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Defence Export Services Organisation: Finance

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the operating budget of the Defence Export Services Organisation was prior to its move from the Ministry of Defence to become the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation; what the current budget is of the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation; and how much of that budget was moved from the Ministry of Defence. [202235]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 6 May 2008]: For financial year 2007-08 the net operating costs for the Defence Export Services Organisation was £12.6 million. For the current financial year, the comparable budget allocated directly to the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation for administration costs is £11.7 million.

In line with the Machinery of Government transfers, the budget for defence trade promotion was transferred from the Ministry of Defence. The total budget transferred was £19.5 million/£19.2 million/£18.0 million for 2008-09/2009-10/2010-11, reducing, in line with the cost savings recently announced by the MOD. This transfer is for the full cost of UKTI DSO including the Defence Assistance Fund, the cost of staff based in our overseas offices, and all the central overheads and support costs previously incurred by other MOD budgets.

Digital Broadcasting: Sight Impaired

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to ensure that the Usability Action Plan on Digital Television provides for (a) digital teletext, (b) talking menus and (c) audio description to assist the visually impaired. [209719]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is as follows:

Fuel Poverty

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much each major energy supplier has agreed with his Department to contribute towards the total agreed commitment of £225 million to tackle fuel poverty over three years. [207366]

Malcolm Wicks: The individual allocations have been calculated by reference to each company’s market share based on customer account numbers. Each supplier has agreed to pay a contribution per customer account. The contribution per customer account is then multiplied by the number of customer accounts “owned” by a supplier to arrive at each supplier's contribution. A breakdown of suppliers' individual contributions cannot be made available as it contains commercially sensitive information and therefore remains confidential between the Department and the energy supplier.

Fuels: Prices

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps the Government have taken to help pensioners to meet the cost of rising fuel prices. [210395]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 June 2008]: We are concerned about the impact of higher prices on vulnerable people including pensioners and we continue to encourage energy suppliers to adopt initiatives to mitigate their impact.

In Budget 2008, the Government said they would like to see the amount energy suppliers spend on social programmes increase to at least £150 million a year over the period ahead. A new voluntary agreement has recently been signed individually with the six major energy suppliers to treble their investment on social programmes in the next three years, reaching collective investment of £150 million by 2010-11. This will take spend to £100 million in 2008-09, £125 million in 2009-10 and £150 million in 2010-11.

In addition, winter fuel payments helped keep 11.7 million people warm in winter 2006-07 and Budget 2008 announced an additional one-off payment of £100 to over-80s households and £50 to over-60s households in 2008-09.

Finally, in the recent Ofgem fuel poverty summit a number of new initiatives were announced to improve the way we identify and target those in fuel poverty, provide support to vulnerable customers to use the competitive market effectively and ensure that tariff differentials are fair and justified.

Insulation: Waste Disposal

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform who is responsible for the safe disposal of plastic foam insulation containing ozone-depleting substances. [210517]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

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Article 16 of EC Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer includes obligations for the recovery for destruction of controlled substances, including the recovery of ozone-depleting substances from foam insulation in refrigeration equipment and, where practicable, substances contained in other products, installations and equipment. Any person having control of the controlled substances mentioned in Article 16 has a duty, under regulation 6 of The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/528), to comply with those provisions.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he expects to reply to the letter of 22 April 2008, transferred from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire on animal testing (reference: 82241/MG). [209980]

Mr. Thomas [holding answer 10 June 2008]: I replied to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire on 4 June 2008.

Methane: Reserves

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his estimate is of coal-bed methane reserves in the South and North Wales coalfields. [211094]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 13 June 2008]: The Department has no current estimates of coal-bed methane reserves.

Oil: Cardigan Bay

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to make a decision on oil licensing in (a) Cardigan Bay and (b) the Moray Firth following the results of the appropriate assessments; and how those decisions will be made public. [209963]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make decisions on oil or gas licensing in Cardigan Bay and the Moray Firth once my officials have had the opportunity to consider the comments received from the consultation exercise carried out earlier this year. He is not yet in a position to give a definite date.

The decisions will be made public in the normal way by announcing them on BERR’s oil and gas website.

Renewable Energy: International Cooperation

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what consideration the Government have given to the proposal for the creation of an international renewable energy agency. [209767]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK attended a Preparatory Conference for the Foundation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) hosted by Germany in April 2008. We are currently engaged in this German-led
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process and expect to be represented at working group meetings to be held at the end of June and September 2008.

We fully recognise the importance of renewable energy in global energy policy and are considering the merits of this proposed new international agency in the light of other existing organisations and initiatives in the field of renewable energy.

River Severn: Tidal Power

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, column 1763W, on Tidal Power: River Severn, what assessment he has made of the independence of the companies awarded the contracts for feasibility studies; and what steps he has taken to ensure that those companies have no conflicts of interest. [209496]

Malcolm Wicks: As my answer of 15 May to the hon. Member made clear, tenders for the two contracts awarded so far as part of the Severn tidal power feasibility study—for a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and for advice on finance and ownership issues—were assessed against a number of criteria, including “the independence of the contractor and ensuring that there is no conflict of interest”.

