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Mr. Major : I have today laid before Parliament a paper entitled "Friendly Societies : A New Framework". This Green Paper sets out the Government's proposals for a new legislative framework for friendly societies. The main proposals are to give societies wider powers to offer a more comprehensive and competitive range of services through subsidiary companies. The main new powers would be to allow establishment and management of unit trust schemes and personal equity plans ; to act as agents of other insurers (life or general business) ; to give advice on insurance ; to provide loans ; and to reinsure other friendly societies' business.
This range of powers was requested by the Friendly Societies Liaison Committee in its submission to the Economic Secretary in 1988 and I have decided to accept its case in full.
The proposals include legislation to provide societies with a cheap and simple route to incorporation as a special category of body under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts. This will enable societies to achieve the legal status which is necessary to own subsidiaries and hence to offer services other than long-term insurance business, without losing their special identity as friendly societies.
The paper also proposes that the regulatory system for friendly societies should be updated to give improved investor protection. In particular, I propose that a solvency requirement should be extended to all friendly societies, that the chief registrar should be given enhanced powers to deal with moribund societies, and that the requirements for societies' systems of accounts and control should be updated to bring them into line with other financial institutions. I also propose that all societies should be required to join a statutory investor protection scheme and that a new ombudsman scheme should be established to deal with members' complaints.
I believe that the Green Paper will establish a satisfactory constitutional and legislative framework for societies, which will allow for their continued development over the coming years. I hope that there will be support for these proposals from both sides of the House.
(2) what percentage of gross domestic product exports amounted to in each of the OECD countries, in the latest year for which figures are available.
------------------------------------------- United Kingdom |2,539|17.8 United States of America |1,301|6.7 Canada |4,314|23.2 Japan |2,161|9.3 Germany |5,268|26.9 France |2,895|17.1 Italy |2,248|15.6 Netherlands |6,981|45.2 Belgium/Luxembourg |8,963|59.3 Australia |1,976|13.3 New Zealand |2,652|21.0 Austria |4,086|24.5 Denmark |5,279|25.2 Finland |4,394|20.7 Greece<1> |649 |14.6 Iceland |5,781|23.8 Ireland |5,295|60.6 Norway |5,343|24.9 Portugal |1,033|25.5 Spain |1,032|11.8 Sweden |5,891|27.9 Switzerland |7,601|27.4 Turkey |215 |16.2 <1> The data for Greece refers to 1987. Source: OECD Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade. OECD Main Economic Indicators.
Mr. Radice : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report an analysis, comparable with Table 2.4 of Financial Statistics, of the public expenditure classification changes contained in table 1A.1 of the Autumn Statement 1989, Cm 879.
1. Statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay are now included in the planning total ;
2. Recipts of fines and fixed penalties are now treated as revenue and outside the planning total ;
3. Expenditure on police, education and fire services in Northern Ireland is now treated as central Government's own expenditure. Previously this was treated as local authority expenditure ; 4. Expenditure by the Training Agency on the technical and vocational educational initiative (TVEI) and work-related further education (WRFE) formerly treated as central Government's own expenditure, is now included in support for local authorities ; 5. Expenditure of National Rivers Authority on land drainage financed by levies on local authorities is now included in central Government's own expenditure. Equivalent expenditure was previously included in local authority expenditure as payments to water authorities ;
6. Receipts from visa fees are now treated as revenue and outside the planning total ;
7. Receipts of OFTEL and OFGAS are now treated as revenue and outside the planning total.
Their contributions to the aggregate classification change shown in table 1A.1 are as follows.
£ million |1990-91|1991-92 --------------------------------------------------------------- Central Government's own expenditure Statutory Sick Pay/Statutory Maternity Pay |1,259 |1,311 Fines and Fixed Penalties |275 |291 Northern Ireland switch from local authority |791 |831 TVEI and WRFE |-243 |-248 NRA land drainage |155 |160 Visas |32 |33 OFTEL and OFGAS |7 |7 Others |3 |2 |----- |----- Total |2,279 |2,387 Public Corporations Local authority airport and bus companies |-86 |-70 |----- |----- Total |-86 |-70
A similar analysis covering the period from 1984-85 to 1991-92 will be included in the 1990 public expenditure White Paper.
Mr. Radice : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report tables showing, for the latest years now available, identifiable public expenditure by function in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom expressed (a) in cash terms, (b) as an index, United Kingdom total identifiable public expenditure=100, (c) as an amount per capita and (d) as an amount per capita expressed as an index, United Kingdom amount per capita=100.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what payments from the European Economic Communities due in the calendar year 1989 have yet to be made ; when such payments are expected ; and if he will state the reasons for any delay.
Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 15 January 1990] : Figures of manufacturing investment up to the third quarter of 1989 are shown at table 1 of the press release CSO(89)147 (Manufacturers' Investment Intentions for 1990 and 1991) issued on 20 December 1989. That release also contains projections of future investment by manufacturers. For non- manufacturing industries, comparable figures to the third quarter 1989 are given in table 3 of the Central Statistical Office Business Bulletin Issue 16/89. Projections of future investment for these industries are not available. Copies of both documents are available in the Library.
