|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he intends to issue a guidance note to Scottish local authorities on the matter of joint and several liability as it relates to the poll tax in Scotland ; and whether he has any plans to seek to amend the legislation to bring it into line with the situation in England and Wales as set out in practice note No. 16.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The statutory provisions which are relevant to joint and several liability in Scotland, contained in the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987, as amended, have broadly the same effect as those which will apply in England and Wales under the Local Government Finance Act 1988. My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans to issue a guidance note on this subject.
Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he intends to grant to local authorities in Scotland the discretion allowed to local authorities in England and Wales of setting different levels of multiplier on different classes of properties where the standard community charge applies.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The resources available to the Lay Observer for Scotland fall within my right hon. and learned Friend's current consideration of the responses he has received to the proposals in his consultation paper "The Legal Profession in Scotland", published on 13 March 1989, that the office of the Lay Observer for Scotland might be enhanced.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what research projects on botulism, salmonella enteriditis, typhimurium and other food poisoning are at present carried out in Scotland ; and where.
Location |Nature ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MAFF, Torry Research Station, |Investigate the incidence and survival of clostridium bolulinum, listeria Aberdeen | monocytogenes and other types of food bacteria and the survival of | microbial toxins during cooking. |To develop assays for the micro-biological examination of fish and | shellfish products including clostridium botulinum, salmonella and | listeria and to develop safety parameters. |To identify the most effective ways of eliminating salmonella and other | contamination from fish meal products. |To detect and quantify toxins including scrombotoxin and devise | means of increasing safety of processed fish products. Communicable Diseases Unit, |Case control study to test whether the consumption or handling of Ruchill Hospital, Glasgow | certain foods are risk factors in acquiring listeriosis. Scottish Food Research Consortium, |Research into listeria monocytogenes and bacillus cereus in powdered Hannah Research Institute, Ayr | milk. Aberdeen University |Establish tests for listeria monocytogenes. Glasgow Veterinary School |Development of salmonella typhimurium and salmonella enteritidis | vaccines for hens and their unborn chickens. Also development of a | test for identifying the presence of these infections in eggs. |Investigation into the penetration of salmonella enteritidis through egg | shells and its effect on egg quality. Glasgow University |Investigation of the pathogenic mechanism, toxin production and | serology of campylobacter species. North of Scotland College of |Investigate sources of listeria in clamp and bale silage as a source of Agriculture, Aberdeen | infection in the food chain. |Improve detection of causative agent and for vaccine development | identify, isolate and characterise antigens of listeria monocytogenes | and to assess their effect on the virulence of the organism for sheep | and mice. West of Scotland College of |Investigate factors affecting the bacteriological quality of milk. Agriculture, Ayr |Devise rapid method of detection of contamination in milk from major |Investigate the microbiological contamination of poultry meat. |Investigate lactic fermentation for preparation of sausage type products | with poultry meat including the effect on salmonella species and |Study experimental infection of birds with salmonella enteritidis phage |Investigate the factors affecting bacterial contamination of egg surfaces |Undertake pilot studies into novel methods of bacterial investigation of | salmonella in eggs and improved methods of detecting antibodies in | eggs. Moredun Research Institute, |Undertake immunochemical analysis of listerial species cell surface Edinburgh | antigens for detection purposes. |Investigate the means by which listeria gains entry to the host and | causes disease in sheep.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 11 July 1989] : My right hon. and learned Friend hopes to complete the review of the size and nature of grants and loans for new croft houses and existing croft houses under the current scheme in time for revised rates to be introduced in 1990-91 and announced when the new rates come into force. A wider review of assistance to crofter housing within the context of the Government's overall
Column 116housing policy is in hand. Work on this is, however, at an early stage and has not as yet progressed sufficiently to enable a view to be taken on the nature and timing of any announcement of the outcome of the review.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the numbers of electors on the electoral register for each constituency in Scotland for the latest three years for which figures are available.
Column 11716" for the numbers in 1989 and to table 1.4 in "Series EL No. 15" for those in 1988 and 1987. Copies of these publications are in the Library.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his proposals to extend the permitted hours for off-licences and reduce the permitted hours for off-sales at other licensed premises and hotels.
