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Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made since 1979 in reducing the overall level of tariffs affecting imports into and exports from the United Kingdom.
Mr. Redwood : United Kingdom imports are subject to the common customs tariff of the European Communities, whose rates have been reduced by approximately 34 per cent. overall since 1979, mainly as a result of the Tokyo round of GATT negotiations. A similar reduction has taken place in the tariffs of the United Kingdom's major trading partners. Comparable figures for other markets are not available. The tariff negotiations in the GATT Uruguay round, which is scheduled to end in December 1990, aim to achieve reductions at least as great as the 34 per cent. resulting from the Tokyo round, and in particular to reduce high tariffs. These reductions would be phased in over a period to be agreed.
Mr. Forth [holding answer 8 January 1990] : 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, and changes to other legislation affecting consumers' interests.
We are actively using the know-how fund to support privatisation in Poland. We organised a seminar on privatisation in Warsaw last year. A major consultancy report commissioned by the know-how fund, has recommended a number of future projects and programmes, including privatisation, within the Polish financial sector. These activities involve regular contact with the Plenipotentiary for Ownership Change and his office within the Polish Ministry of Finance.
Mr. Redwood : The DTI in conjunction with the Foreign Office, offers a wide range of services to help United Kingdom exporters sell more overseas, including the Soviet Union. Through the export service initiative, we provide practical assistance, advice and support for exporters at each stage of the exporting process. Approximately 150 trade inquiries about the Soviet Union are received by the DTI each week.
Column 638The Government also support 14 joint British/Soviet working groups covering several different industrial sectors, including agriculture, energy, healthcare and chemicals. They provide a framework in which United Kingdom companies can meet their Soviet counterparts and develop mutually beneficial opportunities. Companies are also represented on ministerial visits in each direction and at intergovernmental meetings such as the annual joint commission on trade and economic co-operation.
Mr. Redwood : I have no such plans. Under the relevant existing legislation, the review of arrangements such as the net book agreement is a matter for the restrictive practices court, on application by the Director General of Fair Trading.
After looking at the case for making an application, the director general concluded in August 1989 that the basis for doing so was insufficiently strong. Although there had been many changes in book publishing and retailing since the court originally upheld the agreement in 1962, he felt that they were unlikely to be of such magnitude as to lead the court to reverse its previous finding that the agreement does not operate against the public interest. The director general also had in mind the proposals in the Government's White Paper "Opening Markets : New Policy on Restrictive Trade Practices" published in July 1989, under which agreements such as the NBA previously upheld by the court would be automatically reviewed against a new exemption test modelled on article 85(3) of the EEC treaty.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which Ministers represented the United Kingdom at the European Economic Community Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels on 18 and 19 December ; and which Minister represented the interests of the fishing industry in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Curry : Together with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, my noble Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food I represented the United Kingdom at the Council of Fisheries Ministers on 18 and 19 December. The interests of all parts of the United Kingdom were equally defended.
Mr. Curry : The United Kingdom Government have for many years insisted on the need to take action to reform the common agricultural policy (CAP), and I am glad to say that considerable progress has been made.
Of particular importance were the measures agreed at the February 1988 European Council, introducing a legally binding limit on agricultural expenditure and stabiliser mechanisms for the main commodities. The Government's policy is to build on these reforms which are creating a more rational and sustainable CAP, and to pursue agricultural policy reforms internationally through the GATT.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he has taken as a result of the hon. Member for Linlithgow's communication with the Minister of State, the noble Baroness Trumpington, of 3 January, about the evidence of Dr. John Ingram, former director of national fruit trials, concerning the proposed move of the national fruit collection from Brogdale to Wye college in relation to trees allergic to frost-holes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : The potential for frost damage raised by the hon. Member with my noble Friend during their telephone conversation, was fully considered, together with a number of other important issues, when the decision was taken to move the national fruit collection to Wye college. In general the soils on the site at Wye are well suited for fruit growing. Radiation frost should not be a problem although there is some risk from wind frost to the fruiting potential of trees in an exceptionally severe year because of the site's elevation and exposure. The site is not at the bottom of a frost bowl. However, the risk from wind frost at Wye is less than at the present site at Brogdale and could, if necessary, be ameliorated by the planting of shelter screens as has been done at Brogdale. This will be one of the factors taken into account as the detailed arrangements for the transfer are made. The risk of exposure to frost is, of course, of less significance for the collection than it would be for a commercial orchard, given that the collection's main purpose is as a scientific, genetic and educational resource.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications for the approval of new active ingredients for pesticides he has (a) received and (b) approved for each year since 1987 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 21 December 1989] : The information requested is set out as follows. It relates to the applications submitted to my Ministry, although approval is required jointly by six Departments. Applications for which the Health and Safety Executive is primarily responsible have not been included.
