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Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if the current British Nuclear Fuels plc offer to reprocess West German spent nuclear fuel includes any undertaking on British Nuclear Fuels plc part to retain in the United Kingdom any part of that spent fuel as remanufactured nuclear fuel.
Mr. Michael Spicer : BNFL's offer to reprocess West German spent nuclear fuel includes no such undertaking.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the latest position in relation to the fast reactor site at Dounreay.
Mr. Michael Spicer : As my right hon. Friend said in a statement to the House on 21 July last year, the Government will continue to fund the prototype fast
Column 12reactor at Dounreay until March 1994 and the associated reprocessing plant until March 1997. The importance of Dounreay to the Caithness economy was a major factor behind the Government's decision, which gives the area the chance to develop alternative sources of employment and growth.
As far as Dounreay itself is concerned, there are a number of initiatives being taken by the Dounreay management and workforce to find additional work for the site.
Dounreay has been identified as a site where further investigations should take place to determine its potential as the site for the United Kingdom's radioactive waste repository. A decision on this, however, is still some way in the future.
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will introduce legislation to ensure that domestic electricity consumers are not billed for electricity consumption who have been undercharged through the meter being faulty, where the meter has not been examined within the preceding 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Under the Electricity Bill a public electricity supplier will be entitled to recover from a consumer any charges which are due to him and may disconnect the supply according to the procedure set out in the Bill if payment is not made, unless there is a genuine dispute over the amount. In recognition that some consumers do run into difficulty with their payments, the industry currently operates a code of practice on the payment of bills which offers a number of protections against disconnection. Under that code consumers will not be disconnected if they enter and keep to an arrangement to pay off the debt by instalments over a reasonable period. The draft public electricity supply licence requires the licensee to produce a similar code to ensure that this approach continues after privatisation.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many United Kingdom citizens are presently Euratom safeguards inspectors ; on what grade they are ; for how long each appointment has been made ; and what steps he is taking to increase the number of United Kingdom safeguards experts at Euratom.
Mr. Michael Spicer : We have been informed by the Commission services that Euratom safeguards inspectors are recruited following standard recruitment procedures pursuant to the staff regulation of the EC. Presently there are 16 permanent EC civil servants of United Kingdom nationality in the grades A3 to B5 deployed as Euratom safeguards inspectors. It is for the Commission to initiate proposals for any staff increases.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many United Kingdom citizens are presently on the staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency working as safeguards inspectors ; on what grade they are ; for how long each appointment has been made ; and what steps he
Column 13is taking to increase the number of United Kingdom safeguards experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The United Kingdom currently has five officers in the P3 and P5 grades working in the operations divisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards department. Contracts are variously for three or five years. United Kingdom citizens also occupy a number of other professional posts in the support divisions of the safeguards department. Vacancy notices are circulated to appropriate organisations in the industry.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has received a report on developments discussed at the 11th biannual symposium of the European Nuclear Safeguards Research and Development Association, held in Luxembourg on 30 May to 1 June, in so far as the issues relate to safeguards matters for which he has responsibility.
Mr. Michael Spicer : An official from my Department was present at the symposium.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if the United Kingdom ambassador on the council of the International Atomic Energy Agency has received the 1988-89 safeguards implementation report from the agency.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The United Kingdom representative on the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors has received the safeguards implementation report for 1988.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will seek an urgent meeting with Lord Marshall, the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board, concerning the problems identified by Lord Marshall in the adequacy of the wet storage facilities at British Nuclear Fuels plc., Sellafield for Magnox and advanced gas-cooled reactor fuel.
Mr. Michael Spicer : There are ample storage facilities at Sellafield to handle spent Magnox and advanced gas cooled reactor fuel.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if there are any restrictions on United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority technology in the area of technology transfer and assistance to Libya.
Mr. Michael Spicer : All exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technology are made within the guidelines set out in the statement by the then Foreign Secretary, the right hon. James Callaghan, on 31 March 1976 at columns 514-16.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what departmental representation was present at the launch of Atomic Energy Authority Technology on 16 May ; and if he will make a statement on the prospects for Atomic Energy Authority Technology.
