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Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken since 11 September to guard against a terrorist attack on the Hartlepool AGR nuclear power station; and if she will make a statement. [16186]

Mr. Wilson: Robust security arrangements were already in place at Hartlepool power station before the events of 11 September. The UK's civil nuclear sites apply stringent security measures regulated by the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS), the security regulator. The security regulator works closely with the Health and Safety Executive, the safety regulator, which provides advice on the safety implications of events, including external hazards such as plane crashes, at nuclear installations.

Security and safety precautions at nuclear sites are kept under regular review. Both regulators are reviewing all relevant precautions in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in the USA. It is not Government policy to disclose details of security measures taken at civil nuclear sites.

Miners' Compensation

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the total amount of interest paid to sick miners and their dependants who have experienced delays in the payments of the amounts awarded them under the terms of the respiratory disease scheme; and whether the (a) Department and (b) the appointed claims handlers will be responsible for these interest payments. [16660]

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Mr. Wilson: Under the claims handling agreement, signed by the Department and the solicitors acting for the claimants, interest on general damages is payable by the Department from the date of the receipt of the letter of claim. On special damages, interest is payable from either the date the loss occurred, or in some cases the date of receipt of the letter of claim. Loss of earnings are calculated at the appropriate court rate, and other heads of special damages are calculated at a reduced rate, reflecting the fact that these are assessed at present day values. Since interest runs to the date an offer is accepted and forms part of the offer, a separate figure is not recorded by the claims handlers.

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners from the north Somerset coalfield have (a) applied for and (b) received compensation awards. [16321]

Mr. Wilson: In relation to respiratory disease, in the constituency of Somerton and Frome, IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered 25 claims. Nine individual payments have been made to date, amounting to £33,139.

With regard to vibration white finger, there are two claimants in this region, of whom one has received a payment of £3,113.

Miners' Pension Schemes

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage increases have been awarded annually to pensioner beneficiaries under the (a) mineworkers' pension scheme and (b) British Coal staff superannuation scheme; and what has been their total value annually at constant prices. [16662]

Mr. Wilson: Since 1994 MPS and BCSSS members have received around a 30 per cent. increase by way of valuation surplus bonuses. This is made up of:

Payments of bonus increases to pensioners have been provided by the trustees and are as follows (excludes the 11 per cent. BCSSS increase for which figures are not yet available).

£ million


(7) Year to end September

(8) Year to end March

In addition to these bonuses, MPS and BCSSS members have also received annual inflation-linked increases to maintain the real level of their pension.

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Fuel Cells

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incentives the Government are providing for the expansion of energy generation from fuel cells; and if she will make a statement. [16741]

Mr. Wilson: The Department has been supporting fuel cells research and development for many years, through the DTI Sustainable Energy Programme and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. Since 1992 the DTI has supported 147 fuel cell projects with a total DTI spend of £11.8 million. The current DTI Programme is spending about £2 million per annum, with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) spending about the same on basic research related to fuel cells.

The DTI is currently supporting the first UK demonstration of a 200 kW fuel cell combined heat and power unit at Woking borough council. Although there are a number of different fuel cell technologies, significant cost reductions will be necessary before they will be fully commercial for electricity generation.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets she has set for the use of fuel cells. [16742]

Mr. Wilson: Fuel cells are not yet fully commercial for electricity generation, and I have not yet set any targets for their use. The Energy Review presently being conducted by the Performance and Innovation Unit is considering the role of new technologies including fuel cells, in conjunction with other energy matters, as part of its review of strategic issues surrounding energy policy. It is due to report to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister by the end of the year.

Fuel cells may also be used to replace or supplement the internal combustion engine in vehicles. The Government will shortly be issuing a consultation draft of their "Powering Future Vehicles" strategy for promoting the development, introduction and take-up of hybrid, fuel cell and other low-carbon vehicle technologies.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the NETA in assisting the suppliers of renewable energy; and if she will make a statement. [16725]

Mr. Wilson: On 1 November 2001, I issued a consultation document in response to Ofgem's reports "The New Electricity Trading Arrangements—Review of the First Three Months" and "Report to the DTI on the

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Review of the Initial Impact of NETA on Smaller Generators" of 31 August 2001. I have placed copies of the consultation document in the Libraries of the Houses.

The Government recognise the issues faced by smaller generators, including renewables, under NETA and are committed to ensuring that our renewables targets are not prejudiced. The Government's key proposals are, broadly,

The Government are also inviting views on other proposals put forward by industry.

The Government believe that in some circumstances consolidation services are vital in order to establish and foster smaller generation plant, including assisting suppliers of renewable energy. While consolidation services are now starting to emerge in the market, the Government believe action may be necessary to address the lack of consolidation services to date. The Government have proposed establishing a working group of smaller generators, the National Grid Company, BSC (Balancing and Settlement Code) participants, Ofgem, the DTI and DEFRA to look urgently at possible structural or regulatory obstacles to consolidation, including the likely timescale on which competitive consolidation services will emerge. The Government will ask this group to provide an interim report by 24 December 2001, and a final report by 31 January 2001.

The consultation document is available at consultations/. The consultation closes on 1 December 2001.

Departmental Review

Mr. Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on the review of her Department. [17451]

Ms Hewitt: I am announcing today a series of reforms to the structure and operation of my Department to improve the way it serves business, employees and consumers. The DTI has a vital part to play in helping to drive up UK competitiveness and productivity (including resource as well as labour productivity) and I want it to fulfil that role as effectively as possible.

The changes will clarify my Department's role and strategy to focus sharply on customer needs. They will also simplify the support the Department provides for business and make that support easier to identify and to access. The Department's strategic priorities—reflected in its new structure—will be to promote innovation, spur enterprise and build competitive frameworks, including support for workplace standards and partnership.

The changes will also include the creation of a new strategy board and other boards involving Ministers, senior officials and non-executive directors; significantly greater involvement of business-people and others in the Department's strategy development and greater interchange between the Department and the private and social enterprise sectors. We will maintain an emphasis on better regulation, particularly for small businesses; deliver more consistent, streamlined advice for consumers; and have clearer roles for the Department's work in the English regions.

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