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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 16 February 1990

NATIONAL FINANCE

Computer Security

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the Treasury has taken and is taking to improve the security of its computer systems.

Mr. Ryder : The Treasury regularly reviews the security of its computer systems. The Department follows the guidance of the appropriate authorities on security matters. In the case of unclassified but sensitive information, the Treasury uses the CCTA recommended structural risk analysis and management methodology (CRAMM). CCTA guidance is itself kept under continuous review.

Interest Rates

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what correspondence he has received from the Forum for Private Business on the implications of high interest rates on the small business sector.

Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have received a number of such representations.

Taxation

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of central Government revenue was raised by indirect taxation in the latest year for which figures are available ; if he will give a breakdown from each tax ; and what information he has on the corresponding figures for the other member states of the European Economic Community.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Central Government taxes are classified in Government accounts as income and expenditure taxes and not as direct and indirect taxes. Expenditure taxes are broadly similar to indirect taxes. The latest information on central Government revenue from expenditure taxes is published in table 7.2 of the 1989 edition of "United Kingdom National Accounts" (the CSO Blue Book). Latest comparable information as is available for member states of the European Community can be obtained from the 1989 OECD annual publication, "Revenue Statistics of OECD Member countries". Figures are given for individual countries with taxes defined in table G. Figures of total indirect taxes for OECD countries were also published in table F of the article, "International Comparisons of Taxes and Social Security Contributions in 20 OECD Countries 1976-86", in the January 1989 issue of "Economic Trends" (No. 423).


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London Weighting

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the London weighting in Civil Service pay is calculated ; and what weighting is given to the cost of housing.

Mr. Ryder : Since 1982, Civil Service London weighting has been set at levels which are deemed adequate to recruit, retain and motivate staff in sufficient numbers to carry out the work of the Civil Service efficiently. As London weighting is not a cost compensation allowance it is not calculated on the basis of specific costs such as housing.

Alcohol (Duty)

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate by how much duty is underpaid each year by its being paid on potential brewery production rather than the amount of alcohol actually leaving the brewery ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 14 February 1990] : The beer duty is currently charged by reference to the original gravity of the beer prior to fermentation and not to the alcoholic content of the finished product. Underpayment of duty on the lines suggested in the hon. Gentleman's question does not therefore occur.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax discount has been given to brewers to offset wastage incurred under traditional brewing methods for each year since 1979.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 14 February 1990] : Since 1880 United Kingdom brewers have been legally entitled to deduct 6 per cent. from the quantity brewed when calculating the duty charge. This deduction is intended to cover normal spoilage and losses incurred in processing and packaging beer subsequent to the duty point ; for the financial years since 1979 it reduced the duty liability by the following amounts :


          |£ million          

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

1979-80   |56.1               

1980-81   |64.2               

1981-82   |83.0               

1982-83   |93.5               

1983-84   |101.7              

1984-85   |110.3              

1985-86   |117.9              

1986-87   |118.2              

1987-88   |119.8              

1988-89   |125.2              

European Community Budget

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide whatever information is available pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Northampton, North on 5 February, Official Report, column 476.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 15 February 1990] : Annual payments to member states under the principal sectors of the Community budget are given in table 18 of the recent Court of Auditors' report ( Official Journal of the European Communities, C 312, 12 December 1989). The information in this table, which is for the period 1984-88, covers 87.8 per cent. of total budgetary expenditure. It does not cover


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all payments to member states and it excludes expenditure on aid to third countries and administration. Information about total expenditure under each of the headings of the Community budget, including the administrative costs of the central Community institutions, is given in table 16 of the Court of Auditors' report and in table 1 of the statement on the 1989 Community budget (Cm. 680). The latter also includes estimates for 1989 which will be updated in the statement on the 1990 Community budget to be published later this year.

Actual amounts of own resources collected by each member state between 1984 and 1988 are shown in table 19 of the Court of Auditors' report. Table 2 of Cm. 680 gives similar information for the period 1986 to 1989.

Table 0201 of the January 1990 edition of "Eurostat" gives information about member states' population sizes in 1988.

VAT

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many companies were forced into receivership because of Customs and Excise action to recover outstanding value added tax payments in each of the last three years, and in the current financial year ; (2) how much money was owed to Customs and Excise by those companies forced into receivership because of Customs and Excise action to recover outstanding value added tax payments in each of the last three years, and in the current financial year ; and what percentage of the outstanding debt was collected ;

(3) how much value added tax revenue in each of the last three years, and in the current financial year, has been lost to the Exchequer because of the failure of businesses owed money by companies forced into receivership by Customs and Excise action to recover outstanding payment.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 15 February 1990] : None.