|1987|1988|1989 ------------------------------------------------------- (a) Received |23 |12 |15 (b) Approved (Fully/provisionally) |11 |2 |3 (c) Only approved for experimental use |- |3 |2 (d) Rejected/withdrawn |1 |- |1
Mr. Rifkind : The bulk of the discussions held during my visit to Japan were the existing and potential inward investors. Meetings were also held with senior Government Ministers, to discuss trade links and other matters of mutual interest, including Scotch whisky exports.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a table showing the value of the allocation to Scottish National Health Service services for 1982-83 to 1990-91 both at current and standard prices ; and if he will indicate the value of the allocation in standard prices on a per capita basis.
Total National Health Service Expenditure in Scotland |Outturn £ |<1>Adjustment |<2>Expenditure |million cash --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1982-83 |1,660 |2,401 |465 1983-84 |1,773 |2,450 |476 1984-85 |1,901 |2,502 |486 1985-86 |2,015 |2,518 |490 1986-87 |2,144 |2,591 |506 1987-88 |2,328 |2,672 |523 1988-89 |2,591 |2,772 |544 <3>1989-90 |2,821 |2,821 |553 <4>1990-91 |3,041 |2,896 |568 <1> Adjusted by the GDP deflator to 1989-90 prices. <2> Expenditure per head of population adjusted by the GDP deflator to 1989-90 prices. <3> Projected outturn. <4> Provisional allocation.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, pursuant to the reply of 20 December 1989 to the hon. Member for Eastwood about standards of cleaning and catering in hospitals in Scotland, Official Report, column 289 , he will place a copy of the report referred to in the Library.
Column 641Mr. Michael Forsyth : Yes.
Mr. Hurd : The whole House will welcome the momentous changes in eastern Europe which give promise of democracy and longer-term prosperity throughout the region. We hope in 1990 to see these gains consolidated. We shall do all we can to support these countries in accordance with their individual needs and stages of development.
Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the respective powers of (a) democratically controlled Ministers and (b) Community bureaucrats with regard to the initiation of European Community policy with regard to eastern European issues ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maude : Under the EC treaties it is the Commission which has the responsibility to put forward proposals for Community action. Formulation of policy in European political co-operation is co-ordinated by the presidency. In both areas decisions are taken by Ministers. We have taken a prominent part within the Community in ensuring that the EC has responded generously and quickly to reforming countries in eastern Europe.
80. Mr. Michael Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department is giving in the process of exchanges with parliamentarians from eastern Europe.
Mr. Waldegrave : We welcome the increased scope which now exists for useful contacts between Members of this House and eastern European parliamentarians. We have assisted the Great Britain-East Europe Centre in setting up successful seminars for Polish and Hungarian politicians and are involved in a similar seminar for GDR politicians in March.
We hope that future direct links and contacts within the IPU framework will encourage the further development of democracy in eastern Europe.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Government are fully committed to improving the environment in Europe, including eastern Europe. Environmental problems are best tackled through international co-operation, and we are working within the EC to establish how best we can help in eastern Europe. The £210 million EC assistance budget for 1990 to Poland and Hungary includes the environment as a priority area. The G24 countries, which are co-ordinating their assistance for eastern Europe, are also looking at ways to help.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Government are committed to supporting economic and political reform in eastern Europe, and have played a leading role in encouraging the positive response of the EC and its member states to the emerging democracies in Poland and Hungary. For both these countries we have established know-how funds and provide assistance through the EC's trade, aid and other measures. We will respond positively to other countries in eastern Europe at the time they put into place necessary political and economic reforms.
22. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his European Community counterparts to discuss the developments of the Community and relations with eastern European countries.
Mr. Maude : The next formal meeting of the Community Foreign Affairs Council will be on 5 and 6 February, the first under the Irish presidency. The agenda is not yet known but is likely to include further discussion of eastern Europe, given the continuing pace of developments in those countries. The FAC will be preceded by an extraordinary meeting of the EC Foreign Ministers, called by the Irish presidency on 20 January, specifically to discuss eastern Europe.
