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NATIONAL FINANCE

Government Debt

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if all repayments of debt arising from his recent Budget decisions have now been made.

Mr. Lilley : No.

Trade Deficit

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate for the balance of trade deficit in the current year.

Mr. Major : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) on 19 April at column 168.

Investment Capital (Annual Return)

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the estimated annual return on investment capital for each year since 1970.

Mr. Major : The information requested is as follows :


|c|Net real rate of return<1> for   

non-North sea|c|                    

|c|industrial and commercial        

companies|c|                        

            |(per cent.)            

------------------------------------

1970        |8.9                    

1971        |9.2                    

1972        |9.5                    

1973        |8.9                    

1974        |5.3                    

1975        |4.2                    

1976        |4.3                    

1977        |6.7                    

1978        |7.1                    

1979        |5.6                    

1980        |3.8                    

1981        |2.8                    

1982        |4.0                    

1983        |4.9                    

1984        |5.6                    

1985        |7.2                    

1986        |8.9                    

1987        |10.2                   

<1> Net operating surplus on United 

Kingdom operations as a percentage  

of net capital stock of fixed       

assets before investment and tax at 

current replacement cost.           

Source: Department of Trade and     

Industry: published in "British     

Business" on 30 September 1988.     


Column 702

Computers

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on all recorded cases of unauthorised access to the computer files of (a) the Treasury and (b) the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 24 April 1989] : It is not the policy of the Treasury or the Inland Revenue to make public details and circumstances of computer security incidents, their perpetrators and their success or failure, since such information might be of assistance to potential attackers.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will give details of his Department's policy on review of the security of Treasury and Inland Revenue computer files ;

(2) if he can quantify the risk of damage by hackers to sensitive computerised files in the Treasury and Inland Revenue ;

(3) what measures (a) the Tresury and (b) the Inland Revenue have taken to protect data in transit by electronic means.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 24 April 1989] : The Treasury and the Inland Revenue take advice from the appropriate Government authorities on security matters. In the case of unclassified but sensitive data this includes the CCTA IT security and privacy group (part of Her Majesty's Treasury) which is the central Government advisory authority in this area. It would not be sensible to publish details of actual counter-measures, reviews and risks.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether staff of the Treasury and Inland Revenue, respectively, are briefed about computer hacking and computer viruses ; whether there are contingency plans to deal with computer downtime caused by unauthorised penetration ; and whether plans exist to deal with penetration of particularly sensitive systems.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 24 April 1989] : The Treasury and Inland Revenue have contingency plans and staff eduction programmes as part of their wider information systems strategy, but their effectiveness would be reduced if details were made public.

Petrol Prices

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the additional revenue yield from the recent rises in petrol prices ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 24 April 1989] : I regret that it is not possible to make a reliable estimate of the change in the revenue yield from recent petrol price rises.

EC Finance Ministers

Mr. Evennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met Finance Ministers of the other European Economic Community member states ; and what was discussed.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 26 April 1989] : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) on 21 April 1989.


Column 703

EC (Economic and Monetary Union)

Mr. Evennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards economic and monetary union within the European Economic Community.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 26 April 1989] : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) on 21 April at column 327 and to the exchange between my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) on 18 April at column 181.

Value Added Tax

Mr. Corbett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received seeking the removal of value added tax zero rating on goods and clothes sold in charity shops.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 27 April 1989] : None.

Government Departments (Dispersal)

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about moving Government Departments to the north-west ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 27 April 1989] : I have received a number of letters supporting the relocation of Government Departments to the north-west, including two from my hon. Friend. With regard to a statement, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Cran) on 9 February 1989 at columns 751 -52 .

SCOTLAND

EC Assistance

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what were the total amounts of European regional development fund moneys allocated to Scotland in (a) 1988 and (b) 1983 to 1988, inclusive.

Mr. Lang : Awards of £94.9 million were secured in 1988. For the six years 1983 to 1988 total awards of £527.6 million were made.

