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Mr. Redwood : My right hon. Friend and I have received a considerable number of representations on a variety of subjects relating to the regulation of financial services.


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Building Societies

43. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has any plans to limit mergers and tied insurance arrangements involving building societies.

Mr. Redwood : Mergers and proposed mergers involving building societies come within the scope of the normal competition legislation. Under the Fair Trading Act 1973, the Director General of Fair Trading has a duty to keep himself informed of merger activity and to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on whether or not particular mergers should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation. I have powers under the Fair Trading Act to prevent a merger only if I have referred it to the commission and the commission has concluded that the merger would operate against the public interest.

In addition, the Director General of Fair Trading has powers under the Fair Trading Act and the Competition Act 1980 to initiate investigations into complaints about abuses of monopolies and anti-competitive practices. If the hon. Member has any evidence to suggest that tied insurance arrangements involving building societies are an abuse of a monopoly or an anti-competitive practice he should bring it to the attention of the director general.

Post Offices

45. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next proposes to meet the chairman of the Post Office to discuss the Post Office network in rural areas.

Mr. Forth : I meet the chairman of the Post Office regularly to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and concern.

Industries (Rural Areas)

47. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to assist industries in rural areas.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Government's policies are designed to assist industry in all parts of the country. Specific measures of support to industry in rural areas are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Textiles

50. Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the balance of trade in textiles in the last available quarter.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Imports of textiles (SITC division 65) exceeded exports by £372 million in the third quarter of 1989.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance he is proposing to give to support the British textile industry.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Firms in the United Kingdom textile and clothing industry are eligible for assistance


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under approved general aid schemes and, if located in assisted areas, regional aid schemes. A wide range of practical help is also available from my Department under the enterprise initiative. The European Commission has operated a ban on sectoral aid schemes for the industry since 1985.

65. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the wool textiles industry in West Yorkshire.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The industry makes a significant contribution to the prosperity of the region. Since the early 1980s the United Kingdom wool textile industry as a whole has made a good recovery, recording significant gains in productivity and achieving an excellent exports performance. United Kingdom exports reached a record £613 million in 1988, with a new record likely in 1989 ; the industry also enjoys a favourable balance of trade.

West Germany

53. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the level of United Kingdom trade with West Germany.

76. Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the level of United Kingdom trade with West Germany.

Mr. Redwood : Imports from West Germany into the United Kingdom between January to September 1989, when compared with the same period in 1988, rose from £12.9 billion to £14.8 billion, an increase of 14.7 per cent. Total United Kingdom exports to the Federal Republic increased in the same period from £7 billion to £7.9 billion, an increase of 12.9 per cent. United Kingdom non-oil exports rose from £6.3 billion to £7.2 billion, an increase of 14.3 per cent.

93. Mr. Jack Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current balance of trade in manufactured goods with West Germany.

8. Mr. Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what Britain's manufacturing trade balance with West Germany was at the end of 1989 or at the latest date available.

Mr. Redwood : In the first 11 months of 1989 imports of manufactures from the Federal Republic of Germany exceeded United Kingdom exports to that country by £9.0 billion.

Certification and Standards (EC)

54. Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure consumer representation on committees dealing with standards and certification in Europe.

74. Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure consumer representation on committees dealing with standards and certification in Europe.

81. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure consumer representation on committees dealing with standards and certification in Europe.


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Mr. Forth : Such committees are made up of representatives of the national standards bodies of Europe, not interest groupings. In the case of the United Kingdom, it is therefore for the British Standards Institution (BSI) to determine the composition of the delegation, which acts in accordance with a brief previously agreed by the relevant BSI committee.

My Department provides a measure of financial support to help consumer representatives take part in BSI committee work and in European standards work, should they be selected to form part of the delegation.

Recycling

56. Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what further steps he is taking to promote the recycling of plastics, metals and paper.

92. Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what further steps he is taking to promote the recycling of plastics, metals and paper.

107. Mr. James Lamond : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what further steps he is taking to promote the recycling of plastics, metals and paper.

Mr. Forth : Ministers and officials continue to encourage the economic recycling of a wide range of materials, including plastics, metals and paper, through participation in conferences, seminars and exhibitions, and by the preparation and publication of information brochures and education packs. The recycling advisory group, set up late last year, is currently deliberating upon the best means of securing significant increases in the amounts of domestic and industrial waste being recycled in the United Kingdom, and the Environmental Protection Bill now before the House also contains measures to encourage recycling.

