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Mr. Atkins [holding answer 11 January 1990] : The 1981 Greater London transportation survey of London residents indicated that some 155,000 work journeys were made by pedal cycle. That represented about 3 per cent. of all work journeys by London residents ; estimates from the Department's 1985-86 national travel survey suggest that there has been little change in that proportion.
Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library the results of any studies his Department has conducted into the competitiveness of British manufacturing industry as against other OECD countries.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list by location for the counties of Yorkshire and Humberside, any proposed closure of small rural sub-post offices due to take place during the coming year.
Mr. Forth : This is a matter for the Post Office, but I understand that it has no plans to close any rural post offices. Post Office Counters Ltd. is committed to maintaining the rural network and only when it is impossible to find a sub-postmaster, even working reduced hours, does a rural office close.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what specific financial, efficiency and quality of service targets he has approved for the Companies House agency for the current year and for the longer term.
(i) A 10 per cent. reduction in the proportion of companies which have not filed all the accounts and annual returns required by the Companies Act, so that by June 1991 the compliance rate will be increased to 83 per cent. ;
(ii) A 20 per cent. reduction in the time taken to process documents, so that by April 1991 documents are on average available to the public within 18 working days of being delivered to Companies House ;
(iii) A 12 per cent. increase in output per member of staff ; (
(iv) A 7 per cent. decrease in unit costs in real terms. Companies House's targets are currently being reviewed in the context of the agency's 1990 corporate plan.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what specific financial, efficiency and quality of service targets he has approved for the National Weights and Measures Laboratory agency for the current year and for the longer term.
Mr. Forth : In May 1989, Lord Young, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, approved the corporate plan of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory executive agency. This plan, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House, contains specific targets for the current year. Targets for the longer term will be approved by the Secretary of State in subsequent corporate plans.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what specific financial, efficiency and quality of service targets he has approved for the Warren Spring Laboratory agency for the current year and for the longer term.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will be announcing the performance measure targets for the Warren Spring Laboratory agency before the beginning of the next financial year.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what specific financial, efficiency and quality of service targets he has approved for the laboratory of the Government chemist for the current year and for the longer term.
Mr. Redwood : My Department has no knowledge of any specific United Kingdom trade links with the Maluku Islands, Indonesia. United Kingdom firms usually tend to adopt a comprehensive marketing policy towards Indonesia, largely through agents in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to monitor employers' compliance with the requirement in section 235 of the Companies Act 1985 that firms with more than 250 employees must include a statement in their annual report and accounts, outlining their policy on the employment of disabled people.
Mr. Redwood : Responsibility for the content of accounts and directors' reports rests with the directors, with auditors required to state whether the accounts meet the statutory requirements. Companies House staff carry out certain checks on annual accounts, but do not arrange for the contents to be scrutinised in detail except in response to specific complaints.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what requests he has received from ASEAN countries for an agreement of trade in rain forest timber, along the lines of that negotiated with New Zealand ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : These products will be subject to the proposed Radioactive Products (Safety) Regulations which I propose to take in March 1990. They will come into force in September 1990. These products are at present subject to the general safety requirement of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
Mr. Redwood : I welcome the adoption of this regulation which followed major progress over past months on a number of issues during which the United Kingdom played a constructive role throughout. The adoption of this regulation provides a welcome clarification of powers, giving business greater certainty about which jurisdiction will be exercised and how it will be exercised.
As from 21 September 1990 mergers with a Community dimension involving large companies--broadly those mergers with a combined worldwide turnover of more than 5 billion ecu (around £3.7 billion) and with a Community turnover in excess of 500 million ecu (around £370 million)--will be subject to examination by the European Commission. We expect this to include about a dozen United Kingdom mergers per year. Mergers which primarily concern one member state in that more than two thirds of the turnover of each company concerned is in one and the same member state remain subject to national control.
The United Kingdom was successful in ensuring that the criteria for the assessment of mergers are strongly competition based. Mergers which create or enhance a dominant position and significantly impede competition must be prohibited. Technical and economic progress can be taken into account so long as they do not pose a barrier to competition.
The United Kingdom's objective that there should be a clear separation of the roles of the Commission and member state authorities has also been substantially achieved. Normally the Commission will have exclusive competence over those mergers with a Community dimension as described above. The United Kingdom was successful in limiting the scope for member states to intervene on competition grounds in such mergers. A member state may intervene only where it demonstrates to the Commission that a dominant position significantly impeding competition exists in a distinct market in its territory and the Commission is satisfied that the market cannot be adequately protected under the regulation.
