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Post Office

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the remit of his study of the Post Office ; and when he expects it to report.

Mr. Ridley [holding answer 21 December 1989] : The Post Office Board naturally keeps under review a range of options for ensuring that their services meet as closely as possible the needs of both present and future customers. I am in regular touch with the board about these matters. There is, therefore, no date for reporting.

Consultancy Initiative

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of firms have taken up the consultancy initiative in each region.

Mr. Ridley [holding answer 21 December 1989] : It is estimated that as of 1 December 1989 the percentage of firms is as follows :


Percentage of firms applying for the           

consultancy initiatives                        

DTI region               |Percentage           

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

North East               |5.3                  

North West               |4.1                  

Yorkshire and Humberside |3.5                  

West Midlands            |3.6                  

East Midlands            |2.8                  

South West               |3.1                  

East                     |2.4                  

South East               |2.5                  

Scotland                 |3.0                  

Wales                    |3.8                  

                         |----                 

Total                    |3.1                  

Dixons (Takeover)

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations he has received concerning proposals for the Kingfisher group to take over the Dixons/Currys group.

Mr. Redwood : I have received some 20 representations about the proposed acquisition by Kingfisher plc of Dixons.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ask the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to consider the proposed takeover of Dixons by Woolworth.

Mr. Redwood : The proposed acquisition by Kingfisher plc of Dixons is currently being considered by the Director General of Fair Trading who has a duty to advise the Secretary of State on whether or not it should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the proposed acquisition in anticipation of the director general's advice.

Chlorofluorocarbons

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to receive the Coopers and Lybrand report on chlorofluorocarbons ; to whom he will make it available ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth [holding answer 7 December 1989] : My Department has commissioned two reports on CFCs from Coopers and Lybrand. The first, which examines the effect of environmental and health and safety controls on the markets for chlorinated solvents, has been submitted to the Department and will be published shortly. The second study, which complements the first, will examine the size of and distribution of current CFC and halon use within the United Kingdom and assess the technical and economic options for the recovery, recycling and eventual destruction of these substances. This study is due to be submitted in early 1990 and is expected to contain much information of interest to both Government and industry. Our intention therefore is that this information should also be made widely available, although it is too early to say precisely in what form it will be published.

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has received any representations about the West German Government's intentions to ban the refrigerant gas HFA 22 with effect from January 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth [holding answer 7 December 1989] : The parties to the Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer are presently discussing ways in which it should be strengthened at the second meeting of the parties in London next summer. The protocol is implemented within the European Community by


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regulation EC3322/88, which has as its legal base article 1305 of the treaty of Rome requiring unanimity of voting. For this reason, and because there would otherwise be serious implications for the internal market, this is a matter on which all 12 member states must work together. Her Majesty's Government's view remains that HFA 22 has an important part to play especially in helping the refrigeration industry to reduce its dependence on the more damaging

chlorofluorocarbons, at least in the short to medium term.

Abbey National plc

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations have been received by his Department from shareholders of Abbey National plc who have not yet received shareholding certificates ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth [holding answer 8 December 1989] : Since the beginning of August the Department has received over 100 letters from shareholders who at the time of writing had not received their share certificates. There have been seven such letters in the last month.

Whisky

Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the European Community import duty is on a one-litre bottle of whisky, containing 40 per cent. alcohol imported from (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the United States of America and (c) Japan.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 20 December 1989] : No EC customs duty is payable on goods produced in the United Kingdom when imported into another member state. The duty levied on a litre bottle of whisky containing 40 per cent. alcohol imported into any member state from either the United States of America or Japan is 14 pence.

GATT Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will specify the final European Community proposals on agriculture in the Uruguay round of the general agreement on tariffs and trade ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : I have been asked to reply.

Along with other major participants in GATT, the European Community has now tabled outline proposals for long term reform of agricultural supported policies. The Community proposals are designed to meet the agreed objective of substantial and progressive reduction in support, over a period of time. The Community proposes a programme of reductions, measured against a 1986 starting level, on the basis of an aggregate measure of total support. Some changes in the operation of export subsidies and in the mechanisms of import protection are also envisaged. Ideas are put forward for the treatment of developing countries and for moves towards the harmonization of measures relating to animal and plant health.

