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Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions have taken place as to the feasibility of introducing an employee share ownership scheme in any future privatisation that his Department may sponsor.
Mr. Atkins : No. Major changes in the focus of DTI's policies were made early last year. Regional policy now operates within a framework designed to encourage enterprise and economic growth in all parts of the country but with extra help available for firms in the regions.
Mr. Atkins : Manufacturing output in the three months to January 1989 was at a record level, 7 per cent. higher than a year earlier, 11 per cent. above its 1979 average level and 6.5 per cent. above the previous all -time peak year of 1973.
Mr. Alan Clark : It is not for the Government to tell industry what to produce. The greatest encouragement to buy British is the availability of competitive British goods and services. My Department's policies are geared to helping business to achieve this.
Column 442liberalisation of Scotch whisky and the reduction in the rates of import duty and other taxation levied on Scotch whisky in the Korean market.
Mr. Alan Clark : We continue to press the Korean authorities on all appropriate occasions, both bilaterally and through the European Community, to remove restrictions on the import of Scottish whisky to Korea. The Korean Government have recently proposed certain steps towards liberalisation of this important market. These proposals are welcome, but some problems remain. Further relaxation is being sought, and the Government will continue to pursue the issue vigorously.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what assessment he has made of the benefits for the United Kingdom resulting from the abolition by the European Economic Community of non-metric measures of distance ;
(2) what assessment he has made of the economic advantages which will result from the implementation of the European Economic Community proposal to abolish non-metric measures of distance.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 10 April 1989] : My Department has made no assessment of the benefits or economic advantages which would result if non-metric measures of distance were abolished. In view of the substantial costs which would be involved in metricating distance and speed road signs and associated equipment in vehicles, the European Commission's proposal to amend the units of measurement directive would allow the United Kingdom to decide whether to phase out the mile, yard, foot and inch for road transport purposes.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he intends to change (a) the method of collection of trade statistics and (b) the form of their public presentation, as a consequence of the completion of the European Economic Community single market ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 10 April 1989] : I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend, the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham) on 21 February at column 546 on the method of collection. The presentation of United Kingdom trade statistics after the completion of the single market has yet to be decided.
self-misrepresentations of Lynx as a charity ; what reply he has sent ; what further action he will take in the light of continued misrepresentation in relation to donations from the profits deriving from sales of the "Eat Your own Pet Cookbook" ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 443complaints from solicitors acting for the British Fur Trade Association about statements, which have appeared in four publications, suggesting that Lynx, a campaigning body opposed to the trade in animal furs, is a charity. On each occasion the Treasury Solicitor has on my behalf made inquiries of the directors of Lynx, as a result of which I have in each case been satisfied that Lynx itself is not responsible for the alleged misrepresentations and has not sought to hold itself out as a charity.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of the current peak hourly traffic flow (a) south bound and (b) north bound on the M1 south of Luton ; what was the maximum hourly flow for which the original specifications were drawn up ; and what is the current average speed during peak hours in each direction.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The maximum hourly traffic flow recorded in each direction between junctions 9 and 10 of the M1 is 5,200 vehicles. During peak hours congestion may lead to lower traffic flows. There were no hourly traffic flow standards when this motorway, opened in 1959, was designed. Vehicle speeds are not recorded systematically on this stretch of motorway.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he expects that the Governments of Germany and the Netherlands will continue to insist on the provision of locally trained drivers on British vehicles carrying explosives, following the introduction of the new Carriage of Explosives by Road Regulations.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Under the regulations the driver and any attendant must have received adequate training and instruction in the dangers to which the explosives carried may give rise, the action to be taken in an emergency and their duties under the regulations. A written record of the training must be kept. The CBI has prepared an appropriate training course. We intend to use this course as the basis for negotiation of reciprocal recognition with other authorities.
Column 444Since the regulations are necessarily in part somewhat technical, the Department has also provided the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments with an additional memorandum on the changes being made and the ways in which these seek to improve the pre-1974 health and safety legislation in this particular field.