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many concerns registered to pay value added tax on (i) a monthly basis, (ii) a quarterly basis have not paid (a) their most recent value added tax demand, (b) their last two value added tax demands, (c) their last three value added tax demands and (d) their last four or more value added tax demands ; and in each case what is the total amount of money involved.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 15 February 1990] : The information is not available in the form requested and the cost of producing it would be disproportionate.

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish any guidelines issued for those Customs and Excise officials with the responsibility of recovering the debts of those concerns registered for value added tax purposes.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 15 February 1990] : The guidelines are as follows :

"AIM OF ENFORCEMENT ACTION. All enforcement action is aimed at recovering tax which a trader has failed to pay voluntarily and encouraging non- compliant traders to become compliant. There are a number of steps leading up to this and, of course, the trader may at any time exercise his option to pay. Whatever action is contemplated, however, there is a simple guiding principle which is always to be borne to mind--DELAY COSTS MONEY.

If a trader delays payment until contacted and tax demanded--whether by assessment or distress visit or by civil


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recovery action--the sooner that demand is made the sooner some or all of the outstanding tax is likely to be paid. Therefore it is vital that contact at each stage of the enforcement process is made as soon as possible and that a priority system is operated to pursue the largest debts first. Remember, all quarterly traders have an average of 75 days to collect the tax before the due date of payment."

SOCIAL SECURITY

Nursing Homes and Hospitals (Residents' Allowance)

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will take steps to ensure that the term "pocket money" is not used by statutory bodies to describe the personal allowance paid to people in residential and nursing homes and hospitals.

Mr. Newton : The term "pocket money" is not used in any of the relevant regulations governing amounts for personal expenses or the downrating of benefit for those in hospital for a long time. I share my hon. Friend's dislike of the phrase and have asked for it to be eliminated from DSS publications when next revised. So far as references by other Departments or bodies is concerned, he may wish to make similar representations to those responsible.

Pensioners (Income)

Mr. Soames : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the Government's record in maintaining the income of pensioners.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 2 February 1990 at columns 382-83.

Widows (Personal Allowance)

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security on what basis the personal allowance of £34.90 for an elderly widow in receipt of housing benefit is calculated.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The housing benefit personal allowances follow those set for income support, and approved by Parliament. From April the personal allowance for a single person aged not less than 25 will increase to £36.70.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Companies (Prevention of Fraud)

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what trading relationships between the Target Group, the National Financial Management Corporation plc and Garston Amhurst companies existed under the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Act 1958 prior to the commencement of the Financial Services Act.

Mr. Redwood : There was no obligation under the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Act 1958 for information of this nature to be notified to my Department.


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Barclays Bank

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will meet the chairman of Barclays bank to discuss banks' responsibilities in monitoring client accounts under the Financial Services Act.

Mr. Redwood : No. Responsibility for rules on clients' accounts under the Financial Services Act has been transferred to the Securities and Investments Board.

Accountancy Standards

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, further to his reply of 8 January, Official Report, column 518, he will provide details of the appointee to the accounting standards task force who has come from the accountancy firm criticised by his Department.

Mr. Redwood : Biographical notes on the individuals appointed by Sir Ronald Dearing as members of the accounting standards task group were given in the press notice issued by the task group on 6 November.

Packaging

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department will be represented at the conference on packaging and the environment to be held in Manchester on 28 to 29 March.

Mr. Forth : The DTI, in conjunction with the Institute of Metals, is holding a design for the environment conference in Birmingham on 28 March. The conference will cover environmental design problems relating to a variety of sectors including packaging. Therefore, this Department will not be participating in the packaging and the environment conference which is taking place at the same time.

WALES

Councils (Contingency Fund)

Mr. Gwilym Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will give the average contingency fund for (a) county councils and (b) district councils in Wales for 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1990-91 ;

(2) if he will give the percentage increase of the contingency funds for (a) county councils and (b) district councils in Wales in 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1990-91 ;

(3) if he will give the percentage increase of the contingency fund provisions of (a) Cardiff council and (b) South Glamorgan council for 1987- 88, 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1990-91 ;

(4) if he will list the contingency fund provision of (a) Cardiff council and (b) South Glamorgan council for 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1990-91 ;

(5) what action he intends to take in respect of the use of contingency funds as financial devices by councils in Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker : I will write to my hon. Friend.

Valleys Initiative

Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the overall cost of the valleys initiative to date.


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Mr. Peter Walker : I will be giving details shortly of progress in the first 18 months or so on my programme for the valleys. This will include details of estimated expenditure to date, as well as future targets and activity following my decision to extend the programme for a further two years.

Infant Mortality

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many perinatal and neo-natal deaths were recorded for each health authority in Wales during 1987 and 1988.

Mr. Grist : The numbers of perinatal and neonatal deaths in 1987 and 1988 of babies whose mothers usually resided in Wales are given in the table. Deaths are not necessarily registered in the area of usual residence.