In Council discussions, I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs supported the Commission view that submission by the Community of a paper of this kind would make a helpful and constructive contribution to the Uruguay round negotiations as a whole.


Column 531

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the United States proposal within the Uruguay round in the general agreement on tariffs and trade for quantification in standard form of all aspects of agricultural support systems.

Mr. Curry : I have been asked to reply.

A range of proposals have been tabled by the United States, EC and others in the negotiation. Several make reference to the possible use of an aggregate measure of support which can quantify the impact of a wide range of policies. The United Kingdom believes that an aggregate measure provides a useful negotiating tool which by placing countries on a common footing would facilitate an agreement to reduce support and protection worldwide.

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what priority Her Majesty's Government attach to achieving a compromise between the respective positions taken by the United States of America and the European Community during the general agreement on tariffs and trade Uruguay round negotiations on agriculture ; and what is his policy towards the Cairns group proposals for bridging the gap between the European Community and the United States of America.

Mr. Curry I have been asked to reply.

The Government strongly support the objectives of the agricultural negotiations within the current GATT Round. We are working closely with our Community partners and with other countries, including the United States, to achieve a successful outcome. The proposals of the Cairns group are an important and constructive contribution to the negotiations. All parties recognise that compromise will be needed to achieve success.

Manufacturing Investment

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on levels of investment in manufacturing industry in the last decade.

Mr. Norman Lamont : I have been asked to reply.

The most recent full year for which information is available is 1988. Manufacturing investment at 1985 prices including leased assets, is estimated to have been £11.3 billion in 1988, compared to £10.7 billion in 1978. The 1988 figure is the highest recorded and amounts to an average growth rate of 8 per cent. a year from the 1983 level. Under the last Labour Government, manufacturing investment grew by less than 2 per cent. a year averaged over the whole period of office.

Manufacturing Industries

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which regions in England have seen a reduction in constant value terms in manufacturing industries from 1979 to the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Norman Lamont : I have been asked to reply.

Current prices estimates for regions of manufacturing gross domestic product are published annually and


Column 532

provisional figures for 1988 may be found in "Economic Trends" No. 433, November 1989, pages 92 and 93 : a copy is available in the Library. Constant price estimates, however, are not made because there are no regional price indices.

Trade Gap

Mr. Flannery : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the total trade gap for the current year.

Mr. Ryder : I have been asked to reply.

The latest available information was published on 29 December 1989 in table 1 of the monthly press notice on the current account of the balance of payments, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Balance of Payments (Oil)

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will publish a table showing in current and 1985 prices the balance of payments surplus with the European Community in (a) crude oil and in other petroleum products and (b) other goods in 1970, 1979, 1985, 1988 and the current year to date.

Mr. Norman Lamont : I have been asked to reply.

Estimates for trade with the EC on a balance of payments basis are available only at current prices. Information about trade in crude oil and other petroleum products is not readily available for the EC ; the following table shows trade in all fuels as the closest available substitute.


Disconnections Financial Years- 1 April to 31 March                                                     

                                                      |1985-86  |1986-87  |1987-88  |1988-89            

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

Number of Domestic Customers disconnected during year | 7,874   |10,622   |11,546   |9,627              

Number of Domestic Customers as at 31 March           |1,421,734|1,422,139|1,445,151|1,510,496          

Percentage of Domestic Customers disconnected         |0.55     |0.75     |0.80     |0.64               

SCOTLAND

Electricity Disconnections

Mr. McKelvey : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many electricity disconnections the South of Scotland electricity board undertook in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988, expressed as a percentage of the total of domestic users.

Mr. Lang : The number of domestic customers disconnected by the South of Scotland Electricity Board, and the percentages these formed of the total number of domestic customers in the last four financial years, is set out in the table.