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the geographical areas or functions in Scotland which are currently eligible for moneys from (a) the European regional development fund and (b) the European social fund.

Mr. Lang : The following areas have been designated under objective 2 (industrial regions) of the reformed structural funds and are therefore eligible for European regional development fund support : the travel-to- work areas of Dumbarton, Greenock, Irvine, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Lanarkshire, Cumnock and Sanquhar, Ayr, Girvan, Dundee, Arbroath, Falkirk, Alloa, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Bathgate ; the wards of Argyll, Cornton, Gowanhill, Ballangeich, Kings Park, Torbrex, Borestone, Ladywell, Polmaise, Sauchenford, Whins and Logie in the travel-to-work area of Stirling.

In addition, the Government have submitted cases in favour of objective 5(b) (rural areas) designation for the


Column 704

Highlands and Islands, the intermediate areas of Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders, the eastern part of Dumfries and Galloway, and the rural parts of Grampian, Tayside and Central. The European Commission is expected soon to announce its decision on rural areas' eligibility.

Under the reform of the European social fund, which takes full effect in 1990, operations under objective 3 (combating long-term unemployment) and objective 4 (facilitating the occupational integration of young people) apply throughout the Community. Employment and vocational training measures located in objective 2 and 5(b) areas, which meet certain criteria, are also eligible for assistance. For 1989 applications are being dealt with under the previous fund guidelines.

Fishing Methods

Sir Hector Monro : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has completed his review of the Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 1985 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : We have carried out detailed consultations with the fishing industry during the past year on possible changes to the fishing regime in Scottish inshore waters. Having considered all the arguments, we have today issued a consultation paper, which will receive wide circulation, setting out our proposals for change. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library. Comments on the proposals from interested parties have been requested by 2 June. Once these have been considered we expect to lay before the House a new order under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984.

Tourism

Sir Hector Monro : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether in the light of the review of the English tourist board and the British tourist authority, he has any plans to withdraw assistance from tourism projects in Scotland.

Mr. Rifkind : I have no such plans.

ENERGY

Petrol

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will (a) halt petrol imports and (b) put a price freeze on petrol sales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Morrison : No.

British Nuclear Fuels plc

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has any plans to reassess the level of accountability of British Nuclear Fuels plc to Parliament in light of the National Audit Office report "Department of Energy : Monitoring and Control of British Nuclear Fuels plc," dated 5 April.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government are awaiting the report of the Public Accounts Committee on this matter and will respond in due course.


Column 705

Fawley Power Station

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the application by the Central Electricity Generating Board to build a coal-fired power station at Fawley B.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Central Electricity Generating Board formally withdrew the application on 30 March.

Radioactive Material

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if Her Majesty's Government will give permission to the European Commission to disclose details of safeguarded uranium at United Kingdom-based military- civil mixed facilities.

Mr. Michael Spicer : No.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, if he will set out the current plans to repatriate the low and intermediate level radioactive waste to Japan from reprocessing contracts signed for THORP since 1976.

Mr. Michael Spicer : BNFL's post-1976 reprocessing contracts provide for the return of wastes after they have been put into a form suitable for safe transportation and storage.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the volumes of reprocessed plutonium and uranium likely to arise from British Nuclear Fuels plc's pre-1976 contracts ; and what plans there are for (a) the length of time, (b) the conditions and (c) the security conditions under which this will be stored.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Approximately 2,900 tonnes of recovered uranium and 9 tonnes of recovered plutonium (fissile) have arisen, or are likely to arise, from overseas reprocessing contracts entered into before 1976 by British Nuclear Fuels plc. These materials are stored under secure conditions until required by the owners and are subject to appropriate IAEA and Euratom safeguards procedures.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many parliamentary answers he has given on plutonium in the periods (a) 1979 to 1984 and (b) 1985 to 1989, respectively.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Between May 1979 and December 1984, Ministers at the Department of Energy gave 75 answers to hon. Members in reply to questions relating to plutonium. From January 1985 onwards the total is 228.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Pesticides

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information his Department has on the incidence of poisoning of domestic pets by substances containing alphachloralose.