Retailing

57. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will institute a departmental study into problems in the United Kingdom retailing sector.

Mr. Forth : No.

Retail Goods (Safety)

58. Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to monitor the safety of retail goods.

99. Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to monitor the safety of retail goods.

123. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to monitor the safety of retail goods.

Mr. Forth : My Department works closely with the trading standards departments of local authorities, which have the statutory duty to enforce consumer safety legislation, notably in the development of modern, computer -based information systems that enable the details of hazardous products to be made available urgently throughout the country. My Department also monitors the accident statistics obtained through the home accident surveillance system (HASS).


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Barlow Clowes

60. Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from, or on behalf of, Barlow Clowes investors since his statement on 19 December.

Mr. Ridley : I have received a number of representations from, or on behalf of, Barlow Clowes investors since my statement on 19 December. The majority of investors have expressed their complete satisfaction with the decision that I announced.

Citizens Advice Bureaux

63. Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of the citizens advice bureaux to discuss their future funding requirements.

103. Mr. Jim Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of the citizens advice bureaux to discuss their future funding requirements.

115. Mr. Maxton : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of the citizens advice bureaux to discuss their future funding requirements.

124. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of the citizens advice bureaux to discuss their future funding requirements.

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.

Regional Policies

67. Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to ensure that the south-west is benefiting from regional policies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My Department has opened satellite offices in Dorset and Wiltshire, in addition to the offices in Avon, Cornwall and Devon, to ensure a greater and more local delivery of DTI services to the business community. In addition, the Department, in conjunction with others, has sought to maximise aid from the European Community to eligible areas in the south-west and continued to provide regional grants to businesses operating in or setting up in the assisted areas. Within Devon and Cornwall we have, with financial support, helped establish a South West Export Federation and in Avon, Devon and Dorset are providing funding for export development advisers. Both those initiatives are designed to increase the volume of exporting by south-west companies. My Department is the largest contributor to the Devon and Cornwall development bureau, supports the activities of English Estates in the south-west and,


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through my regional office, promotes and supports numerous other initiatives aimed at improving the economic performance of businesses in the south-west.

105. Mr. Livsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on regional policy.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I receive regular representations on regional policy issues.

Merchant Shipbuilding

69. Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of British merchant shipbuilding capacity.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) on 9 January, Official Report, column 598 .

100. Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many orders for merchant vessels were placed with United Kingdom shipyards in 1989.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Complete information for 1989 is not yet available. According to departmental records, 27 new orders for merchant vessels were placed with United Kingdom shipyards in the first 10 months of 1989.

Ireland

70. Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the present trends in value of imports from, and exports to, the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Redwood : Present trends indicate rising imports from Ireland and likewise rising exports to the Republic of Ireland from the United Kingdom.

In 1988 the value of United Kingdom exports to the Republic of Ireland was £4,057 million. In the first 11 months of 1989, the figure was £4,316 million.

The value of Irish exports to the United Kingdom in 1988 was £3,879 million. The figure for the first 11 months of 1989 was £3,941 million.

Over the past four years exports to Ireland have risen at a slower rate than imports, therefore the balance has contracted. Figures available for 1989, however, suggest a reversal in this trend. Britain maintains a significant share of the Irish market--over 42 per cent. in 1988--double that of our main competitor and Ireland's second largest supplier, the United States of America. Ireland meanwhile has a 3.6 per cent. share of the United Kingdom market.


Trade with the Republic of Ireland                                         

£                                                                          

               |Imports from  |Exports from  |Balance                      

               |Ireland to the|the United                                  

               | United       |Kingdom to                                  

               | Kingdom      |Ireland                                     

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

1985           |2,817         |3,631         |814                          

1986           |3,054         |3,558         |504                          

1987           |3,488         |3,832         |344                          

1988           |3,879         |4,057         |178                          

<1>1988        |3,560         |3,697         |137                          

<1>1989        |3,941         |4,316         |375                          

<1> January to November.                                                   


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Channel Tunnel

79. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to ensure that businesses in the regions of England and in Scotland and Wales benefit from the increased trade expected to result from the completion of the Channel tunnel.

