|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was spent by his Department on translation and interpretation services in 2007-08, broken down by language. 
Mr. Thomas: Expenditure by the Department on translation services in 2007-08 was £321,666. Of this total, £56,613 was for translations into English and £265,053 for translation into other languages. Information is not held centrally in a format to provide a detailed breakdown by individual languages and this could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Individual directorates make their own arrangements for purchase of interpretation services. Information on expenditure for such services is not available centrally and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on how many occasions officials in his Department discussed the proposed labelling of heating systems in the energy-using products directive with representatives of the European Commission in each of the last two years. 
Malcolm Wicks: BERR and DEFRA officials have been in regular contact with the Commission concerning the boilers and water heater proposals under the energy-using products directive. The latest engagement with the Commission includes:
EuP Consultation Forums 18 December 2007;
A bilateral meeting with the Commission on 31 January 2008;
EuP Consultation Forums 29 February 2008;
Conference call with Commission24 April 2008; and
An informal meeting with Commission and other member states is planned for 22 May 2008.
In addition to the discussions with the Commission, BERR and DEFRA have continued to work closely with the relevant industry sectors and recently BERR hosted a full day workshop (chaired by DEFRA) with industry representatives in February.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the average price of (a) gas and (b) electricity for UK households has been in each year since 1996. 
Malcolm Wicks: Domestic retail prices for gas and electricity are published quarterly in section 2 of Quarterly Energy Prices, the latest edition of which was published in March 2008 and is available online at http://www.berr.gov.uk.files/file45393.pdf. Table 2.2.1. on page 17 holds average electricity bills and table 2.3.1 on page 20 holds average gas bills. Both tables hold average bills back to 1990 and split by payment method.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the expenditure made by each energy company on its social tariff in each of the last five years. 
Malcolm Wicks: Detailed reporting of energy company social tariffs has been led by OFGEM in recent years with BERR reporting at an aggregate level. In August and October 2007, OFGEM reported on the range of voluntary social initiatives each of the six largest energy suppliers provide to assist their vulnerable customers.
Etimated figures for combined social spending on all voluntary initiatives (including social tariffs, rebates, trust funds, partnerships etc. but excluding differences in company fuel price levels) in 2006 by company are displayed in the following table:
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations his Department has received on the time taken for changes in the wholesale price of energy to be reflected in the prices paid by domestic customers; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Timing of retail price increases or decreases are commercial decisions by the energy supply companies. The Government do not interfere in commercial pricing decisions in the energy supply markets, which are competitive markets.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with energy companies on the practice of differential charging for payments made electronically, by direct debit and by cash; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Ofgem is currently conducting a probe into the energy markets, which includes looking at tariff differentials to make sure that the different payment methods are fair and justified. It released initial findings at the Fuel Poverty summit in April, and is already taking action to ensure that energy suppliers provide clear information on their websites to ensure that customers can make informed choices about the different payment methods. Ofgem will report on its probe in September and consider then whether further action is required.
In respect of customers using pre-payment meters, the Government announced in the Budget that it is prepared to legislate with a view to reducing the differential between pre-payment and other forms of payment should Ofgem's probe reveal that pre-payment customers are suffering any disadvantage. However, in the first instance the Government will look to Ofgem and the energy suppliers to provide the solution.
Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans the Government has to provide compensation to those who lost savings as a result of the collapse of the Farepak Christmas savings club in 2006. 
Mr. Thomas: The Government are entirely sympathetic to the plight of those who lost money in the Farepak collapse, and were strongly supportive of the commendable efforts of the Farepak Response Fund appeal, which raised £8 million from business and members of the public to help those affected.
For the future, the Government have taken steps to provide better protection and information for consumers. We have worked with the other hamper companies to put in place effective protection for customers prepayments. The companies have responded by introducing new safeguards for consumers money in the form of independently-controlled, ring-fenced trust accounts. These arrangements will be monitored by a new trade body, the Christmas Prepayments Association, under the terms of a new code of practice. We understand that the Association will be seeking approval of the code by the OFT under the terms of its consumer codes approval scheme. The Government have also given the Office of Fair Trading £1 million for a new awareness campaign so that consumers are better aware of their options for Christmas savings and are empowered to make decisions that are right for their own circumstances. However, the Government have no plans to provide any compensation in this case.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of (a) pensioner households and (b) other households which were living in fuel poverty in each year since 1996. 
Malcolm Wicks: The most recent year for which numbers of households in fuel poverty are available is 2005. Various splits of the headline fuel poverty numbers for England are published in Fuel Poverty 2005: detailed tables available online at
|Estimated number of fuel poor households (1,000s)|
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the effect of increases in fuel prices on the cost of domestic heating. 
Malcolm Wicks: Rising fuel costs put pressure on suppliers to raise prices to consumers. The average wholesale price for gas to be delivered in the next four quarters has doubled since early May 2007.
About 85 per cent. of English households use gas as their main heating fuel. Internal BERR analysis estimates that the wholesale cost of gas currently makes up about 70 to 75 per cent. of an average household gas bill. Therefore a permanent rise of 20 per cent. (for instance) in wholesale gas costs could be expected to result in an average increase of about 15 per cent. in charges to the consumer.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has made to the US administration in respect of its decision to withdraw from a World Trade Organisation commitment to provide access to the US online gambling market to non-US companies. 
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of households that use heating oil as the main means of heating their homes in (a) the UK and (b) each nation and region of the UK. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what estimate has been made of the number of households that use heating oil as the main means of heating their homes in (a) the UK and (b) each nation and region of the UK (200269).
Estimates for this response are based on data collected from the Expenditure and Food Survey, which is a sample survey covering approximately 7,000 households in the United Kingdom. The table below shows the estimated number of households who use heating oil for their central heating. Due to the small sample size for individual regions, an average for the years 2003/04 to 2005/06 has been provided to give reliable estimates of the use of heating oil in each nation and region of the United Kingdom.
|Average number of households using heating oil for central heatingUnited Kingdom, 2003-04 to 2005-06|
|Region( 1)||Heating oil only||Solid fuel and heating oil||Total( 2)|
|(1) Government office region. (2) Figures may not add due to rounding. Source: Office for National Statistics.|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|