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Column 167date, the Moss Side and Hulme (Manchester), Preston and Rochdale task forces have supported 141 projects which, among other things, have helped to create or safeguard 214 jobs and 1,315 training places.
All three have established development funds in co-operation with private sector institutions to help the start-up or strengthening of small businesses. They have sought to improve residents' employability by, for example, sponsoring courses in English as a second language, with particular reference to job-seeking skills. Training courses in skills relevant to industries such as textile and knitting, construction, computing and the banking and finance sectors have also been established.
19. Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the value of takeovers by overseas companies in the United Kingdom for the latest convenient period ; and what was the corresponding figure for overseas takeovers by United Kingdom companies.
Mr. Maude : The value of cross-border acquisition and mergers by overseas companies in the United Kingdom in the 12 months to September 1988 was £5.8 billion. The corresponding figure for cross-border acquisitions and mergers by United Kingdom companies was £11.7 billion.
Mr. Maude : I have no plans at present to meet the chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to discuss merger policy. The chairman of the Commission meets my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and myself from time to time to discuss matters relevant to the work of the commission.
Mr. Maude : In the 12 months to September 1988 United Kingdom industrial and commercial companies' expenditure on acquisitions of United Kingdom companies was about £20 billion and their expenditure on acquisitions of overseas companies was about £6 billion. Further information is published in Business Monitor MQ7 "Acquisitions and mergers by industrial and commercial companies".
Column 168Community as the barriers are removed. Realising the potential gains to the economy, including improved competitiveness against third countries, will depend on the flexibility of United Kingdom firms in responding to the new opportunities and challenges. 33. Mr. McAvoy To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what he expects the impact of 1992 to be on the trade balance with other European Economic Community countries.
Mr. Alan Clark : The single European market will create opportunities for increased trade with the European Community as the barriers are removed. Realising the potential gains to the economy, including improved competitiveness against third countries, will depend on the flexibility of United Kingdom firms in responding to the new opportunities and challenges.
Mr. Forth : The Alvey programme successfully brings together industry and universities in collaborative IT research, and will continue until 1991-92. Support for collaboration between industry and universities will continue through further national and European IT research programmes, particularly Esprit and our new advanced technology programme, launched by my predecessor in July 1988, to which there has already been a most encouraging response.
Mr. Forth : Expenditure by United Kingdom industry on industrial research and development amounted to about 1 per cent. of GDP in 1986, just slightly above the proportion for 1985. The economic climate established by Her Majesty's Government should encourage United Kingdom industry to raise its level of R and D expenditure further.
Mr. Newton : The two main measures of international competitiveness are relative unit labour costs and share of world trade. Compared with our major competitors United Kingdom relative unit labour costs for manufactured goods fell by 5.8 per cent. between 1979 and 1987. Our share of the volume of world trade in manufactures has been broadly stable since 1981, after many years of decline. The signs are that our non-price competitiveness, which covers factors such as quality, reliability and after-sales service has also improved.
28. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many of the headquarters of Britain's top 100 companies are outside the south-east ; and if he will give comparable figures for 10 and 20 years ago.
Mr. Alan Clark : In the 12 months to October the United Kingdom had deficits on visible trade with Belgium/Luxembourg, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Mr. Forth : There has been welcome progress in implementing specific research programmes within the current framework programme. The Commission is itself conducting a review and is expected to put forward its own ideas for the future of Community research next year. At this stage it is not possible to anticipate what its conclusions may be. The United Kingdom will play an active part in the subsequent discussions. We shall, however, insist that any proposals for revision of existing Community research activity must be fully justified.
Mr. Maude : Copies of Sir Godfray Le Quesne's report were passed to a number of regulatory and professional bodies. Action being taken by the Securities and Investments Board and the Financial Intermediaries, Managers and Brokers Regulatory Association was set out in my answer of 10 November at column 261. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has set up a team to examine the work of the auditors involved in the case, which has been asked to report by the end of the year.
