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15 May 2008 : Column 1758W—continued


Innovation in Services Project

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to publish the Innovation in Services project report. [204291]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, expects to publish the Innovation in Services report soon. Interim findings from the project’s analysis of innovation in and across service sectors are currently being reviewed and the report is being prepared.

Insurance: Elderly

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with the insurance industry on provision of (a) insurance and (b) travel insurance to older people; whether he provides
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guidance to the industry on the subject; and what recent representations he has received on the subject. [204908]

Kitty Ussher: I have been asked to reply.

The Government meet regularly with representatives from the insurance industry. The Government published the consultation paper “A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain” in June 2007 which looked at the case for extending the prohibition of age discrimination to the provision of goods, facilities and services, except where it can be objectively justified. The Government are currently considering responses to that consultation.

Low Carbon Buildings Programme

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps he has taken to increase take up of grants provided by the Low Carbon Buildings Programme; and if he will make a statement. [202954]

Malcolm Wicks: The following steps have been taken to encourage increased uptake of grants provided under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

The household stream of the programme has been extended to June 2010 for new applications or as long as funds are available, whichever is sooner. The extension to June 2010 gives business longer term certainty and is an excellent opportunity to encourage uptake in microgeneration technologies along with changes in planning requirements, which came into effect on 6 April 2008.

The Government are working with the Energy Saving Trust to promote the Low Carbon Buildings Programme household funding stream, raising awareness of the funds that remain available to successful applicants. To date, we have used both their advice network and market segmentation models to target those that are most likely to install microgeneration technologies and apply for grants.

Further details are available at:

The level of grant available in phase 2 has been increased to 50 per cent. for all technologies supported through the programme. We believe that raising the grant caps to 50 per cent. across all technologies will increase interest in the grants programme, although we will also be implementing a nationwide awareness raising campaign. We are working with Building Research Establishment, the programme manager for phase 2 of the LCBP, to deliver a series of regional events and a positive marketing programme to promote the programme to eligible organisations.

Further details are available at:

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he has taken since the re-launch of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme to increase grant takeup by private householders; and if he will make a statement. [202961]


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Malcolm Wicks: The household stream of the programme has been extended to June 2010 for new applications or as long as funds are available, whichever is sooner. The extension to June 2010 gives business longer term certainty and is an excellent opportunity to encourage uptake in microgeneration technologies along with changes in planning requirements, which came into effect on 6 April 2008. Over the past month we have seen an increase in take up. In April we saw £313,374.40 committed to 293 householders.

The Government are continuing to work with the Energy Saving Trust to promote the Low Carbon Buildings Programme household funding stream, raising awareness of the funds that remain available to successful applicants. To date, we have used both their advice network and market segmentation models to target those that are most likely to install microgeneration technologies and apply for grants, and will be looking to continue with this approach going forward.

Further details are available at:

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much in grant funding under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme has been provided in each region. [202962]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on grant funding per region can be found on the Low Carbon Buildings Programme website at:

and

Low Carbon Buildings Programme: Finance

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was spent on administering the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. [200271]

Malcolm Wicks: The amount spent on administering the Low Carbon Buildings Programme between April 2006 and March 2008 is shown in the following table:

Amount (£)

2006-07

2,037,405

2007-08

453,831


Natural Gas

Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer from the Secretary of State for Scotland of 23 April 2008, Official Report, column 2042W, on gas production, when the joint Government/industry taskforce (a) last met and (b) will next meet. [204478]

Malcolm Wicks: The West of Shetland Taskforce Steering Group, which I chair, last met on 21 February 2008 and expects to meet again in the next few months.
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A specific meeting date has not yet been set as timing is dependent on further technical work being carried out by the taskforce workgroup to determine the optimal development and new gas infrastructure to unlock the potential of this region.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Public Appointments

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what communications he has received from the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on his future employment. [205251]

Malcolm Wicks: Dr. Roxburgh has been in touch with the Department concerning the speculation in The Observer newspaper about his future at the NDA. His concern, which we share, is that this speculation does not affect the work of the NDA and the completion of the Sellafield competition.

Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made by HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in recruiting inspectors to undertake the generic design assessment of proposed new nuclear reactors; what arrangements exist to facilitate visa and security vetting of foreign candidates for these posts; and whether any difficulties relating to (a) visas and (b) vetting have been encountered during the recruitment process to date. [205231]

Malcolm Wicks: NII is making progress in recruiting new staff. This will allow it to transfer experienced inspectors into the teams undertaking the generic design assessments.