Mr. Needham : The Government have no proposals to extend the permitted hours for off-licences, but have published proposals to ban all off-sales from any type of licensed premises after 9 pm. These proposals are aimed at putting all off-licences on a more even trading basis, as well as reducing the problems of late night drinking in public which have been the cause of widespread concern.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many accesses were made to each category of the stolen and suspect vehicle index of the police national computer over the last year ; and what has been the percentage growth in use of these categories over the year ;
(2) how many accesses were made to each category of the wanted and missing persons index of the police national computer over the last year ; and what has been the percentage growth in use of these categories over the year ;
(3) how many accesses were made to each index of the police national computer over the last year ; and whether he will include in these statistics an indication of the number of access requests that could search more than one index.
Mr. Cope : The Royal Ulster Constabulary does not have direct access to the police national computer but can indirectly obtain information from the computer by arrangement with police forces in Great Britain. Statistics are not maintained by the RUC on the numbers of enquiries made each year, but I understand from the Chief Constable that usage of this facility is infrequent.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will announce the proposed increase in hon. Members' office cost allowance for 1989-90 to enable hon. Members to award their staff their annual increase in pay.
Mr. Wakeham : Negotiations over London weighting, which affect the pay of a senior personal secretary in the home Civil Service (to which the office cost allowance is linked) have recently been concluded. I hope that I shall shortly be in a position to promulgate the new rate of office cost allowance.
Mr. Luce : The proportion of women at middle and senior management levels in the Civil Service is increasing. At the beginning of 1988, women represented 5 per cent. of staff in the top three grades of the service compared with 4 per cent. at the beginning of 1987, 9 per cent. of staff at grade five level compared with 8 per cent. in 1987 and 37 per cent. at executive officer level compared with 34 per cent. in 1987. The Civil Service has also increased opportunities for part-time working and job sharing at all grade levels ; is increasing the availability of childcare facilities ; and improving career break provision. A report detailing progress during 1987-88 on the implementation of equal opportunity policies for women in the Civil Service is being published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of Parliament.
Mrs. Wise : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many husbands are awaiting interview for entry clearance in Islamabad ; and what is the longest waiting time of those presently in the queue.
Mr. Eggar : As at 31 May, 1,400 husbands were awaiting interview in Islamabad either as first-time applicants or re-applicants. On present estimates, first-time applicants who applied in May can expect to wait 10 months for interview, re-applicants 22 months.
Mrs. Wise : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average waiting time for interview in Islamabad, for entry clearance to the United Kingdom as (a) a husband, (b) a fiance , (c) a wife and (d) a fiance e.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will state for each immigration post abroad (a) the current average time and (b) the current longest outstanding case time, for an appeal against refusal to enter and stay in the United Kingdom from (i) the appeal being submitted and (ii) the date of the hearing being notified to the appellant, to the appeal hearing taking place.
Mr. Eggar : Neither the immigration appellate authorities nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office records information of this nature for each immigration post overseas. The length of time taken for an appeal to be listed for hearing varies, depending on a number of factors including the time taken by the parties to indicate their readiness to proceed. Once parties have so indicated, cases are set down for hearing between six to eight weeks in advance, unless either party requests an adjournment. The great majority of appeals received overseas are forwarded
Column 119to the appellate authorities, with the accompanying explanatory statement, well within 90 days which we regard as an acceptable time scale for the preparation and despatch of explanatory statements. Individual cases may, however, take longer to process depending on what further inquiries the entry clearance officer needs to make in the light of the grounds for appeal.
Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what financial support he proposes for local education authorities for Government training for local management of schools in the 1989-90 and 1990-91 years ; by what date he expects training for chairman and deputy chairman of training bodies in schools for local management of schools to be completed ; when such training for governors should be completed ; whether he plans to issue further advice to local education authorities as to the form such training should take ; and what advice he proposes to issue in those cases where local education authorities fail either to produce adequate training for governors or at a sensible timetable for achieving this.
