Previous Section Home Page

Column 786

National Curriculum. I enclose a copy of the speech. I recognise that the education service has had a number of anxieties about Key Stage 4 which need to be addressed now. What I have to say benefits from useful advice which I have received from you and your colleagues and from the School Examination and Assessment Council.

Much of the planning for Key Stage 4 needs to be carried out by individual schools, using the various flexibilities that I am describing in my speech. But there is also preparatory work to be done at the centre, and I hereby invite NCC to undertake some of that work. I am writing similarly to Philip Halsey about the work that I want SEAC to undertake, and I expect your two Councils to keep in touch with each other and with my officials in carrying out the work.

The tasks that I wish NCC to undertake are threefold. First, I believe that it would be of value to schools to have illustrations of curriculum planning for Key Stage 4. Schools must make their own planning decisions, but it would help them to see various possibilities illustrated in a booklet. It would be especially valuable to give examples of planning based on the thinking of actual schools. I ask NCC to work on a draft booklet with the aim that it should be published in the Summer of this year.

The second task concerns the curriculum for pupils who will not take a full GCSE course in non-core foundation subjects of the National Curriculum. I suggested in my response to the interim report of the Geography Working Groupt that the Group might consider how schools might be enabled to select a range of content, still within the statutory requirements, from the full curriculum for Key Stage 4, so as to preserve the depth, vigour and challenge of geographical studies up to age 16. I now confirm my view that schools should be able to select from a range of options for pupils who do not take a full GCSE course in single National Curriculum subjects, and that there should be scope for schools to combine these options, or parts of them, with each other or with subjects outside the National Curriculum to form a GCSE course.

The draft attainment targets and programmes of study for technology are, I believe, flexible enough to accommodate a range of courses at Key Stage 4 and to be combined with other subjects inside and outside the National Curriculum for GCSE purposes. I ask NCC to give attention to these possibilities in writing non-statutory guidance for technology. For all future foundation subjects, I shall ask NCC to give particular attention during the statutory consultation process to the arrangements for those not taking a full GCSE course in the subject at Key Stage 4.

You will see from my letter to Philip Halsey that I expect Examining Groups to develop proposals for combined GCSEs and submit them to SEAC ; and that SEAC will need to work out procedures to ensure that such GCSEs are rigorous and conform to the requirements of the National Curriculum where appropriate. I should be glad to know, however, if you feel NCC can make any further contribution in this area in addition to relevant material in non-statutory guidance on particular subjects.

I am considering the arrangements that might be made to allow a small number of pupils, exceptionally, to drop certain subjects before the end of Key Stage 4. I do not intend, however, that any pupils shall be able to drop English, maths, science, technology, and a modern foreign language.

Arrangements will be needed for pupils who obtain a good GCSE in one or more of these subjects before the end of Year 11, or who have already reached level 10, and remain in Key Stage 4. You have given me some preliminary thoughts on this in relation to the core subjects, but you then noted that more work needed to be done. I now ask NCC, in consultation with SEAC, to advise me on the curricular options and associated examination arrangemens that should be available for such pupils. I would like this advice by September of this year. For modern foreign languages I expect advice in the first place from the Working Group which is now considering attainment targets and programmes of study for modern languages in the National Curriculum. I am copying this letter to Philip Halsey at SEAC and Hywel Evans at the Curriculum Council for Wales.

Yours sincerely,

John MacGregor


Column 787

Philip Halsey Esq. CB LVO

Chairman and Chief Executive

School Examinations and Assessment Council

45 Notting Hill Gate

London W11 3JB 25 January 1990

Dear Philip,

In my speech today to the Society of Education Officers I am making a statement of general policy on Key Stage 4 in the National Curriculum. I enclose a copy of the speech. I recognise that the education service has had a number of anxieties about Key Stage 4 which need to be addressed now. What I have to say benefits from useful advice which I have received from you and your colleagues and from NCC.

