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30 Jan 2008 : Column 410W—continued


Industrial Health and Safety: Music

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether an employer's duty of care includes taking account of the volume of music broadcast in the workplace; and if he will make a statement. [180372]

Mrs. McGuire: Employers do have a general duty of care to employees under civil law. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 also requires employers to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes protection to hearing from workplace noise. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and related guidance set out the duties and advice on controlling noise from music and other workplace noise. Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 sets out the general duties of employers covering members of the public.

Jobcentre Plus: Dismissal

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of the Jobcentre Plus staff dismissed between October 2006 and September 2007 for unsatisfactory attendance receive incapacity benefit; and how much such benefit they have received as at the most recent date for which figures are available. [181040]

Mrs. McGuire: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 30 January 2008:

Poverty

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many children were living in households in poverty in Peterborough constituency in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement; [178645]

(2) how many people in the Peterborough City Council area were living in a household where the income was less than 40 per cent. of median income in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [178646]

Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is not available below the level of Government office region.

Our child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) series, allow a breakdown of child poverty by Government office region. However, we do not present information covering 40 per cent. of median income, or any lower thresholds, in our HBAI publication as it is not a reliable measure of poverty.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Aerials: Planning Permission

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many planning applications have been refused as a result of mobile telephone operators not being able to demonstrate that they have fully considered all options for the proposed new base station. [183075]

Mr. Iain Wright: I have been asked to reply.

This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Local planning authorities are not required to inform central Government of the reasons for refusing planning permission.


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Certification Officer: Trade Unions

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Certification Officer's office has a recognition agreement with a trade union. [181855]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 24 January 2008]: The Certification Office does not have a recognition agreement with a trade union. However, Certification Office staff are all Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service staff provided to the Certification Officer by ACAS. ACAS has a recognition agreement with the Public and Commercial Services and the PDA.

Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation: Finance

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what Government support is being provided to the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation in 2007-08. [174649]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 17 December 2007]: I am not aware of any direct Government support being provided to the organisation in 2007-08.

Energy Technologies Institute: Manpower

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many staff are employed by the Energy Technologies Institute. [180481]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

The Energy Technologies Institute was legally established on 12 December 2007 as a limited liability partnership. The Institute currently employs one full-time permanent member of staff—the chief executive. In addition, there are currently 12 interim staff and three secondees engaged at the ETI headquarters.

Energy: Prices

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what measure is used to calculate the annual uprating of the buyout price under the renewables obligation; and when the price will next be uprated. [181020]

Malcolm Wicks: Ofgem calculate the buy-out price on an annual basis to reflect changes in the retail prices index (RPI). The buy-out price for the renewables obligation for 2008-09 is £35.76 as announced by Ofgem on 28 January 2008.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) people and (b) households in each parliamentary constituency were in fuel poverty in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [174301]


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Malcolm Wicks: Fuel poverty is defined on a household basis and as such the number of people in fuel poverty is not available.

Regional estimates of fuel poverty are available only for England in 2003 and are taken from the fuel poverty indicator (FPI) dataset, available online at:

It is important to note that the FPI only predicts the level of fuel poverty in individual areas. It cannot take into account local circumstances. As with all small area indicators, it is important to use local knowledge and data to complement the FPI when developing local fuel poverty programmes. A table showing the approximate levels of fuel poverty in 2003 for each constituency has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Fuels: Competition

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to encourage a competitive energy market in the bottled gas and oil sector for households that are off-network. [181164]

Malcolm Wicks: The price of bottled gas and other oil derived products is influenced by the price of oil in the international oil market. The Government believe that the consumer is best served by the operation of open competition between companies, and the supply of oil products is a commercial matter, subject to UK competition law under the Competition Act 1998. The regulation of supply of oil products, including bottled gas, to consumers is therefore the responsibility of the Office of Fair Trading, which monitors the market.

