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Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what (a) assessment he has made of the complexity and (b) estimate he has made of the cost of participation in the microgeneration certification scheme to solar technology suppliers interested in qualifying for the low carbon buildings programme. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) was designed in consultation with key stakeholders, including representatives of the solar thermal industry. MCS scheme standards and requirements have been set by an industry-led Steering Group and expert working groups. The schemes principal objective is to provide information and assurance to consumers unfamiliar with these technologies, by ensuring that products and companies eligible for grants, meet more robust standards.
MCS is working towards accreditation by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), which, to an extent, places certain requirements on the scheme in order to comply with EN 45011. UKAS accreditation should help to deliver the quality and reliability that the Government and consumers want to see in the microgeneration market.
UKAS is appointed in the UK to assess and accredit the activities of third party certification bodies against internationally agreed standards. The costs of certification under MCS are determined according to the same International Accreditation Forum guidelines used for other equivalent UKAS accredited schemes which operate in other industry sectors.
As part of the development of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the Department provided £350,000
to give 50 per cent. discounts to installer businesses during the first year (reducing first year costs to £900). Discounts have been offered to 250 Clear Skies/PV programme installers who applied before 31 January 2008. The remainder of the £350,000 has been allocated to support 139 new installers, on a first-come, first-served basis (with a 50 per cent. discount). Discounts are payable on successful completion of the MCS assessment. Further funding of £250,000 remains to be allocated, following discussions with the MCS Steering Group.
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps HM Revenue and Customs has taken to implement the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission on prioritisation of targeted enforcement of the minimum wage in sectors employing significant numbers of immigrant workers. 
Mr. McFadden: As recommended by the Low Pay Commission, we have chosen two sectors that employ large numbers of migrant workers and British workers for targeted enforcement. In 2007-08 we focused on the hotel sector. For 2008-09 we will be looking at the wider hospitality sector, which includes hotels, camping sites and other provision of short-stay accommodation, restaurants, bars, canteens and catering.
Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what estimate he has made of the number of households in the United Kingdom which pay additional charges to independent gas transporters for the supply of gas; and what estimate he has made of the average additional costs for this form of distribution; 
Malcolm Wicks: The decision to have a connection provided by an independent gas transporter (IGT) rather than the regional Gas Distribution Network rests with developers or individual householders. In January 2007, 840,000 domestic meter points were connected to IGT networks.
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) regulates gas transportation, distribution and supply. To promote connections as a whole, and competition in their provision, Ofgem previously allowed IGTs to levy a supplementary connection charge, recoverable over 20 years. Since 2003, to encourage more connections of existing domestic infill properties (that is, existing properties without a gas supply) to the mains gas network, IGTs have been able, under the Relative Price Control, to apply a surcharge on the transportation charge to such properties. Otherwise, the Relative Price Control for IGTs caps transportation charges at a level consistent with those of the Gas Distribution Networks. Around 580,000 customers already used networks regulated under
previous arrangements. Relative Price Controls will be phased in for these customers.
Once a connection has been made and the supply activated, households are not billed by transporters or distributors, whose charges are met by the gas supplier. It is for the supplier to decide whether or not to recover any additional element in the charge from the customer, or whether, for administrative simplicity, to apply a standard charge to all customers of IGT networks. Individual suppliers have different approaches, and it follows that the number of households that pay additional charges will depend on which supplier a household is contracted with at any one time. Neither British Gas nor Scottish and Southern Energy applies a surcharge to IGT customers; other suppliers surcharges lie in the range £30-£60 per IGT customer.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what meetings he has held on nuclear power issues with (a) trades unions and (b) environmental non-governmental organisations since he took up his post; on what dates each meeting took place; and what decisions arose from each meeting. 
Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, hosted a round-table meeting on 17 September which was attended, among others, by the trade union Prospect and by the environmental non-governmental organisation, SERA. Other environmental groups were invited, but consistent with their decision to disengage from the nuclear consultation they chose not to attend.
The meeting was part of the consultation on the future of nuclear power and it enabled my right hon. Friend to hear directly the views of key stakeholders on the issues. As the meeting was part of the consultation, the views expressed were considered by the Government, alongside all of the other information received, when making its decision on the future of nuclear power in the UK.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what sites other than existing nuclear sites are under consideration for the potential development of new nuclear power stations. 
Malcolm Wicks: It will be for companies to bring forward proposals to build new nuclear power stations. The suitability of sites will be assessed through the Strategic Siting Assessment process. We will be consulting on draft criteria for this process shortly.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the timescale for new nuclear power stations to produce more electricity than is currently produced by existing nuclear power stations. 
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make available resources to non-governmental organisations to assist in their participation in the consultation on the process for prospective new nuclear plants. 
Malcolm Wicks: It is not our practice to make resources available to people or bodies outside Government to help them respond to consultations. However, we designed our consultation on nuclear power to make it as easy as possible for people who wanted to respond to do so.