Mr. Butcher : In 1989-90 the Government are supporting under the education support grant programme expenditure of £4.9 million on governor training and £3 million on training support staff in schools, and, through the local education authority training grants programme, £10 million to provide management training for heads and senior staff in schools. For the year 1990-91 the expenditure supported is £5.1 million for governor training, £2 million for support staff training, and £8 million for headteacher training. Further support will be available in 1991-92. Local education authorities have a statutory duty to provide governors with such training as the local education authority considers necessary. It is for local education authorities to determine the nature and timetable of their training programmes. Local education authorities are required to state in their schemes for the local management of schools what arrangements they have made for support and training ; the Department will be monitoring the use of education support grant funds and the level and quality of training provided.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will state the number of graduates living in (a) Tyne and Wear, (b) County Durham, (c) Essex, (d) Greater London and (e) Berkshire as (i) a percentage of that county's population and (ii) a percentage of the total number of United Kingdom graduates.
Graduates: 1981 County |Graduates |Per cent.<1>|Per cent.<2> ------------------------------------------------------------------- Tyne and Wear |31,320 |2.8 |1.5 County Durham |16,080 |2.7 |0.8 Essex |50,330 |8.0 |2.4 Greater London |361,220 |5.5 |17.1 Berkshire |36,430 |5.4 |1.7 <1>As a percentage of county populations. <2>As a percentage of total number of United Kingdom graduates. Source: 1981 Census.
Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will issue guidance on the fire hazard in school science laboratories to pupils who use flammable hair preparations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Butcher : Advice on this question has been issued in the Department's booklet "Safety in Science Laboratories" since 1973 ; this includes a recommendation that long hair should be restrained, especially when lacquered, because of the risk of its catching fire.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what initiatives his Department has taken to increase the level of participation in school sports ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Rumbold : My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for the Environment commissioned jointly a report by the Sports Council to examine the provision of sport for young people, including school sport. This was published in August 1988 and the Government's response to the report's recommendations will be issued shortly. In addition, PE, which includes sport, is a foundation subject in the national curriculum. It will therefore form part of the curriculum for every pupil aged five to 16 in a maintained school.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the number of unfilled physical education posts in schools as a percentage of the total number of physical education posts.
Mrs. Rumbold : In January 1989 the number of vacancies for full-time permanent teachers of physical education in maintained secondary schools in England represented 1.2 per cent. of physical education teachers in post. Many of these vacancies will have been filled on a temporary basis pending a permanent appointment.
Column 121content of guidelines for physical education in the national curriculum would be set up in June 1990. It is hoped to bring the guidelines into effect from the autumn term 1992.
Mr. Forth : One Joblink 1000 project has been established in the Wolverhampton task force area, but there are similar pilot projects in other task force areas, including Spitalfields and Middlesbrough. Task forces tailor projects to meet local needs ; these pilot projects can be incorporated into main Government programmes, but are not programmes themselves.
Mr. Maude : My Department's "Europe Open for Business" campaign provides a comprehensive range of information to help employers prepare for the single market, including detailed factsheets on the single market programme, a series of booklets on standards, a guide to influencing decisions in Brussels, and an action checklist for business. This information is regularly updated and extended. For example, on 20 June, my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry launched "an action guide for smaller firms" which has been distributed to over 200,000 smaller businesses. Further copies (as for all our material) can be obtained free of charge through our 24 hour telephone hotline 01-200 1992. In addition, practical help and advice for employers preparing for the single market is available through our enterprise initiative and the small firms service operated by the Employment Department's Training Agency, which also provides a range of help for employers on their training needs.
Mr. Maude : The Government's conclusions on the review of restrictive trade practices (RTP) policy are being published today in a White Paper "Opening Markets : New Policy on Restrictive Trade Practices" (Cm. 727).
The Government strongly believe that open markets are the best guarantee of efficiency in the economy. By
Column 122reducing interference in markets and strengthening competition between businesses, we have unlocked enterprise and effort, so clearing the way towards increased economic growth.
We are keen to ensure that competition is maintained and enhanced, and have therefore confirmed proposals to introduce significant new legislation to replace the RTP Act 1976. The planned legislation is also expected to incorporate the provisions of the Resale Prices Act 1976. It will focus on the economic effects of an agreement rather than the form which it takes and will also ensure that a substantial number of agreements, which are caught by the present law but which have no effect on competition in the relevant market, will no longer need to be scrutinised by the authorities.