In making the regulations in the aftermath of the Peterborough incident, and following further discussion with the HSE, one change has been made to the draft code of practice. The guidance in the proposed code would have allowed the normal requirement for double manning to be waived in certain circumstances and where there was a means of radio communication in the cab. In the light of the discussions in the House on 23 March and additional comments received about the use of new technology to safeguard loads, the Health and Safety Commission has been invited to consider further that proposal.
The question of mixed loads has been considered again. As I explained in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on 4 April at columns 66-67 , the new regulations aim to ensure that the possibility of ignition of any kind of explosion is not increased during carriage by the mixing of the load and that the consequences of an incident are not made worse by so doing. The main problem is fire, and the point is that high explosives are likely to burn to detonation whether detonators and other items are present or not. The new regulations proposed by the Health and Safety Executive deal satisfactorily with this.
As explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) on 4 April at column 67 , there is a requirement in the new regulations for the route to be followed to be agreed with the relevant chief officers of police when a large load of the most dangerous type of explosive is being carried. To require prior notification or agreement on routes for all dangerous goods, as has been suggested, would involve the emergency services in masses of additional paperwork which would not provide overall benefit in safety terms.
Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have taken place as to the feasibility in introducing an employee share ownership scheme in any future privatisation that his Department may sponsor.
Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend will certainly consider the scope for furthering the Government's policy of encouraging employee shareholdings in any future privatisations that may be sponsored by this Department.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement outlining the extent to which local authorities have used funds which were originally allocated by his Department for road maintenance for other projects, making specific reference to the situation of the Cheshire county council.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : No specific grant is made for local authority spending on local road maintenance. Road maintenance needs are included in the needs assessments used to calculate authorities' block grant entitlements. Authorities have discretion as to how they choose to spend
Column 445their grant. Statistical returns from Cheshire county council suggest that in 1988-89 it budgeted to spend more on local road maintenance than its assessed need to spend.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Between four and six and a half weeks. The wait at some testing stations is longer than we would like because of the rise in demand for tests and the diversion of the work load resulting from the unforeseen need to close the Wallasey testing station. Urgent action is being taken to reduce delays. A replacement for Wallasey opens this summer, and the vehicle inspectorate executive agency is taking on extra staff.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he is making for reconsideration of the line of route of the Ferndown relief road, following rejection by the Department of the Environment on environmental grounds of the route proposed by Dorset county council.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : I understand that Dorset county council is re- examining its proposals following the decision of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to refuse planning permission for its proposed route. It will be for my right hon. Friend to decide whether he wishes to consider any revised route which may be proposed by the county council.
Mr. Ward : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether there is any evidence that the new safety rules for roll-on/roll-off ferries recently introduced by his Department are being avoided by ferries registered in foreign countries but operating from British ports.
Mr. Portillo : The recently introduced safety rules for ro-ro passenger ferries, the Weighing of Goods Vehicles and Other Cargo Regulations and the Loading and Stability Assessment of Ro/Ro Passenger Ships Regulations, apply to all foreign-registered ro-ro passenger ferries while in United Kingdom ports with effect from 31 March 1989 and 4 April 1989 respectively.
I have no evidence of any intent to avoid them.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he is giving to private funding for a new motorway between Newcastle and the Scottish border ; and what is the Government's policy concerning the imposition of toll charges on any part of the national road network.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department is not considering motorway proposals between Newcastle and the Scottish border. We are keen to encourage the private funding of infrastructure and would willingly consider proposals from the private sector. Promoters of privately funded schemes would need to recoup their costs and this would probably involve tolls. There are no plans to impose tolls on existing routes.
Mr. Channon : I have now completed my consideration of British Rail's proposal to close the Settle-Carlisle railway. Having reviewed all the evidence, I have decided to refuse closure consent for this line as well as for the associated Blackburn-Hellifield line. A number of factors have changed since I announced last year that I was minded to give consent to closure.
