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Renewable Energy Strategy

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

11 Oct 1999 : Column WA54

Lord Sainsbury of Turville : On 30 March the Government published a consultation paper: New and Renewable Energy--Prospects for the 21st Century. The paper confirmed the Government's target of working towards providing 10 per cent. of UK electricity supplies from renewable sources as soon as possible, which it hopes to achieve by 2010. It also identified a range of possible mechanisms to support market simulation. A summary of the responses to that consultation was published on 30 July, and entitled New and Renewable Energy--Prospects for the 21st Century: Analysis of the Responses to the Consultation Paper.

The Government's next step is to develop and implement a New and Renewable Energy Strategy for the next century. That future strategy will have to be formed in the context of the new frameworks being established for the open and competitive energy markets, the Climate Change Levy announced by the Chancellor in the budget, and the UK's future climate change programme.

Offshore wind has the potential to make a substantial contribution to our renewables target. How much of a contribution will depend primarily on the environmental acceptability of offshore wind projects and the technology's cost in comparison to other renewables. My department has commissioned work to analyse the different development consent regimes relevant to offshore wind energy projects. I envisage that developers would be provided with guidance to encourage a unified approach to obtaining offshore development consents.

Telephone Call Costs: Transparency

Lord Montague of Oxford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they can take to make the net cost of telephone calls transparent to consumers.[HL4083]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The regulation of telecoms operators in the UK is a matter for Oftel. All those providing publicly available telephone services, both fixed and mobile, must publish information for residential consumers on their standard terms and conditions.

Consumers, however, may need more information in order to be able to compare the impact on their bill of the tariffs of different operators. Oftel is working with the main fixed link operators and consumer groups on developing a price comparison model to help residential customers more easily compare prices. The first comparison model will be introduced later this year and it will give customers access to more transparent information with which to make a more informed choice of telecoms provider.

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Model Steam-powered Vehicles

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether collectors' working models of steam-powered road and rail vehicles, old and new, will be exempted from the new proposed pressure equipment regulations; and whether they will be exempted in other European Union member states.[HL4095]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 set out the essential safety requirements for the design and manufacture of pressure equipment placed on the market or put into service in the Community for the first time. They do not apply to the use, maintenance and repair of such equipment. The regulations do not apply, however, to the manufacture and import of pressure equipment for own non-commercial use and it is therefore only where equipment is manufactured in the course of business that the manufacturer must ensure that it meets the requirements of the regulations. All member states have a duty to transpose the directive (which these regulations implement in the UK), which does not contain an exemption for model steam-powered road and rail vehicles. However, it is important to note that for those with a pressurised volume of no more than two litres they will only have to manufacture to current sound engineering practice and not with the essential requirements.

Accountant Numbers in EU Member States

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many persons hold accountancy qualifications per head of population in the United Kingdom; and how this compares with figures for other European Union member states.[HL3992]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: There is no single definition of accountants either in the UK or in Europe. However, the current number of individual qualified UK-based members of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, an umbrella body comprising the six chartered accountancy bodies, is 200,771.

Although no comparable figures are available for persons holding accountancy qualifications for European Union member countries, the following figures based on the report Continuous Quality Assurance--Statutory Audit in Europe published by the Federation Des Experts Comptables Europeens in April 1998 gives the number of registered auditors per head of populations.

Population millionCountryPopulation per auditor
57.6United Kingdom2,604

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Unispace III Conference:

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government

    What has been the British contribution to, and level of participation in, the United Nations space conferences recently held in Vienna. [HL3996]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The UK contributed to all aspects of the Unispace III conference from its inception through planning and final execution. Over 80 people from the UK attended the conference in a range of capacities. They included exhibitors in the associated exhibition, members of the Technical Forum in space related workshops, those at the Space Generation Forum, which sought to develop young people's ideas for space, and those in the official delegation or in the delegations of international organisations of which the UK is a member.

National Lottery Operator's Licence

Lord Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On which occasions and where Virgin have lobbied the National Lottery Commissioners in pursuit of their proposed application to run the National Lottery when the present licence expires on 30 September 2001; and what issues were discussed. [HL4099]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The National Lottery Commission has received no representations from the Virgin Group about the award of the next licence to operate the National Lottery. The Commission has, however, held one meeting with Mr Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, in his private capacity, at its offices in London. Mr Branson was one of 14 individuals and organisations who took up the Commission's offer for interested parties to meet and express views on the award of the next licence, prior to the Commission's announcement of its Statement of Main Principles for the selection process.

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Royal Parks Agency: Review

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the remit of the review of the Royal Parks Agency includes examining how far the recommendations of the Jenkins Committee, which the Government accepted, have been or remain to be implemented. [HL3779]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Copies of the terms of reference for the review have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The review will examine, inter alia, the agency's performance in relation to its aims and objectives, but is not designed specifically to examine progress on implementation of the Jenkins Review Group's recommendations, which are monitored by the Royal Parks Agency.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is to conduct the review of the Royal Parks Agency. [HL3780]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for carrying out the review and has issued invitations to tender to carry out the performance evaluation element.

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