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Mr. Madden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proceedings have been taken, and against which companies, under the Companies Act for failing to declare subscriptions to the Economic League ; and what penalties have been imposed on companies for failing to make suitable decarations.
Mr. Maude : Since 1979 no proceedings have been taken by my Department against a company's directors for failure to comply with the statutory requirement to report contributions for political purposes.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he proposes to seek to make amendments to the Companies Act 1967 to stop companies avoiding declarations about subscriptions to the Economic League ; and what representations he has received about such companies' failure to make such declarations.
Mr. Maude : I have no evidence that directors of companies are not complying with their obligations under section 235 of the Companies Act 1985 to state in their annual report gifts of money for political purposes, and I have received no representations on the matter.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many British industries which were the subject of mergers or takeovers for each year since 1975, reduced their work force ; and what was the number of redundancies in each case.
Mr. Maude : My Department does not maintain statistics on employment and redundancies. The Department of Employment does not maintain statistics on redundancies which can be correlated to merger activity, but overall redundancy statistics by industry are published in the labour market data section of the Employment Gazette.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he has received the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading as to whether the report of the inspectors on the affairs of House of Fraser (Holdings) plc demonstrates the existence of new material facts such as to justify a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Mr. Maude : Yes. On 25 November, in accordance with the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading, my right hon. and noble Friend, the Secretary of State, announced his decision not to refer the acquisition in 1984 and 1985 by Al Fayed Investment and Trust (UK) plc of House of Fraser plc.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) whether he has received any representations about discriminatory assistance given to Faserwerk Bottrop GmbH by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany ;
(2) what action he proposes to take in the light of the discriminatory assistance given to Faserwerk Bottrop GmbH by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany ;
(3) if he will make a statement on the implications for progress towards the single European market of the discriminatory assistance given to Faserwerk Bottrop GmbH by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany ;
(4) whether he is aware of any action taken by the European Commission in the case of the discriminatory assistance given to Faserwerk Bottrop GmbH by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mr. Alan Clark : I have received representations about the assistance given by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to Faserwerk Bottrop GmbH and officials have discussed this matter both with the Commission and with representatives of the British polypropylene producers. The proposal to grant aid was properly notified by the Federal German Government to the European Commission. The Commission concluded that the proposed aid would not distort competition within the European Community in synthetic fibres for the traditional textile and clothing sector and was consequently compatible with the common market.
The Government fully support the European Commission in its efforts to ensure rigorous and even-handed enforcement of the state aid rules. This is an important aspect of creating a genuine single European market. I would therefore expect the Commission to apply the same criteria in its assessment of any similar aid proposals, including those for United Kingdom companies which meet the criteria for DTI financial support. Officials will be discussing in greater detail the issues raised by this case with the Commission shortly.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what are the balance of trade figures for trade between the United Kingdom and Iraq ; what export credit guarantee money has been made available to United Kingdom firms since the end of hostilities ; and what support is given to United Kingdom businesses by Her Majesty's embassy in Iraq.
Mr. Alan Clark [holding answer 25 November 1988] : The value of United Kingdom visible exports to Iraq in 1987 was £272 million and imports totalled £324 million. (Country of origin basis.) My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster gave details of new credit facilities offered to Iraq during his recent visit to Baghdad in his written answer to the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) on Monday 14 November, at column 399. Our embassy in Baghdad provides the normal range of services in support of British exporters.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to the implications for employment at Commercial Hydraulics, Liverpool Ltd., in awarding the contracts for the Chieftain tank replacement programme.
Cost of mortgage tax relief |£ million ------------------------------ 1980-81 |1,960 1981-82 |2,050 1982-83 |2,150 1983-84 |2,780 1984-85 |3,580 1985-86 |4,750 1986-87 |4,670 1987-88 |<1>4,800 1988-89 |<1>5,250 <1> Provisional.
Column 105(2) how many tax units aged 60 years and over paid capital gains in the financial year 1987-88.
Mr. Norman Lamont : I regret that the information requested is not available ; but it is estimated that some 50,000 taxpayers aged 65 and over incurred capital gains tax liabilities on assets disposed of during 1985- 86.
Mr. Norman Lamont : It is estimated that in 1988-89 some 150,000 married couples and single persons aged 65 and over will be liable to income tax at the higher rate. Estimates are based on a projection of the 1985-86 survey of personal incomes and are provisional.
