next five years; to which programmes; and for what purpose in each year. [181852]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 24 January 2008]: The following funding programmes announced by my Department are expected to continue spending over part or all of the next five years:

The Department has also announced its intention to fund a Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration project.

Expenditure is demand-led and the Department does not make specific allocations for each year. These programmes have different expected lifespans: some will complete spending within five years and some will continue beyond that period. My Department’s budget for low-carbon energy technologies over the comprehensive spending review period (the three years from April 2008-March 2011) is £200 million, through the new Environmental Transformation Fund. Spend under the programmes listed will be met from this budget, as will the estimated £9 million cost for the Severn Tidal Power feasibility study whose terms of reference I announced on 22 January. My Department’s budget beyond March 2011 depends on the next central Government spending review.

Energy: EU Action

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what proposals were put forward by the United Kingdom for inclusion in the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan being developed by the European Commission; which proposals were subsequently included in the SET plan; and what steps the United Kingdom intends to take to help remove institutional barriers to the take up of new energy technologies. [183043]

Malcolm Wicks: The United Kingdom, along with other EU member states, has been closely involved in the development of the European Strategic Energy Technology plan, and has engaged in discussions and commented and made suggestions on all aspects of the plan as it has developed over the past year. Industry participation has also been an important element of the process.

In broad terms the United Kingdom has advocated a SET plan that should set the strategic context and direction for EU policies and initiatives relevant to the development and deployment of new low carbon energy technologies, and that will add value to national policies and programmes.

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The resulting SET plan, which is set to be adopted at the forthcoming EU Spring Council, reflects many of the issues raised by the UK in discussion. It is summarised in the Explanatory Memorandum to the ‘Commission Communication: A European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan)—Towards a low-carbon future’, deposited in Parliament by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 16 December 2007.

Later this year, the Government will launch a full consultation on what more we should do to increase renewable energy use to meet our share of the EU 2020 renewables target. This will include consideration of how to remove barriers.

Energy: Prices

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of average energy prices in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) Wales in the latest period for which figures are available. [181906]

Malcolm Wicks: Data on energy prices are published by BERR in Quarterly Energy prices:

Domestic prices are available on a regional basis. Electricity prices for England and Wales are not available separately, as data are collected by public electricity supply (PES) area, and some of these areas straddle the England/Wales border. BERR does not publish average gas price data for Northern Ireland. Regional price data are not available for industrial consumers.

For 2007, average prices for gas and electricity for domestic consumers paying by standard credit in pence per kWh were as follows:

Energy Price s : in pence per kWh
England and Wales Scotland Northern Ireland Wales









Energy: Russia

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with the Russian government on the energy charter treaty. [181474]

Malcolm Wicks: The energy charter treaty remains the only multilateral instrument providing a rules-based framework for trade, investment protection and transit of energy products and services, backed up by legally binding dispute resolution mechanisms. HMG supports the energy charter treaty as a valuable instrument in our objective of promoting open, competitive international energy markets.

Russia is a signatory to the energy charter treaty, and claims to apply the treaty provisionally. Russian ratification of the treaty remains our goal. Our bilateral and multilateral discussions with Russia, together with the regular meetings of energy charter treaty signatories, provide opportunities to demonstrate the continuing value of ECT ratification.

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Export Credit Guarantees: Fraud

Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what procedures the Exports Credits Guarantee Department has put in place to ensure that fraudulent or unethical export contracts are identified and excluded prior to abandonment of export credit claims under the UK's debt cancellation policy. [180436]

Malcolm Wicks: In order for any debt arising in relation to an ECGD-supported export contract to be considered for forgiveness, that debt must appear on the list of debts which form the subject of a debt rescheduling agreement between the UK and the debtor country, which would, almost invariably, be entered into pursuant to arrangements agreed in the Paris Club. The debts to be included in that debt list would have to be accepted by the government of the debtor country and, during this acceptance process, it would be open to the debtor country to raise objections to the inclusion of any particular debt on the grounds that the export contract to which it relates had been procured by corruption or is otherwise ineligible for inclusion in the debt list.

In addition, in 2000, ECGD first published new Business Principles and anti-corruption procedures and these (as updated from time to time) are applied to all new applications for ECGD support.

Natural Gas: Housing

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many homes in (a) the UK, (b) England, (c) the East Midlands and (d) North West Leicestershire were not connected to the natural gas supply at the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the average number was by parliamentary constituency in (i) the UK and (ii) England. [182804]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 28 January 2008]: As part of its regional and local energy statistics publication programme, BERR has published the number of domestic gas meter points in each region and local authority in Great Britain. The following estimates compare the number of domestic meter points with the estimates of the number of households in each area for 2004. Corresponding data are not available for the UK, as BERR do not have information relating to Northern Ireland.




East Midlands


North West Leicestershire


Gas sales and numbers of customers by region and area: 2004, BERR
Mid-year household estimates for England: 2004, CLG

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