Column 533


Disconnections Financial Years- 1 April to 31 March                                                     

                                                      |1985-86  |1986-87  |1987-88  |1988-89            

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

Number of Domestic Customers disconnected during year | 7,874   |10,622   |11,546   |9,627              

Number of Domestic Customers as at 31 March           |1,421,734|1,422,139|1,445,151|1,510,496          

Percentage of Domestic Customers disconnected         |0.55     |0.75     |0.80     |0.64               

River Pollution

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he plans to strengthen existing sanctions available to river purification boards and local authority water and sewage departments when they detect breaches in the voluntary codes for toxic disposals into rivers ;

(2) if he will take further steps to give additional powers to river purification boards to prevent commercial toxic pollution reaching rivers ;

(3) what proposals he has to change existing powers available to river purification boards to enter commercial premises and require specific action by owners to limit damage being done to rivers by toxic waste.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Anyone discharging trade effluent to sewers or to controlled waters without such consent as may be required by the local authority or without consent from the river purification authority is liable to prosecution. The powers available to river purification authorities to control the pollution of rivers, estuaries and coastal waters were recently improved and strengthened by the Water Act 1989. We are considering the making of regulations, including standards for the storage of chemicals on premises, which will further strengthen defences against such pollution.

It is our intention to include measures in this Session's Environmental Protection Bill which will impose tighter controls over the most dangerous substances and certain processes and make new pollution control arrangements for multiple waste streams.

Speech-impaired Children

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children with speech and language disorders have been placed in specialist residential schools in England from each region and island area in Scotland ; and what assistance is available to Scottish parents in locating and selecting such schools for their children.

Mr. Lang : Information about the number of children with speech and language disorders placed in special residential schools in England is not held centrally. Parents wishing to send their children to such schools should seek assistance and advice from the regional and islands psychological services.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what guidance has been given by his Department to ensure that speech and language disorders can be properly identified in examinations conducted for the purpose of a record of needs under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended by the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.

Mr. Lang : Guidance and advice to education authorities assessing children for the purpose of opening and keeping a record of needs under section 60 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is given in Scottish Education Department circulars No. 1083 and 1087,


Column 534

copies of which will be sent to the hon. Member. The circulars do not give advice on particular learning difficulties such as speech and language disorders, since circumstances and special educational needs will vary with each individual child.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has about the number of pre-school and school-aged children who are affected by speech and language disorders in each region and islands area in Scotland.

Mr. Lang : The information requested is not collected centrally.

Local Authorities (Chief Executives)

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the salaries paid to chief executives of each local authority in Scotland ; and if he will give details of the income of the elected council leaders in those authorities for the 1988-89 financial year.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : This information is not held centrally.

Councillors' Allowances

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the differences in income to councillors as a result of the changes in allowances applicable from 1 April 1990.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The overall resources available for councillors' allowances in Scotland will be no less than at present. Details of how the resources are to be distributed have yet to be finalised after consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. We have proposed that the amount available to individual authorities should be determined by the type of authority, the workload of that authority, the number of constituents and the number of councillors. Within that basic framework, we are also willing to consider sympathetically any reasonable proposals for banding by population which the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities can devise, provided these command a broad measure of support from authorities.

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received on the changes contained in the Housing and Local Government Bill regarding allowances paid to councillors.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on 28 November at column 112.

COSLA

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities ; and whether he discussed the effects of the Coal Industry Bill on the environment.


Column 535

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend met representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 27 November to discuss his revenue support grant proposals for next year and other local government finance matters. The Coal Industry Bill was not raised at the meeting.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the number of instances of drug and alcohol abuse reported to the children's panel.

Mr. Lang : This information is not separately available. Drug and alcohol abuse are not by themselves grounds under section 32 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 for referral to a children's hearing to consider compulsory measures of care. They may often be a feature of greater behavioural problems which attract such grounds as "beyond parental control" or "lack of parental care".

Colliery Tips

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans his Department has for clearing up and ensuring the reclamation and landscaping of former colliery tips.