Much of the planning for Key Stage 4 needs to be carried out by individual schools, using the various flexibilities that I am describing in my speech. But there is also preparatory work to be done at the centre, and I hereby invite SEAC to undertake some of that work. I am writing similarly to Duncan Graham about the work that I want NCC to undertake, and I expect your two Councils to keep in close touch with each other and with my officials in carrying out the work.

I am reaffirming today that there should be a single framework of assessment with 10 levels of achievement on the National Curriculum scale for all pupils ; and that at the end of Key stage 4 the GCSE will be the main form of assessment. SEAC already have work in train to develop revised GCSE National Criteria embodying the statutory attainment targets and programmes of study for the core subjects ; and new GCSEs will similarly need to be developed against revised National Criteria for each of the other foundation subjects. I would hope that the revised assessment instruments thus developed could also be used to assess attainment against the National Curriculum levels within a narrower range of knowledge, skills and understanding than required to obtain a full GCSE.

But I am also concerned that there should be flexibility in the development of GCSEs that combine parts of two, or conceivably more, foundation subjects, or that combine a foundation subject with a subject outside the National Curriculum. It will be for Examining Groups, with LEAs and schools, to develop proposals for such GCSEs and submit them to SEAC. But I would like to be assured that there will be machinery in place to scrutinise such proposals carefully, and to consider their curricular implications. Such GCSEs will need to be rigorous and to confirm where appropriate to the requirements of the National Curriculum. I ask SEAC to work out procedures for their consideration, in consultation with NCC, and to report to me by the end of this year.

I am also declaring today that I expect the vocational examining bodies to be able to submit for approval qualifications covering parts of the National Curriculum. I ask SEAC to work out principles for the guidance of the vocational examining bodies, consulting NCC, and to report to me on this also by the end of the year.

I am copying this letter to Duncan Graham.


Column 788

Yours sincerely,

John MacGregor

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will be writing to the School Examinations and Assessment Council and the Curriculum Council for Wales shortly about the involvement of the CCW in this work.

Civil Plutonium

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, Official Report, 11 January, column 693, if the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament document (CND-5), was amongst the deemed relevant information to which he refers.

Mr. Baldry : I have been asked to reply.

My Department is well aware of the views expressed in CND-5. The creation of a civil plutonium safeguards agency would merely duplicate the existing arrangements which are working satisfactorily.

Incentive Allowances

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Woolwich of 20 December, Official Report, column 253, in March 1988 and March 1989 how many teachers were employed by each local authority in England ; how many teachers were in receipt of an incentive allowance for each local authority in England ; what percentage this was of the total employed by each local authority ; and how many teachers in receipt of an incentive allowance in each local authority in England held allowances that were (a) incentive A, (b) incentive B, (c) incentive C, (d) incentive D and (e) incentive E.

Mrs. Rumbold [holding answer 16 January 1990] : The table shows for each LEA in England for which figures are available the numbers and percentages of full-time main scale teachers in maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools (MNPS) who held an incentive allowance in March 1988. There are 17 authorities from whom the March 1988 return has not yet been received or whose return has not been fully processed. The England total includes an overall estimated component for the missing authorities. Similar figures are not yet available for March 1989.


Column 787


Full-time mainscale teachers in MNPS in 1988 by LEA and Incentive allowance     

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

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

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

                                                                                

Surplus School Places

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will update the table on surplus school places given in the answer to the hon. Member for Blackburn, Official Report, 16 February 1989, column 319, with the latest available information for 1988-89, and any estimate for 1989-90.

Mr. MacGregor [holding answer 23 January 1990] : I presume that the hon. Member should have referred to column 315, rather than column 319. The information for 1988-89 is given in the table. Figures from local education authorities of the number of surplus places which they removed in 1989-90 are not yet available.