I understand that the joint liquidators of Barlow Clowes International and Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers continue to make progress on recovery of investors' funds and towards distribution of recovered funds, as described by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in his statement on 20 October.
Mr. Forth : Figures published in the 1988 annual review of Government-funded research and development show a rising trend of expenditure on extramural contract research and development by United Kingdom industry. In 1985 the figure was £332 million rising from £464 million in 1986. Independent forecasts suggest that this trend is likely to continue and that contract research and development expenditure is growing faster than intramural expenditure, the latter growing appoximately in line with GDP. There are no published worldwide figures.
Mr. Newton : The private sector response has been excellent. Our series of seven breakfast presentations, completed in the east midlands on 6 December, has already led to over 300 offers of help or expressions of interest in urban regeneration from local business people. Chambers of commerce are becoming increasingly involved in planning the renewal of their cities. At national level the CBI, Business in the Community and Phoenix have joined in a forum to promote and assist the development of local business leadership. Above all, the growth of activity and investment in inner cities shows that the private sector is taking the business opportunities which action for cities is helping to generate.
The £3,000 million that the Government are spending on inner cities this year will do much to encourage more businesses to become involved in the inner cities. We shall also continue to make clear the commercial benefits of doing business in inner cities.
Mr. Maude : I have no plans at present to meet Sir Gordon Borrie to discuss merger policy. Sir Gordon meets my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and myself from time to time to discuss matters of mutual interest including mergers policy.
37. Mr. Pike : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what are the figures in constant value of the output in manufacturing industries in the north-west (a) in 1979 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available.
Mr. Maude : In the third quarter of 1988 manufacturing output was at a level of 115.8, based on 1985 equal to 100. This is 7 per cent. higher than the level of 108.3 for third quarter of 1987. Manufacturing output is at its highest ever level.
38. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if any attempt has been made to monitor the effectiveness of the advertising campaign of 1992 and the completion of the single market.
51. Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what monitoring he has undertaken of the level of awareness among business men of the single European market achieved by his Department's Europe Open for Business campaign.
Mr. Maude : DTI has a substantial evaluation exercise to monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and the level of business response. This includes a detailed survey of 100 different companies each week.
Column 172March, including over 105,000 calls to our 1992 hotline. DTI Ministers and officials are speaking at some 500 conferences and seminars on the single market in the second half of this year.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what response has been made by firms in (a) south Yorkshire and (b) the Doncaster area to the campaign on the single European market ; what particular action has been taken by his Department to bring this awareness to firms in south Yorkshire so that this area benefits equally as other parts of Britain ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maude : Since DTI's Europe Open for Business campaign opened in March, we have recorded more than 2,220 individual inquiries from the south Yorkshire area, including 345 from Doncaster. More than 200 senior business representatives attended DTI's regional conference held in Sheffield on 15 November.
DTI's regional office is active throughout the Yorkshire and Humberside region in arranging and supporting conferences and seminars. Staff from the regional office have been involved in 16 such events in south Yorkshire since 1 September.
39. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will use his powers under section 11 of the Competition Act 1980 to order an independent investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission of British Coal's accounts with special reference to payments for coalmining subsidence.
Mr. Maude : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission has recently completed an inquiry under section 11 of the Competition Act 1980 into British Coal's investment programme. I also understand that the recommendations of the Waddilove committee which examined the corporation's subsidence compensation arrangements are still being followed through. I therefore see no present case for a further section II inquiry.
40. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the recent decisions of the European Economic Community to impose levies under its anti-dumping powers ; and what representations he has received from United Kingdom firms on the issue.
Mr. Alan Clark : Since 1 April 1988, six investigations by the European Commission into the alleged injury to Community producers caused by the dumping of goods in the Community have been formally closed with the imposition of definitive anti-dumping duties. Provisional anti-dumping duties have been imposed by the Commission in a further six investigations in the same period.
Ministers receive representations from time to time both from firms supporting dumping complaints and from those likely to be affected by anti- dumping duties on goods they import.
