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11 Mar 2008 : Column 249W—continued

Internet: Surrey

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what percentage of homes have access to (a) dial up internet connection, (b) broadband and (c) high speed broadband in (i) the Tandridge District Council area and (ii) the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council area; [188076]

(2) what percentage of rural households in Surrey have access to (a) dial up internet connection, (b) broadband and (c) high speed broadband. [188077]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 February 2008]: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas: Standards

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make it his policy that all suppliers of liquid petroleum gas be regulated by the energy supply ombudsman. [190841]


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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 February 2008]: The UK liquefied petroleum gas market (LPG) is not regulated by an energy supply ombudsman.

The Competition Commission (CC) recently carried out an investigation into the issues that could prevent, restrict, or distort competition for the supply of domestic bulk liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The conclusions were published in June 2006. The CC is now devising a package of remedies, on which it has consulted, and is looking to impose them through two orders on the industry. More information is available on the CC's website:

The OFT has been closely involved in this work as it has progressed. The CC plans to publish the orders in May and July 2008. The OFT will monitor the orders and follow up any alleged breaches of it with the suppliers concerned.

Mining: Compensation

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much his Department has recouped from solicitors following the recent court ruling on coal compensation schemes. [192469]

Malcolm Wicks: The total outstanding funds that the Department wanted to recoup for the optional risk offer scheme in respect of the respiratory disease compensation scheme was £80.6 million.

As at 3 March 2008, the Department has recovered a total of £62.7 million leaving £17.9 million outstanding.

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which solicitors have not repaid the money they owe to the Government following the recent court ruling on coal compensation schemes. [192674]

Malcolm Wicks: The following list shows the claimants’ representatives who have outstanding funds to repay the Department in excess of 100,000:

Claimants representatives


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Non-Departmental Public Bodies: Finance

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the budgeted operating cost for (a) the National Consumer Council, (b) Energywatch, (c) Postwatch and (d) Consumer Direct is for 2008-09. [185760]

Mr. Thomas: The information is as follows.

Budgeted operating cost:

The budgeted operating costs for the National Consumer Council, Energywatch and Postwatch have yet to be agreed. The Department expects to receive the provisional budgetary estimates for the respective organisations shortly that will need to be formally approved.

Consumer Direct is funded directly by the Office of Fair Trading. The budgeted operational costs for 2008-09 has yet to be agreed, but will be confirmed by 31 March. The Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading will write to the hon. Member when the final budget is agreed.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Foreign Workers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many foreign nationals have been employed by the (a) Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and (b) its sub-contractors since its establishment. [188861]

Malcolm Wicks: Figures provided by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) show that 12 foreign nationals have been employed since its establishment. The NDA does not hold information about the nationality of employees of its sub-contractors. However, all those working on NDA sites are subject to rigorous vetting procedures.

The Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) vetting process follows “Cabinet Office Guidance on HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard—a Good Practice Guide to the Pre-Employment Screening of Government Staff and Contractors” and the “Cabinet Office Manual of Protective Security”. OCNS has also reminded the civil nuclear industry of the need to be compliant with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.

Offshore Drilling: Nature Conservation

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what consideration he gives to risks to bottlenose dolphin populations when determining licences for oil and gas extraction. [191411]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mark Williams) on 3 March 2008, Official Report, column 2233W.

Opencast Mining: Health Hazards

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with UK Coal on funding research
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into the links between levels of asthma in children and the proximity of (a) residential areas and (b) schools to open cast mining areas. [190005]

Malcolm Wicks: Areas of research to be funded by UK Coal are a matter for the company and the Department has no proposals to raise the matter of research funding with them.

The Department is not aware of any current research which shows a scientific link between asthma and surface mine coal production.

Post Offices: Closures

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what criteria will be used in deciding which post offices will be closed following the current review. [190498]

Mr. McFadden: After Post Office Ltd.’s network change programme, the network will comprise of around 11,500 offices and should be sustainable at this level from the combination of the current reduction of network size and the improved viability of remaining offices through migration of business, the company's wider savings in central overhead costs, the return of the Crown network to profitability and the Government’s subsidy of up to £150 million a year to support the non-commercial part of the network.

