Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Council of Industry Ministers, at which the Minister for Industry and Enterprise represented the United Kingdom, concentrated on discussion of steel issues. It agreed to an Italian request to extend agreed closure deadlines of certain Italian steel plants in exchange for delays in the payment of aid to the Italian steel industry.
Discussions also took place on textiles, footwear, shipbuilding and high definition television.
Column 293Mr. Forth : I meet my counterparts in other member states regularly. In the past few weeks I have had a number of discussions with them on product safety, including a wide-ranging discussion on the proposed EC general product safety directive at the Consumer Council on 9 November. More recently I have had discussions on product safety with Ministers in Ireland prior to the Irish Presidency in the new year.
34. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many Japanese manufacturing companies are now operating in the United Kingdom ; and what information he has on the figure for other member states of the European Community.
European Community Member State |Number of |Japanese |manufacturers ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ United Kingdom |<1>114 France |85 West Germany |67 Netherlands |27 Belgium |15 Luxembourg |8 Ireland |<2>19 Spain |41 Italy |24 Denmark |2 Portugal |7 Greece |4 <1> as at 31 October 1989. <2> as at 31 January 1989. <1> For the United Kingdom these figures refer to individual Japanese manufacturing companies with one or more operating plants. For the rest of the European Community the figures refer to the number of plants known to be either currently operating in EC member states or having announced a formal intention to operate. <2> Figures for EC investment other than United Kingdom obtained from Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) figures given are the latest available.
Mr. Forth : Local authority trading standards departments have a statutory duty to enforce the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the toy safety regulations made thereunder. The Act provides the necessary powers for the discharge of this responsibility. The new Toys (Safety) Regulations 1989, which implement the EC directive on the safety of toys with effect from 1 January, will provide more comprehensive safety measures to ensure that only safe toys are placed on the market. They will also require enforcement authorities to notify my Department of enforcement action taken under these regulations.
Mr. Redwood : In the first nine months of 1989 the United Kingdom had a manufacturing trade deficit with the following countries : France, Belgium-Luxembourg, Netherlands, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Denmark and Portugal.
Mr. Redwood : We provide a comprehensive single market information service through our European Open for Business campaign, which is regularly updated and expanded. The practical assistance available through our Enterprise Initiative is also particularly relevant to firms preparing for the single market.
In the private sector there is an increasing level of information and advice being provided to help business adapt to the liberalised European trading conditions.
Column 295Mr. Redwood : Imports of manufactured goods from West Germany have risen, at current prices, from £5.3 billion in 1979 to £16.6 billion in 1988, an increase of £11.3 billion.
101. Mr. Watson : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet representatives of the Confederation of British Industry to discuss the prospects for British business.
113. Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet representatives of the Confederation of British Industry to discuss the prospcts for British business.
Mr. Forth : Additional labelling requirements will come into force over the next year for toys and all-terrain vehicles. The Government have made clear their support for the early introduction of a Community-wide voluntary eco-labelling scheme.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Department does not distinguish in its accounts between direct subsidies and other expenditure. However, the total expenditure of the Department, including support for nationalised industries, was £2.257 million in 1979-80 and £1.304 million in 1988-89.
Mr. Forth : We intend to improve the protection given to consumers in a number of ways including the introduction of an order under the Prices Act 1974, as amended, on price indications and unit pricing about which we are currently engaging in public consultation, and changes to other legislation affecting consumers' interests.
Washing machines |January to June |1989 |1989 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Imports (£ million) |157.9 |65.1 United Kingdom sales (£ million) |275.5 |122.2 Imports (Percentage of United Kingdom sales) |57 |53 Notes and definitions: 1. Figures relate to domestic-type electric washing machines only. 2. United Kingdom sales figures relate to sales by United Kingdom manufacturers with a minimum employment of 100. The possibly incomplete coverage of these figures implies that the percentage figures shown may be overstated. Source: Business Monitor PQ3460.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I met the chairman of British Shipbuilders on 21 November 1989. A number of matters of current interest were discussed, including the disposal of the assets of North East Shipbuilders Ltd.
