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22 July 2008 : Column 1136W—continued

Fuels: Prices

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the estimated average (a) monthly and (b) annual fuel bills were for families in England and Wales in each of the last three years (i) in total and (ii) broken down by region. [220594]

Malcolm Wicks: Fuel bills are only available on an annual basis and only for electricity and gas. Total and regionally split bills for domestic electricity and gas are published quarterly in tables 2.2.3 and 2.3.3 respectively of quarterly energy prices, available online at:

A copy of this is also available from the House of Commons Library.

Group of Eight: Oil

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what contribution the Government plans to make to the World Energy Forum announced at the G8 summit on 8 July. [218871]

Malcolm Wicks: In the communiqué of 8 July following the G8 summit in Hokkaido, G8 leaders proposed the holding of an energy forum to focus on energy efficiency and new technologies, which could also contribute to dialogue between energy producers and consumers. Japan has offered to host the Forum (which is anticipated to take place this autumn).

The United Kingdom will participate actively in the forum which will feed into the follow-up to the Jeddah energy consumers-producers' meeting in June that we will convene in London before the end of the year.

Industrial Disputes

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many working days were lost to industrial action in (a) Leeds Metropolitan District and (b) Yorkshire and Humberside in each year since 1997. [220767]

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Mr. McFadden: Data on days lost to industrial action are collected by the Office for National Statistics only at Government Office Region level. Therefore information on days lost relating to the Leeds Metropolitan District is outside of the scope of data collected. The available data for days lost to industrial action in the Government Office region of Yorkshire and Humberside are shown in the following table.

Working days lost
























Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many (a) public limited companies, (b) other incorporated companies and (c) unincorporated associations became insolvent in the most recent year for which figures are available. [215151]

Mr. McFadden: The information requested is available only for numbers of insolvency procedures, and does not, therefore, provide a count of actual companies becoming insolvent—the same company may enter, successively, into more than one insolvency procedure.

Corporate insolvency procedures include: compulsory liquidations, creditors’ voluntary liquidations, administrations, receiverships and company voluntary arrangements.

Table 1 breaks each of these procedures down further, by type: into public limited companies (PLCs), private limited companies (Private Ltd.) and other (Other), for new cases in 2007. All the information recorded under Table 1 has been provided by Companies House from their company database, as at July 2008.

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Table 1
Insolvency procedure Company type Insolvencies in 2007

Compulsory Liquidation



Private Ltd.




Creditors Voluntary Liquidation



Private Ltd.




Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (following Administration)



Private Ltd.







Private Ltd.




Receiver Appointments



Private Ltd.




In Administration



Private Ltd.




Total procedures, by Company type



Private Ltd.




Marine Renewables Deployment Fund

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations his Department has received on conditions for qualification for the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund; and if he will make a statement. [219391]

Malcolm Wicks: BERR officials are in regular contact with industry representative bodies and individual companies on various issues of importance to them, one of which is the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund (MRDF).

The MRDF is a demonstration scheme and was designed to show that a device had finished its research and development stage and was ready for roll-out as a commercial product. The recent report on marine renewable energy issued by the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB) endorsed the design of the scheme and noted that it acts as an encouragement to developers to progress beyond the research phase to demonstration and deployment. Of course, we will be looking at the RAB report's detailed recommendations concerning the MRDF in light of responses to the renewable energy strategy consultation and will consider any necessary adjustments to the scheme in due course.

Minimum Wage: Service Industries

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that all waiting staff are guaranteed the national minimum wage, excluding gratuities, and that any gratuities given by customers are received in full by waiting staff with no deductions by employers; and if he will make a statement. [220156]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 21 July 2008]: The use of tips as part of the national minimum wage is a complex issue. It is important to remember that under the current law workers are always entitled to receive the minimum wage.

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Tips may count toward the minimum wage only where they have been paid through the employer’s payroll.

We are already looking at this issue very carefully and believe tipping should be fairer and more transparent. Practice on tipping varies widely. In considering any change in this area, the Government would obviously consult fully and look at a range of options in line with better regulation.

Nuclear Power

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many meetings he and his officials have had with representatives of (a) the nuclear energy industry and (b) the combined heat and power industry since January 2007; who attended each meeting; when each was held; and what matters were discussed. [220582]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 July 2008]: Ministers and officials have held meetings with representatives of both industries. A full list could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his Department's budget is in 2008-09 for work associated with (a) nuclear energy and (b) combined heat and power. [220586]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 July 2008]: The department spends approximately £56 million per annum on international commitments associated with nuclear energy, including monies for the Global Partnership Fund for the former Soviet Union.

In addition the department spends £12.6 million on activities related to both legacy and new build nuclear policy.

Apart from a small sum paid for the collection of statistics, the department does not have a budget for work associated with combined heat and power. Policy lead on CHP rests with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the administrative costs of this work in BERR are not separately identified.

Offshore Drilling: Oil

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2008, Official Report, columns 142-44W, on offshore drilling: oil, what sources of oil and gas have been identified by the exploratory drilling recorded by his Department off the coast of (a) the Isles of Scilly, (b) Cornwall and (c) South West England; and what assessment has been made of whether such sources can be exploited. [221721]

Malcolm Wicks: From the list provided in my answer of 23 June, one exploration well only, number 103/1-1, discovered any appreciable hydrocarbons, which were probably sourced from shales of Jurassic age. This is situated due west of St. David's Head. There are currently no plans with the Department for development.

The nearby areas offered in the recent 25th Licensing Round have not attracted interest from oil companies.

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Olympic Games

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 2 July 2008, Official Report, columns 949-50W, on the Olympic games, what estimate he has made of the cost of his Department's Ministers' and officials' attendance at the Beijing Olympics. [219473]

Mr. McFadden: My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Investment will be in Beijing from Thursday 21 August to Tuesday 26 August and will attend the closing ceremony only of the Olympic games.

The purpose of his visit is to promote British business capability, FDI and partnership opportunities in general as well as business opportunities arising from the London 2012 games. During his visit, my noble Friend will support several key business events and initiatives.

He will be accompanied by his private secretary and three BERR officials who will support him during the business side of his visit. The estimated cost of the trip for the party is £28,200.


Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with his German counterpart on mechanisms to encourage installation of photovoltaic panels. [219700]

Malcolm Wicks: In December 2007 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met with Matthias Machnig, State Secretary of the German Ministry for the Environment, where they discussed a number of energy related issues, including renewables. In November 2007 I also met with Mr. Machnig to discuss climate change and energy policy. This is in addition to other discussions both my right hon. Friend and I have had with German Ministers during and in the margins of European and international meetings.

Post Offices: Newcastle University

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what estimate Post Office Ltd has made of the net annual saving which will arise from the closure of the Newcastle University Union Society post office; and if he will make a statement; [220840]

(2) what assessment Post Office Ltd has made of the effect of closure of the Newcastle University Union Society post office on students in Newcastle upon Tyne. [220841]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 21 July 2008]: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

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