Mr. Lang : The Scottish Development Agency is the Government's principal agency for environmental improvement in Scotland. As such, it deals with a wide range of environmental problems including those resulting from former colliery tips. The agency has an ongoing programme for the reclamation and landscaping of disused bings where there are no private sector interests.

Colliery Closures

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the collieries closed since May 1979 in Scotland ; and if he will give details of the numbers of jobs lost at each colliery.

Mr. Rifkind : The Scottish collieries that have closed since May 1979 are named in the table. In each case the numbers of jobs recorded refer to men on the colliery books at the end of the previous financial year. I understand that there have been no compulsory redundancies associated with these closures.


Year and colliery         |Men on                             

                                                              

                          |books                              

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

1980-81                                                       

Lady Victoria             |638                                

Roger                     |86                                 

                                                              

1981-82                                                       

Bedley                    |697                                

Kinneil                   |547                                

Polmaise                  |271                                

                                                              

1983-84                                                       

Cardowan                  |1,092                              

Highhouse                 |301                                

Sorn                      |202                                

                                                              

1986-87                                                       

Comrie                    |534                                

Polkemmet                 |35                                 

                                                              

1987-88                                                       

Seafield/Frances          |647                                

                                                              

1988-89                                                       

Barony                    |403                                

Solsgirth                 |805                                

                                                              

1989-90                                                       

Bilston Glen                                                  

  (including Monktonhall) |731                                

Plate Mill

Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he discussed the sale by Japan of the second-hand plate mill to British Steel when he visited Japan during the summer recess.

Mr. Rifkind : No.

Highway Information Management System

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will request all Scottish regions to standardise on the highway information management system, the computerised system developed by Devon county council, which has been chosen as the preferred system by five of nine Scottish regions.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 21 December 1989] : The Scottish Development Department has endorsed the recommendation of the Scottish County Surveyors' Society highway database and management information system working party following a comprehensive trial of two of the available routine maintenance management systems, one of which was developed by Devon county council. The choice of the alternative system for use on trunk roads has been made following the recommendation of the Scottish County Surveyors' Society.

Nature Conservancy Council

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to his answer of 28 November to the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), Official Report columns 188-89 , what was the number of responses which welcomed the merger of the Nature Conservatory Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland ; and what was the number which disapproved of the proposal.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 21 December 1989] : Of the 159 respondents expressing a view, 98 supported the proposals in principle and 61 were opposed to the merger. A list of those expressing support was provided in answer to the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor). The list of those opposed is as follows. Aitchison, Dr. C. I.

Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group

Baker, Dr. R.

Banff and Buchan District Council

Bat Group of Britain

Botanical Society of Edinburgh

British Association for Nature Conservation Scottish Branch British Mountaineering Council

British Trust for Ornithology

Brown, A.


Column 537

Campbell, N.

Central Scotland Raptor Study Group

Cobham Resources Consultants

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District Council

Dumbarton District Council

Friends of the Earth (Scotland)

Geological Association, The

Gordon District Council Director of Planning

Grant, Dr. M. C.

Hardie, P. A.

Holdgate, M. W.

Houghton, Dr. A.

Johnston, J. Laughton

Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council

Kincardine and Deeside District Council

Loch Lomond Park Authority

Moray District Council

Nethersole-Thompson, Mrs. M.

NCC Trade Union Side

Packard, Professor A.

Brian K. Parnell and Associates

Parsons, Professor I.

Poore, D.

Potter, D.

Raby-Jolley, I. G.

Ramblers Association, The

Ramsay, A. D. K.

Ratcliffe, Dr. D. A.

Reid, C.

Robb, H.

Roger, J. Grant

Rowbottom, M. G.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The

Scottish Ornithological Club, The

Scottish Railway, Path and Cycle Route Project

Scottish Rights of Way Society

Scottish Scenic Trust

Scottish Wildland Group

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Scottish Wildlife Trust--Lanark Group

Smiley, Dr. W. K.

Smith, Dr. R.

Smith, A. J.

Stirling-Aird, P.

Stirling District Council

Thomson, Dr. D.

Thorpe, J.

Watlin, Dr. R.

Watson, D.

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Youngman, R. E.


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