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Financial Assistance

(Blackpool, North and Fleetwood)

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) financial investment and (b) other assistance the North West Regional Development Agency has put into Blackpool, North and Fleetwood in each of the last three years. [16057]

Alan Johnson: The North West Development Agency is not able to provide the information in precisely the form requested as the Blackpool Challenge Partnership, which handles the Agency's Single Regeneration Budget investment in the town, cuts across constituency boundaries. During the last three years, investment in Blackpool via the Partnership has been as follows:

£ million


Investment for 2001–02 will be approximately £3.3 million.

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In addition, investment in Fleetwood has been as follows:

£ thousands


Investment for 2001–02 will be approximately £1.1 million.

The Agency works closely with the borough councils in Blackpool, North and Fleetwood, and with other public and private sector partners, to provide advice and guidance on economic development and regeneration issues.

Unsolicited Marketing Material

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to prevent the practice by companies of sending unsolicited marketing material by fax to (a) businesses and (b) individuals. [16449]

Mr. Alexander: Arrangements for preventing the sending of unsolicited marketing material by fax to individuals are already in place. The Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 ban the sending of unsolicited marketing faxes to private individuals and sole traders in the UK, as well as to partnerships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Regulations also establish an "opt-out" scheme—The Fax Preference Service (FPS)—for corporate subscribers who do not wish to receive such faxes.

Departmental Spending (Scotland)

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list, in real terms, for each year since 1979 (a) the total sums of money spent directly by her Department in Scotland and (b) the total sums of money allocated by her Department for spending in Scotland through (i) the Scottish Office, (ii) the Scotland Office and (iii) the Scottish Executive. [16183]

Alan Johnson: Public expenditure information by territory and function is available in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2001–02 (Cm 5101) for the years 1995–96 to 1999–2000, and earlier years are available in previous PESA publications (copies of which are in the Library of the House). Further information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Scottish Executive

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her policy is regarding consultations prior to the publication of proposals involving the transfer of powers to the Scottish Executive by (a) primary legislation and (b) Order in Council. [13820]

Ms Hewitt: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Scotland on 14 November 2001, Official Report, column 748W.

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Sub-post Offices

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will discuss with the Chairman of Consignia the impact on (a) rural and (b) other local sub-post offices of the sale by major retailers of postage stamps at a discount to their face value; and if she will make a statement. [15472]

Mr. Alexander: Operational issues such as these are a matter for Consignia from whom I understand that, in addition to the post office network, over 65,000 retail outlets sell stamps. While stamps cannot be sold above their retail price, there is no restriction preventing retailers from selling stamps at less than face value.

Scottish Consumer Council

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made since 1999 of the effectiveness of the Scottish Consumer Council. [15548]

Ms Hewitt: The National Consumer Council regularly monitors the performance of the SCC to ensure that it meets its performance and work-related objectives. The SCC, in its annual report, includes a report on its activities and how well it has achieved its objectives.

In 1999 the Department carried out a thorough review of the role, objectives and performance of the NCC and its country committees, including the SCC. This was followed in late 2000 by a Governance review (completed early 2001) of the NCC. This review recommended changes to the NCC board and as a result a new board was appointed as of 1 October.

Textile Industry (World Trade Conference)

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the textile sector on the WTO talks. [16084]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry met the Director General of the British Apparel and Textiles Confederation and the General Secretary of the National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades on 19 October. The forthcoming Fourth WTO Ministerial meeting in Doha was among the issues discussed.

State Subsidies

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information she has collated, broken down (a) by member state and (b) by industry, on state subsidies currently authorised by the European Commission (i) annually and (ii) for the current year. [14795]

Mr. Wilson: The information requested can be found on the European Commission website The website has the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Surveys on State Aid in the European Union. Copies of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th surveys are already in the Libraries of the Houses. A copy of the 9th survey, which has recently issued and covers 1998–99, will also be placed in the Libraries of the Houses. The Commission is at present collating figures for 2000–01.

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Utilities Act

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many statutory instruments have been laid before Parliament; and what ministerial guidance notes have been issued to implement the commitment in the Utilities Act 2000 on energy supplies from renewables. [15644]

Mr. Wilson: Under section 67 of the Utilities Act 2000 the following statutory instruments (SIs) have been made:

These SIs ensure the preservation of arrangements which were made under section 32 of the Electricity Act 1989 to secure the availability of capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. It was necessary to take such measures on the coming into effect of the New Electricity Trading Arrangements and on the splitting of Public Electricity Suppliers into separate supply and distribution companies.

Ministerial guidance notes have not been issued on these SIs, but they are accompanied by any necessary explanatory notes.

It is proposed that further SIs will be made under section 62 of the Utilities Act 2000 in order to introduce the Renewables Obligation. Drafts of those SIs have recently been put out to statutory consultation and the Department is in the process of considering the responses given.

It is also proposed to make a further SI under section 67 of the Utilities Act 2000 in order to permit locational flexibility for certain NFFO projects. A draft of this proposed SI is out for informal consultation.

Renewable Energy

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress in the (a) development of and (b) support for thin film solar photovoltaic renewable energy technology. [15573]

Mr. Wilson: Thin film photovoltaic technology (largely amorphous silicon) currently accounts for about 20 per cent. of total world shipments of all PV products but its market share is increasing. Several countries and companies are investing heavily in research into and development of existing and new thin film technologies. Although thin film modules and tiles tend to be less efficient than the more established crystalline silicon products, they have the potential to be much cheaper, because they are more suited to automated processing and use much less of the basic PV material, such as silicon.

In the UK, the Government have supported a number of research and development projects for thin film technologies, including several large projects with the UK's only thin film cell producer. The DTI is also supporting the deployment of thin film products under its Domestic Field Trials, and the recently announced Large Scale Field Trial for Public Buildings will be open to all PV technologies. Budgets for these trials amount to some £8.4 million. In addition to this the Government have

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allocated £20 million to the first phase of a major PV demonstration programme over the next two to three years.

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