Year          |The number   |The Public   |Per cent.                  

              |of surplus   |Expenditure                              

              |school places|White Paper                              

              |removed      |target                                   

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

              |000s         |000s                                     

              |(a)          |(b)          |a/b                        

1988-89       |118          |137          |86                         

The figure in column (a) is a grossed up total based on returns from  

86 local education authorities.                                       

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

EC Directives

Mr. William Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement (a) regulation 4056/86 relating to competition rules to maritime transport and (b) regulation 3975/87 relating to competition rules to air transport ; (2) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 88/593 relating to jams ;

(3) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 85/573 relating to coffee and chicory extracts ;

(4) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement (a) directive 88/380 relating to the certification of seeds and (b) directive 88/572 which amends directive 77/93 relating to plant health ;

(5) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 89/105 relating to price transparency in the prices of medicines and social security refunds ;

(6) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement (a) directive 85/323 and (b) directive 85/324 on microbiological controls ;


Column 792

(7) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 86/197 relating to the obligation to indicate ingredients and alcoholic strengths ; (8) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 86/102 relating to emulsifiers (modification) ;

(9) what representations he has made to the European Commission over the failure of France to implement directive 88/320 relating to good laboratory practices and the non-clinical testing of chemicals.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 18 January 1990] : My Department has made no specific representations about failure by the French authorities to implement the directives mentioned. However, if my hon. Friend is aware of any specific difficulties caused for United Kingdom business we would of course be willing to take this up with the Commission or bilaterally with the French authorities. Responsibility for ensuring member states' compliance with EC directives rests with the Commission which can take a member state to the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with EC legislation.

The United Kingdom has, however, led the way in bringing the issue of implementation to the fore at political level in Brussels, and through our bilateral contacts with other member states. This has in itself put pressure on Governments with a record less good than ours.

Of the measures mentioned I should point out that two directives 85/323 and 85/324 cannot be implemented until further decisions are taken in Brussels. The United Kingdom has not implemented these directives. A further two directives 89/105 and 89/593 were not required to be implemented in member states at the time the Commission produced its latest report on implementation of single market measures.

Postage Stamps

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many complimentary presentation packs of new definitive stamps were sent to hon. Members of Parliament in (a) 1989, (b) 1988 and (c) 1987 ; and what was the cost to the Post Office ; (2) what is the cost to the Post Office of sending each hon. Member of Parliament a complimentary presentation pack of new definitive stamps to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the introduction of the penny post.

Mr. Forth : This is an operational matter for the Post Office and I am asking the chairman to write to my hon. Friend about it.

Microwave Television Channels

Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry following his Department's announcement of23 August on choice of frequency for microwave television


Column 793

channels what progress has been made in exploring the feasibility of establishing networks at 40 GHz ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth : As indicated in the announcement on23 August, technology to operate microwave television delivery services at 40 GHz exists, but development is needed to make equipment generally available. Consultations showed that a number of organisations are interested in developing equipment, and the firm decision to make frequencies available at 40 GHz should enable them to make decisions about the development and production of equipment in time for the new local delivery services proposed in the Broadcasting Bill. It will be for the Independent Television Commission to specify the areas to be served and to oversee the planning of the services.

Merchant Shipbuilding

Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow on 17 January, Official Report, column 315, he will list the types and tonnages of the merchant vessels ordered and the shipyards which were awarded these orders.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Following is the information :


Builder                      |Type of Vessel    |Gross                                

                                                |Tonnage                              

                                                |(Estimated)                          