There have been changes in the financial case. For example, following the trial repairs to Ribblehead viaduct that I requested last year, it now seems that it will be much cheaper to repair the whole structure than previously thought, and a new survey by the local authorities suggests that traffic on the line has continued to grow and that significantly more people are travelling for essential purposes. British Rail has estimated that revenue on the line is some 40 per cent. higher in 1988-89 than in 1987-88. I believe that there is scope for increasing revenue further by better marketing of the line and by the pricing of tourist journeys on a more commercial basis. The line may continue to run at a loss, but not necessarily a large one. As required by statute, I have also taken account of new evidence on hardship and the line's importance to the local economy. The private sector has shown interest in the line and I want it to be involved in helping to develop it. I have asked the chairman of British Rail to see what private sector involvement can be arranged to make the most of marketing and operating the line.
The local authorities are committed to co-operating with British Rail and other organisations to support and promote the line. It has been proposed that a trust fund be set up to care for the structures on the line of heritage importance. I support that proposal. I also look to all who have promised to support the line to work together to ensure that it has a successful future and so that the case for closure will not re-emerge.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will detail the ex-gratia payments made for community benefit and as a sign of goodwill by British Coal's opencast operations in each year since 1979 ; (2) if he will explain the changes between 1987 and 1988 in the percentage of the total cost of mining opencast coal in Wales by British Coal devoted to site restoration.
Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will outline the terms of reference and details of the large restart cohort survey which his Department will be commissioning ; if he will explain the
Column 447position of those unemployed claimants who will not be called for restart interviews for the purposes of creating a control group ; and whether the survey will be asking questions to find out to what degree claimants feel coerced into participation in employment service schemes as a result of the restart process.
Mr. Lee : The terms of reference of the restart cohort study are to look at the effects of restart on its clients and on the operation of the labour market, and to describe how restart is achieving changes. The study will be based on a random sample of 16,000 people, selected from those becoming eligible for a restart counselling interview. Information will be collected on their progress after they have had their restart interview. Survey interviews will be held with a random selected group of 5,500 people within the sample. Participation will be voluntary.
The position of those in the control group is that they will not be invited for a restart interview but they will, of course, have access to the full range of employment service and Training Agency services through the jobcentres and unemployment benefit office networks. Eligibility for programmes will not be affected. Any member of the control group who requests a counselling interview will be able to have one.
The interview survey will include questions on the characteristics and employment background of clients, and their attitudes to and views of the restart process.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many young people in the Doncaster and Mexborough areas of the county of South Yorkshire have applied for bridging allowance since September 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : From September 1988 to 9 March 1989, the latest available date, 937 young people in the Doncaster and Mexborough areas have received bridging allowance. I am satisfied that there are more than sufficient YTS places in these areas for all young people who apply for them.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many 16 and 17-year-olds in Doncaster and Mexborough have lost benefits since September 1988 because they are unemployed or have been unable to take advantage of guaranteed YTS places.
Mr. Cope : The guaranteed offer of a YTS place to all 16 and 17-year -olds not in full-time education or employment means that there is now no need for young people to be unemployed. I am satisfied that the training agency has more than sufficient YTS places available in Doncaster and Mexborough for those who apply for one.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of unemployed people in the Doncaster and Mexborough areas of South Yorkshire who have been helped to start a business through the enterprise allowance scheme in each year since its inception ; and how many of these schemes have failed in each year.
Mr. Lee : The information is not available in the form requested. In the area covered by the Wakefield EAS office which comprises Barnsley, Castleford, Doncaster, Mexborough, Pontefract, Thorne and Wakefield, a total of 7,189 unemployed people have joined the scheme from its inception to the end of the 1988-89 financial year. In each financial year the figures are as follows :
Financial year |Number --------------------------------------------- 1983-84 |442 1984-85 |628 1985-86 |892 1986-87 |1,519 1987-88 |1,824 1988-89 |1,884
Data on business closure are not available below regional level.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people have so far benefited from the employment training scheme ; in what particular ways ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : Unemployed people clearly recognise the benefits the programme has to offer and the opportunity it provides to help them get a job. By 31 March over 238,000 people had entered the programme. This is a major achievement in the seven months since the programme was launched.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many local education authorities, schools and colleges are currently taking part in the technical and vocational education initiative ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cope : All education authorities in Great Britain are taking part in the technical and vocational education initiative ; at present approximately 2,000 schools and colleges are involved. From September this year, some two thirds of authorities will have moved from the pilot phase to extending the initiative to all their schools and colleges.