Mr. Michael Spicer : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State attended the launch, as did a number of officials. I welcome the authority's initiative in marketing its R and D skills and expertise under the banner of Atomic Energy Authority Technology.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the future of opencast mining ; and what consideration is given to environmental impact assessment.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Opencast coal is an important national resource. Proposals for opencast operations need to be considered with full regard to their potential environmental effects and the scope for mitigating those effects. It is in the national interest to maximise production where that can be done in an environmentally acceptable way. To help mineral planning authorities in England and Wales strike the correct balance, the Government last year issued new, fuller guidance on the considerations to be taken into account. Operators are expected to seek the mineral planning authorities views at an early stage on the preparation of environmental assessments appropriate to the scale of the development and the sensitivity of its location. Environmental assessments are normally required in the case of opencast mine sites of 50 hectares and above, or where they affect particularly sensitive areas. Similar requirements apply in Scotland.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Government will introduce legislation to ensure that the police, inland revenue, Customs and Excise, and security services can obtain information that relates to telephone subscribers from the itemised billing computer systems of BT and Mercury only when they have a warrant from a court ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : I have been asked to reply.
We have no plans to amend the arrangements in the Interception of Communications Act 1985.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Government will introduce legislation to control unsolicited telephone calls and unsolicited faxes by restricting the sale of telephone numbers of subscribers ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : As announced separately, my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has accepted the advice of the Director General of Telecommunications that the new branch systems general licence should contain a condition aimed at alleviating the nuisance to the users of telephone, fax, or other telecommunications systems, caused by persistent but unsolicited attempts to sell products and services.
Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is his latest estimate of the cumulative cost to industry of recent rises in interest rates.
Mr. Atkins : In 1989 so far, there has been a single one percentage point increase in bank base rates. The estimated cost to industrial and commercial companies of a one percentage point increase in bank base rates is about £0.4 billion in a full year.
Mr. Boswell : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what he is doing to encourage collaboration between universities and industry in the field of information technology research.
Mr. Forth : Chapter 6 of the Department's White Paper on information technology (Cm. 646), published in March 1989, described the DTI's policy and programmes in support of IT collaborative research between universities and industry. Since then, the DTI and the Science and Engineering Research Council have announced support (£15 million) for a new LINK programme of collaborative research in opto-electronic systems, and increased funding (£7 million) for the information engineering advanced technology programme.
Mr. John Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received on his recent announcement on the future of the national engineering laboratory.
Mr. Newton : To date I have not received any representations on the proposals for the laboratory, which I announced on 17 May. However, the Department of Trade and Industry Council of Civil Service Unions has requested a meeting with the permanent secretary.
Mr. Knapman : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many overseas companies have set up operations in Britain ; and what is his estimate of how many jobs such overseas investment has created and is sustaining.
Mr. Atkins : Since my Department's Invest in Britain Bureau started formally recording individual investments in 1979, there have been 2, 647 inward investment projects, creating over 212,000 new jobs and, since 1983, are known to have safeguarded some 107,000 others. These figures are based upon information provided to the Department at the time the investment decisions were made and take no account of subsequent developments. They include the establishment of new businesses, the expansion or acquisition of existing businesses, and involvement in joint ventures.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what further steps he intends taking to reduce the burden of statistical form filling in small businesses.
Mr. Maude : I announced the publication of a scrutiny of the collection of Depatment of Trade and Industry
Column 16statistics in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) on 10 May at column 435. The recommendations of the scrutiny will be implemented over the next three years and will reduce the costs to businesses of these inquiries by about a quarter. Many of the recommendations will further help to ease the burden on the minority of small firms who are currently approached in the inquiries.
DTI Ministers will continue to press to minimise the burden of inquiries on all firms so far as it can be done without reducing the quality of statistics needed by Government. In particular, objectives to this end will be agreed with the enlarged Central Statistical Office, which will assume responsibility on 31 July for running the inquiries now conducted by DTI.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of manufacturing employment is in businesses of approximately less than 200 employees in the current year and each of the last 10 years ; and if he will also give comparative figures, where the data is available, for other European Community countries.