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

D. Abels Boat Builders       |Passenger ferry   |106                                  

Brook Yachts International   |Yacht             |1,042                                

Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd   |Trailing suction                                        

                             |dredger           |3,499                                

Aluminium Shipbuilders Ltd   |Wave piercing                                           

                             |catamaran ferry   |400                                  

Campbeltown Shipyard Ltd     |Fishing Vessel    |220                                  

Cochrane Shipbuilders Ltd    |Trawler           |555                                  

                             |Cargo vessel      |2,275                                

                             |Cargo vessel      |2,275                                

                             |Ro-ro ferry       |2,970                                

Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd |Cargo vessel      |2,275                                

                             |Cargo vessel      |2,275                                

                             |Mooring vessel    |400                                  

                             |Mooring vessel    |400                                  

                             |Docking tug       |700                                  

FBM Marine Ltd               |Fast ferry        |420                                  

Harland and Wolff Ltd        |Crude oil tanker  |78,400                               

                             |Crude oil tanker  |78,400                               

                             |Crude oil tanker  |78,400                               

Kvaerner Govan Ltd           |LPG tanker        |34,800                               

                             |LPG tanker        |34,800                               

McTay Marine                 |Ro-ro ferry       |750                                  

                             |Ro-ro ferry       |750                                  

                             |Survey vessel     |105                                  

                             |Tug               |475                                  

Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd  |Tug               |350                                  

Swan Hunter (Wallsend) Ltd   |Antartic logistic/                                      

                             |Research vessel   |5,650                                

Yorkshire Dry Dock Ltd       |Passenger vessel  |1,700                                

                                                |-------                              

Total                                           |334,392                              

Missile Technology Control Regime

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the answer of 15 January, Official Report, column 56, how many export licence applications have been refused by his Department as a result of the United Kingdom's commitments under the missile technology control regime ; and if he will list them.


Column 794

Mr. Redwood : This information is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Bicycles

Mr. Brandon-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of standard EN71 on bicycle safety (a) as a toy safety standard for cycles up to 435 mm maximum seat height, and (b) for bicycles of 635 mm used by older young persons ;

(2) what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of standards EN71 and BS 5665 taken together (a) for bicycles up to 435 mm and used by children up to four years of age and (b) for cycles up to a maximum seat height of 635 mm used by older children ; and if he will make a statement ;

(3) what consideration he has given in considering the safety of bicycles between 435 mm and 635 mm maximum seat height, to the advice of the independent testing authority that compliance with ISO 8098 is an adequate and equivalent test to the proposals effected on 1 January 1990 ;

(4) what representations he has received from the cycle industry about the effect of standard EN71 on safety, when applied (a) to cycles up to 435 mm and (b) to those up to 635 mm ; and if he will temporarily suspend the application of directive EN71.

Mr. Forth : The Toys (Safety) Regulations 1989 came into force on 1 January 1990 and implement the toy safety directive which is a Community obligation. A manufacturer, importer or retailer is under an obligation to supply toys which conform to the essential safety requirements. Compliance and CE marking may be achieved by self-certification when the toy is manufactured in accordance with European harmonised standards (EN 71). Alternatively, when toys do not conform in whole or in part to harmonised standards, type approval may be sought from an approved body. The approved body is concerned to establish that the model submitted for approval meets the essential safety requirements and in so doing may, if the harmonised standard is inappropriate, have regard to other appropriate tests.

Representations have been made by the cycle industry about the level of safety and appropriateness of EN71 (BS 5665). I am concerned by the suggestions that the tests specified in the European harmonised standard may not provide the level of safety required by the essential safety requirements. The United Kingdom delegation to the European committee for standardisation (CEN) sought to have the braking test specified in the International Standard Organisation's standard 8098 incorporated into the harmonised standards but there was insufficient support for this from other CEN delegates. The matter is being urgently considered. If the Department concludes that any harmonised standard does not meet the essential requirements the procedure is for the Government to refer the matter to the standing committee set up under the directive for reconsideration. If appropriate we will proceed accordingly. In the meantime my officials have been in touch with the manufacturers concerned and advised them about the type approval means of compliance.


Column 795

Soil Scientists

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the reasons for the withdrawal of funding to soil scientists involved with the International Standards Organisation Committee on Soil Quality and Pollution ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 24 January 1990] : The assisted international travel scheme provides assistance towards the travel costs of delegation leaders and principal experts attending standards meetings overseas. The intention is to help individuals, representatives and employees of organisations which are not directly or indirectly public funded. The Government provide a substantial allocation of funds, but it would not be appropriate to accept an open-ended commitment. The Department has therefore given BSI, which administers the scheme, a priority ranking for claims on those funds which gives top priority to meetings of European standards bodies engaged on work to complete the single market.