These proposals, which were first put forward in a Green Paper in March 1988 ("Review of Restrictive Trade Practices Policy" ; Cm. 331) have received strong support from a substantial majority of those who responded. They agree that the current Act is too formalistic and does too little to deter the formation of illegal cartels. The proposals will be incorporated into new legislation as soon as the parliamentary timetable permits.
The proposed legislation will incorporate a prohibition on agreements which prevent, restrict or distort competition. It will, however, be possible for businesses to gain exemption from the prohibition for agreements with economic or technical benefits which are shared with consumers. Guidance will be issued on the type of restriction which would not by itself bring an agreement within the prohibition. Some categories which would qualify individually for exemption will be exempted by means of a statutory instrument known as a block exemption to reduce both the costs of administering the law and its regulatory impact on firms. In this and other ways, the legislation will be closely aligned with the competition regime which operates under article 85 of the EEC treaty, with which many large and medium-sized businesses will already be familiar.
The Government consider that very few sectors of the economy should escape the new legislation. We believe firmly in the benefits of professional self -regulation and recognise the key role professional bodies have played and will continue to play in maintaining professional standards. This does not, however, mean that the professions should not need to comply with competition legislation. We have, therefore, decided that those rules of the professions which are not required by statute, or subject to the approval of a Minister, will be subject to the new RTP legislation in the normal way. The professional bodies will be free to determine their own rules, but will have to justify any anti-competitive effects of these under the new legislation. The relationship between professional rules in the legal profession in England and Wales, possible legislation in that area and the proposed RTP legislation will be clarified further in an announcement on legal services to be made by the Lord Chancellor shortly.
Applications for exemption from the prohibition will be considered by the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) whose conclusions will, if uncontested, become binding decisions. Where an objection is raised, the Government have decided that a final decision on the case should be made by an independent RTP tribunal to be established within the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. There will be rights of appeal beyond the tribunal to the High Court (Court of Session in Scotland).
Column 123The DGFT will have increased powers to investigate suspected agreements, similar to those which are currently exercised in the United Kingdom by the European Commission's competition staff with the assistance of the DGFT. Restrictive agreements that infringe the prohibition and have not received exemption will be void, and the parties to the agreement would be liable to civil penalties of up to 10 per cent. of their annual turnover or £250,000, whichever is the greater. These penalties would be imposed by the tribunal, or by the High Court if the proposed penalty exceeded £1 million. The court would also be able to impose penalties of up to £100,000 on directors and managers of companies who negotiate or operate prohibited agreements. In deciding to separate the powers in investigation and the imposition of fines in this way, the Government have taken account of concerns expressed by a number of those who responded to the RTP Green Paper.
Agreements between small firms will be covered by the legislation and could be investigated and found to be anti-competitive. But if the parties have a combined turnover of less than £5 million, they will not be subject to penalties, even though they have not applied for an exemption. This concession will not apply in the case of price-fixing agreements, including those involving resale price maintenance.
In addition to publishing the White Paper giving full details of the proposals, my Department has produced a simplified guide which is being distributed widely to the business community. Further copies of this will be available on request.
The Government believe that these proposals will ensure that blatant cartels, which in the past have gone undetected and unpunished, will be substantially eradicated. The resulting increase in competition will benefit the economy as a whole and consumers in particular.
Mr. Atkins : During 1988-89 direct Government support for the United Kingdom film industry amounted to £3.6 million, of which £2 million went to British Screen Finance Ltd. and £1.6 million to the National Film and Television school. In addition the Government provided more general support for training and for the British Film Institute and the Scottish Film Council.
Mr. Bowis : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions his Department has had at a European Community level regarding media ownership in the Community becoming concentrated in the hands of a
Column 124few individuals ; and if he will take an initiative to establish a framework to control cross-media ownership on a European level.
Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any plans to introduce a requirement for estate agencies to maintain at least one partner or employee who has obtained relevant professional qualifications.
Mr. Forth : I have no plans to introduce such a requirement. The concern of the public with respect to estate agency is overwhelmingly about standards of ethics rather than competence. In my view the proposals for a code of practice with statutory support which I announced to the House on 21 June are the best way to raise standards.
Mr. Gow : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether following information given to the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment by the hon. Member for Eastbourne in the House on 26 May, Official Report, columns 1291 and 1292, and to the Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs in a letter dated 6 July, there will be an investigation into the affairs of the Eastbourne Water Company under the provisions of the Financial Services Act 1986.
