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Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether his Department will issue guidance to local education authorities setting out a definition of a collective act of worship under the terms of the Education Reform Act 1988.
Mrs. Rumbold : The Department's circular 3/89, issued in January this year, contains guidance on the new requirements for religious education and collective worship in schools. It also explains that one of the functions of local standing advisory councils on RE may be to advise LEAs on matters connected with religious worship in schools. Copies of the circular were sent to all local education authorities and schools in England and to other bodies, and a copy has been placed in the Library. The Department does not intend to issue further guidance in this area.
Mr. Hague : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the result of consultation on the draft circular on the collection of ethnically based statistics on school teachers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kenneth Baker : My Department and the Welsh Office issued a draft circular on the collection of ethnically based statistics on school teachers as a basis for consultation in October 1987. Comments were received from 58 bodies and individuals. The great majority were sympathetic to the principle of such collection. Issues of concern included the classification scheme to be adopted ; monitoring of applicants for teaching posts ; and timing. In the light of these responses my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have today issued a revised circular. Copies will be placed in the Library. Complete data from all authorities will be required in January 1990. The collection of this data is essential to measure the success of our efforts to secure an increase in the number of school teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Mr. Atkins : In 1988-89 my Department's spending on eligible research and development projects in the Yorkshire and Humberside region amounted to £3.75 million. This figure does not include some elements of expenditure which it was not possible to break down on the basis required.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions in applying Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 to baby products he or his officials have had with the Baby Products Association ; and what steps he has taken to ensure these regulations will be compatible with the need for baby fabrics to allow air to pass through them to ensure a child's breathing is not restricted when the fabric comes into contact with a baby's face, particularly if it gets wet.
Mr. Forth : Officials in my Department discussed the application of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations with the Baby Products Association and the British Association of Nursery and Pram Retailers on 22 February.
The only padded nursery products where air permeability appears to be a significant factor are pillows and baby nests. The regulations apply to the fillings of pillows but not to their covers. Baby nests are outside the scope of the regulations. There would thus appear to be no conflict between these regulations and the need for permeability in nursery products.
However, I am considering whether babies may be harmed by exposure to fire retardant chemicals likely to be used on the cover fabrics of some nursery products in order to make them match resistant and thereby meet the requirements in the regulations. If the medical advice I am seeking suggests that there may be such a danger, I shall consider amending the regulations in order to provide a limited exemption.
Mr. Atkins : In the three months to January 1989, manufacturing productivity, as measured by output per person employed, was at a record level, 6 per cent. higher than a year earlier and 49 per cent. higher than the 1979 average level. During the 1980s, manufacturing productivity in the United Kingdom has grown faster than in all other major industrialised countries.
Mr. Atkins : The completion of the single market means greater freedom for trade, and many studies have demonstrated the benefits of that. The single market will bring opportunities for business in all parts of the country. DTI is seeking to ensure that business in the east midlands, as in other regions, takes the necessary action to respond
Column 640effecitively to the opportunities and challenges ahead, and the "Europe open for business" campaign has stimulated great interest throughout the country.
Mr. Sims : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has received a copy of the representations of the European Community Commission by the European Community Spirits Producers Association to seek the early elimination of the remaining customs duties and frontier taxes levied on European Community spirits in certain EFTA markets ; what action his Department has taken to support the United Kingdom spirits industry in achieving the removal of these duties and taxes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Clark : My Department has received a copy of the representations to the European Commission by the European Community Spirits Producers Association. The Government strongly support the opening up of the EFTA markets to Community producers, and we shall press the Commission to react positively to the proposals in the association's paper.
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how quotas imposed on goods imported into the United Kingdom are achieved in circumstances where more than one company wishes to import and their desired total imports would exceed the quota.
Mr. Alan Clark : Except when arrangements are made for the country of origin to administer a quota by dividing it amongst its exporters, quota shares are normally allocated to applicants on the basis of their past trade in the product concerned.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has received proposals for the regulation of estate agencies from the National Association of Estate Agents ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : I have received proposals from the National Association of Estate Agents and others on the regulation of estate agents. I am currently considering whether it might be appropriate to supplement the existing consumer protection provisions of the Estate Agents Act 1979, perhaps with an effective self-regulatory system incorporating a code of practice. I hope to be in a position to announce the conclusion of my review fairly soon.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received about timeshare mail shots ; if he has any plans to seek to make them illegal ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : I receive a number of complaints about the use of prize- draw mail shots by certain timeshare companies and the Department's leaflet --"Your Place in the Sun"--warns consumers to be particularly wary of such offers.