In addition, the Competition Commission (CC) recently carried out an investigation into the supply of bulk liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The conclusions were published in June 2006, and are available at:

The report highlighted a number of issues that prevent, restrict, or distort competition for the supply of domestic LPG, and provides measures to be taken. Following which the CC arrived at a package of remedies, consulted on these, and is looking to impose them through an order on the industry. More information is available on the CC's website:

The proposed remedies will also try and address the issue of price transparency, as they propose that LPG suppliers will be required by order to:

The OFT has been closely involved in this work as it has progressed. The order is likely to be published in January and it will come into full force later in 2008. The OFT will monitor the effect of the order and follow up any alleged breaches of it with the suppliers concerned. It is to be expected that the increased ability of consumers to switch supplier will increase competition in the market and put downward pressure on prices.


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Gas and Electricity Markets Authority: Standards

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform who the members are of the panel which considers challenges to the Ofgem industry codes. [179041]

Malcolm Wicks: Gas and electricity licences require the establishment of industry codes which set out the detailed rules that underpin operation of the market and terms for connection and access to energy networks. Some alterations to these codes require Ofgem's consent.

Challenges to Ofgem code decisions can be undertaken in two ways; either by judicial review or by an appeal to the Competition Commission under the Energy Act 2004.

The Competition Commission appoints members of the panel responsible for determining code appeals. These members can be anyone the Competition Commission believes has sufficient knowledge of the subject matter of the case and who is available for the duration of the appeal.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the dates have been of challenges to the Ofgem industry codes in the last five years; and what the outcome was of each. [179042]

Malcolm Wicks: There have been four challenges in the last five years to the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority's (GEMA's) decisions concerning the industry codes. Two of these were by way of appeals to the Competition Commission under section 173 of the Energy Act 2004 and two by way of judicial review.

Utilita Electricity Limited lodged an appeal on 13 April 2006 with regard to Ofgem's decision on a modification proposal to the Balance and Settlement Code PI94: Revised Derivation of the ‘Main’ Energy Imbalance Price. Utilita withdrew its appeal on 4 May 2006.

E.ON UK plc lodged an appeal on 30 April 2007 with regards to Ofgem's decision on a modification proposal to the Uniform Network Code: UNC 116: Reform of NTS Offtake Arrangements. The appeal was upheld in part.

Drax Power Limited, Scottish Power Generation Limited and Teesside Power Limited sought a judicial review in 2003 of the Authority's decision on a modification proposal to the Balance and Settlement Code: P82: Introduction of zonal transmission losses on an average basis. Ofgem's decision was quashed.

Certain industry parties applied on 10 December 2007 for judicial review of a relatively recent decision of GEMA's concerning proposals to modify one of the industry codes, namely the Balancing and Settlement Code.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when the Ofgem industry codes were last reviewed or updated. [179048]


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Malcolm Wicks: The industry codes are subject to modification change proposals that are presented to Ofgem for a decision. Each code has its own set of modification rules which are presided over by a code modification panel.

Since the inception of the codes, Ofgem has frequently initiated policy projects aimed at reviewing or reforming aspects of the gas and electricity market and trading arrangements. In many cases, these projects have impacts on particular areas of the codes. Examples of such projects include reviews of the new electricity trading arrangements in 2002, the new gas trading arrangements in 2000 and the current transmission access and electricity cash-out reviews.

Ofgem is also currently in the process of initiating an industry wide code governance review. This review is considering among other things the role and treatment of environmental issues within the codes framework.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what changes to the Ofgem industry codes have been implemented in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [179049]

Malcolm Wicks: Over 1,200 modifications have been received by Ofgem over the last five years. Of these Ofgem directed the implementation of 869 across all the industry codes. For the more significant codes, the breakdown is as follows:

Code Decisions Accepted

Network code

143

94

Uniform network code

157

101

Balance and settlement code

112

62

Connection and use of system code

105

86


Details of the changes can be found on the following web pages:

Network c ode

Uniform network code

Balance and settlement code

Connection and use of system code

Heating: Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with suppliers of liquefied petroleum gas for domestic heating on the fairness to consumers of their pricing policies. [178050]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 14 January 2008]: There have been no recent discussions between my Department and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) suppliers.
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However, I am aware that the Competition Commission are currently consulting upon measures they plan to take following their 2006 report into the LPG market.


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