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Mr. Forth : I hope to meet my European Community counterparts and Mr. Van Miert, Commissioner with responsibility for consumer issues, at the Council of Consumer Ministers which the Spanish Presidency has planned for 1 June. The provisional agenda is as follows : Proposal for a Council directive amending directive 87/102/EEC for the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of member states concerning consumer credit.
Draft resolution for the relaunch of EC consumer policy. Commission report on the European home and leisure accident surveillance system.
Exchange of views on the Commission report on consumer education. Commission presentation of the general product safety directive. Any other business.
30. Mr. Beaumont-Dark : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what effect the current rate of the pound sterling against the deutschmark and dollar is having on export performance of manufacturing industry.
Mr. Alan Clark : Our consistent advice to exporters on exchange rates has been that they should consider protecting themselves against the risk of exchange rate fluctuation and to consult experts, primarily the banks, about the best way of doing this.
32. Mr. Nicholas Baker : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will introduce regulations to require moneylenders, banks and credit agencies, including credit card companies, to show clearly and simply in statements to customers the real rate of interest on any balance outstanding.
Mr. Maude : I have no plans to amend the current regulations under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which have been in force since May 1985, relating to the disclosure of the rate of interest applied to outstanding balances due under running account credit agreements. These types of agreement apply to credit cards, store cards and budget accounts. Discussions are currently underway with the banks on making known the rate of interest that has been applied to an overdraft.
Mr. Atkins : The cost to industrial and commercial companies to date of the changes in bank base rates since April 1988, compared with the cost if bank base rates had remained the same since April 1988, is estimated to be about £1.3 billion. The hon. Member should bear in mind, however, that a one percentage point increase in interest rates, even if sustained for a full year, costs companies far less than a one percentage point increase in pay settlements.
33. Mr. Battle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the output per employee in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, West Germany and Japan.
71. Mr. Rogers : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the output per employee in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, West Germany and Japan.
78. Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the output per employee in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, West Germany and Japan.
83. Mr. John Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which of the seven major industrial countries have a higher manufacturing productivity level than the United Kingdom ; and which have a lower.
84. Mr. Parry : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the output per employee in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, West Germany and Japan.
Mr. Atkins : No reliable comparisons exist for absolute levels of output per employee in manufacturing industry between different countries, but available figures show that in the 1980s output per employee in manufacturing industry has grown faster in the United Kingdom than in France, the United States of America, West Germany or Japan.
77. Mr. Ernie Ross : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the most recent United Kingdom share of world exports of manufactured goods ; and what was the level in 1979, 1969 and 1959.
Mr. Atkins : In March 1989 manufacturing output was at a level of 118.5, based on 1985 equal to 100. This is 7 per cent. more than the level of 110.4 for March 1973. But my hon. Friend will appreciate that monthly data can be erratic. A firmer based comparison would be that in the first quarter of 1989 manufacturing output was 7 per cent. higher than in the same period in 1973. It was also 6 per cent. higher than in the first quarter of 1988. Manufacturing output is now at its highest ever level.
37. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has received recent representations from United Kingdom banks, other financial institutions and credit-giving institutions in general concerning proposed regulations giving advice to borrowers on secured and unsecured loan obligations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Maude : Draft proposals were recently circulated to credit trade associations, enforcement bodies and consumer organisations on amendments to the consumer credit advertisements regulations. These include a warning that a borrower's home is at risk if repayments are not kept up on a secured loan. Comments were invited by 28 April and these are under consideration.
Mr. Atkins : Since 1984 there have been 83 inward investment projects in the United Kingdom in the motor and component manufacturing sectors involving the creation of around 12,000 new jobs and the safeguarding of around 18,000 existing jobs. These projects include the establishment of new businesses, the expansion or acquisition of existing businesses and involvement in joint ventures. Comparable figures for earlier years are not available. The job figures are based upon information provided to the Department at the time the investment decisions were made and take no account of subsequent developments.
Included among these figures are the major investments by Nissan in 1984 creating 2,700 jobs in the North East (later expanded in 1987, creating a further 1,400 jobs) ; and of Ford in 1988 which will create more than 1,700 jobs in Wales. In April 1989 Toyota announced its decision to manufacture cars in Derbyshire with the eventual creation of 3,000 new jobs. Bosch announced that it will be manufacturing alternators in Wales creating over 1,000 new jobs ; and Fujitsu announced a new factory in the North East with the eventual creation of 1,500 new jobs.
From 1980 to 1987 inclusive, the latest years for which such information is available, foreign companies directly invested £0.9 billion net in the their subsidiary associate and branch conerns in the United Kingdom vehicle industry. This figure, which excludes funds raised locally understates the amount of new investment in production capacity because other overseas funding flows are included.
Mr. Atkins : The latest available information on the level of inward investment in the United Kingdom is given in table 9.1 of the United Kingdom Balance of Payments--1988 (the CSO Pink Book). A copy of this publication is available in the Library.
