Previous Section Index Home Page

26 Feb 2009 : Column 930W—continued

Natural Gas: Storage

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to develop gas storage capacity. [255212]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government are working to facilitate new gas storage projects by implementing the reforms to the consents procedures under the Energy and Planning Acts 2008. National Grid's recent "Ten Year Statement" identifies 17 commercial gas storage projects which, if they all go ahead, could increase GB's gas storage capacity to some 20 per cent. of current annual demand levels by around 2020.

Ofgem: Operating Costs

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the cost to the public purse of the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets was in each of the last 10 years. [257587]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Ofgem is primarily funded through licence fees. The total cost to the public purse since the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) was formed in 1999 is as follows:

Financial year Total cost (£000)



















26 Feb 2009 : Column 931W

Radioactive Materials: Transport

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the security of nuclear waste transported by rail in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [258122]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The transportation of nuclear waste by rail is carried out in accordance with the national security regulations—the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 (NISR). The NISR is administered and enforced by the Office for Civil Nuclear Security, which regulates such movements of nuclear waste and is kept fully informed of any relevant intelligence.

The security of the transportation of nuclear material was reviewed following the events of 11 September 2001 and is regularly reviewed in light of changes to the prevailing threat. OCNS is satisfied that the measures in place to prevent theft or sabotage are adequately robust. In the event that a credible threat were detected, appropriate action would be taken.

Regional Electricity Companies

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many electricity supply companies are regulated by Ofgem. [256678]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Ofgem has issued 66 electricity supply licences, of which 34 were for the supply of domestic and non-domestic customers. There are 19 active electricity suppliers, of which 11 are both domestic and non-domestic suppliers and eight are non-domestic suppliers only.

Renewable Energy

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what timescale has been established for the introduction of the feed-in tariff scheme. [254105]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We plan to consult on the details of feed-in tariffs this summer and we hope the scheme can go live in April 2010.

Renewable Energy: Finance

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if the Government will provide greater levels of financial support to homeowners seeking to purchase domestic (a) wind and (b) solar technologies. [244670]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The existing low carbon buildings programme provides a £86 million capital grants programme for the installation of small scale renewable technologies to householders, communities, public and not for profit organisations. To date over £1.49 million has been committed to 678 domestic wind installations and over £7.9 million to 6,446 domestic solar technology installations and funding is still available.

We are also providing support to small scale renewables through the renewables obligation (RO). All microgenerators (50kW and under) will receive the highest level of support under the reformed RO from 1 April this year
26 Feb 2009 : Column 932W
(2ROCs/MWh) to reflect the higher capital costs of small generation technologies. This will provide greater levels of support than previously to domestic wind and PV solar technologies.

We are considering the transition from grant funding and other incentives to the proposed small scale electricity feed in tariff and the renewable heat incentive support mechanism.

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what funding the Government has given to the Bio-energy Capital Grants scheme in each financial year since its inception; [255934]

(2) what the budget for the Bio-energy Capital Grants scheme in (a) 2008-09 and (b) each of the next five financial years is. [255935]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: To date the Government have allocated or spent some £18 million through the Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme since the scheme began in 2002. The details are set out in the following table. The funding for many projects spans two or more financial years.

£ million
Financial year Actual spend by year Funds committed to projects (not yet spent)

























0.43 l




A further £4 million in 2009-10 and £8 million in 2010-11 is available to allocate to new projects.

There are currently no plans to continue the scheme beyond March 2011. The Government will be reviewing their policy on capital grants to support biomass heat projects in light of its intention to introduce a renewable heat incentive.