Mr. Ryder : In the last five years the number of cases in which the death or illness of domestic pets has been attributed to alphachloralose are as follows :


          |Incidents          

------------------------------

1984      |3                  

1985      |6                  

1986      |6                  

1987      |6                  

1988      |4                  

In all of these cases the domestic pet involved has been either a cat or a dog.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what controls exist on the stockpiling and sale of substances containing alphachloralose ;

(2) what criteria have to be met by individuals wishing to obtain permission for the purchase of alphachloralose compounds for pest control.

Mr. Ryder : The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 require that any substance containing alphachloralose stored or sold as a pesticide must first be approved by Ministers and supplied to users in approved containers and under approved labels.

All those selling, supplying or storing a pesticide must take all reasonable precautions to protect human health, animals and plants and must be competent in the duties they perform. In addition, employers must ensure that employees have been adequately trained. Additional requirements apply under the poisons law, restricting sale of alphachloralose with some exceptions to retail pharmacies or sellers listed by the local authority. A record must be kept of sales from retail pharmacies and for most exempted sales and the purchaser must be a person to whom it may properly be sold. Storage requirements to prevent unauthorised access and contamination of foodstuffs apply to retail shops and associated premises.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his Department has any information relating to human fatalities resulting from alphachloralose poisoning from agricultural and related uses.

Mr. Ryder : This question falls more to the Department of Employment than to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. However, the latest figures available to me show that there have been no human fatalities resulting from alphachloralose poisoning from agricultural or related use.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether alphachloralose has any agricultural uses.

Mr. Ryder : Some alphachloralose-containing products are approved for use as stupefying bait for the taking of feral pigeons and house sparrows for the purposes of preventing agricultural damage or preserving public health. This use is controlled by licensing under Section 16(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Other alphachloralose-containing products are approved for use as rodenticides.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his Department's guidance on the use of

alphachloralose-based pesticides.

Mr. Ryder : In the case of alphachloralose being used as stupefying bait, my Department issues detailed guidelines which are contained in the form LP46 which is distributed to those taking part in operations. There are also


Column 707

conditions of use set out on the actual licence. Further guidance is available from MAFF's wildlife and storage biology discipline at the relevant MAFF regional office.

In the case of alphachloralose being used as a rodenticide, statutory conditions of use are imposed on alphachloralose pesticide products approved under the Control of Pesticide Regulations 1986. The approved label and/or leaflet will include such information as field of use, maximum individual dose, operator and environmental protection measures and first aid advice.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on how many occasions during each of the last three years he has initiated action following illegal use of alphachloralose-based pesticides.

Mr. Ryder : All cases of illegal use of alphachloralose-based pesticides are investigated under the Ministry's wildlife incident investigation scheme. In the last three years the number of cases involving alphachloralose investigated under this scheme are as follows :


          |Incidents          

------------------------------

1986      |17                 

1987      |22                 

1988      |18                 

Irradiated Food

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to introduce legislation to permit irradiated food to be sold in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.


Column 708

Mr. Ryder : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health on 21 February at column 600.

PRIME MINISTER

Arms Control

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what response she has made to President Gorbachev on the decision he announced in London on 7 April to end Soviet production of highly enriched uranium and weapons grade plutonium for military purposes.

The Prime Minister : None. The decisions announced by President Gorbachev do not affect the Soviet Union's weapons capability, because they hold stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium. Neither of these materials decays significantly. In addition, not all the reactors which can produce military plutonium are being shut down.

Policy Failures

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list the policy failures of Her Majesty's Government since May 1979 ; and if she will give the reasons identified for the failure in each case.

The Prime Minister : This Government's policies have been successful.


 

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