Mr. Forth : The information, which related to the Eastbourne water employees' share club, has been considered, but it is not sufficient to establish that the powers of investigation in section 105 of the Financial Services Act 1986 would be available in this case, or that adequate grounds exist for mounting an investigation.
Proposals to amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 by restricting the use of the term "low alcohol" to alcoholic drinks not exceeding 1.2 per cent. alcohol by volume (abv) were circulated to interested organisations for comment on 19 April 1989. Schedule 7 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 already restricts the use of the terms "alcohol free", "non-alcoholic" and "dealcohol-ised". The term "alcohol-free" is restricted to drinks with an alcoholic strength of not more than 0.05 per cent. abv ; the term "non alcoholic" to non-alcoholic wine intended for communion or sacramental purposes and the term "dealcoholised" is restricted to drinks from which the alcohol has been extracted and which have an alcoholic strength of not more than 0.5 per cent. abv.
Column 125United Kingdom county surveyors' refusal to take up polymer modified bitumens in marked contrast to other European Economic Community member states.
The Department will continue to liaise with both county surveyors and contractors on developments in the roadbuilding applications of polymer modified bitumens. We are keen to introduce into the Department's specification for highway works any relevant new material as quickly as it can be demonstrated that it gives both value for money and adequate long term performance. For example, we have undertaken to introduce manganes modified bitumens in rolled asphalt surfacing in mid-1990, subject to continuing satisfactory trials.
Many counties are already using some polymer modified bitumens. The degree of acceptance and use of these materials depends upon the ability of the supplier to assure the customer of their technical and cost effectiveness.
Mr. Newton : The United Kingdom Government have long promoted the benefits of adopting international open systems standards. The Department currently has a three-year £17 million programme of support for development of open systems standards and to assist development of conformance test facilities in this country. A certification regime to facilitate implementation of those standards is also being pursued.
On 11 May, I launched a further three-year, £12 million programme for open systems technology transfer. This will increase awarenes of the benefits of using products which conform to open systems standards and stimulate the introduction of new products. Demonstrator projects will show the benefits of such products in real applications.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will take action to ensure that the Textile Products (Indication of Fibre Content) Regulations are drawn to the attention of all carpet manufacturers in the United Kingdom to encourage conformity and avoidance of false labelling of carpets ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : In the light of the information currently available to me I do not consider any new initiative needs to be taken with United Kingdom manufacturers of carpets. The current principal regulations--the Textile Products (Indications of Fibre Content) Regulations 1986--were introduced in March 1986 and became legally binding on 29 May 1987. Wide publicity was given to these regulations, and to the explanatory guidelines "Fibre Content Labelling of Textiles", during 1986 by the British Carpet Manufacturers Association and by my Department. In enforcing these regulations, which apply to textile products generally, local authority trading standards departments undertake routine inspections and advisory visits at the point of manufacture. I have noted a recent report of the West Yorkshire trading standards
Column 126service stating that none of the United Kingdom-manufactured carpet samples tested were found to have their wool content labelled incorrectly.
Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list (a) all those agencies with powers delegated to them to carry out inspections and (b) the number of inspections carried out under those delegated powers for the years 1 April 1986 to 31 March 1987 and 1 April 1988 to 31 March 1989.
Mr. Maude : The only agency with powers delegated to it to carry out statutory investigations under legislation for which my Department is responsible is the Securities and Investments Board, which has powers to carry out investigations under sections 94 and 105 of the Financial Services Act. Both powers are exercisable concurrently with my Department. Delegation of the section 105 power came into effect on 19 May 1987 and delegation of section 94 power came into effect on 6 May 1988. The board's annual report for 1988-89, laid before Parliament on 6 June, records that 25 section 105 investigations were commenced in the period 1 April 1988 to 31 March 1989.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will place in the Library the documents relating to the understanding between his Department and the European Economic Community concerning the future of shipbuilding in Sunderland.
Mr. Newton : My Department has remained in touch with the European Commission since the notification of aid to British Shipbuilders was made last December. A paper covering those exchanges relevant to NESL is being prepared and will be placed in the Library as soon as possible.