Column 212trading, (d) brokerage, (e) investment trusts, (f) pension funds, (g) unit trusts, (h) leasing, (i) securities dealer and (j) in total in (i) 1970, (ii) 1979, (iii) 1987, (iv) 1988 and (v) 1989.
Mr. Ryder [holding answer 15 January 1990] : Information up to and including 1988 is given in the published annual Pink Books on the United Kingdom balance of payments and from the CSO Databank, both of which are available in the Library. Information for 1989 will be published later this year.
Sir Trevor Skeet : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the current rates of value-added tax on (a) electricity and (b) gas in each European Community country ; and whether it is intended to maintain a zero rate in the United Kingdom for fuels after 1992.
Per cent. Country |Gas |Electricity --------------------------------------------------- Belgium |17 |17 Denmark |22 |22 France |5.5 |5.5 Germany |14 |14 Greece |<2>- |<2>- Ireland |10 |5 Italy |9 |9 Luxembourg |6 |6 Netherlands |18.5 |18.5 Portugal |8 (6) |<1>8 (6) Spain |12 |12 United Kingdom |0 |0 <1> Lower rates apply in autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira Archipelagoes. <2> Information not available.
To comply with the European Court of Justice ruling of 21 June 1988, VAT at the standard rate will apply in the United Kingdom to fuel and power supplied to businesses from 1 July 1990.
In the context of the Commission's indirect tax proposals for the single market, the Government have repeatedly made it clear that they intend to maintain the zero rate of VAT for domestic fuel and power. As changes to EC law require unanimous agreement, the United Kingdom's position is safeguarded.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the names of individuals that have been nominated to sit on his consumer panel, giving the name of the nominating organisation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : I have not yet written to all the nominees. When I have done so, it is my intention to announce publicly the names of the members of the consumer panel and details of its meetings. I will send the hon. Member the information he has requested at that time.
Mr. Curry : I shall shortly be issuing a consultation document outlining a possible scheme under which grant aid would be available to those farmers wishing to convert from conventional to organic production.
(2) what steps he proposes to take to lessen dependence on imports to satisfy consumer demand for organic produce.
Mr. Curry : It is for those who produce, process or market organic produce to respond to the growing demand for organic foods and to lessen our dependence on imported supplies. However, my Department has already taken a number of steps to encourage this process while additional proposals are current under consideration.
Of particular significance has been the setting up of the United Kingdom register of organic food standards (UKROFS) which in May 1989 launched production and processing standards for organic produce and an independent certification and inspection system. We understand that the UKROFS board has now reached an advanced stage in its discussions on registration with the organic sector bodies through which it is expected the large majority of registrations will be effected. Once the board has satisfied itself on the inspection and certification arrangements to be operated by these bodies, consumers will be able with confidence to purchase British organic produce backed by the UKROFS standards and monitoring provisions. Other steps being taken, or under consideration, by the Government include the funding of a comprehensive economic survey of organic farming ; the provision of R and D and of specialised ADAS advice ; the help for conversion available through the fallow option of the set-aside scheme ; and the benefits available through the farm and conservation grant scheme and from assistance towards establishing co-operatives. In addition, we are proposing shortly to issue a consultation document on an organic conversion option under the EC extensification scheme.
Mr. Maclean : It is already an offence under the Food Act 1984 to apply a false or misleading description to food. In proposed EC regulation, currently under consideration, there are specific provisions to prevent the sale of produce labelled as organic but which does not conform to specified standards.
Sir Jim Spicer : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will accept further applications from those who have already made a first application under the farm woodland scheme to cover a further three-year period.
Mr. Curry : Initially, the rules of the farm woodland scheme allowed only one application to be accepted for any one agricultural unit or applicant. Last August, in the light of experience, we changed the rules so that farmers with more than one agricultural unit could make a separate application for each of them.
The rule limiting farmers to one application per agricultural unit remains in force to minimise administrative work and to encourage farmers to formulate a firm three-year planting plan at the outset. However, I am keeping it under review, along with the other rules, in the light of operational experience and the level of uptake under the scheme.
At the end of the initial three-year experimental period in September 1991 all aspects of the scheme will, of course, be reviewed to help establish what arrangements should apply thereafter.
Sir Jim Spicer : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the hectarage applied for during the first three years of the farm woodland scheme ; and how much under the target figure this is.
Mr. Curry : In the first 14 months of the farm woodland scheme applications to plant 8,938 hectares of trees throughout the United Kingdom were received. This compares with the target for applications in the first experimental three-year period of 36,000 hectares.
Mr. Curry : Ministry scientists regularly measure the concentrations of PCBs in both edible and non-edible parts of fish in English and Welsh waters as part of an extensive programme on the quality of fish and shellfish. The results are published in the directorate of fisheries research's aquatic environment monitoring report series. The most recent report is AEMR 16, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.
Column 215changes in food brought about by microwave heating would not also be brought about by other methods producing equivalent amounts of heat.