Both the consortium led by Parsons Brinckerhoff and PricewaterhouseCoopers, to whom these contracts have respectively been awarded, made statements in their tenders to address this criterion. Their statements were probed at interview.

In the case of PricewaterhouseCoopers, no issues arose that required further consideration. Parsons Brinckerhoff provided assurances that they have no financial interests in the success of any barrage or tidal lagoon option, including their work on the Shoots barrage proposal in 2006 and 2007. My Department considered that questions of conflict of interest might nevertheless remain and, to deal with these, Parsons Brinckerhoff were asked to agree to assign any rights they might hold in respect of this work to the Secretary of State on a royalty-free basis, which they have done. They have also agreed to waive any moral rights they might have in respect of such work.

In addition, my Department is creating an independent panel of engineering experts to peer review the technical assessment of options the PB consortium is doing, with advice from the Royal Academy of Engineering and other professional institutes. Work delivered under the SEA contract will be published and publicly consulted on.

With these measures in place, my Department is fully satisfied in the independence of the PB consortium.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what analysis he has undertaken of the effect of the construction of a Severn Barrage on the archaeological footprint of the River Severn. [210144]

Malcolm Wicks: A study to investigate archaeological impacts of a Severn tidal power project is part of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) which is being carried out by a consortium led by Parsons Brinckerhoff
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(PB). Wessex Archaeology is the specialist organisation charged with undertaking this study, including consulting relevant stakeholders, such as county archaeologists. A Call for Information, issued by PB in May, particularly requested any relevant data or research related to the effects on areas identified as of potential archaeological or cultural heritage importance.

In addition, both English Heritage and its Welsh equivalent, Cadw, are represented on the SEA steering group to ensure that the impact of any tidal range power scheme on the Severn's archaeology and heritage is properly considered.

Trade: Developing Countries

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps his Department has taken to make progress in the Doha development round of international trade talks. [210436]

Mr. Thomas: The World Trade Organisation issued revised negotiating texts on agriculture, non agricultural market access (NAMA) and services in May. Negotiations are continuing among WTO members in Geneva.

The Government continue to work with the EU Trade Commissioner, other EU member states and other WTO members to achieve an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the Doha round in 2008.


Courts: Offensive Weapons

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance his Department has issued on the steps to be taken when a knife is discovered on persons attending court hearings. [208550]

Mr. Straw: Under section 139 Criminal Justice Act 1988, it is an offence to have any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed in a public place; the definition of ‘public place’ includes courts as a place to which the public have access. It is a defence to prove that a knife is carried for work, religious reasons or as part of a national costume. Section 139 only applies to those folding pen-knives with a blade of more than 3 in so possession of a pen-knife with a blade of this length or less is not an offence under the Act.

The powers of seizure and retention of items, and of exclusion from courts, are derived from sections 53 to 55 of the Courts Act 2003.

All knives, of whatever length, are among those items which Her Majesty’s Courts Service class as prohibited items and are not permitted inside any place where court business takes place. All bladed items must be surrendered to a court security officer and if not willingly surrendered, they may be seized by those officers. If the item is not surrendered or seized, the bearer will be excluded from entry into the court or removed. The police are informed of all offensive weapons surrendered or seized and court security officers follow the advice given by them. As possession of folding pen-knife with a blade of 3 in or less is not an offence, the court security officers would not normally advise the police of these items being retained.

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If a court security officer reasonably believes that a bladed item is evidence of, or in relation to, an offence, then they contact the police as soon as possible after the item was surrendered or seized and provide them with information about the item, the person carrying the item and if appropriate, any difficulties they had in obtaining the item.

The court security officer will then follow the advice of the police who may attend, dispose of the item, and take any other appropriate investigative action.

If a person requests the return of an item when he/she leaves the court building, but the court security officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the item may be evidence of, or in relation to an offence, then the person is told that under section 55(2)(b), the officer has the power to retain it for up to 24 hours or until they have sought advice from the police. Items which are lawful to possess, such as folding pen-knives with the permitted length of blade, are returned when the owner asks for them.

The Courts Act itself gives no power to retain articles beyond either the 24-hour permitted period or the later point when the owner returns to collect it. If the police do not collect the item within the permitted period or at any rate before the owner returns to collect it, then the article must be returned.

Policy guidance on all aspects of security, including detailed guidance on the powers and practice of searching, and the seizure of prohibited items, is disseminated through the document Safe and Secure to all staff and contractors. In addition, court security officers receive full training on these powers and are not appointed until assurance is provided that this has been completed satisfactorily.

Departmental Training

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much (a) his Department and its predecessor and (b) its agencies spent on training courses for staff in the last (i) 12 months and (ii) five years. [210565]

Mr. Wills: Responsibility for budgets and business training linked to business objectives is devolved to managers in business groups within MOJ, and there are no overall central figures available.

Providing management and leadership training in the corporate centre last year cost £1,448,000. Due to the significant machinery of government changes over the past five years we do not have comparative figures for previous years.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what training courses were (a) available to and (b) taken up by civil servants in his Department in the last 12 months. [210573]

Mr. Wills: No central figures for the amount of training the Department has provided is available as different business groups within the Ministry of Justice have devolved responsibility for arranging training, linked to specific business objectives. This includes induction, job skills and a range of management and leadership support.

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