The first recruitment drive since the increase in salaries of NII inspectors was agreed with HM Treasury in late 2007, ended in February with about 160 job applications. Interviews have now been held and a number of offers of employment have been made. It is too soon to say how many new recruits will result from this campaign.

A second recruitment drive was launched on 11 April 2008.

Whether an applicant may require a visa to attend an interview for a job in the UK is unconnected with the specific job application and is a matter for decision by
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the UK Border Agency, or ultimately the Home Office. Only when a candidate has received a job offer are they subjected to vetting procedures appropriate for UK public bodies. Prospective NII inspectors will normally be required to obtain national security vetting clearance to the security check level and no difficulties have been experienced to date in the current recruitment campaign.

Radioactive Wastes: Waste Management

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) when he expects the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to announce the successful bidder for the contract to manage nuclear waste at Sellafield; [205541]

(2) whether the decision of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on the preferred bidder to clean up the nuclear waste at Sellafield requires Government approval. [205542]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 14 May 2008]: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is currently running a competition to select a new parent body organisation (PBO) for the Sellafield Site Licence Company, which through ownership will enhance Site Licence Company performance.

The announcement of a preferred bidder for the Sellafield PBO Competition is scheduled to take place in July 2008. Following the announcement of the preferred bidder, the NDA expects to complete contract finalisation over the summer period and plans to announce the contract award in October 2008. The decision will require Government approval.

Solar Power

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of solar panels installed on (a) domestic and (b) non-domestic properties in each of the last 10 years. [202372]

Malcolm Wicks: We commissioned a report on the potential for microgeneration in 2005, estimating that there were approximately 82,000 microgeneration installations in the UK. There are now estimated to be about 100,000 systems. We are not able to break this figure down by technology. However, since 2002 we have provided funding for 11,278 solar installations through our grant programmes, with the details shown in the following table.

Grant programme Period Technology Number installed

Solar PV Major Demonstration

2002-07

Solar photovoltaic

1,829

Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1

2006 to present

Solar photovoltaic

727

Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2

2006 to present

Solar photovoltaic

127

Total

2,683

Clear Skies

2003-07

Solar thermal

5,799

Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1

2006 to present

Solar thermal

2,774

Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2

2006 to present

Solar thermal

22

Total

8,595


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We have commissioned further research to provide up to date estimates, and this will be published in June 2008.

Supermarkets: Prices

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he has made a recent assessment of whether supermarkets have engaged in price fixing of (a) cigarettes and (b) milk. [205209]

Mr. Thomas: Allegations of price fixing is an infringement under the 1998 Competition Act and is a matter for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

(a) Tobacco and Tobacco products

The OFT issued a statement of objections on 25 April alleging that certain tobacco manufacturers and retailers and eleven retailers have engaged in unlawful practices in relation to retail prices for tobacco products in the UK.

The statement of objections sets out the OFT's proposed findings against tobacco manufacturers Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher and eleven retailers- Asda, the Co-operative Group, First Quench, Morrisons, Safeway, Sainsbury, Shell, Somerfield, T&S Stores, Tesco and TM Retail. The OFT's investigation is currently ongoing.

(b) Milk and Dairy Products

The OFT issued a statement of objections on 20 September 2007, which found provisional evidence of collusion between certain large supermarkets (Asda, Morrisons, Safeway, Sainsbury's and Tesco) and dairy processors (Aria, Dairy Crest, Lactalis McLelland, The Cheese Company and Wiseman) on the retail prices of some dairy products. Some of these parties have now admitted involvement in anticompetitive practices and have agreed to pay individual penalties which combine to a maximum of over £116 million. The OFT are continuing their case against the remaining parties.

Tidal Power: River Severn

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the criteria are for the selection of companies undertaking feasibility studies for the Severn Tidal Power project. [204522]

Malcolm Wicks: To date, two major contracts have been awarded under the Severn Tidal Power feasibility study.

These are firstly to provide a managed service for a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of proposals for tidal power development in the Severn estuary, and secondly to provide advice on finance and ownership issues in relation to delivering a project to generate tidal power from the Severn estuary. The contracts were awarded following a competitive tender process using Office for Government Commerce framework agreements.

Tenders for the SEA contract were assessed according to the value for money offered which was determined according to:


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The panel also paid particular attention to the:


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