I understand that the account of the research carried out at the University of Vienna and reported in The Lancet of 9 December was very incomplete. It failed to mention that a very small milk sample was microwaved at full power in a sealed tube to an unknown temperature (probably well in excess of 100 deg. C) until it was brown. This heat treatment was far more severe than that received by other samples with which it was compared and bears no relation whatever to the way consumers would heat milk in the kitchen.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the nature and scope of his new research programme into the vertical tranmissibility of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the research work into bovine spongiform encephalopathy as announced by him on 9 January, will be published in full as recommended by the Tyrrell report.
Mr. Maclean : Meat products offered for sale have to comply with the provisions of the Food Act 1984, the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 and the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984. Meat products made using the techniques mentioned would have to be carefully labelled so as to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of their true nature and means of production.
Mr. Maclean : The continued use of vegetable enzymes to tenderise meat will be subject to single market rules yet to be determined. However during the course of the Adjournment debate on 7 November 1989, I announced the Government's decision not to seek provision for the continued use of the pre-slaughter injection of cattle with the enzyme papain when Community proposals are discussed.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will require meat subjected to treatment with the vegetable enzyme papain to be labelled in such a manner that the use of this enzyme is clear to prospective consumers.
Mr. Maclean : The Food Labelling Regulations 1984 already require that the name used for any meat which has been treated with proteolytic enzymes or which is derived from an animal that has been so treated shall include or be accompanied by the word "tenderised".
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what surveys have been conducted by his Department to establish the incidence of (a) dab, (b) flounder, (c) cod, (d) herring and (e) plaice caught in water around Britain which show evidence of disease.
Mr. Curry : Since 1980 my Department, together with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, has conducted both annual and ad hoc surveys to establish the prevalence rates of diseases in commercial fish species, including dab, flounder, plaice, cod and herring in water around Britain.
My Department has played a key role in establishing standardised sampling and disease recording methods with other European countries and collaborates with these countries in fish disease survey programmes.
Mr. Maclean : Yes. Representatives of Nutrasweet, a Monsanto subsidiary, have discussed the product with officials of my Ministry and the Department of Health. It is a product made from common food ingredients using existing food production methods and has been considered by the advisory committee on novel foods and processes. The likely impact on the diet of this and similar products is under consideration.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from consumers about the effect on fish in the North sea of industrial pollution and waste disposal ; and what response he has made.
Mr. Curry : I receive a number of inquiries from members of the public about the safety of North sea fish for human consumption. The waste disposal operations directly licensed by my Department are very carefully assessed to avoid adverse effects on marine life either in the short or long term. My Department carefully monitors the quality of the marine environment both round disposal sites and more generally and this includes an extensive programme of monitoring fish.
As a consequence, I am able to assure correspondents that the health of the North sea is good, that fish offered for sale from British waters are not adversely affected by pollution, that they fully comply with relevant public health standards and that they are quite safe to eat.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is known by his Department about the extent of polychlorinated biphenyl contamination of fish liver oils ; and what tests are, or have been, carried out on fish liver oil products.
Mr. Maclean : Results of surveillance of fish liver oil products for the presence of polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) have been published in food surveillance papers Nos. 13 and 16, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for South Shields, 14 December, Official Report, column 800, whether the replies received from (a) Sweden, (b) Denmark, (c) the Netherlands, (d) Germany and (e) Norway, were in support of his proposals to issue a licence to dump the relevant wastes in the North sea.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 11 January 1990] : Sweden, Denmark and Norway objected to each of the three proposals, the Netherlands objected to two and the Federal Republic of Germany raised no specific objections.
The other seven countries of the Oslo convention did not comment, an indication that they were content with our submissions. A full response has been sent to each country which raised objections, clarifying misunderstandings which appear to underlie the comments.
In response to concerns that heavy metals could cause harm we have confirmed that there are no detectable heavy metals in the wastes. We have explained that the biochemical oxygen demand would be far too insignificant to have any effect in the sea and that standard works of reference show that the trace level of biodegradable phenol in one waste will not taint fish.
As regards monitoring, we have reminded the countries concerned that these specific wastes are rapidly neutralised in the sea and that their presence in the water is undetectable very shortly after release. We have described our fish and shellfish monitoring programme which shows that fish are not affected by the disposals.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to his answer of 11 December to the hon. Member for South Shields, Official Report, columns 512-16, if he will list the active ingredients which have had their reviews concluded by the ACP according to the categories (a) approval withdrawn, (b) use restricted and (c) use continues unchanged following their review ; and if he will make a statement.
(a) Approvals Withdrawn
Captafol (Phased withdrawal)
Chlordane (Phased withdrawal)
Mercury compounds (some approvals)
(b) Use Restricted or other amendments to approvals
Sulphonyl Ureas (ii)
(c) Use continues unchanged
Biological agents used as pesticides
Mercury compounds (some approvals)
It should be noted that (i) Alachlor, which appeared under "Reviews concluded by the ACP" in my answer of 11 December to the hon. Member should in fact have been listed under "Reviews currently in progress" ; (ii) Sulphonyl Ureas should have been listed under "Reviews completed by the ACP" and (iii) the partial review of Daminozide was completed in December 1989 and has therefore been included in the list.