Mr. Jack : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pensioner tax units receive occupational pensions ; and if he will break down this figure into bands of occupational pension income of £1,000, up to a maximum or £20,000.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Provisional estimates for 1987-88 based on a projection of the 1985-86 survey of personal incomes are in the table. The estimates cover only those aged tax units where the Inland Revenue has records ; many aged tax units with small amounts of occupational pensions will not have records. A more detailed income analysis would be unreliable.
Aged tax units<1> receiving occupational pensions Occupational pension |Aged tax units<1> --------------------------------------------------------------- Less than 1,000 |1.9 1,000 to 5,000 |1.3 5,000 to 10,000 |0.3 Over 10,000 |0.1 |--- Total |3.6 <1>Single people aged 65 or more and married couples with at least one spouse aged 65 or more.
Mr. Lilley : The review committee on banking services law under the chairmanship of Professor Robert Jack is expected to pass its report to the Treasury and the Bank of England in January. It is the intention of the Government to publish the committee's report shortly thereafter.
|Staff units ----------------------------------------------- Year ending 31 October 1980 |1,265 1981 |1,405 1982 |1,580 1983 |1,705 Year ending 31 March 1984 |1,835 1985 |2,250 1986 |2,290 1987 |2,345 1988 |2,600
The earlier figures requested are not available.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a table showing the number of diplomatic domestic properties, total domestic rateable value, the amount of rates paid by Her Majesty's Treasury and the amounts paid to Her Majesty's Treasury by embassies as the beneficial portion for 1988-89 and provide a breakdown of the figures for each rating authority.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which articles, agreed in the cultural agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on 31 March 1987, have been implemented ; and at what cost to Her Majesty's Government.
Mr. Eggar : The memorandum of understanding signed on 31 March 1987 is designed to facilitate and encourage bilateral exchanges in the fields of information, culture and education. It contains a number of specific commitments on all of which good progress has been made : two annual Anglo- Soviet public lectures have now taken place ; a successful Soviet Week was held in Birmingham in October and arrangements are in hand for a British Week in Kiev in 1990 ; Protocols on school exchanges and on co-operation in the field of television and radio broadcasting have recently been signed. The memorandum is, however, essentially designed to facilitate rather than fund initiatives, many of which are private. Contacts have developed rapidly in the last two years with encouragement from both Governments. We are devoting an additional £250,000 per annum promoting Anglo-Soviet activities in the fields covered by the MOU and other related areas.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will publish a table showing (a) the cultural agreements and conventions concluded with other countries since 1979 and (b) the amount of Her Majesty's Government's expenditure on each agreement or convention.
Mr. Eggar : We have concluded the following agreements since 1979. Expenditure for 1988-89 by the British Council, which acts as our agent under the agreements, is shown in brackets. This is not necessarily all directly incurred because of the agreements, although it is all relevant to their purpose.
|£ -------------------------- Ecuador |291,000 Morocco |501,000 Algeria |873,000 Korea |766,000 Venezuela |461,000 Hungary |882,000 Cameroon |259,000 Tunisia |304,000
Mr. Waldegrave : We have raised the case of the Uspensky family, including Slava Uspensky, at every suitable opportunity. We will continue to press the Soviet authorities--including during Mr. Gorbachev's forthcoming visit--until exit visas are issued to the whole family.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British people imprisoned in Thailand have submitted requests for King's pardons over the last three years ; how many such requests he has supported ; and if he will in future make it his policy to support all such applications on behalf of prisoners who are HIV positive.
Mr. Eggar : Over the period from 1985 to date, four British prisoners have applied for King's pardons. Two have been successful, and two have petitions in progress. All are diagnosed HIV positive. It is not our policy to support applications for royal pardons where the due process of law has been observed. (We do, however, undertake to deliver their applications.) Exceptions to that policy are made on humanitarian grounds and in cases where the death penalty has been imposed. Should a prisoner who is already diagnosed HIV positive develop symptoms of AIDS and a reduction of life expectancy becomes manifest, a case would clearly exist also on humanitarian grounds for seeking the prisoner's early release. In this, policy is no different than had the reduction in life expectancy resulted from some other disease, or had other overriding humanitarian considerations arisen.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people from the United Kingdom are currently imprisoned in Thailand ; how many are held in chains ; how many have been so held during the last three years ; and what representations he has made to the Thai Government that this practice should cease.
Mr. Eggar : Currently, there are 13 British nationals imprisoned in Thailand. None is held permanently in chains. The wearing of chains is ordered on initial detention, for court appearances and transfers between prisons. They are also imposed for specific periods as punishment for bad behaviour. When British prisoners were held in chains for no apparent reason, consular representations were made to the Thai authorities and the chains were removed. The chains themselves are lightweight aluminium shackles fastened around the legs.