A tight line has been drawn round the grounds other than competition on which a member state can intervene in mergers. Only public security, prudential controls and media diversity are recognised as legitimate national interests allowing intervention. Outside the thresholds mentioned above, the Commission can intervene under the regulation only at the specific request of a member state and then only to remedy competition defects in that member state. The merger
Column 50regulation disapplies regulation 17, thereby restricting the Commission's powers to intervene under treaty articles 85 and 86. This should reduce the uncertainty which currently exists and which is an unwelcome hazard to business.
Mr. Redwood : The Council made important progress on almost all items on a long agenda. Agreement was reached on the EC merger control regulation, to deal with mergers with a Community dimension. Political agreements were also reached on the second life insurance services directive, three directives on rights of residence for non-economically advice persons, and on testing and certification. Common positions were agreed on measures concerning package travel, active implantable medical devices, nutritional labelling of foodstuffs and permitted residues of veterinary medicinal products. The Council agreed to consider further the Commission's analysis of barriers to takeovers once the Commission's programme of specific recommendations is published at the end of March. A helpful statement on implementation of single market measures was also agreed. The proposed directive on public purchasing (excluded sectors) was discussed. Although agreement was not reached, useful progress was made. It may be possible to agree the directive during the Irish Presidency.
The Council also discussed the proposed European company statute, transEuropean infrastructure, the "social economy" (the co-operative, mutual and non-profit making sector), legal protection of computer programmes, irradiation of foodstuffs and mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will give further details of the collaborative ventures to which the Minister for Industry referred on 12 December, Official Report, column 984, in which the Government are prepared to play a part to assist the knitwear and textile industries.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Support is available to the knitwear and textile industries for pre-competitive collaborative research under the four main schemes covered by the research and technology initiative. The schemes are :
LINK, which encourages firms to collaborate with universities and polytechnics in pre-competitive research
EUREKA, which encourages firms to enter collaborative ventures with firms in other European countries
Advanced technology programme (ATP), which assists companies to collaborate in selected fields of new technology
General industrial collaborative programmes, which provide support for projects at research and technology organisations and for other collaborative projects not covered under the above headings Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the total sum allotted in each of the next three financial years referred to by the Minister for
Column 51Industry on 12 December, Official Report, column 984, as available for collaborative ventures between the Government and the knitwear and textile industries.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : No specific sum is allocated to collaborative research ventures by the garment and the knitwear and the textile industries. Proposals put forward, either by companies in these industries or by the research and technology organisations serving them, are judged on their merits and given appropriate support under the terms of the research and technology initiative.
Mr. Redwood : Over the last three years United Kingdom trade with Albania has totalled between £2.5 million and £4 million a year. My Department gives advice to British companies interested in the market, but the assistance we can give is limited by the absence of diplomatic relations and the scarcity of market information. The London chamber of commerce organised a trade mission to Albania in 1988 and hopes to develop closer links with the Albanian chamber.
Mr. Redwood : Her Majesty's Government of course warmly endorse the political changes which have recently taken place in Romania. We hope and expect that these changes will lead to a strengthening of our relations, particularly in trade. Between 1982 and 1989 (up to and including October) our exports to Romania declined from £115 million to £30 million. Significant improvements to this figure will depend, inter alia, on the availability of hard currency, but we note and welcome Romania's intention to aim for a better-balanced trade with the United Kingdom. We share that intention and will do our best to help. We are also investigating ways of facilitating United Kingdom investment in the economies of eastern Europe, including Romania. Immediate Romanian requirements include food, fertilisers, pesticides, animal foodstuffs, seeds, agricultural equipment and some consumer goods. There is also likely to be a demand for photocopiers, typewriters, TV studio equipment and film material. My Department is in touch with potential British suppliers. In the longer term we would hope for improvement in the aviation sector where the Romanians are building civil aircraft under licence from British firms.
Mr. Redwood : Normal commercial business relations with China continue, although the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Community have suspended bilateral ministerial and high-level exchanges, trade in arms and concessional finance for new projects, following events in Peking in June last year.
In the first 11 months of 1989 the value of United Kingdom exports to China was £363 million.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what occasions he or his predecessors have used their powers under the Industry Act 1975 to restrict the size of foreign shareholdings in British companies.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors account for the decline in output of the textile, footwear, metal goods, motor vehicle and mechancial engineering industries since 1979 ; and in which other countries there has been a comparable decline.
Mr. Redwood : The period 1979-88 has witnessed rapid structural change both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Some industries have experienced a rise in output while in others output has fallen. The changes reflect the shifting pattern of demand, the changing nature of international competition, and the ability of individual countries to respond to these developments. Such structural change is an integral part of the process by which economies develop and grow. The pattern of structural change has not been very different in the United Kingdom from that in other major industrial countries. Thus, according to published OECD data, output of textiles, footwear and metal products all fell in at least several of the major seven OECD countries over the period 1979-88 and in no case did the United Kingdom suffer the greatest reduction. The OECD includes mechanical engineering in the wider category of non-electrical machinery, United Kingdom output of which rose at a rate broadly comparable with that of the other major European countries. Only in motor vehicles was United Kingdom output growth over the period 1979-88 significantly below that of all the other major OECD countries. However, the decline in United Kingdom motor vehicles output was reversed in the mid-1980s and prospects for further recovery are excellent.
