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Energy Efficiency

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures her Department has taken since 1997 to encourage energy efficiency in (a) the domestic sector, (b) the commercial sector, (c) the industrial sector and (d) the public sector; and how much Government financial support has been made available. [50435]

Mr. Wilson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment on 8 May 2002, Official Report, column 155W.

Business Links

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the productivity and profitability of (a) businesses assisted by business links (i) in the Milton Keynes, Oxford and Buckinghamshire area and (ii) nationally and (b) businesses not assisted by business links in the latest year for which figures are available. [51391]

Nigel Griffiths: Business link operators are required to submit data on those clients receiving the most intensive level of support in order to track changes in their growth and performance.

Electricity Industry

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been (a) sought and (b) received from the Scottish Executive on new UK-wide electricity trading arrangements. [52903]

Mr. Wilson: I have been in close contact with colleagues in the Scottish Executive and they fully support moves to create a British electricity trading and transmission market. The project is being taken forward with the full involvement of the Scottish Executive who are represented at my regular meetings with the industry in this issue. Scottish Executive officials also attend the monthly steering group.

Energy Industry

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on the total level of generation of electricity from coal mine methane sold via licensed electricity suppliers of its exemption from the climate change levy. [53731]

Mr. Wilson: The Government do not have their own estimate for the extra sites which would be developed as a result of the CCL exemption, but the Association of Coal Mine Methane Operators has estimated that around 30 new sites could be made viable as a result. It is for the

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operators to respond to the incentive that has been provided, but if all the association projects went ahead this would add something in the region of 175 MW of electricity generating capacity with the electricity produced per annum totalling about 1.4 terawatt hours.

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on carbon dioxide emissions of the exemption from the climate change levy of electricity from electricity from coal mine methane sold via licensed electricity suppliers. [53732]

Mr. Wilson: Using methane from abandoned mines will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and therefore has a significant environmental benefit. The scale of the environmental benefit cannot be precisely quantified at present, because the effect of pumping the gas leads to some acceleration in the extraction rate beyond the level of natural leakage from abandoned mines. Work is in hand to inform these estimates.

Small Businesses

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance the Government have provided since 1997 to small businesses starting up. [54193]

Nigel Griffiths: Creating new businesses is important to achieving a vibrant economy. The Government are committed to creating an environment that encourages more people to think about setting up a business, and to provide them with easy access to the information and support available that will help them to be successful and grow. Since 1997 the Government have introduced through the Small Business Service (SBS) a range of measures to assist small businesses to start up including:

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However the Government are committed to continue finding ways of increasing the numbers of new businesses, and of helping them to be successful and grow. In response to the joint Treasury/DTI paper "Productivity in the UK", which was published on 16 June 2001, the SBS is currently consulting on developing a comprehensive strategy for supporting business start-ups. A consultation document was published on 6 May 2002, setting out some concrete proposals and recommendations for areas where further work is considered necessary. The consultation period will run until 31 July 2002.

Coal Health Claims

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been paid by her Department in coal health claims for (a) occupational respiratory disease and (b) vibration white finger in fees and other charges to (i) her Department's legal advisers and counsel, (ii) her Department's claim handlers, (iii) the medical service providers (A) Healthcall Ltd. and (B) SEMA, (iv) external and seconded consultants, (v) other contractors and (vi) claimants' solicitors, in the period up to 31 December 1997 and in each subsequent year. [54839]

Mr. Wilson: The Department is unable to provide figures relating to contractors' fees, as the details of these payments remain commercially confidential.

Figures for the period prior to 1 April 1999 are not available in time allowed. However, from 1 April 1999 to 31 December 2001 the Department has paid out the following on administrative costs (medical, records collection, defendant legal and claims handling costs) broken down by financial year and scheme:

£ million

Financial YearRespiratory diseaseVibration white finger
April to December 200143.85.6
Total from April 1999 to December 200167.415.1

The cost of administrative expenses for the Department on this work cannot be separately identified.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will make her decision regarding ECGD support for United Kingdom commercial interests in the proposed Bo NoK power plant in Thailand; and which companies have expressed an interest to her Department. [55058]

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Ms Hewitt: ECGD has not received a formal application in respect of Bo Nok power project. However, an initial inquiry was received over a year ago. The identity of the UK company involved is commercially confidential and, in line with ECGD's normal policy relating to discussions prior to issue of guarantees, cannot be disclosed.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which UK companies the ECGD is supporting in connection with (a) the Sual coal plant in the Philippines and (b) its associated transmission networks. [55061]

Ms Hewitt: ECGD supported Alstom Power Plants Ltd. (then GEC ALSTHOM Power Plants Ltd.) and Alstom Power Plants Services Ltd. (then GEC ALSTHOM Turbine Generators Ltd.) in relation to the Sual coal plant. ECGD did not provide any support for the associated transmission networks.

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