Mr. Nicholls : I have no such plans. Requirements for "competent persons" in health and safety law do not normally specify qualifications because competence depends on a number of things including experience, training and personal qualities. Qualifications do not necessarily show that someone is competent for a particular task. Ultimately, whether a person is competent for the purpose depends on the circumstances and is a matter for the courts to decide.
Mr. Cope : As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear in his statement on 13 March, it is important for sale to proceed as rapidly as possible. It is not possible to specify a timetable precisely at this stage, but we intend that the sale process should be completed as soon as possible after the relevant provisions of the Employment Bill have received Royal Assent.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is (a) the current rate of unemployment and (b) the average annual salary of (i) all men in full-time employment, (ii) all women in full-time employment and (iii) all in full-time employment (a) in Great Britain, (b) in England and (c) in the standard English region.
|c|Unemployment rates in February 1989|c| Unemployment as a percentage of the workforce<1> |Males |Females|All ------------------------------------------------------------- Great Britain |8.0 |4.6 |6.6 England |7.4 |4.3 |6.1 of which: South East |5.0 |3.0 |4.2 East Anglia |3.8 |3.1 |3.5 South West |5.7 |4.2 |5.0 West Midlands |8.1 |5.2 |6.9 East Midlands |7.1 |4.4 |6.0 Yorkshire and Humberside |9.9 |5.6 |8.1 North West |11.9 |6.2 |9.4 North |13.3 |6.8 |10.6 <1> Unemployment, seasonally adjusted, expressed as a percentage of the total workforce (the sum of unemployed claimants, employees in employment, self-employed, HM Forces and participants on work-related government training programmes) at mid 1988.
|c|Average gross weekly earnings of full-time employees on adult rates|c| |c|whose earnings were not affected by absence, April 1988|c| |Males |Females|All |£ |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------- Great Britain |245.8 |164.2 |218.4 England |248.4 |166.1 |220.9 of which: South East |283.0 |188.1 |249.5 East Anglia |229.6 |150.3 |204.4 South West |227.6 |152.2 |202.7 West Midlands |225.8 |148.9 |201.2 East Midlands |222.5 |145.3 |197.8 Yorkshire and Humberside |224.1 |150.6 |201.5 North West |231.1 |153.2 |205.5 North |223.8 |148.8 |199.3 Source: New Earnings Survey
This information is not collected centrally.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many of the 14,000 units of housing for Newham mentioned in the draft strategic planning guidance for London published on 6 March will be for people nominated from Newham's housing waiting list.
Mr. Trippier : This is a matter for future decision. The draft guidance proposes the number of additional dwellings in the period 1987- 2001 for which Newham should make provision in preparing its unitary development plan. The guidance refers to the use of land not to questions of tenure.
Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he had made of the number of additional vehicle journeys into and out of the city of Cambridge that will arise as a result of his transferring Property Services Agency staff and functions from Newmarket to Cambridge, breaking this down into the following categories : staff journeys to and from their homes in and around Newmarket, client journeys by United States Air Force, Royal Air Force and other Ministry of Defence personnel, journeys made to service the construction of Property Services Agency's additional accommodation in Cambridge, and journeys made by contractors and others who service these officials' activities.
Mr. Trippier : The total cost of the Sandwell housing action trust study completed on 1 December 1988 will not be known until all claims from the consultants have been settled by the Department. We expect the final cost to be less than £105,000, including VAT. The costs of examining the Windmill lane estate, which was one of four covered by the study, are not separately identifiable.
Mr. Faulds : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the costs of examination of the Cape Hill area of Smethwick for its possible inclusion in the housing action trust programme ; and what will be the additional costs for the further examination of that area for treatment under the programme.
Mr. Trippier : The Sandwell housing action trust study included an examination of the Windmill lane estate but not of the wider Cape Hill area. For the reasons set out in their report the consultants recommended that a second study should be carried out to examine some further areas. This study is now in progress ; the cost of the contract is commercially confidential.