56. Dr. Twinn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made by Her Majesty's Government in providing know-how funding for east European countries emerging from one-party rule.
Mr. Speed : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in setting up know-how funds to assist eastern European countries emerging from totalitarian regimes.
Mr. Waldegrave : A know-how fund for Poland was established in June, and it has subsequently been doubled in value to £50 million to be spent over five years. The aim of the fund is to help political and economic reform. To date, some 40 separate activities have been approved and £2.1 million committed. A fund of £25 million over five years for Hungary will start in April. Help for the Poles and Hungarians to prepare for democratic elections is one of the central objectives of both funds. We are considering further help for other eastern European countries.
Mr. Maude : A total of 925 Vietnamese boat people have been repatriated from Hong Kong. Eight hundred and seventy-four of these volunteered to return. The remaining 51 were the subject of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 12 December. I have nothing to add to what was said then.
Column 64371. Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on the forced repatriation of Vietnamese from Hong Kong.
Mr. Maude : We have received a number of representations on the repatriation of the first group of non-volunteer boat people to Vietnam. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in his statement on 12 December, no force was used. The repatriation was conducted in line with procedures used worldwide to remove people refused permission to remain in a territory.
Mr. Maude : No boat people have been forcibly repatriated. Normal removal procedures, which are applied worldwide in returning people refused permission to remain, were used. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs envisaged in his statement on 12 December, Her Majesty's embassy in Hanoi has monitored the conditions of the group of non-volunteers who have returned, both in the transit camp in Hanoi and in the villages to which they have subsequently returned. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) and Lord Ennals are visiting Vietnam from 7 to 11 January as independent observers to report on the conditions of those who have returned.
Mr. Maude : A total of 925 non-refugee Vietnamese boat people have returned to Vietnam. The monitoring undertaken by the UNHCR and Her Majesty's embassy in Hanoi has shown that none has been detained or punished for having left Vietnam.
Mr. Sainsbury : We warmly welcome the exemplary conduct of the presidential and congressional elections in Chile and, with our partners in the Twelve, look forward to working closely with the new democratic Government there.
Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs hopes to have an early opportunity to meet the President-elect of Chile, but has no definite plan to do so at present.
Mr. Hurd : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) on 8 November in which I made plain the Government's repugnance for the Khmer Rouge and set out our policy towards Cambodia.
51. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he will take to assist the development of the peace process in the middle east ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have been closely involved in the efforts being made to establish direct contact between Israel and a representative Palestinian delegation as an important step towards an overall settlement.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have close and friendly relations with Poland. We admire the courage with which the Polish Government are tackling their economic problems and will continue to give substantial help to ease the transition to democracy and a market-based economy.
Column 64548. Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met a member of the Polish Government ; and what was discussed.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met the Polish Foreign Minister, Mr. Skubiszewski, at the Group of 24 ministerial meeting in Brussels on 13 December, when further Community assistance to Poland was discussed. He also met Lech Walesa, chairman of Solidarity, on 30 November. They discussed the internal situation in Poland and economic assistance.
29. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to meet the Polish Prime Minister or members of the Polish Government ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs certainly hopes to meet the Polish Prime Minister in 1990. No date has yet been fixed. He met the Polish Foreign Minister at the Group of 24 ministerial meeting in Paris on 13 December and had talks with Mr. Lech Walesa, chairman of Solidarity, on 30 November.
We are delighted that a programme of economic reform has now been agreed with the IMF, and will continue to support the Polish Government's efforts in all appropriate ways, including through a contribution to the stabilisation fund.
Mr. Waldegrave : We welcome the continuing peace talks between the Ethiopian Government and, respect-ively, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front. We urge all involved to work seriously for a negotiated settlement which offers the only lasting solution to these long-standing conflicts.
26. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he discussed the American trade and aid embargo against Vietnam during his recent meeting with the United States Secretary of State ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met the Vietnamese Foreign Minister, Mr. Nguyen Co Thach, on 28 June 1989. Their discussions focused on the return of the Vietnamese boat people and other bilateral issues.
Mr. Sainsbury : We have normal diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. We expect Vietnam to meet its responsibilities towards its neighbours and its own people before we consider further development of our relations.
40. Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet representatives of the Government of Vietnam ; and what subjects he proposes to discuss.