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Smart South West

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the UK Online for Business strategy is and the role played by Smart South West in promoting it; and if she will make a statement on the nature of Smart South West's relationship with business in the region. [74935]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 22 October 2002]: The aim of UK online for business is to help make the UK the best place in the world for e-business, with an extensive and competitive broadband market judged using international comparative measures of business uptake and use of information and communication technology (ICT). This will be achieved by assisting companies, through the provision of advice, tools and content, to achieve greater productivity and competitiveness through the deeper, more integrated use of ICT.

As part of the programme, a UK online for business champion has been appointed for each region and Devolved Administration. The champions work with the RDAs, Business Link Organisations and other

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regional bodies, helping to facilitate activity that will contribute to the achievement of the targets. The champion for the South West is Colin Bluck, who although Executive Director of Smart South West, performs the role of champion in an individual capacity. Smart South West as an organization is one of over 400 partners with whom we seek to work to promote the use of ICT to business.

I am not in a position to comment on the nature of Smart South West's relationship with business in the region.

Steel Industry

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support and assistance she will provide to the UK steel industry in response to the introduction of US tariffs. [69480]

Ms Hewitt: The Government supported the European Commission's robust response in pursuing WTO action and took the lead in pressing for EU safeguard action to protect the UK and EU steel industry against diversion of trade. The Government have also actively supported UK companies in their efforts to secure product exclusions from the US measures and will continue to do so. To date, 70 per cent. of UK steel exports are not covered by the US tariff increases.

The Government can only provide support to the steel sector within the strict aid criteria rules that apply to the sector. We continue to provide financial support to the sector representatives for initiatives designed to improve competitiveness.

Wind Turbines

Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact decommissioning nuclear sources will have on the number of wind turbines which will be needed in the British Isles. [77862]

Mr Wilson: Energy security and taking action on climate change are key issues for the Energy White Paper which will be published in the new year. The role of nuclear and renewables, including wind power, will be included in the White Paper. The policies and measures in the Government's climate change programme should deliver our Kyoto commitment even with the current planned closure programme for the nuclear stations between now and 2010.

Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the number of wind turbines which will be needed in the British Isles to meet the Kyoto commitments on sustainable energy. [77863]

Mr. Wilson: The policies and measures in the Government's climate change programme should deliver our Kyoto emissions commitment. The climate change programme includes policies and measures impacting on all sectors of the economy and society, which seek to reduce emissions attributable both to the production of energy, and to its consumption.

Measures to reduce emissions attributable to energy production include the Renewables Obligation, which places an obligation on electricity suppliers to source a

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rising proportion of their total sales from eligible renewable sources. Our target is that 10 per cent. of licensed electricity supplies will be generated from eligible renewable sources by 2010. Wind power will make an important contribution to this target, as will other renewable sources of electricity. Achieving this target could result in an estimated saving of around 2.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2010.

This expansion of renewable energy is however just one part of the Government's wider climate change programme. Other initiatives include for example the climate change levy on conventional fuels and the UK emissions trading scheme which affect the business sector. In the domestic sector, the new Energy Efficiency Commitment places new obligations on gas and electricity suppliers to make energy efficiency improvements; there are also new requirements on local authorities to make proposals to achieve energy efficiency gains; and the #600 million home energy efficiency scheme provides grants for home insulation and heating improvements to improve energy savings. On transport, there is the EU-level agreements with the car manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency in new cars, backed by changes in UK vehicle taxation through company car tax and vehicle excise duty, together with the infrastructure investment in the 10-year plan to tackle congestion and pollution.

As my hon. Friend may know, energy efficiency was one of the key areas highlighted in the PIU review of energy policy. The Government support an increasing role for energy efficiency and is formulating a response to be published in the White Paper around the turn of the year. The role of renewables will also be included in the White Paper.

TRANSPORT

Air Travel in 2030

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 22nd October 2002, Official Report, columns 157–58W, on air passengers, if he will estimate the forecast for air travel in 2030 based on a 1 per cent. per annum increase in air fares in real terms over the forecasting period. [78547]

Mr. Jamieson: The forecasts of air traffic demand for 2030, published in XThe Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East", assumed a 1 per cent. per annum reduction in air fares in real fares. The resulting forecasts of unconstrained passenger demand for 2030 were 501 million passengers nationally and 301 million passengers in the south-east.

Central Railway Project

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Central Railway project. [78461]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 23 October 2002, Official Report, column 304W to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan).

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Headlight Glare

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the effect of the planting of foliage on the central reservations of UK motorways on reducing headlight glare from other carriageways. [78353]

Mr. Jamieson: Planting and maintenance of foliage in the central reserve creates safety risks to road workers, and can cause congestion for travellers, without offering any additional safety benefits. On this basis, planting foliage in the central reservations of motorways is not favoured except where the central reservation is very wide. Headlight glare is very rarely a factor in motorway accidents.

Motorised Wheelchairs

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it compulsory for users of motorised wheelchairs to hold third party liability insurance. [78618]

Mr. Jamieson: Insurance for users of motorised wheelchairs and scooters is currently not compulsory but is strongly recommended. We are planning to review the legal framework governing both the construction and use of such vehicles in the near future and the issue of whether insurance should be compulsory will be among those on which we will be seeking views.

Rail Passenger Partnership

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has made available for the Rail Passenger Partnership since 2000; and how much was spent in rural areas in (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03 to date. [78397]

Mr. Jamieson: The Rail Passenger Partnership (RPP) scheme was launched in 1999 with a budget of #105 million over three years. In December 2001 the Strategic Rail Authority re-launched RPP with a budget of #400 million until 2010–11.

It is not possible to give a precise figure for the amount spent exclusively in rural areas, as many of the schemes for which funding has been awarded by the SRA are of benefit to rural and non-rural areas. In the financial year 2000–01, some #271,000 was awarded for schemes containing a rural element. In 2001–02 the figure was just under #1.1 million. The projected figure for 2002–03 is some #2.3 million.

Rail Services

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish figures for the punctuality and reliability of rail services operated by (a) Central trains and (b) Wales and Borders trains through Telford Central station over the last 12 months. [78348]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority publish performance statistics for all train operating companies in their six monthly XOn Track" publication. The figures for each operator are not broken down to route level,

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but reflect the performance of their services in aggregate. The most recent edition was published on 6 June. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.


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