THE ARTS

British Library

Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Minister for the Arts whether, pending the sale of the Store street site, Her Majesty's Government will advance funds to the British Library to enable the safekeeping of the oriental collections in their present accommodation until such time as the St. Pancras building is ready to house them ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce : The British Library board has already decided in principle to take advantage of the opportunity to unite the oriental collections and the India Office library and records before the St. Pancras building is completed. This is expected to bring benefits to both management and readers. I am confident that the British Library will continue to exercise a proper concern for the safekeeping of its collections and the needs of readers.

Sir Douglas Bader (Log Book)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Minister for the Arts if his Department has any plans to bid for the log book of Sir Douglas Bader at the forthcoming auction.

Mr. Luce : The Office of Arts and Libraries does not bid for any items at public auction. Decisions on bidding for Sir Douglas Bader's log book are a matter for the trustees of the individual museums.

National Railway Museum

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Minister for the Arts, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside of 16 January, Official Report, columns 210-11, what approaches were made for funding from his Department to assist with the replacement of the roof of the national railway museum at York ; what response he made ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce [holding answer 24 January 1990] : The national museums and galleries for which I am responsible submit a corporate plan to my office every year detailing


Column 796

their priority concerns and their bids for funding. As a result of the priorities put forward in the science museum's 1988 corporate plan, I announced in November 1988 that the provision for the building programme funds at the science museum included additional allocations of £1 million in both 1989-90 and 1990-91 towards the cost of reroofing the national railway museum.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Investment

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer further to his reply dated 4 December concerning investment in manufacturing industry, Official Report, column 19, what is the corresponding increase in the motor vehicles, mechanical engineering, textile and clothing industries, respectively ; and if he will publish a table showing the increase in investment in those industries between 1973 and 1988 at constant prices together with the increase in output, exports and imports.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Figures comparable to those provided in my earlier reply are not available at this level of industry detail. Estimates of exports and imports at constant prices had not been produced prior to 1978, and reliable investment figures by industry are not yet available for 1988. The information available is :


                                          Percentage change in                   

                                          InvestmentOutput                       

                                         |1973-1987|1973-1987|1973-1988          

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

Mechanical engineering                   |-22      |-22      |-15                

Motor vehicles                           |+10      |-34      |-24                

Textiles, leather, footwear and clothing |-33      |-18      |-19                

Note: The industries are defined in terms of the Standard Industrial             

Classification (Revised 1980) as follows:                                        

Mechanical engineering: Class 32                                                 

Motor vehicles: Class 35                                                         

Textiles, leather, footwear and clothing: Classes 43-45                          

Taxation

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he has received, and from whom, concerning the taxation of company cars ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has received a number of representations concerning the taxation of company cars.

British Rail

Mr. Snape : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of British Rail's investment programme of £3.75 billion over the next three years will be financed from (a) their own internally generated cash flow, (b) PSO level crossing and section 20 grants and (c) external finance, excluding PSO, level crossing and section 20 grants.

Mr. Norman Lamont : British Rail's investment programme of £3.75 billion over the next three years will be financed from its own internally generated cash flow, which includes payments from passenger transport executives under section 20 of the Transport Act 1968 in


Column 797

respect of services operated by British Rail in metropolitan areas, and from external finance. The Government's public expenditure plans for the next three years provide for a total of £2.2 billion of external finance of which grants (PSO and level crossing) account for £1.25 billion.

Carbon Tax

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the introduction of a carbon tax on the rate of inflation.

Mr. Ryder : It has not been the practice to publish estimates of the economic effects of hypothetical new taxes.

Central Office of Information

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is proposing any change to the Central Office of Information cash limit and running costs limit for 1989-90 ; and whether he is proposing any changes to the services provided on an allied basis by the Central Office of Information for 1989-90.

Mr. Ryder : Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for Class XIX, Vote 1 will be increased by £50,000, from £1,273,000 to £1,323,000. The additional expenditure is for a new service, the media advisory service and will be charged to the reserve. At the same time the running costs limit will be reduced by £779,000 from £21,850,000 to £21,071,000 in line with the latest forecast of expenditure on repayment services.