Mr. Forth : The deficit, estimated as a crude trade balance on the overseas trade statistics basis, was £950 million in 1988. Corresponding figures available so far for 1989 indicate that the deficit was £700 million in the period January to September.
Mr. Redwood : Imports of a wide range of textiles and clothing products from major low-cost exporting countries have for some time been restricted under bilateral agreements concluded by the Community within the framework of the multi-fibre arrangements and associated agreements. Where a surge in imports of a particular product not currently restricted is causing serious injury to domestic industry I am prepared to consider whether there is a case for action to put to the Community under the
Column 298terms of the appropriate agreement. Each case has to be considered on its merits and in the light of the implications for the United Kingdom economy as a whole. It is not as a general rule in our interest to increase barriers to trade ; indeed the Community is committed in the Uruguay round to negotiate about phasing out the MFA on acceptable terms.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the current balance of payments deficit can be attributed to the importation of textile and clothing goods from outside the United Kingdom.
Mr. Forth [holding answer 5 December 1989] : Information on the balance of trade in textiles and clothing is not available on the same basis as the current account of the balance of payments. The following table shows the relationship between these balances and that for total visible trade which is available on both bases.
United Kingdom Trade, 12 months ending October 1989 £ billion --------------------------------------------- Balance of trade in: Textiles and clothing goods<3> | -3.6|n.a. Total visible trade |-28.9|-24.2 Current account balance<4> |n.a. |-20.1 <1> Exports valued free on board (fob); imports valued inclusive of insurance and freight (cif) <2> Exports and imports both valued exclusive of insurance and freight charges <3> Standard International Trade Classification, divisions 65 and 84 <4> Includes services, transfers and other invisible transactions n.a.not available Sources: Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom United Kingdom Balances of Payments
Mr. Redwood : We have received comments on Professor Silberston's recent report on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement from the Apparel, Knitting and Textiles Alliance as well as from particular sectors of the textile and clothing industry. These comments are being taken into account in our consideration of the United Kingdom and EC position as negotiations on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement continue in the GATT Uruguay round.
Mr. Redwood : I announced publication of Professor Silberston's report on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement in my reply to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on 19 October at column 176. Comments on the report have been received from a variety of sources, including the United Kingdom textile and clothing industry, the Trades Union Congress and organisations representing consumers and retailers. The report and these responses will be of help to the Government as the Community prepares its position for the final stages of the GATT Uruguay round negotiations on textile trade policy next year.
70. Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the citizens advice bureaux on the funding requirements in 1990-91 of their comprehensive advice service.
102. Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the citizens advice bureaux on the funding requirements in 1990-91 of their comprehensive advice service.
Mr. Forth : The funding of individual citizens advice bureaux is a matter for local decision, and my Department is not involved in those discussions. I have however met representatives of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and of Citizens Advice Scotland in recent months and among the topics discussed was their funding requirements.
73. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received a copy of the Confederation of British Industry's policy document on transport ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I have seen a copy of the CBI's report, "Trade Routes to the Future", which my right hon. Friend and I are studying. The report will serve to increase our understanding of businesses' transport needs.
79. Dr. Bray : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money was provided for the support of civil research and development by his Department in 1989-90 in the 1989 public expenditure review ; and how much he now estimates will be spent.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The 1989 Public Expenditure White Paper (Cm 605) indicated that £243 million would be available through the DTI for civil industrial research and development support during 1989-90. Our latest estimates indicate that the take-up of this funding will be approx- imately £231 million.
Note : these figures apply to DTI support for industrial R and D under the innovation, civil aircraft and aeroengine, and space budgets.
Mr. Forth : In the last year we have received some 150 representations from right hon. and hon. Members and others about the quality of the postal service, mainly the first-class service. Quality of the postal service is an operational matter for the Post Office : it has set itself a target of an average 3 per cent. improvement this year.
103. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the average volume of mail sent by first-class post on a working day during the past year ; how many letters, in number and percentage, arrived within the target time ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : The Post Office tells me that the current average number of first-class letters sent each day is25 million. Statistics on the proportion of letters delivered within the target time are now kept on a district rather than national basis, but I understand that between three quarters and four fifths of first-class letters are delivered on the working day after posting.