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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Ivor Caplin): The Quinquennial review into the Duke of York's Royal Military School and Queen Victoria School has been discontinued before the production of a report in view of the constraints imposed by the royal warrants underpinning both foundations that effectively ruled out the review team's main recommendations, which involved removing the schools from Government control. The review did, however, identify a number of issues for further study. These will be taken forward by the Adjutant-General's headquarters in conjunction with the chief executive or head of each school. In the meantime, the two schools will remain as agencies of the Ministry of Defence.
The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): I have placed in the Library of the House a statement by the Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) on the ricochet potential of the L21A1 baton round. This baton round is used as a less lethal option by the police and the Army.
The Ministry of Defence has carried out research on the post-ricochet trajectories and kinetic energy of baton rounds. The Sub-Committee, Defence Scientific Advisory Council has assessed the medical implications of the ricochets and has made a statement.
A desire for a reduction of the ricochet potential should be stated in the research and operational requirements of future kinetic energy weapon systems, and be evaluated experimentally.
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The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) has replaced the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths): The Small Business Service (SBS) is today publishing a Government action plan for small business. It builds on existing Government support for small business, marshalling the whole of government behind the small business agenda. I am placing copies in the Libraries of both Houses.
In December 2002, the SBS published Small Business and GovernmentThe Way Forwarda strategic framework for a Government-wide approach to helping small businesses based around seven core themes: building an enterprise culture; encouraging a more dynamic start-up market; building the capability for small business growth; improving access to finance for small businesses; encouraging more enterprise in disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups; improving small businesses' experience of Government services; and developing better regulation and policy. These themes were identified as key drivers for economic growth, improved productivity and enterprise for all.
Since then, partners at national, regional and local level have worked together using the strategic framework to develop a set of practical actions focused on improving policy and delivery as it affects small business.
A review of the routes off benefits into self-employment to establish if more can be done to encourage and facilitate moves into self employment;
The launch of a "core offer" for start-ups defining the service that all start-up businesses, wherever they are located, can expect;
Completion of the establishment of a Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship;
The publication of a "no nonsense guide" to access to finance for small businesses;
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The development of a small business procurement concordat, to be signed by public sector bodies; and
Further work to improve the coherence, accessibility and quality of Government services for small businesses building on the success of the cross-Government www.businesslink.gov.uk portal available since November 2003.
The Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (Mr. Stephen Timms): My predecessor, the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson), launched a three-phase strategy on 5 June 2003 to look at the issue of gas quality, as the UK becomes increasingly import dependent. Phase one was a scoping study on whether there would be a gas quality problem, in particular but not exclusively in relation to the Wobbe number. ILEX Energy Ltd was appointed to take this work forward. This study is now complete and an edited version of this report, without commercially sensitive information, is available on the DTI/Energy Website [www.dti.gov.uk/energy shtml/domesticmarkets/gas market/index]
ILEX approached this study by carrying out a supply-demand analysis and identifying the main sources of gas required to meet the forecast demand. An assessment was then made of the likely quality of the various sources of imported gas and the implications of those gas supplies for Great Britain's entry terminals. ILEX had a number of meetings with future and potential future suppliers to gather quantitative data on the likely quality of gas from new import sources. These data, much of which are commercially sensitive, will be used by DTI, HSE and Ofgem to inform this exercise.
During Phase 1 the DTI, HSE and Ofgem held a workshop to engage industry at the early stages of this exercise. The workshop was successful in providing a forum for industry to discuss gas quality issues.
ILEX's work confirms that the future Wobbe 1 specification of much gas imported into the UK before processing, is likely to fall outside the current upper Wobbe limit in the Gas Safety Management Regulations (GSMR). The UK's increasing dependence on imported gas does therefore raise the question whether the current upper Wobbe limit should be increased.
In the light of this result I have asked my officials to proceed with phase 2. Phase 2 will be a tripartite (DTI, HSE, Ofgem) consultation on the appropriate policy response. As my predecessor said, our broad policy options appear to be: the default option, to retain the current Wobbe limit (this would avoid the need to remove household appliances, but it would have the 1 The Wobbe Number represents a measure of the heat release when a gas is burned at constant gas supply pressure. The Wobbe limit range in The Gas Safety Management Regulations is between 47.20 MJ/cubic metre and 51.41 MJ/cubic metre.
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disadvantage of limiting UK access to the global gas market); or to change the current Wobbe limit (this would require the identification and removal of non-compliant gas appliances, but with an advantage in terms of facilitating gas imports).
My officials, together with HSE and Ofgem, will be working over the next months to prepare the ground for a consultation exercise on the policy option. My officials are also in discussion with the European Commission and representatives of the gas industry in the EU, about the work being carried out at the EU level on gas quality and the interaction with the present exercise.
This exercise has been developed by the DTI as a member of the Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN), which is working to deliver the Energy White Paper "Our Energy Futurecreating a low carbon economy".
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