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Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the terms of reference are of the review of the initial impact of NETA on smaller generators; and when he will publish its conclusions; [156237]

Mr. Hain: In consultation with the industry, ways have been developed to ensure that smaller generators are

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be able to trade effectively under NETA, which was implemented on 27 March. These include the ability for a licence-exempt generator to consolidate the output of its plant with that of the plant of other licence-exempt generators in order to reduce any potential exposure to imbalance.

However, in the light of the continuing concern among some smaller generators about the potential impact of NETA on their businesses, I announced in February that I had asked Ofgem to undertake a review of the initial impact of NETA on smaller generators, based on its first two months of live operation.

Ofgem are planning to submit draft terms of reference for this review to me shortly, and they will be published once I have approved them. The issue of timing will be addressed in the terms of reference. The continuing success of combined heat and power and renewables is very important to the Government and Ofgem are well aware of their own regulatory responsibility in this respect.

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Company Rescue

Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the responses to the report of the joint DTI/Treasury working group on company rescue and business reconstruction mechanisms. [157150]

Mr. Byers: The report of the working group, which was published in November 2000, was followed by a further consultation period, which has now concluded. It will take some time to digest the responses from consultees and firm up our ideas on these proposals. In the interim, I have decided to publish the responses and copies have now been placed in the Library of each House and will appear shortly on the website of my Department's Insolvency Service.

Post Office

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursant to his answer of 17 January 2001, Official Report, columns 234-35W, if he will place in the Library a copy of the Post Office Chief Executive's answer to his letter of 17 November 2000. [149219]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 8 February 2001]: The Post Office Chief Executive has been consulted and has said that his letter was not intended for publication and he does not consider it appropriate to place a copy in the Library of the House.

Statutory Right to Contract

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what work his Department has carried out on examining the effectiveness of the operation of the statutory right to contract legislation. [R] [155790]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 27 March 2001]: I understand the hon. Member is referring to the statutory right of interest legislation.

We have continued to monitor payment times in the UK since the introduction of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Recent surveys have provided encouraging signs of improvement.

Research published by Dun and Bradstreet last month shows that UK companies are now the second fastest in Europe for paying their bills on time. Although all national performances have improved since the previous surveys, UK companies produced the greatest improvement, identifying a continuing downward trend in UK payment times in recent years.

In addition, a quarterly survey published by the Credit Management Research Centre in March 2001 indicated a continued improvement in payment culture with larger firms exhibiting the most improved payment behaviour.

Radioactively Contaminated Land

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the nuclear sites operated by (a) BNFL, (b) the UKAEA and (c) British Energy which contain areas of radioactively contaminated land; and what steps have been taken to remediate contaminated areas on each respective site. [156400]

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Mr. Hain: BNFL operates nuclear licensed sites at Sellafield, Springfields, Capenhurst, Drigg, and Chapelcross and Hunterston A nuclear power stations. Magnox Electric plc (a subsidiary of BNFL) operates Sizewell A, Bradwell, Dungeness A, Oldbury, Berkeley, Hinkley Point A, Wylfa and Trawsfynydd nuclear power stations.

British Energy operates Torness, Hunterston B, Hartlepool, Sizewell B, Dungeness B, Hinkley Point B, Heysham 1 and Heysham 2 nuclear power stations.

UKAEA operates sites at Dounreay, Harwell, Windscale and Winfrith.

I understand from HSE that all these sites may have areas of radioactively contaminated land. Nuclear site licensees are responsible for the safe management of all radioactive material on their sites. They are also required to manage areas of contaminated land in accordance with the conditions of the nuclear site licence so that such areas do not present a hazard to the work force or to the public.

I understand that BNFL, BE and UKAEA will write to my hon. Friend shortly with information on their contamination remediation procedures.

Business Regulations

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate how many regulations affecting business have been repealed since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [156503]

Mr. Stringer: I have been asked to reply.

An estimate of the total number of regulations affecting business that have been repealed since 1997 could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, since 1997, 23 deregulation orders have been made under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 (DCOA).

The Government are determined to minimise the burden of regulation on business. That is why we are taking through Parliament a Regulatory Reform Bill, which builds on the powers of the DCOA and will make it easier to reform outdated, over-complex or overlapping legislation. We have already identified over 50 reforms that could be achieved by this means.

Each Department already has a continuing programme of regulatory reform. The DTI, for example, is reviewing several significant areas of regulation, including communications and company law, and is actively seeking to add to the five potential regulatory reform orders it has already proposed.


Police Retirements

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of police officers have retired as a result of ill health in each year since 1990. [154512]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 21 March 2001]: Figures for medical retirements between 1990-91 and 1999-2000 are set out in the table.

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YearMedical retirements as a percentage of all retirements

Essex Constabulary

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) funded and (b) actual police officers there were in the Essex Constabulary in each year from March 1997 to the latest date for which figures are available. [154484]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 19 March 2001]: The information requested is set out in the table. The funded police numbers have been provided by the Chief Constable of the Essex Police.

The Home Office Statistical Bulletin on police service strength provides numbers of police officers available for ordinary duty, as opposed to all officers in each force. Officers on secondment, for example, on maternity leave or undertaking full-time further education, are excluded from the figures. This is the basis used in the table for the number of actual police officers.

Essex police--funded police posts and actual police numbers

YearNumber of funded policed posts (fte)Actual number of police officers (fte)
31 March 19972,9442,961
31 March 19982,9472,928
31 March 19992,9232,891
31 March 20002,8592,806
31 March 20012,955(13)2,859

(13) Numbers as at 31 January 2001. The force returns for strength as at 31 March 2001 for the purposes of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin are not yet available.

Fte = Full-time equivalent.

The force strength (actual numbers) figures for 31 March 1997 and as at 7 February 2001, set out in my answer to the hon. Member on 15 February 2001, Official Report, column 240W, were obtained from the Chief Constable of the force. Upon inquiry, it appears that the force classified some officers differently from the method used under Home Office counting rules for the half yearly Statistical Bulletin. This is the reason for the differences between the numbers in that answer and the numbers given here.

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