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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effects of Russia's decision to stop European gas supply on such supplies in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Russia's decision to stem European gas supply had no direct impact on gas supply in the UK as the UK is estimated to receive less than 2 per cent. of its gas from Russia. However, the shortage of gas supplies to the continent was likely to have been the reason for the exports of gas from the UK to Europe through the Interconnector of, on average, 35 million cubic metres per day, in response to price signals. This was at a time of year when the UK would normally be importing through the Interconnector. The UK's diverse sources of gas supplies helped to ensure that gas supply in the UK continued to meet demand, which was high due to cold weather conditions prevailing at the time.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: UK consumption of any gas sourced via the Ukraine (be it Russian or Ukrainian in origin) is negligible. Ukraine consumes its own domestic gas production with minute exports, but does act as a transit country for Russian gas entering the EU. There are only two routes to the UK for gas via the Ukraine. These are the Balgzand-Bacton pipeline from the Netherlands and the Bacton-Zeebrugge pipeline with Belgium. The physical origins of the gas through these pipelines are not available. It is possible that a very small amount of gas via the Ukraine finds its way across continental Europe to the UK, but given the gas pipeline infrastructure it is believed that most of the gas from the Netherlands is sourced from the Dutch sector of the North sea, and that most of the gas from Belgium is sourced from Norway via Zeepipe (which terminates at Zeebrugge).
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) whether he proposes to provide further opportunities for the nomination of potential nuclear new build sites after the current period closes on 31 March 2009; 
(2) what consideration he gave to providing for a period of evaluation of other than two months for the nomination of potential nuclear new build sites; and for what reasons two months was the preferred period. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The strategic siting assessment is a process for identifying and assessing sites which are strategically suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by the end of 2025. The Government believes that it is important to focus on sites which can come on stream in good time to contribute to our goals on climate change and energy security. 2025 provides sufficient focus to facilitate the achievement of these goals whilst avoiding an unnecessarily long list of potential sites which may not come on stream for some years. Should the need arise the Government will issue a second call for nominations for credible sites which might be deployed after 2025.
The Government Response to Consultation on the SSA process and siting criteria, published in January this year set out the next steps, including nomination forms, guidance to nominators and the timetable of assessment. The deadline for nominations is 31 March 2009. The nominations will be published on the DECC website and there will be a month long period for public comment prior, and in addition, to public consultation later in the year.
In the consultation on the SSA process and siting criteria Government set out the proposal that the nomination window would be eight weeks. Having considered the responses to the consultation, the Government believes that an eight week window for nominations gives nominators sufficient time to absorb the changes to the criteria resulting from the consultation, to complete nominations and to perform their engagement activities. The Government did consider leaving time between the publication of the criteria in the Response and subsequently calling
for nominations, but felt that this would introduce complexity into the nomination period. The Government's conclusions in relation to the nomination window are set out more fully in the Government Response to the SSA Consultation.
Interest in building new nuclear power stations in the UK is strong. This is demonstrated by events such as EDFs recent purchase of BE, and by the development of Joint ventures by RWE and E.ON, and Iberdrola, GDF Suez and SSE to participate in the development of new nuclear power stations.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Morley and Rothwell of 16 June 2008, Official Report, columns 641-2W, on renewable energy: international co-operation, what recent assessment he has made of the merits of the establishment of an international renewable energy agency in the light of other existing organisations and initiatives in the field of renewable energy. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 10 February 2009]: We have fully supported the proposal for an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). During 2008, we were engaged in the process for establishing IRENA and more recently we participated in the founding conference on 26 January and the first session of the Preparatory Commission of IRENA on 27 January 2009.
We continue to be keen on joining IRENA and have been in close contact with the German Government on the details of the new organisation. For example, we have been talking to Germany about how IRENA can contribute to the roll-out and deployment of renewables and how we can help to get other countries such as Canada, China, Japan, India and the US to join. We also want to make sure that IRENA works closely with, and avoids overlap and duplication with, other international bodies and organisations, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the renewable energy and energy efficiency partnership (REEEP). The IEA has a good understanding of the potential for renewable energy and its technology roadmaps published in its Energy Technologies Perspectives 2008 set out what needs to be done. The policy and analytical expertise of the IEA needs to be used by IRENA to accelerate deployment of renewable sources of energy.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent meetings Ministers and officials from his Department have had with representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme on energy and climate change related matters. 
Joan Ruddock: DECC Ministers have not had any recent meetings with representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme. However, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, attended a climate change meeting on 18 February 2009 as part of the United Nations Environment Programme Conference in Nairobi.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on levying a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies; what representations he has received from (a) trades unions and (b) consumer groups on an energy windfall tax; what the reasons were for deciding against such a tax; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the transcript of his comments to Radio Five Live on 23 September on energy windfall taxes. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular discussions with the Chancellor on various economic issues relating to the energy markets, and receives representations on issues relating to the energy markets from a broad range of organisations. All taxes are kept under review by the Chancellor as part of the Budget and pre-Budget report process. Any decision to levy a tax on the profits of energy companies would need to consider the impact on UK competitiveness and the long term investment required to move to a low-carbon economy.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many learner places funded by the Learning and Skills Council have been taken up by people with (a) learning difficulties, (b) disabilities and (c) mental ill health in each year since 2003-04. 
Information is shown by: learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities; disability (including mental ill health) and learning difficulty. Data cannot be provided on a comparable basis for 2003/04.
|Table 1: Number of learner enrolments/starts funded by the Learning and Skills Council, learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities; disability, including mental health; and learning difficult|
|Dimension||Category||ACL enrolments||FE college enrolments||Ufl enrolments||WBL starts||TtG starts|
|(1) Data is not available.|
(2) A value of less than 50.
1. Volumes are rounded to the nearest hundred, and therefore may not sum to totals.
2. Disability and learning difficulty is not shown separately for ACL as they are not mandatory ILR fields for this return.
3. Data for ACL, FE colleges and Ufl are based on learner enrolments. One learner may enrol on more than one course, e.g. two A-levels, and will be counted for each learning aim they are recorded on.
4. Data for WBL and TtG are based on learner starts, by year in which the programme of learning was started. Learners starting more than one course will appear more than once.
5. Data for WBL includes apprenticeships (all levels) and entry to employment.
6. Based on learners self-assessment. It is recognised that many learners for whom information is recorded in this field will not be able to identify themselves as having learning difficulties. This information will be recorded as a result of interview.
7. Train to Gain was launched in April 2006, so comparable data does not exist for 2004/05.
Individualised Learner Record.
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