Mr. Maude : The Government's policy remains as we set it out on 3 March 1988. Our review, the results of which we announced at that time, concluded that the effect of a merger on competition in the United Kingdom should continue to be the main criterion in deciding whether a merger should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Mr. Atkins : Taking the coverage of "household electrical goods" to be the same as that of business monitor PQ 3460--"Domestic electrical appliances"--it is estimated that in 1988 the import penetration of the market for household electrical goods was 40 per cent.
45. Mr. Geoffrey Robinson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which of the seven major industrial countries have higher manufacturing productivity than the United Kingdom ; and which have a lower level.
Mr. Atkins : No reliable comparisons exist for absolute levels of manufacturing productivity between different countries, but available figures show that in the 1980s the United Kingdom has had the fastest rate of growth of manufacturing productivity of the seven major industrialised countries.
50. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what contribution the chemical industry has made to the balance of payments over the last three years for which figures are available.
54. Mr. Cran : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information he has as to the total amount of (a) United States inward investment into member states of the European Community and (b) inward investment into the United States by European firms, over the past three years for which figures are available.
Flows of United States direct investment US$ billion |1986 |1987 |1988 ----------------------------------------------------------------- United States outward' direct investment in the EC |12.8 |20.9 |<1>5.8 Inward' direct investment in the United States by the EC |19.1 |31.4 |<1>22.4 <1> provisional estimates
Source : United States Department of Commerce--Survey of Current
Mr. Forth : I am currently in the process of concluding a review of estate agency. The review has examined the operations of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and has considered recommendations from the Director General of Fair Trading and proposals from estate agency bodies. I hope to make an announcement shortly.
Mr. Forth : I am currently in the process of concluding a review of estate agency. In the course of my review I have given particular consideration to whether it might be appropriate to develop a code of practice for estate agents to supplement the existing consumer protection provisions of the Estate Agents Act 1979. I hope to make an announcement shortly.
57. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on trends in productivity and output in the United Kingdom textiles industry over the last three years.
60. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what effect he expects there to be on industry from the controls on chlorofluorocarbon production and consumption ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : Because of the wide variety of uses to which chlorofluorocarbons are put, the effects of the controls will vary for both producers and industrial consumers depending on the precise products and applications involved. Market forces should encourage the development of alternative technologies, products and processes. The controls represent both a challenge and an opportunity to which industry is already making positive responses.
63. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a further statement on the help which is being given to companies to enable them to take full advantage of the establishment of the internal market in 1992.
Column 238A 24-hour telephone hotline' : 01-200 1992.
Factsheets on the single market programme.
An action checklist for business'.
"Spearhead" database giving the up-to-date position on single market proposals and details of relevant Community legislation. Range of booklets on standards.
Video pack on the Brussels decision-making process.
Quarterly newsletter Single Market News .
64. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he has taken to ensure that industry in (a) the North East of Scotland and (b) the other regions of the United Kingdom is ready to benefit from the single European market.
Mr. Maude : The completion of the single market by the end of 1992 will affect all regions, directly or indirectly. The central message of our "Europe Open for Business" campaign is therefore to encourage all firms, wherever they are located, to take action now to ensure that they benefit from the opportunities the single market will bring.
65. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of their investments has now been recovered by investors in the McDonald Wheeler and Barlow Clowes funds ; and how many criminal charges have now been preferred in respect of those involved in these businesses.
Mr. Maude : I understand that investors in McDonald Wheeler have received 36p in the pound in distributions made to date. Investors in Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers Ltd., whose accounts were with Lloyds Bank trustee account have received 75p in the pound and other investors in Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers Ltd. have received 25p in the pound to date.
Mr. John David William Wheeler has been charged on three charges of fraudulent trading, 11 of theft, two of using a false instrument, one of publishing a false statement and one of false accounting. These charges are the subject of extradition proceedings in the Republic of Ireland. Mr. John Arthur Woodall has been charged on three charges of fraudulent trading, one of theft, one of false accounting and one of publishing a false statement. Mr. Peter Clowes and others have been charged on two charges of conspiracy to steal, 13 of theft, one of false accounting and one of perverting the course of justice.
66. Mr. Beith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the impact on consumer choice of the development of tied arrangements between building societies and insurance companies.
79. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in helping to achieve a greater understanding between Government and business following the publication last year of "Releasing Enterprise".
Mr. Maude : Departments have now drawn up their action programmes to boost the number and range of secondments and attachments of employees from the Civil Service to business and vice versa and the number of civil servants holding non-executive directorships. Overall, these programmes imply a doubling of the numbers involved by the end of this year. On 1 March, the Government launched the bridge programme to alert businesses to these new interchange opportunities and to encourage direct contact with Departments. I sent a copy of the documents to all hon. Members.
Departments' plans also include training, workshops and management action to improve awareness of the impact of Government on enterprise.