I have no plans to legislate. The Timeshare Developers Association lays down standards for the kind of
Column 641promotions undertaken by its members in its code of ethics. The Advertising Standards Authority considers complaints about promotional material which does not comply with the British Code of Sales Promotion Practice and the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988, administered by the Director General of Fair Trading, apply to misleading advertising.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has received any representations concerning the introduction of a cooling-off period for timeshare buyers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : I do receive complaints about some timeshare companies not providing a cooling-off period. It is an important safeguard for consumers, and an increasing number of timeshare companies recognise this. The Timeshare Developers Association's code of ethics requires its members to provide a minimum cooling-off period of five days. The Department's leaflet--"Your Place in the Sun"--advises those interested in timeshare not to sign anything unless a cooling-off period is allowed.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on what dates since 1979 he or any of his Ministers have met Mr. Harry Landy to discuss the case for an inquiry into the affairs of the El Fayeds or House of Fraser holdings.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give details of the British delegation to attend the Helsinki process conference on freedom of information ; who drew up the delegation list ; and how the list was compiled.
Mr. Waldegrave : Lord Rees-Mogg has accepted my invitation to lead the British delegation to the London Information Forum. Following are the names of the personalities who have accepted his invitation to join the delegation.
Column 642They will be supported by Sir Anthony Williams, formerly Her Majesty's ambassador to the Madrid CSCE review conference, and by a small number of officials.
Bruce Anderson-- Sunday Telegraph
Neal Ascherson-- The Observer
Jonathan Eyal--Royal United Services Institute
John Harper--Consultant in telecommunications/IT
Geoffrey Hosking--Professor of Russian History, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
Austen Kark--formerly Managing Director, BBC External Broadcasting Mrs. Helen Liddell--Maxwell Publications, Scotland
Edwina Moreton-- The Economist
Dr. Janet Morgan--Director, Cable and Wireless
David Nicholas--Chairman, ITN
David Puttnam--Enigma Productions
Malcolm Rutherford--Assistant Editor, Financial Times
Adam Scott--Director, International Affairs, British Telecom John Vincent-- Professor of Modern History, University of Bristol George Wedell--Professor of Communication Policy, University of Manchester, and Director, European Institute for the Media Andreas Whittam-Smith, The Independent
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many women currently hold the position of ambassador, high commissioner or charge d'affaires within Her Majesty's diplomatic service.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what circumstances he sent out invitations to south American states to participate on 16 March in a conference on fishing ; how many acceptances he received ; and what were the reasons given by those who declined.
Mr. Eggar : Diplomatic missions from countries with vessels licensed in the Falklands fishery, together with others with a regional or general interest in conservation and fishery matters in the south-west Atlantic, were invited to a technical presentation in the FCO on conservation and management aspects of the Falklands fishery on 16 March. The presentation explained and expanded on the Falkland Islands Government's report, published on 9 March, a copy of which is being placed in the Library. Twenty two missions attended ; 11 regretted that they were unable to send representatives.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will approach the BBC to obtain a copy of the SAAD-16 contract relating to the export of rocket laboratories to Egypt, Iraq and Argentina.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what basis the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) asserted that the Condor 2 missile could start a new arms race.
Argentina/Egypt Condor contract.
Mr. Waldegrave : Since the early 1980s, Argentina has been developing a rocket known as Condor 2. Egypt has been linked to the project by Argentine military spokesman and by the press. Officially, however, Egypt denies any involvement.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Governments of Germany, Italy and France on the involvement of their citizens and scientists in the development of Condor 2 missile in Argentina.
Mr. Waldegrave : The possible involvememt of both companies and individuals in various ballistic missile programmes which fall within the parameters of the missile technology control regime is regularly discussed among members of the regime.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Chile as to civil rights in that country ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have discussed these matters in previous meetings with the Chilean Foreign Minister, and Her Majesty's ambassador in Santiago frequently does so with the Chilean Government. During his visit to Chile in January 1989, and FCO Assistant Under-Secretary of State held talks with Chilean Ministers and senior Government officials, which included the issues of human and civil rights.
Column 644The situation will be reviewed following completion of the bypass.