Mr. Maude : The available United Kingdom information is as follows :
Percentage of United Kingdom manufacturing employment within local sites (factories etc.) with less than 200 employees |Percentage --------------------------------- 1989 |48 1988 |47 1987 |46 1986 |45 1985 |45 1984 |43 1983 |41 1982 |39 1981 |n.a. 1980 |n.a. 1979 |37 n.a. Not available Source: Size Analyses of United Kingdom Businesses (PA1003).
Figures for the European Community are available for certain countries solely for 1984, and relate to enterprises (companies etc.) with employment of 20 to 99 as a percentage of all enterprises with employment of 20 or more :
|Percentage ------------------------------------- FR Germany |15 France |21 Italy |32 Luxembourg |14 Netherlands |29 United Kingdom |18 Source: EUROSTAT and United Kingdom census of production.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will reduce the minimum £1 charge which private carriers of mail have to charge.
Mr. Forth : We keep the options under review, but we have no present plans to end the monopoly. We have, however, made it clear that the Post Office's letter monopoly is a privilege, not a right, and that in the event of a cessation or serious disruption of the letter service, we would consider suspending it.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, how many cars were (a) imported, (b) exported, (c) home produced and (d) sold in he United Kingdom in the past year, 10, 15 and 20 years ago ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : I shall arrange for the figures to be included in the Official Report . While these show the decline the industry has suffered since the late 1960s, recent trends show an encouraging and sustained upsurge in United Kingdom production and exports. The information is as follows :
Thousands -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- <1> Provisional.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if his Department has any plans to stipulate that a sell-by date be displayed on garden products ; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether any progress has been made on the disposal of Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited, Port Glasgow.
Mr. Newton [pursuant to the reply, 26 May, column 777] : I understand that, although there has been a much less positive response than the HLD Group had hoped to its consultation with the work force of Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited on terms of future employment, the group regards it as just sufficient for it to be willing to enter into detailed negotiations with British Shipbuilders for the purchase of the yard.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if France sought the approval of the EEC Commission on its decision to ban ivory imports on 5 June ; and if he will make a statement on the rights of EEC member states to impose such unilateral trade curbs.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I have been asked to reply.
Under article 15 of the EC regulations implementing CITES in the Community, member states may take stricter measures on CITES species in certain circumstances. We had no formal notification that France intended to introduce a ban on the import of ivory before the Council of Environment Ministers on 8 and 9 June where member states were invited to do so.
Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many scholarships have been given to black South Africans for each of the last five years by (a) Her Majesty's Government and (b) the British Council.
Mr. Chris Patten : Following is the information. All awards listed are administered by the British Council.
|Awards funded by Her |Awards funded by British |Majesty's Government |Council ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1985-86 |115 |12 1986-87 |235 |14 1987-88 |390 |10 1988-89 |434 |10
Miss. Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will list for the last five years gross bilateral aid given to Malaysia.
Mr. Chris Patten : The figures are :
|£ million ------------------------------ 1984 | 4.992 1985 | 7.454 1986 |55.494 1987 | 9.402 1988 |10.057
Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government have any plans to sponsor students from Soweto to attend Atlantic college.
Mr. Chris Patten : We are in close touch with Atlantic college about the possibility of sponsoring a limited number of students from South Africa.
Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what conclusion he has reached in his discussions with the banks and financial sector on his student loans proposals ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kenneth Baker : I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made earlier today.
Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether a notice of complaint was served on the proprietor of Crookham Court school following Her Majesty's inspector's report of 1981 and of 1988 relating (a) to the inspection, (b) to the fire precautions or (c) to any member of the staff.
Mr. Butcher : Her Majesty's inspectors carried out two full inspections of Crookham Court school, in November
Column 191981 and in November 1987. On both occasions, a number of deficiencies were identified in the report. These deficiencies and recommendations for improvement were brought to the attention of the school in strongly worded official letters which accompanied the reports rather than through a formal notice of complaint. Recently many parents have chosen to remove their children from the school.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to respond to the letter from the six teaching unions, dated 6 June, about the restoration of collective bargaining for teachers' pay and conditions ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on Tuesday 6 June at column 14.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research is conducted into Anderson-Fabry's disease ; and what funds are provided by his Department for research into this illness.
