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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will bring forward proposals to set minimum volumes of copper and other specified metals which scrap metal merchants may purchase in a single transaction; and what assessment he has made of the likely effect of such a regime upon thefts of small quantities of those metals. 
We are aware of the recent increase in thefts of metal such as copper, much of which is sold through scrap metal dealers. We are working closely with the police and the industries affected to develop plans to deal with these crimes.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has set up a working group which includes Home Office representation and this group is looking at a wider range of proposals for tackling the problem, which will include assessing the scope and effectiveness of current legislation.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much funding his Department has allocated for research into microgeneration technologies between September 2007 and the end of the financial year 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
The Technology Strategy Board, an executive non-departmental public body of DIUS, is proposing to invest in microgeneration and solar photovoltaic technology activities under the forthcoming Low Carbon Energy technologies call within the TSBs Collaborative R and D programme which was launched 19 December 2007 and has an indicative budget of £10 million. In addition to microgeneration/solar photovoltaic areas, priorities include Carbon Abatement Technologies, Hydrogen and Fuel cells, Intelligent Grid Management and Bioenergy. Funding has not been earmarked for each specific technology and the appropriate budget will be allocated following a competition in which projects submitted within these priorities will be assessed and ranked against the Technology Strategy Board criteria. Also in this period the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded a £6.3 million grant for a consortium to investigate Photovoltaic Materials for the 21(st) Century.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the United Kingdom's total storage capacity for liquefied natural gas is; and what recent proposals he has considered to increase this capacity. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 25 January 2008]: The total capacity of Great Britain's existing fixed storage capacity for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is estimated as the equivalent of 310 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas in gaseous form.
LNG storage bullets' (integral to National Grid's transportation system)capacity equivalent to 260 mcm;
LNG storage facilities at import terminalscapacity equivalent to 50 mcm.
The Government do not dictate specific projects. In a liberalised gas market, in which businesses make commercial decisions on which facilities to develop, the Government's role is to enable commercial projects by providing an appropriate regulatory framework.
We are involved in a variety of activity to protect the public from identity fraud. A public-private sector work programme, the Identity Fraud Steering Committee, was set up in 2003 to co-ordinate this work. There have been a number of successes. Tougher criminal penalties have been introduced for driving licence and passport offences, alongside offences in the Identity Cards Act 2006 to target those who possess and use false identity documents and genuine documents belonging to someone else.
Face to face interviews of first time passport applicants over 16 years old are now taking place in 66 interview offices to verify the identity of individuals, and this is one of a series of measures to improve the prevention and detection of fraudulent passport applications. In addition the Passport Validation Service allows public and private sector organisations to check passports presented as proof of identity against the passport database, realising significant savings in its 18 months of operation.
More powers to share data to combat fraud have been enacted, and most recently the Disclosure of Death Registration Information Scheme was launched on 16 January 2008. We have sought to ensure better co-ordination in prosecuting fraudsters, and have worked extensively to raise public awareness.
Finally, our plans for a national identity scheme will provide people with a highly secure means of protecting their identity and help citizens to prove their identities easily, quickly and with vastly improved security.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what provision has been made to protect vulnerable post office users who will lose access to post office counter services as a result of branch closure. 
Mr. McFadden: The Government introduced a minimum access criteria to maintain a national network of post offices and, in particular, to protect vulnerable post office users in deprived urban, rural and remote areas:
Nationally, 99 per cent. of the UK population to be within three miles and 90 per cent. of the population to be within one mile of their nearest post office outlet.
99 per cent. of the total population in deprived urban areas across the UK to be within one mile of their nearest post office outlet.
95 per cent. of the total urban population across the UK to be within one mile of their nearest post office outlet.
95 per cent. of the total rural population across the UK to be within three miles of their nearest post office outlet.
In addition, the following criterion will apply at the level of every individual postcode district (of which there are some 2,800 in the UK), establishing a minimum level of coverage at a very local level:
95 per cent. of the population of the postcode district to be within six miles of their nearest post office outlet.
In applying the criteria, Post Office Ltd. will be required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on local economies. The introduction of these additional factors addresses widespread concerns from respondents to the consultation. Post Office Ltd. will also take account of local conditions such as rivers, mountains and valleys, motorways and sea crossings to islands.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post office branches earmarked for closure as part of the Network Change programme were profitable. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 25 January 2008]: 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.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post office branches earmarked for closure as part of the Network Change programme have had that decision changed following the public consultation process. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 25 January 2008]: As at 22 January 2008, Post Office Ltd. had announced that 20 proposed post office closures would not proceed, following local public consultations on eight area plans.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the total subsidy was to post offices in Lancashire in the latest year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the minimum number of post office branches is that would allow Post Office Ltd to fulfil the minimum access criteria laid down in the Network Change programme. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 25 January 2008]: Post Office Ltd. currently estimates that the minimum size of network necessary to meet the access criteria is around 7,500 offices. But it remains Government policy to maintain a sustainable network of around 11,500 post offices and 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. has been 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.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post office branches classified as urban there were at the end of the financial year 2006-07. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how much each regional development agency spent on consultants in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06 and (c) 2006-07; 
(2) what procedures and criteria are applied by regional development agencies to the selection and appointment of consultants; and what tasks regional development agencies have appointed consultants to undertake since 2004. 
Mr. McFadden: Consultancy services have been identified as services commissioned by RDAs to inform the management of the Agency, organisational development, strategy development, and communications and marketing. The services are used when the necessary knowledge and resources cannot be found in-house.
|(1) LDA. An Agency wide restructure was key to implementing changes required to align the LDA management team with the challenges and opportunities presented as a result of London winning the 2012 Olympics. Consultants were employed to oversee the restructure and the New ways of Working' project.|
Appointments are made either through a pre-tendered panel of suppliers or through a competitive procurement process. RDA procurement procedures include documented tender specification, and an assessment of the supplier's financial standing, pricing, quality and capacity to deliver the assignment and value for money.
Malcolm Wicks: The latest available information relates to 2006 when 4.1 per cent. of renewable energy in the UK (in terms of total primary energy supply) came from sewage gas, and 30.3 per cent. came from landfill gas. Figures for England only are not available.
In terms of total final energy consumption (the basis used for the EU renewables targets announced last week), in 2006, 4.1 per cent. of renewable energy in the UK came from sewage gas, while 18.2 per cent. came from landfill gas. The contribution from landfill gas is lower under this measurement because nearly all landfill gas is used for electricity generation and losses incurred in transforming the gas into electricity are not included in the final consumption basis.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what (a) turnover and (b) profit the South East England Development Agency realised from its (i) Enterprise Gateway projects and (ii) Enterprise hubs in each of the last five years. 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions the South East England Development Agency has held with stakeholders in the last year about (a) the development of Shoreham Harbour and (b) the infrastructure improvements to transport links with Shoreham Harbour. 
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