Malcolm Wicks: We published information on the full lifecycle emissions of carbon dioxide from the generation of electricity by nuclear power in chapter 2 of our consultation document The Future of Nuclear Power at:
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to his Oral Answer of 3 April 2008, Official Report, columns 903-04, on the nuclear industry, if he will place in the Library a copy of the analysis which underlay his estimate of new jobs which will be created through spending on new nuclear power. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Secretary of States statement that a significant expansion of nuclear in the UK in the coming decades could potentially create up to 100,000 jobs was based on the experience of jobs created from past nuclear construction in the UK and in other countries. This includes jobs in the nuclear power stations, off site jobs for corporate, business, maintenance and fuel cycle functions, construction jobs, and jobs in the engineering and construction supply chains.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the evidential basis is for his estimate, made at the UNITE conference on 28 March 2008, that up to 100,000 new skilled jobs could be created by a new nuclear programme. 
Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that a significant expansion of nuclear in the UK in the coming decades could potentially create up to 100,000 jobs, thousands of which would be highly skilled and well paid. That estimate was based on experience of jobs created from past nuclear construction in the UK and in other countries, and includes jobs in the nuclear power stations, off site jobs for corporate, business, maintenance and fuel cycle functions, construction jobs, and jobs in the engineering and construction supply chains.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of new jobs which will be created in a programme of new build nuclear power stations by (a) 2010, (b) 2015, (c) 2020 and (d) 2025. 
Malcolm Wicks: The timetable of facilitative actions in our Nuclear White Paper is intended to deliver a framework that would enable energy companies to begin construction of the first new nuclear power station in 2013-14 and start operation in 2017-20. We believe that a programme of new nuclear power stations has the potential to create many thousands of jobs but it is not possible to be precise about timing.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will ask the Chief Nuclear Safety Inspector at the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to evaluate the safety of the use of diamond nanoparticles in the secondary cooling system of water cooled reactors. 
Malcolm Wicks: The possible use of this technology in a commercial power reactor seems some years off. Should any present or future nuclear operator in the UK propose modifying the reactor coolant in this way, the safety implications would need to be fully justified in a safety case, and this would be considered by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate according to its regulatory processes.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what additional resources will be required to fulfil the commitments on nuclear regulatory co-operation set out in the UK-France Summit communiqué of 27 March. 
Malcolm Wicks: The French and UK nuclear safety regulating authorities announced enhanced co-operation on 27 March. It is not intended that any additional resource will be allocated to this collaborative work in the short term, although this will be reviewed regularly to ensure that maximum benefit is being gained from the relationship.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the future availability of uranium reserves; and how long they are expected to last according to (a) high and (b) low global growth scenarios for nuclear new build. 
Malcolm Wicks: As stated on pages 104 to 106 of our Nuclear White Paper, our view is that uranium resources will be available for the period likely to be covered by the operation of new nuclear power stations in the UK and that more focused exploration will lead to increased availability over time.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment has been made of the traditional Post Office functions which are now undertaken remotely, online or other than by post office branches. 
Mr. McFadden: The Post Office is one of a number of ways to deliver Government and other traditional services and still has an important role to play. But we cannot ignore the fact that people increasingly want to access services in different ways such as direct debits, ATMs, the telephone and the internet.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what advice his Department plans to provide to communities who wish local authorities to take over the running of post offices facing closure. 
Mr. McFadden: Where a local authority is interested in funding continued post office service provision in communities where branches are scheduled for closure, we have encouraged Post Office Ltd. to talk to them. However, local authorities should understand that Post Office Ltd. will want to ensure that all relevant costs are covered, that there is a commitment for several years and that there will not be a damaging impact on other post offices in the area not scheduled for closure. Ultimately, it is for Post Office Ltd. and the local authority to discuss and agree the details of any such arrangements and to ensure that the arrangements are compatible with EU rules on state aid.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will request Post Office Ltd not to proceed with its proposed changes to the post office structure; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: Following a national public consultation, the Government announced in May 2007 a new framework of minimum access criteria to maintain a national network of post offices and to support strategic changes to the network with up to 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new outreach locations. There is widespread recognition that the post office network was unsustainable at its pre-programme size. Post Office Ltd is responsible for implementing the network change programme and management of the programme is an operational matter for the company. The network change programme is continuing as scheduled.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many post office franchises are due contractually to terminate in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what conditions are contained in leases associated with franchise agreements to run post offices should lessees not maintain a post office function on the estate for the duration of the lease agreement; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) how many post office franchisees have given notice to terminate their agreement (a) prior to the end of the franchise contract and (b) at the end of the franchise contract in the last six months; and if he will make a statement. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many lessees of Post Office Ltd freehold estates have triggered a call option requiring the landlord to sell the revisionary estate to the lease; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) how many franchised post offices had franchises that were terminated at the end of the franchise agreement (a) by the franchisor, Post Office Ltd., and (b) by the franchisee in each year since 2001. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) how many post office leases include a call option requiring the landlord to sell the revisionary estate to the lease; whether that is triggered on lease termination; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what conditions are contained in franchise agreements to run post office facilities that trigger the early termination of the property lease agreement should those facilities not be maintained; and if he will make a statement. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) whether at the time a post office franchise agreement is terminated, any leasehold agreement on that estate similarly terminates, even if held by a different organisation, individual or legal entity than the franchise; and if he will make a statement; 
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