Central Statistical Office

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is proposing any change to the Central Statistical Office's cash limit or running costs limit for 1989-90.

Mr. Lilley : Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for Class XIX, Vote 18, will be increased by £508,000 from £15,342,000 to £15,850,000 and the running cost limit by £413,000, from £11,967,000 to £12,380,000. Part of the increase reflects a further transfer of provision from the Department of Trade and Industry following the establishment of the Central Statistical Office as a separate Department : a corresponding reduction will be included in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Trade and Industry (Class V, Vote 3). In addition, the increase reflects a transfer of provision from the Cabinet Office ; Office of the Minister for the Civil Service (Class XX, Vote 1) of £5,000 in respect of the challenge funding scheme for senior management development training. Finally, the remainder reflects provision to meet some of the additional administrative expenditure which arises for the Central Statistical Office as a separate Department, which will be charged to the reserve.

Media (Wartime Advisory Service)

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made regarding the Government's response, Cmnd. 9499, to the proposal made in the study group chaired by Sir Hugh Beach, Cmnd. 9112, that an advisory service for the media be established to operate during a time of tension or war.


Column 798

Mr. Ryder : After consultations involving Government Departments, regional authorities and the national and regional media a report on the feasibility of a media advisory service (MAS) was produced last year. The Government have accepted the main conclusion that the basis for a MAS to operate during a time of tension or war should be established. Such a MAS has now been formed in the Central Office of Information under Mr. Peter Brazier, a COI group director. It is expected to cost around £150,000 a year.

Capital Gains

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any proposals to amend the definition of a group of companies for capital gains purposes.

Mr. Lilley : We are proposing to include one technical change to the capital gains definition of a group in the 1990 Finance Bill. This is to prevent a company being treated as leaving a group when arrangements are entered into under which rights to profits or assets may be reduced at a future date. We propose that in general the change should be effective from Budget day 1989, when the present definition of a group took effect. But groups will be able to elect for the change to apply only from midnight tonight.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

China

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the refusal of the Consul-General (ref : VC/C/27035/89) in Bejing, China, to allow Peng Ling to join her British husband Peter Flak in Britain.

Mr. Sainsbury : Peng Ling has not applied for a visa to come to the United Kingdom. She has been refused a visa by the Hong Kong authorities to join her British husband in Hong Kong, where her husband is understood to be working until 1991.

Under an agreement between the Hong Kong Government and the Chinese authorities residents in China who wish to join spouses in Hong Kong can apply for a one-way permit from the Chinese authorities.

Argentina

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new regulations there are on the exclusion zones to Argentine shipping and aircraft figures around the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Sainsbury : In the joint statement issued after the Anglo- Argentine talks in Madrid last October, a copy of which, as I stated in my reply of 20 October to my right hon. Friend, the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell), was placed in the Library of the House, it was announced that two small changes to the Falkland Islands protection zone would be made :

(a) the limits of the protection zone would be aligned with that of the Falkland Islands Interim Conservation and Management Zone, reducing its size slightly in the South West corner ;

(b) the requirement that Argentine merchant shipping should not enter the protection zone without prior agreement would be dispensed with.


Column 799

These changes subsequently came into effect on 1 December and 1 January respectively.

Palestine Liberation Organisation

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last had communications with members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation ; what was discussed ; and what decisions were made.

Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs renewed his acquaintance with Mr. Qaddumi in Paris on 22 December and I met Bassam Abu Sharif on 8 January, as part of our continuing dialogue with the PLO on the prospects for peace in the middle east.

Middle East

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to offer the good offices of Her Majesty's Government for talks, in London between members of the Israeli Government and members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : We support the expansion of contacts between Israelis and Palestinians, including the PLO. The present efforts to arrange talks between the Israeli Government and representative Palestinians in Cairo offer the best way forward.


Next Section

  Home Page