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Motor Vehicles

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the future of the EU block exemption of the selective and exclusive distribuiton of motor vehicles. [18467]

Ms Hewitt: The Government await with interest the European Commission's proposals concerning the block exemption. We are pressing the Commission for radical pro-consumer change.

Gas and Electricity Consumer Council

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to ensure the Gas and Electricity Consumer Council provide more staff at the Energywatch office in Birmingham to deal with calls and inquiries. [18663]

Mr. Wilson: It is for Energywatch to determine, within the budget agreed with the Department, the staffing levels required for it to carry out its duties under the Utilities Act 2000 and the particular activities identified in its Forward Work Programme. Energywatch is aware of the importance of responding in a timely and efficient manner to inquiries and complaints and is working to improve its response times further. Over the next coming months, a one-stop lo-call telephone number for all gas and electricity consumers, and a more sophisticated call management system that will reduce the time it takes consumers to reach a consumer adviser will be installed at Energywatch's Birmingham and other regional offices, which will be fully operational by May 2002.

Galileo Project

Syd Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment her Department has made of the European Commission's estimate of the number of jobs that would be created directly and indirectly by the Galileo Project; and what measures her Department is taking through (a) providing development and validation funding and (b) other measures, to ensure the UK maximises its ability to benefit from jobs created; and if she will make a statement. [18524]

Ms Hewitt: At the end of last year, the European Commission provided a Cost Benefit Analysis for Galileo which predicted the growth in employment resources for Europe as a whole at around 3,800 jobs a year for the four to five year development phase, rising to 19,000 a year over the two-year deployment phase. On the basis of these figures the UK could be expected to attract 15 to 20 per cent. of these jobs. Some of these may, however, displace existing jobs.

My Department is working closely with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and others within Whitehall to examine the economic case for providing further funding to the Galileo project, if it goes ahead.

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Liabilities Management Agency

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the objectives of the proposed Liabilities Management Agency. [17423]

Mr. Wilson: Arrangements for managing public sector civil nuclear liabilities have been considered as part of the quinquennial review of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and of related work on the future of BNFL. One of the options put forward by the review team is the establishment of a Liabilities Management Authority to bring sharper focus and stronger strategic direction to nuclear clean up.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, will be making a statement to the House shortly on how the Government intend to proceed.

European Energy Market

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to encourage competition in the energy market in Europe. [17426]

Mr. Wilson: The Government support the proposals published earlier this year by the Commission to complete the internal energy market by 2005. These measures would provide the mechanisms and regulatory structures needed for a functioning single market in electricity and gas.

The proposals are currently being negotiated in the Energy Council, where we are seeking their early adoption.

Pyrolysis and Gasification

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the location of the pilot plants using (a) pyrolysis and (b) gasification. [17425]

Mr. Wilson: The Department is supporting with Border Biofuels a project to build, test and run by July 2003 a fully integrated combined heat and power facility, including a pyrolysis plant capable of processing a minimum of 25 tonnes per day. The total project cost is £4.65 million, with my Department's contribution being £1.16 million. The location of the proposed demonstration site is under consideration.

So far, the leading gasification pilot plant has been the Arable Biomass Renewable Energy (ARBRE) project at Eggborough, Yorkshire, which is currently in the final stages of commissioning. The project has been developed by First Renewables Limited (FRL) with support from the European Commission THERMIE programme and from NFFO. ARBRE will consume about 43,000 tonnes of wood fuel per year supplied from forestry residues and short-rotation coppice, and will generate 10 megawatts of electricity per year, of which 8 megawatts will be transported to the grid.

Research is concentrating on scaling-up and developing the technology deployed in ARBRE. The Department has recently approved a project with ALSTOM Energy Limited, First Renewables Limited and Cambridge University which will involve setting up a plant about four times as big as ARBRE. The total cost of this project will be £7.3 million, with the Department contributing £2.9 million. Possible sites are being investigated.

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Small-scale biomass gasification projects are being taken forward in Swansea and in Newton-le-Willows near Warrington. There are also two small-scale gasification demonstrator facilities in Northern Ireland that are already in operation. These are at Brook Hall Estate, County Londonderry and the Blackwater Valley Museum, County Armagh.


Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her policy is on (a) the location and movement of satellites and (b) the movement of spacecraft; and if she will make a statement. [17431]

Ms Hewitt: The launching and operation of satellites by United Kingdom nationals is governed by the Outer Space Act 1986 which introduced a licensing regime for the activities of launching and operating a space object and for any activity in outer space. UK nationals wishing to carry out such launch and movement activities must apply to my Department for a licence. I have discretion as to whether to grant a licence and on the conditions to which a licence should be made subject, but before granting a licence I must be satisfied that the activities (i) will not jeopardise public health or the safety of persons or property, (ii) will be consistent with the international obligations of the UK, and (iii) will not impair national security. Satellites are also subject to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) regulations and procedures in respect of the orbital locations and frequencies used.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with other Departments and Government bodies to encourage them to increase their use of renewable energy. [18350]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I regularly communicate with the Minister for the Environment and other Green Ministers on matters including the promotion of renewable energy in departments and other public bodies.

The Green Ministers have set a target for 31 March 2003 for at least 5 per cent. of Government Departments' electricity to come from renewable sources that are exempt from the climate change levy, or from self- generation, and for 31 March 2008 for at least 10 per cent. to be obtained from such sources, provided that this does not entail excessive cost. The target will be reviewed by 31 March 2003.

Earlier in the year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry wrote to her Green Ministerial colleagues calling for Departments to give active consideration to the use of solar-photovoltaic (PV) panels on Government buildings in support of a major market stimulation programme and to provide a highly visible demonstration of the Government's commitment to renewable energy.

All facilities managers for the Government Estate have been issued with guidance on the use of PV, and Government buildings are eligible to apply for funding under the DTI's Large-Scale Buildings Integrated PV programme.

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Electrical Goods

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on how many power stations would not need to be used if everyone stopped leaving their televisions and computers on standby; and what plans there are for a European Union directive that would reduce the power consumption of electrical goods while in standby mode. [16747]

Mr. Wilson: Estimates from DEFRA's Market Transformation Programme suggest that in 2000 electricity consumed in standby mode by televisions was 980 GWh, domestic PCs consumed 670 GWh, while office PCs consumed 1,300 GWh. On the basis of these estimates, total electricity consumption by these appliances equate to just under 1 per cent. of all electricity consumed in the UK in 2000. This is roughly equivalent to the output of one mid-range CCGT power station. However, since many of these appliances would not be in standby at peak times there is still a need for this power station.

While I am not aware of any plans for a directive governing the power consumption of electronic equipment in standby mode, there are already a number of voluntary agreements in place which seek to establish minimum standards for the power consumption of electronic equipment in standby mode. These include voluntary agreements with industry in respect of TVs, VCRs, digital TV services and external power supplies.

In addition, the recent EU/US agreement will extend into Europe the use of voluntary energy labelling of office equipment via the US EPA's Energy Star scheme which requires minimum standards for computers and other office equipment in standby mode before the label can be used.

The European Commission will also shortly be making proposals for a Framework Directive for Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for End-Use Equipment which may cover this area too.

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