Column 53(2) if he will list the non-Government bodies, committees or institutes which are permitted to make the accounting policy for the corporate sector in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Redwood : Company accounts are regulated in Great Britain by provisions in the Companies Act 1985 (to be amended by the Companies Act 1989), which reflect both European Community obligations and certain domestic considerations. Significant proposed changes to this legislative framework are usually the subject of wide consultation. In addition, accounting standards are promulgated by the members of the consultative committee of accountancy bodies, on the basis of proposals developed by its accounting standards committee. The professional accountancy bodies also issue technical guidance to their members.
Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any disciplinary action has been taken within his Department against officials involved in handling any aspect of the Barlow Clowes case.
Mr. Ridley : The question of any disciplinary action against individual civil servants is one for my Permanent Secretary. The House was informed last year that the then Permanent Secretary had considered whether the facts set out in Sir Godfray Le Quesne's report would give rise to a case for disciplinary action, and had decided that they did not. The matter was reviewed in the light of the PCA's report and my Permanent Secretary decided that there was no case for disciplinary action, a decision with which I concur.
Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any of his Department's officials or former officials have been told that they may be asked to give evidence in any legal proceedings initiated by the Department against third parties in respect of Barlow Clowes.
Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any of the officials consulted by Sir Godfray Le Quesne, QC for his report into Barlow Clowes have been promoted or have retired prematurely since the time they were responsible for the Barlow Clowes case.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the number of former members of the Shanghai municipal council still alive who have lodged claims under the Foreign Compensation (People's Republic of China) Order ; and how many of these claims result from loss suffered through detention in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.
Column 54the foreign compensation commission under the Foreign Compensation (People's Republic of China) Order 1987 in respect of either pay or pensions. The United Kingdom/China claims agreement under which the order was issued does not extend to claims arising from detention in Japanese prisoner-of-war or civilian internment camps.
(2) if he will extend the know-how fund to include Romania.
Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, and to what extent, the human rights situation in a foreign country is taken into account in evaluating licences for the export of military or police equipment to that country.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the allocation of Government aid to research and combat the causes and effects of environmental pollution in the newly emerging democracies of eastern Europe.
Mr. Waldegrave : We are fully committed to improving the environment in the whole of Europe. We believe that 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 European Communities' £210 million 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 in this area.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations are being made to the Governments of Japan, Peru and Sri Lanka to reduce their annual kill of dolphins, porpoises and other cetaceans.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Japanese Government have told us that they are concerned to conserve the Dall's porpoise, the main species caught in Japan. They estimate that new regulations introduced at the beginning of 1989 will have reduced the annual catch by more than 20 per cent. and from this year the regulations will be further strengthened and consideration given to a further reduction in the numbers caught. We have asked the Governments of Peru and Sri Lanka for further information and I shall write to the hon. Member shortly.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what research is being done or has been commissioned by his Department in respect of initiatives to be taken at the fourth review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Mr. Waldegrave : As a depositary power of the nuclear non- proliferation treaty, the United Kingdom is naturally keen to work for the success of the review conference. To this end, a considerable amount of research has been undertaken by the Department into matters covered by the treaty, and there have been a number of discussions with the other depositary powers, and with other parties to the treaty.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 8 January, Official Report, column 511, what factors account for the discrepancy between the official North Atlantic Treaty Organisation figure for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat-capable aircraft of 6,700 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation total of 6,600 provided in his answer.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 8 January, Official Report, column 511, whether he will list those versions and variants of types of combat aircraft listed in footnote 1, page 27 of "Conventional Forces in Europe : The Facts" that are in addition to those aircraft included in footnotes 1, 4 and 5.
All the types of aircraft included in the publication "Conventional Arms Control : The Facts" are covered in the footnotes on page 27.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will list the types of aircraft that have been added to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation total of combat- capable trainers in addition to those included in footnote 5, page 27 of "Conventional Forces in Europe : The Facts".
All the types of aircraft included in the publication "Conventional Arms Control : The Facts" are covered in the footnotes on page 27.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the current North Atlantic Treaty Organisation arms control proposals for reductions in the number of combat aircraft include any sub-ceilings according to (a) member country and (b) type of combat aircraft.
Column 56is a version or variant of one of the aircraft types listed in footnote 1, page 27 of "Conventional Forces in Europe : The Facts".