District Health Authority of Residence   

                 Perinatal Neonatal Death

                |1987|1988|1987|1988     

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

Clwyd           |46  |40  |23  |20       

East Dyfed      |28  |25  |17  |13       

Pembrokeshire   |12  |19  |8   |14       

Gwent           |65  |56  |36  |31       

Gwynedd         |29  |23  |17  |17       

Mid Glamorgan   |56  |71  |27  |28       

Powys           |20  |17  |7   |8        

South Glamorgan |50  |43  |29  |27       

West Glamorgan  |45  |40  |26  |25       

                |--  |--  |--  |--       

Wales           |351 |334 |190 |183      

<1> Registered stillbirths and deaths in 

the first week of life.                  

<2> Deaths within 4 weeks of birth.      

Source: Office of Population Censuses    

and Surveys.                             

Water Industry

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much has been spent by his Department on publicity materials and advertising relating to the flotation of the water industry.

Mr. Grist : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will supply the costs of water privatisation to Parliament in the normal way.

PRIME MINISTER

Arms Control

Mr. Boswell : To ask the Prime Minister what recent representations she has received in relation to arms control negotiation.

The Prime Minister : The subject of arms control negotiations is often raised during discussions with other Heads of Government. I make it clear that NATO's and the United Kingdom's arms control priorities are :

a 50 per cent. cut in strategic offensive weapons of the US and USSR

the verifiable global elimination of chemical weapons

the establishment of stable and secure conventional balance in Europe through elimination of disparities.

EC Immigration Policy

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if she will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the implications of the right of residence proposals agreed at the Internal Market Council for Immigration Policy.


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The Prime Minister : No. The implications of the right of residence proposals were discussed in this House on 8 February at columns 1100-24 and they are likely to be adopted shortly.

NATO Exercises

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Prime Minister what contribution her office will make to the NATO exercises due to be held in Norway during March.

The Prime Minister : There are no NATO exercises due to be held in Norway during March. A Norwegian national exercise, designated "Cold Winter", is planned to take place in March, and forces from several members of the Alliance, including the United Kingdom, will participate.

Public Records

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Prime Minister if she will review the records held in the public record office but which are not open to inspection because they are either retained under section 3(4), or closed under section 5(1) of the Public Records Act ; and if she will consider whether there is any further need for records which are over 40 years old to be restricted in this manner.

The Prime Minister : No. The retention of records under section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1958 or closure under section 5(1) is subject to the approval of the Lord Chancellor. There are several categories of records which retain their sensitivity under established criteria for more than 40 years.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Alanbrooke Road, Belfast

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many terrorist attacks there have been on the Shorts Bros complex at Alanbrooke road, Belfast since 1969 ; and what was their nature.

Mr. Cope : The Shorts factory complex in the Alanbrooke industrial estate has not been subject to physical attack by terrorists since 1969. However, the hon. Member will be aware of all the circumstances surrounding the recent bomb attacks against Shorts' property elsewhere in Belfast, and of the armed theft of equipment from its Alanbrooke road factory in 1988.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will bring the area for assembly of the Star Streak missile into the security area at Alanbrooke road, Belfast.

Mr. Cope : Decisions on the location of work within the Shorts factory complex on the Alanbrooke road are the responsibility of Shorts' management and not Government.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under what legislative powers Alanbrooke road in Belfast has been closed ; what categories of persons are allowed access under those powers ; and what consultation took place with local residents in advance of closure.


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Mr. Cope : Shorts plc was authorised to close Alanbrooke road, under powers granted to the Secretary of State by section 19(2)(d) of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. In authorising the closure, the Secretary of State stipulated that pedestrian access from Montgomery road to the college of further education annex should continue to be provided during opening hours for those persons with legitimate business on the college premises. This has been done by the construction of a closed walkway which gives controlled access to the college annex. Because of the sensitive nature of the security measures then being considered and the urgent need to safeguard the Shorts factory complex from terrorist attack, it was not possible in this instance to consult local residents about the intended closure before it was implemented.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what security precautions have been introduced to protect local inhabitants living adjacent to the Shorts Bros complex in Alanbrooke road, Belfast ; and what processes require the protection of high security.

Mr. Cope : There are no local residents living immediately adjoining the Shorts factory complex on Alanbrooke road. The nearest house is about 70 yards away from the outer fence. The hon. Member will already be generally aware of the equipment which is produced at this factory and, in line with longstanding Government policy on such matters, I know he would not expect me to elaborate further on this sensitive issue.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what security vetting has taken place on students of Castlereagh college who have access to Alanbrooke road, Belfast.

Mr. Cope : It is not Government policy to comment on the detailed application of security measures.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he proposes to extend the security precautions installed in Alanbrooke road, Belfast to Montgomery road ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Cope : The security of Short Bros plc property on the Alanbrooke road is kept under review. There is no plan to close off Montgomery road for security reasons.

Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which branch of the security forces mans the gate in Alanbrooke road, Belfast.

Mr. Cope : The hon. Member will know that it is the longstanding policy of Ministers not to discuss in any detail the make-up or efficacy of any physical security measures which may have been implemented at a particular location.

University Students

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many undergraduates are receiving grants from education boards in Northern Ireland to attend universities in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) England.

Dr. Mawhinney : The information is not available in the form requested, but the overall number is estimated at 4,200 for the current academic year.


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Community Charge

Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what arrangements have been made for paying the community charge of students from Northern Ireland who are studying in Great Britain ; and whether he has any plans to change the parental contribution or student grants to take into account the payment of rates on a student's home in Northern Ireland and liability for the community charge in England, Wales or Scotland.

Dr. Mawhinney : Arrangements made by local authorities to collect the community charge are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Northern Ireland students studying in Great Britain will, if they are full-time, as defined by the relevant legislation, be liable for only 20 per cent. of the community charge in their area, and the net impact of this discounted liability is among the factors considered when mandatory student grant rates are decided.

Archaeological Site, Ballycarry

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make available additional funds to the historic buildings and ancient monuments branch of DOE, NI, for the purpose of encouraging early exploration of the archaeological site identified at Bridgend road, Ballycarry, Co. Antrim.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Although archaeological excavation could improve understanding of the site it could also result in destruction of evidence in the area excavated. Such work is therefore carried out only as a last resort, for example, where approved development proposals might damage buried archaeological deposits. There are at present no approved development proposals for the Ballycarry site. The archaeological site at Bridgend road, Ballycarry, Co. Antrim, has been identified as an ecclesiastical enclosure of early Christian period and medieval date. This identification is based on historical records and the evidence of aerial photography.

Fishing Industry

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effect the weather in 1990 has had on (a) the state of the fishing industry in Portavogie, (b) employment in the Portavogie fishing industry and (c) the tonnage of fish landed at Portavogie harbour ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley [holding answer 14 February 1990] : The weather so far experienced in 1990 has restricted the fishing effort and earnings of vessels based at Portavogie. For the period 1 January to 7 February landings of fish at Portavogie are estimated at 257 tonnes compared with 448 tonnes in the equivalent period last year. The impact on employment has been felt mainly within the catching sector but local self- employed small-scale processors and salesmen have also been affected.


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TRANSPORT

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Southport of 2 February, Official Report, column 368, he will give an estimate of the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions he anticipates as a result of his Department's road building programme.

Mr. Atkins : The emphasis of the expanded road programme is on schemes to relieve congestion. In congested conditions, with slow-moving or stop-start traffic, vehicle engines are significantly less fuel efficient than in free-flowing conditions. The trunk road programme will therefore lead to lower emissions than would be the case if additional road capacity was not provided. However, the actual level of future emissions will depend on a number of factors such as the growth and distribution of traffic, the progress of individual road schemes and the progress of the many other initiatives being undertaken to reduce vehicle emissions. The net effect of these factors cannot be predicted at this stage.

Private Security Firms

Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the names of all the private security firms currently employed by his Department, the number of employees for each firm on the contract, the total value of each contract and the total value of all contracts for each financial year since 1984-85.

Mr. Atkins : The private security firms listed in the table currently have contracts with the Department of Transport and the total annual value of such contracts since 1984-85 is :


        |£              

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

1984-85 |190,521        

1985-86 |244,394        

1986-87 |296,191        

1987-88 |334,180        

1988-89 |456,242        

1989-90 |565,668        


Name of firm                       |Number of   |Annual value             

                                   |employees   |of contract              

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

Centuryan Security Limited         |1           |11,661                   

Centuryan Security Limited         |1           |9,836                    

Compass Security Limited           |1           |8,736                    

Frontline Security Services        |4           |26,500                   

Reliance Security Services Limited |3           |107,736                  

Royal British Legion Attendants                                           

  Limited                          |1           |12,214                   

Royal British Legion Attendants                                           

  Limited                          |2           |46,177                   

Securicor Security Services        |As required |31,000                   

Securicor Security Services        |As required |160,000                  

Securicor Services (Safelink)      |As required |30,000                   

Securiguard Services (Southern)                                           

  Limited                          |3           |90,000                   

Shorrock Guards                    |1           |1,950                    

Yeoman Security Guards Limited     |3           |29,858                   


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Motorways

Mr. Waller : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the consultants appointed to advise his Department on a preferred route for the proposed link between the M1 and M62 motorways in West Yorkshire will include within their remit any consideration of a possible upgrading of the route to motorway standard.

Mr. Atkins : Early indications are that an all-purpose dual two-lane road would be the appropriate standard for this proposed new link. The consultants will, however, be carrying out a further assessment of scheme standards, including the possibility of a motorway, as route options are developed.


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