Column 108No representations have been made to the Thai Government on the general question, as the system is applied equally to all prisoners whatever their nationality. We have no grounds to seek treatment better than that afforded to Thai nationals.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how often he expects consular staff to visit British people held in prisons abroad ; and what has been the frequency of such visits to British prisoners in Thailand during the last year.
Mr. Eggar : Consular staff aim at quarterly visits to British nationals imprisoned in non-European countries. In European countries, where there are only a few prisoners serving long sentences, the aim is to visit every six months and in any event at least once a year. In Thailand, consular staff try to visit prisoners every four to six weeks, but staff shortages and an expanding work load because of the increasing number of British tourists to that country have combined to extend the period between visits. More staff have recently been dedicated to prison visiting, and the embassy expects the period between visits will soon be on or near its aim. From November 1987 to September 1988, five consular visits were made to prisoners in Bangkok. Prisons in other parts of Thailand have been visited three times in the same period.
Mr. Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will convey to Mr. Gorbachev the widespread concern in Britain over violations of human rights in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Mr. Eggar : The traditionally friendly relations between the United Kingdom and Fiji continue to exist, and we hope that Fiji will soon be able to return to parliamentary democracy under a constitution acceptable to a majority of all the people there.
Mr. Waldegrave : We shall continue our efforts to remove the barriers to an international conference on the Arab/Israel dispute. We are encouraged that the Palestine National Council, has accepted Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for such a conference.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, during the recent visit to Zimbabwe by the Minister of State, there was any discussion about the human rights implications of the decision of the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe to reduce from 25 to 12 years the sentence passed upon Odile Harrington ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Bendall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make it his policy to encourage the Soviet Union to honour pledges made in international treaties and grant exit visas to those who have been refused them.
Mr. Waldegrave : We already take every opportunity to press the Soviet Government, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to implement in full their international commitments (particularly those contained in the Helsinki Final Act) and to issue exit visas to all those who wish to leave the Soviet Union. Mr. Gorbachev's visit to the United Kingdom from 12-14 December will be a further opportunity to do so.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has received of the shipments of nerve gas to Somalia ; and what representation he has made or will make to the Government of Somalia and to the United Nations in order to achieve international pressure to prevent the use of such materials.
Mrs. Chalker : We are not aware of any evidence to support claims that nerve gas has been supplied to Somalia. In these circumstances it would not be appropriate to make representations to the Government of Somalia or in the United Nations.
Column 110Department arranged the programme for Dr. Emilio Alvarez Montalban on his recent visit to Britain on 13 to 18 November ; and if he will make a statement.
Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total cost to public funds of the recent visit of Dr. Emilio Alvarez Montalban to Britain ; and on what budget it was borne.
Mr. Eggar : The estimated total cost to public funds of Dr. Alvarez' recent visit was £1,200. Like any other visit undertaken as part of the sponsored visits programme, it will be charged to the budget of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's information department.
representations from a wide range of those involved with the tourism industry, including representative associations, firms in the various sectors of the industry, public sector bodies and individuals. Consultation has been on an individual and confidential basis and it would not be appropriate to publish a detailed list.
Mr. Lee [holding answer 25 November 1988] : My right hon. Friend announced the tourism review on 18 July. It is due to report to him at the end of the year. Its purpose is to ensure that Government support for the tourism industry continues to be effective and appropriate.
Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what terms of reference have been given to the consultants employed on the review of the work of the English Tourist Board ; and if he will make them known to that board.
to consider the role of Government in relation to the industry ; to consider the level and distribution of funding provided by the Department of Employment ;
to consider the mechanisms by which these funds are applied ; and their cost-effectiveness in relation to the
Column 111Government's objectives ;
to consider the implications for the BTA and the ETB of any changes that might be recommended.
These are closely reflected in the announcement my right hon. Friend made on 18 July and are known to both the English Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority.
Mr. Nicholls : The information requested is not yet all available and will not be available in the precise form requested. However, early indications suggest that 5 per cent. of those starting training are aged 51 and over.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many managing agencies which ran community programme schemes are now operating employment training schemes ; and what percentage this is of the total.
Mr. Nicholls : The information requested is not available. However, at 9 September there were 1,126 training managers and 169 training agents involved in employment training. The majority of former community programe providers are included in these totals or operating as subcontractors to other training managers.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 25 November 1988] : Applicants to employment training awaiting individual assessment with a training agent are waiting on average two weeks from the time they are referred to the programme. The aim is to reduce the waiting period to five days by the second half of December.