Radioactive Wastes: Waste Management

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what proposals he is considering to make financial incentives available to local communities that agree to accept a repository for nuclear waste. [192248]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government recently consulted on the framework for implementing geological disposal for higher activity radioactive wastes as part of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme, and the availability of benefits for local (host) communities was part of that consultation.

The Government are currently considering the responses to the consultation and will publish a White Paper that sets out Government policy later this year.

The consultation document is available on the DEFRA website at:

Regional Government

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the offices of the regional assemblies and their partners in Brussels are deemed public authorities for the purposes of the (a) Freedom of Information Act 2000 and (b) environmental information regulations. [192172]

Mr. Dhanda: I have been asked to reply.


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The offices in Brussels are facilities used by the regional assemblies and their partners. They are not separate organisations for the purposes of either set of regulations.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what research his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned on methods of overcoming intermittency in production of electricity from renewable energy sources. [191460]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have commissioned a limited amount of research on methods of overcoming intermittency in production of electricity from renewable energy sources. This is because of the wealth of information from respected organisations publicly available in this area.

The available evidence shows that there are no insurmountable technical barriers to accommodating intermittent generation and that the associated system balancing costs are relatively low at 20 per cent. penetration.

The Government commissioned a report on “Wind Power and the UK resources” from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Other useful reports are:

“An Assessment of the Evidence on the costs and impacts of intermittent generation on the British electricity network”, produced by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)

“A shift to wind is not unfeasible”, which appeared in “POWER” magazine

We will need to review these issues as we develop our Renewable Energy Strategy. In the summer we will launch a full consultation on what more we should do to increase renewable energy use to meet our share of the EU 2020 target.

Vocational Training

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will commission research to assess the effects on skills and apprenticeships in England of apprenticeships and training policies implemented by the devolved administrations. [192267]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 6 March 2008]: I have been asked to reply.

We took account of evidence from other countries in formulating our proposals to expand and improve apprenticeships in England. Ministers need to consider parallel developments from time-to-time.


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Health

Abortion

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1874-75W, on abortion, what the terms of reference of the review will be; and if he will make a statement. [192613]

Dawn Primarolo: The terms of reference have not yet been finalised but all three reviews will include consideration of all relevant evidence, including all evidence submitted to the Science and Technology Committee and any new research in the area.

Accident and Emergency Departments

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Eastleigh of 18 May 2007, Official Report, column 1017W, on hospital wards, which NHS trusts self-reported that they provided type 1 accident and emergency services in the latest period for which figures are available. [192375]

Mr. Bradshaw: Information on the 154 national health service trusts that self-reported having type 1 accident and emergency (A and E) services at the end of December 2007 has been placed in the Library.

There are some organisations that have more than one type 1 A & E service. The number of trusts that self-reported having type 1 A and E services does not therefore reflect the total number of A and E departments of which there were 203 (type 1) at the end of December 2007.

Adult Audiology Services

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will hold an independent review of the tendering procedure for adult audiology services. [191217]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 3 March 2008]: Decisions on the procurement of adult audiology services are made at a local level by individual trusts. There are no plans to hold an independent review of the tendering procedure for adult audiology services.

Ambulance Services: East Sussex

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the cost of operating emergency ambulance services in Eastbourne constituency was in each year since 1997; [192120]

(2) what steps he is taking to improve emergency ambulance services in (a) Eastbourne constituency and (b) East Sussex. [192121]

Mr. Bradshaw: Information on expenditure is not available in the format requested. Information prior to 2000-01 is not available. Information is held by ambulance trust rather than by constituency. The Eastbourne constituency is served by South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust which was formed in 2006. Prior to that, it was served by Sussex Ambulance Service NHS Trust.


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Information for these individual organisations from 2000-01 onwards has been set out in the following table.

Emergency patient transport services expenditure for Sussex Ambulance Service NHS Trust (2000-06) and for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (2006-07)
NHS Trust Emergency patient transport services expenditure (£000)

Sussex Ambulance Service

2000-01

20,721

Sussex Ambulance Service

2001-02

21,513

Sussex Ambulance Service

2002-03

23,870

Sussex Ambulance Service

2003-04

25,947

Sussex Ambulance Service

2004-05

30,215

Sussex Ambulance Service

2005-06

39,076

South East Coast Ambulance Service

2006-07

105,289

Source:
NHS Trust Financial Returns TFR6 2000-01 to 2006-07.

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