Dame Peggy Fenner : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the chairman of British Rail on the appropriateness of private Bill procedures for British Rail's proposals for a Channel tunnel rail link.
Mr. Portillo : The private Bill procedure is the only procedure available for the promotion of new railway works. Objectors have the opportunity to petition against the Bill to Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament, who have the power to amend the Bill in response to the petitions received. This provides an appropriate mechanism for objections to British Rail's proposals to be considered if they have not been resolved in consultations prior to the Bill's introduction.
Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his officials have had with the highways department of Berkshire county council about improving and modernising the road system in the county and about improvements to the London end of the M4 ; and if he will make a statement.
The county council is aware that the national trunk road programme includes schemes for widening the M4 to dual four-lane standard between the M25 interchange and junction 8/9 (Maidenhead) and for improving junction 8/9. We expect to appoint design agents very shortly. The county council will be consulted during the preparation of these schemes.
Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what financial criteria he instructed the British Railways Board to employ when evaluating a high speed rail link from the Channel tunnel to London ; and how these criteria differ from those applied to tunnel-linked road schemes in Kent.
Mr. Portillo : The Government's criteria for approving investment by British Rail were discussed in the Government's observations on the third report of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Session 1986-87, which were published in the first special report of the Committee for the 1987-88 Session (HC420). These observations also addressed the question of comparability with the investment criteria used for new road schemes, and whether the difference in the methods used results in any significant distortion between the modes. Rail and road investments in connection with the Channel tunnel will be appraised using the normal criteria employed for rail and road investments.
Mr. Portillo : In general, safety standards on public transport are already high ; but they must be kept under regular review and steps taken to rectify problems revealed by the investigations into recent accidents. I am taking steps to strengthen the role of the railway inspectorate.
Mr. Portillo : The report on the inspection by Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary will be made to the British Transport police committee which is responsible for the administration of the force. I understand that HMIC expects to report to the committee later this spring.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what co-operation exists between European countries concerning compatibility of auditory signals at pedestrian crossings ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : In 1984, a survey of the audible signals being used in Europe was undertaken for the European conference of Ministers of Transport. A wide variation in the types of audible signals in use was noted. No standard system was proposed. The United Kingdom leads a working group of the ECMT on transport and disability. We keep in close touch on a wide range of policy and technical issues in this field.
Mr. Portillo : Investment in modern two-car units offering an improved level of service has been approved as the most cost-effective way of replacing old diesel multiple units. Earlier this year I approved a further 194 express vehicles for provincial services.
Mr. Speed : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent tests have been carried out to test the noise level and frequency of traffic passing on (a) brushed concrete and (b) blacktop ; and what has been the result.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Transport and Road Research Laboratory, in its report 896 in 1979 and supplementary report 696 in 1981, published work on the noise and frictional properties of various types of road surface. Peak noise levels from vehicles varied with the texture, depth and type of surface material. Surfaces of equivalent skidding resistance produced similar noise
Column 646levels. These results were further confirmed in 1987, following further comparisons between brushed concrete and black top surfaces.
(2) when he estimates peak hour capacity on the
Hollingbourne-Ashford stretch of the M20 will be reached.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Motorways are designed for the average daily traffic predicted 15 years after opening. Peak hour flows are just one of the factors taken into account when designing the appropriate carriageway standard.
Average flows of 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles a day are not uncommon on dual three-lane motorways and can be accommodated comfortably. The current forecasts for the Hollingbourne-Ashford section of the M20 in the design year 2005 are 35,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day.
Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to require the volunteer drivers of vehicles used by charities to convey elderly and frail people to hospitals and day centres to obtain public service vehicle licences ; what is the current position with regard to proposals from the European Community ; and what estimate he has made of (a) the cost of training such drivers to meet public service vehicle licence standards and (b) the numbers likely to withdraw from such voluntary activities rather than undertake the necessary training courses.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have no such plans. We consider there is no reason on road safety grounds for doing so. We are pressing the European Commission at every level to avoid placing unnecessary restrictions on volunteer drivers.
We believe that its proposals would have significant social and cost consequences for non-commercial voluntary transport operations, not least because of their deterrent effect on volunteer drivers. We aim to protect our present arrangements in the negotiations in the Council of Ministers.
Practical driver training for minibus drivers by local authorities and voluntary groups is already widespread. We fully support that.