Mr. Newton : Bank base rates fell from 8 per cent. to 7 per cent. on 18 May and have since risen in stages. The cost to industrial and commercial companies to date compared with the cost if base rates had remained at 8 per cent. since 9 May is estimated at about £700 million. The hon. Member should bear in mind that a 1 per cent. interest rate increase, even if sustained for a full year, costs industrial and commercial companies far less than a one percentage point increase in pay settlements.
44. Mr. Rooker : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any proposals to change the criteria upon which takeover bids and mergers are referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Mr. Maude : No. As recently as March this year we published the results of a thorough review of mergers policy and we have no plans for a further review. We concluded that the potential effect on competition should remain the chief criterion for referring mergers and proposed mergers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
46. Mrs. Ewing : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on progress being made towards the reform of the Japanese liquor tax system as it affects the Scotch whisky industry.
47. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is his Department's policy on dispersing staff to the regions ; and what proportion of his staff now work outside London.
Column 174cost-effectively and provide the best service to the public. The Government's urban and regional policies are taken into account at an early stage when considering each possible relocation, in consultation with territorial departments and my Department's regional offices.
The Department has some 12,550 staff in post and about half of them will be working outside central London when the laboratory of the Government chemist completes the move to Teddington which is currently in hand.
We have taken decisions on moving about a thousand more jobs out of central London. We are also carrying out a thorough review to assess the extent to which other units of the Department may operate more cost-effectively out of London.
Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what action he will take to stop companies who make bids which are referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission buying further shares in the market.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. and noble Friend has already made clear that in future cases, where mergers are referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and in the past he would have sought undertakings regarding further share purchases, voting or other matters, he proposes to safeguard the conduct of the inquiry by making an appropriate order to come into effect when the reference is announced.
However, this entails making a new order on each occasion. As the prohibition on further purchases of shares by the bidder is to apply in all appropriate cases, it is proposed to put the prohibition on a permanent footing. It is therefore our intention to include such a prohibition among the provisions relating to mergers in the forthcoming companies legislation.
49. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next expects to meet the Trades Union Congress to discuss the future of the British steel industry ; and if he will make a statement.
50. Miss Lestor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he has recently taken to promote trade between the United Kingdom and Latin America and the Caribbean ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Clark : We should like to see a substantial increase of trade with the region and my Department's full range of export services is available to help United Kingdom companies to export there. In the past 12
Column 175months we have supported 23 outward trade missions to, three inward trade missions from and seven exhibitions in, the area. We also give financial support to the Latin American trade advisory group and the Caribbean trade advisory group, which are two of the Department's area advisory groups and do valuable work in promoting United Kingdom exports to Latin America and the Caribbean.
52. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many new small businesses have started up in each of the past five years ; how many people they employ in (a) Ealing and (b) in total ; and if he will make a statement.
Year |United Kingdom|Ealing ------------------------------------------------------------ 1983 |180,000 |929 1984 |182,000 |1,090 1985 |182,000 |1,057 1986 |191,000 |1,131 1987 |205,000 |1,311
Although most of the new businesses are likely to be small the numbers of people they employ is not recorded. Over the period the total numbers of businesses registered in the United Kingdom increased by 11 per cent., while for those registered in Ealing the increase was 38 per cent.
Mr. Forth : Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 comes into force on 1 March 1989 making it an offence to give misleading price indications. We shall be making regulations under part III governing price indications at bureaux de change and the resale of electricity and gas by landlords. An order will be introduced under the Prices Act 1974 to implement EC directives on unit pricing and price marking of food and non- food products.
We plan to amend the law on the sale and supply of goods following the Law Commission's report and to amend the Consumer Credit Act and related legislation as detailed in the recent White Paper "Releasing Enterprise" (Cm 512). We shall also introduce revised regulations on pyramid selling.
In the field of consumer safety, we shall soon be introducing regulations with strict requirements for domestic gas cookers. Regulations on toy safety are being prepared to implement and EC directive. Safety standards for a wide range of consumer products are being updated for the purposes of the general safety requirement in the Consumer Protection Act 1987.