Tidal Power: River Severn

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for what reasons seabed mounted marine turbines were not included as an option for consideration to meet requirements for renewable energy generation in the Severn estuary. [253194]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: A public call for Severn tidal power scheme proposals led to a long-list of 10 schemes including a proposal based on an array of seabed mounted marine turbines. All long-listed schemes have been investigated within the Severn tidal power feasibility study and an analysis, and recommended shortlist for further assessment, were published for public consultation last month. Proposals based on tidal stream turbines have not been recommended for shortlisting. This is because this technology is at such an early stage of
26 Feb 2009 : Column 933W
development that detailed assessment is not possible. However, the Government are keen to see these technologies developed further so their potential can be better understood. Alongside existing funding for developing innovative technologies, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced new funding of £500,000 for the development of embryonic proposals. This fund will run in parallel with the feasibility study and the development of these technologies will be reviewed before decisions are taken on whether to take forward a Severn power scheme.

I expect to announce the final shortlist in the summer after consideration of comments and any further evidence submitted in response to the consultation. Copies of the consultation document are available in the Library of the House or at:

The consultation closes on 23 April.

United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority: Finance

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with private equity firms on the provision of future funding for (i) the UK Atomic Energy Authority and (ii) the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. [253921]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: From time to time we receive inquiries from private equity funds seeking to invest in government sponsored programmes and businesses, which also include those administered by UKAEA. We investigate them to understand whether they would represent value for money for the tax payer, although at present there are no specific plans to enter into any such arrangements with regard to UKAEA.

There have been no discussions with private equity firms on the provision of future funding for the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

Warm Front Scheme

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will make it his policy to extend eligibility for the Warm Front scheme to persons over 70 years old who are not in receipt of benefits; and if he will make a statement. [254723]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 25 February 2009]: The existing eligibility criteria are under review. Any alterations will be announced in due course.



Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland with reference to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, columns 461-62W, on departmental procurement, for what reason representatives from the Scotland Office required overnight accommodation at the resort in South Wales. [258581]

Ann McKechin: A quadrilateral Finance Ministers’ meeting involving the UK Government and the devolved Administrations was held at the Celtic Manor resort on 8 July 2007. My hon. Friend the Member for Inverclyde
26 Feb 2009 : Column 934W
(David Cairns) attended this meeting as Minister of State for Scotland, and was supported by two members of staff.

Duchy of Lancaster

Civil Service Employment

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many of the Prime Minister's 100,000 planned new jobs he estimates will be in the civil service. [257855]

Mr. Watson: The 100,000 new jobs will come mainly from investment in public works. The principal impact will be on jobs in construction and similar industries, for example on schools repairs, hospital programmes.

Government Communications Network

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many civil servants are engaged primarily in work for the Government Communications Network. [257856]

Mr. Watson: The Government Communication Network (GCN) does not directly employ staff. It is a professional network linking all communicators within the UK civil service. The network is supported by a team of eight working in the Cabinet Office, for the Permanent Secretary Government communication.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans the Cabinet Office has to construct an innovation centre in the virtual world Second Life; and what the cost of those plans is. [250328]

Jonathan Shaw: I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Work and Pensions through its Electronic Delivery Team has developed an innovation centre which utilises Second Life virtual world technology. The cost of its development has been around £20,000 and the quarterly running costs about £3,000.

House of Commons Commission

Members: Allowances

Jo Swinson: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what discussions House of Commons officials have had with officials in the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales on systems for (a) reporting by Members of their expenses to parliamentary authorities and (b) publication of information on Members' expenses; and if he will make a statement. [258846]

Nick Harvey: House of Commons officials maintain close working relationships with their counterparts in each of the UK legislatures and regularly contact one another to exchange views and explore methodologies for (a) systems of accounting for and administering the various allowances and expenses available to elected representatives and (b) approaches to providing information to the public.

26 Feb 2009 : Column 935W

Members: ICT

Rosie Cooper: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will take steps to enable hon. Members to connect their Blackberrys to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology system. [258897]

Nick Harvey: Parliamentary ICT (PICT) is currently conducting a 60-day trial of the Blackberry Enterprise Service. Once the trial has been completed a formal evaluation will be undertaken and recommendations made.

Next Section Index Home Page