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Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the robustness of the national grid in (a) the UK and (b) the London area. 
(a) Historically the reliability of transmission networks is very high. In 2006-07 the overall reliability of supply of the GB system was 99.99985 per cent.
(b) Consumers in London enjoy the most secure electricity supplies in the country. In 2006-07 the average customer minutes lost per 100 customers was 43.0 in the London distribution network, compared to the national average of 72.4.
Malcolm Wicks: A number of UK energy companies are already owned by non-UK companies. However, regardless of the nationality of the owners of energy companies operating in the UK, they are subject to the same licence conditions as UK owned energy companies. This will be the case with the owners, foreign or otherwise, of newly built nuclear power stations, along with the stringent safety and operating conditions that apply to all nuclear generation. Foreign owners of UK energy companies also pay the same rates of tax as UK companies and there is no evidence that overseas involvement in our energy sector has led to a situation that has given us security of supply concerns.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post offices closed in each parliamentary constituency in each year between 1997-98 and 2007-08. 
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the effect of EU Directives (a) 96/67/EC and (b) 2002/39/EC on the operation of the Post Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: European Postal Services Directives 97/67/EC and 2002.39.EC do not cover the provision of post offices or the provision of services through them. Decisions relating to such matters are the responsibility of individual member states. It remains the UK Government's priority to maintain a national Post Office network with national coverage.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many transport plans for the movement of nuclear materials have been approved by the Office for Civil Nuclear Security. 
Malcolm Wicks: Since 23 September 2003, when the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 came into force, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security has approved 12 transport security plans for the transport of Category I/II nuclear material.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what advice he has received from (a) the National Audit Office, (b) the Carbon Trust and (c) Ofegm on the cost-effectiveness of the renewables obligation. 
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2008, Official Report, column 1014, on Sellafield, what factors he will take into account when assessing the recommendation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on who should be the new parent body organisation for the Sellafield Site Licence Company. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is conducting the Sellafield parent body organisation competition under the EU competitive dialogue procedure, under which it is mandatory that they seek to identify the most economically advantageous tender using objective evaluation criteria agreed in advance with the bidders. Performances against those criteria are the only factors that can be taken into account. Any departure from the declared evaluation criteria would invalidate the competition process. Ministers have no part in the evaluation process.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will place in the Library a copy of each report commissioned by his Department which has examined the impact of small shop closures on rural communities in the last 10 years. 
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps can be taken against those who do not abide by recommendations made by employment tribunals. 
Mr. McFadden: Where an employment tribunal makes a recommendation to a respondent, and the respondent does not act upon it, the tribunal can increase the compensation award made to the claimant or order the respondent to pay compensation if it did not make such an order earlier.
Mr. McFadden: In employment tribunal cases where discrimination has been proven, in addition to making an order for compensation for loss or damage suffered by the claimant, the tribunal can make recommendations to the respondent aimed at improving the respondents practices as they affect the claimant in the workplace. Such recommendations are not binding, though a tribunal can increase the claimants compensation award if the respondent does not comply with them, or order the respondent to pay compensation if such an order had not been made before. We do not believe they should become binding. Compensation awards are, of course, binding and enforceable.
The Government intend to broaden these recommendation powers to enable a tribunal to make recommendations, where discriminatory practice has been proved, which would benefit others as well as the claimant. This will enable recommendations about the respondents practices to be made in situations where the claimant is no longer employed by the respondent (which is not currently possible), in order that current employees can benefit. My Department is currently consulting about the implementation of this.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with BT and other utility companies on surcharges for customers who choose not to pay bills by direct debit. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 June 2008]: Departmental officials have regular meetings with BT at which a variety of issues are discussed, including consumer concerns which have been raised with us. In response to public concern, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) has examined regulatory concerns about communications providers additional charges and draft guidance was published on 28 February 2008. Ofcom expects to produce guidance in the autumn and once finalised, it is proposing to give providers three months to comply. Ofcom will then start an enforcement programme.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much renewables obligation subsidy went to (a) onshore and (b) offshore wind farms in 2006-07. 
Malcolm Wicks: The renewables obligation is not a direct subsidy but is an incentive on suppliers to source renewable energy. For the obligation period 2006-07, Ofgem issued 4,208,975 ROCs for onshore wind and 720,824 for offshore wind. For the obligation period 2006-07 ROCs were worth up to £49.28.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate his Department has made of the number of onshore wind farm developments in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008 to date that would have been commercially viable without the renewables obligation subsidy. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department published an analysis by Ernst and Young (URN07/948) of the cost of renewable generation alongside the Energy White Paper on 23 May 2007. While the renewables obligation offers the financial incentive to stimulate production of renewable energy, the commercial viability of individual wind farms is a matter for wind farm operators.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will undertake research into the economic effects of the introduction of British Summer Time in winter and double British Summer Time in summer. 
Mr. McFadden: There are no plans to change the current summer time arrangements or to undertake additional research as the Government are not convinced that a change would be in the best interests of the UK.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received carers allowance in (a) Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency and (b) the London Borough of Bexley in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|Carers allowance cases in payment: November 2007|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended or where the person has underlying entitlement.
3. This information is published at:
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study
Mrs. McGuire: In the United Kingdom in 2006-07, the median equivalised household income of a household containing a member in receipt of carer's allowance was £308 per week before housing costs and £257 per week after housing costs.
1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income data which are sourced from the Family Resources Survey.
2. The Family Resources Survey is known to undercount receipt of certain benefits. In 2006-07, the number of benefit units recorded as being in receipt of carer's allowance on the Family Resources Survey was 20 per cent. lower than the figure from administrative records.
3. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication Households Below Average Income series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or equivalised) for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.
4. Net incomes have been used to answer the question. This includes earnings from employment and self-employment, state support, income from occupational and private pensions, investment income and other sources. Income tax payments, national insurance contributions, council tax/domestic rates and some other payments are deducted from incomes.
5. The figures are based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) equalisation factors.
6. Weekly incomes have been rounded to the nearest whole pound.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of staff in his Department received bonus payments in each of the last five years for which information is available; how much was paid in bonuses in 2007-08; what the largest single payment was in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Performance bonus payments are awarded to employees on the basis of their individual performance. They are paid in the financial year following the completion of the performance year and forms part of their annual pay award. The expenditure incurred is in the following table.
|Table 1: Amount paid in bonuses to DWP employees since 2003 and the number of employees receiving bonuses|
|Financial year||Total employees receiving bonus||Proportion of total work force (Percentage)||Total paid (£ million)||Largest payment (£)|
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