Mr. Redwood : The DTI regularly receives representations from business about the importance of adequate road and rail links to the Channel tunnel if the United Kingdom is to derive full benefit from the tunnel and the single market. These are matters on which I and my colleagues make our views known to our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Science and Technology Parks

83. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to assist the development of science and technology parks.

96. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to assist the development of science and technology parks.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Science parks grew very rapidly in the 1980s. Regional development agencies and local authorities helped finance this growth, but increasingly private sector funding is being channelled into the continuing expansion and development of science parks, and I see no need for a central Government initiative.

Mining Engineering Exports

84. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met representatives of Britain's mining engineering companies to discuss assistance with their export performance.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Since taking office I have not met representatives of Britain's mining equipment manufacturing companies.

Supersonic Airliners

85. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about research and development into the next generation of supersonic airliners.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I believe that it is widely accepted that a next generation supersonic transport (SST) would involve a major international collaborative effort because of the very substantial investment which would be needed. It is for industry to decide whether a new SST could be a sound commercial, environmental and technological project--and to initiate the necessary research in collaboration with international partners.

My Department has limited funds available to promote collaborative civil aeronautical research projects, and consideration could be given to their use to help United Kingdom industry take advantage of opportunities in this area. Research into the environmental implications would be of particular importance.


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HOTOL

87. Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a further statement on the future of HOTOL.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The future of HOTOL is a matter for the United Kingdom companies concerned. The Government remain ready to assist the companies to find suitable international collaborators.

Stock Exchange

98. Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet the chairman of the stock exchange ; and what will be discussed.

109. Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet the chairman of the stock exchange ; and what will be discussed.

Mr. Redwood : My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of the international stock exchange whenever appropriate to discuss financial services topics of mutual interest.

Washing Machines

102. Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the percentage of the home market of washing machines supplied by imports.

117. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the percentage of the home market of washing machines supplied by imports.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : A total of 37 per cent. by value, in the first half of 1989.

Korea

104. Mr. Archer : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce an embargo on imports from Korea.

Mr. Redwood : No.

Trade Barriers

113. Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to ensure that the EEC does not erect protectionist trade barriers.

Mr. Redwood : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave him on 6 December 1989, at column 290 .

Bankruptcies

119. Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the latest figures for bankruptcies among small businesses ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redwood : Information on the size of businesses going into bankruptcy is not available.

Industrial Investment

120. Mr. Yeo : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received regarding industrial investment.


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Mr. Redwood : I have received a number of recent representations on industrial performance and the Government's policies towards industry. Investment is one of the main subjects covered in most of these representations.

City Task Forces

126. Mr. Robert Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many inner-city task force projects were approved in 1989.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : A total of 611 projects designed to assist in the economic regeneration of the communities in inner-city task force areas were approved in 1989.

Research Council

127. Mr. Lord : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the outcome of the European Community Research Council held on 15 December 1989.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I represented Her Majesty's Government at the meeting of the Community's Council of Ministers (Research) in Brussels on 15 December.

The council reached a unanimous agreement on a new framework programme for 1990-94. The total level of funding agreed was 5.7 becu (£4.2 billion), comprising 2.5 becu (£1.8 billion) for 1990-92 and 3.2 becu (£2.3 billion) for 1993-94. The programme will cover CommunityR and D activities in the following six main areas : 1. Information and communications technologies

2. Industrial and materials technologies

3. Environment

4. Life sciences and technologies

5. Energy

6. Human capital and mobility

Specific proposals will now be put forward by the Commission under the 15 separate programme lines that were established by the Council.

Her Majesty's Government regard this as a very satisfactory outcome of the negotiation on the new framework programme, both as regards the overall level of resources and the technical contents, for which there are clear priorities and objectives. We have also ensured that the decision will not prejudice the review of the current inter-institutional agreement on budgetary discipline.

The Council agreed that it would be logical to conduct future R and D at the Community level on the basis of interlocking rolling programmes. These would have the advantage of allowing additional flexibility in the management of specific programmes in the light of full and effective evaluation carried out as part of a mid-term review.

In addition, the Council adopted a research and technical development programme, under the current 1987-91 framework programme, in the field of management and storage of radioactive waste covering the period 1990-94. This programme has a budget of 79.6 mecu (£58 million) : the objective being to develop systems for radioactive waste management which ensure the safety of the public and the protection of the environment.

Also under the 1987-91 framework programme, the Council agreed a common position on the human genome analysis programme.


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