Mr. Jackson : The Medical Research Council, which receives a grant in aid from this Department, is the main agency through which the Government supports medical research. The council itself determines the allocation of the funds at its disposal. In 1987-88, the last financial year for which figures are available, the council spent £37,000 on research specifically into Anderson-Fabry's disease. More generally, the council is funding a considerable amount of research on the X chromosome, some of which could contribute to an understanding of the disease. The council is always willing to consider soundly-based proposals for new research programmes, in competition with other proposals.
Additionally, university departments and medical schools support a range of research from block grants from the Universities Funding Council, some of which may be relevant to an understanding of this disease.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Strangford of 13 June, what were his reasons for not including the oral question about Short Bros plc from the right hon. Member for Strangford on 9 March, Official Report, column 1018 ; and whether he took account of that question in his response to the hon. Member for Strangford on 7 June, Official Report, column 234.
Mr. Viggers : In both responses referred to, no account was taken of the right hon. Gentleman's intervention which was a supplementary question rather than an oral question.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress he is making in recovering public funds from Mr. De Lorean.
Mr. Viggers : The joint receivers of the former De Lorean Motor Cars Ltd., appointed by the Government, have secured a judgment in the London High Court against Mr. John De Lorean for £30 million plus interest. Action is currently under way in the United States to enforce that judgment. In addition, the trustee of De Lorean Motor Co. in the United States bankruptcy proceedings, has recovered $9.36 million under a settlement agreement with Mr. De Lorean. The Government have a significant interest in any distributions the trustee may make.
The Government also have direct and indirect interests in the outcome of legal actions against a number of other persons in relation to the De Lorean case.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many awards of family credit have been made to first-time claimants in the Doncaster and Mexborough areas of the county of South Yorkshire during his Department's eight-week advertising campaign ; how many awards were made in the eight weeks previous to the campaign ; and what percentage change of take-up by new claimants this represents since the family credit scheme began.
Mr. Scott : The information requested is not available on a local basis. However, we do know that at the beginning of April 1989 the number of families receiving family credit who, at the time their awards were made, were living in the areas covered by the relevant local social security offices was as follows :
|Number ------------------------------- Doncaster (East) |838 Doncaster (West) |504 Wath-on-Dearne |211
This information will be updated from time to time.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) when the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow can expect an answer to his letter of 17 April concerning Mr. D. MacKinnon of Greenock ;
(2) when he hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow can expect an answer to his letter of 27 April concerning Mr. A. R. Young of Port Glasgow ;
(3) when the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow can expect an answer to his letter of 27 April concerning Mr. J. O. O'Connor.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Replies were sent on 22 May to the hon. Member's letter of 27 April concerning Mr. J. O'Connor, and on 14 June to the hon. Member's letters of 17 April concerning Mr. D. MacKinnon and of 27 April concerning Mr. A. Young.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the progress so far of the work of the independent living fund.
Mr. Scott : The independent living fund is widely regarded as a success. By 30 April the fund had received 6,124 applications. Decisions had been made on 5,642 cases, of which 2,254 had been successful. The total benefit paid amounted to nearly £1.2 million.
Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security by how much Manchester offices of his Department have underspent their social fund allocations for (a) grant and (b) loans since April 1988 ; and what proportion of their budget for each purpose such underspending represents.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Such information is available from the details held in the Library.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent representations the Minister for the Disabled has had from the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People ; what reply he has sent or will be sending ; if there is any action he will be taking ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Scott : I recently received a letter from Mr. Richard Wood, chairman of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, seeking a substantial increase in the Department of Health's grant to the council. Officials have since met Mr. Wood to discuss his request. I hope to reply to his letter in the near future.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many children he estimates would benefit if all those families eligible for family credit claimed it ;
(2) what is his latest estimate of the number of families entitled to receive family credit.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest information about the number of families eligible for family credit relates to 1988 and is contained in my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) on 17 March at columns 391-92. On that basis there would have been about 1.1 million children in such families, but this does not include families not already receiving family credit where someone is self-employed.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many children covered by payments of family credit are receiving sums in lieu of free school meals ; and what is the average sum in lieu that each received after allowing for consequent reductions in other benefits.