Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the amount health authorities in Wales will need to find in 1991-92 from existing funding in 1991-92 to meet the costs of the professions allied to medicine review body's pay awards.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : In 1991-92 health authorities in Wales will need to find an estimated additional £0.2 million, over and above the provision for inflation, estimated at £2.061 million, included in their start of year 1991-92 allocations, to meet the costs of the 1991 professions allied to medicine review body's pay awards. The amount to be found by district health authorities from their cash releasing cost improvement savings for all review body awards in 1991-92 is equal to 0.3 per cent. of their notified revenue resources.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish the cost to health authorities in Wales in 1991-92 of the nurses, midwives and health visitors review body's pay awards for that year, and the amount allocated from Government reserves to meet part of these costs.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : The cost to health authorities in Wales of the nurses, midwives and health visitors review body's pay awards in 1991- 92 is estimated to be £32.1 million. The additional amount allocated from Government reserves, over and above the provision for inflation, estimated at £22.371 million, in authorities' original 1991-92 allocation, to meet part of these costs is £7.3 million. The amount to be found by district health authorities from their cash releasing cost improvement savings for all review body awards in 1991-92 is equal to 0.3 per cent. of their notified revenue resources.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many mental handicap nurses were employed in each health authority in Wales (a) working in hospitals and (b) working in the community, for each year since 1985.
Column 152revenue support grant and basic credit approvals respectively. These are not hypothecated to particular services. The local government revenue settlement for 1990-91 allowed an indicative amount for personal social services of £186.8 million, or 5 per cent. over 1989-90 adjusted budgets ; the capital settlement for 1990-91 allowed an assumed gross figure of £10.8 million which represented an increase of 21 per cent. over 1989-90. It is for local authorities to determine how resources should be allocated to particular services. Additional funds provided outside the revenue settlement under Welsh Office initiatives and grant schemes were £1.3 million under the elderly initiative ; £0.34 million for training schemes on the development of community care and care management and services to elderly people ; £0.47 million under the mental illness strategy and £23.6 million allocated under the mental health strategy. In total, these represent a 50 per cent. increase over 1989-90 expenditure.
Sir Wyn Roberts : I announced last month the results of the Department's survey of teacher vacancies. The survey at the start of the new academic year showed that out of a total of 24,500 teaching posts, 40 remained unfilled, representing 0.2 per cent. of full-time teaching posts in Wales.
Mr. Key : By December 1989, the latest year for which figures are available for the United Kingdom as a whole, the number of jobs in enterprise zones had increased by 99,800 since the zones were created.
Mr. Yeo : Further to my reply of 15 February 1991, Official Report, column 597, it has now become clear that some additional costs should be attributed to THESIS. Property Services Agency Services has also had less success than anticipated in finding alternative uses for some of the equipment purchased for the THESIS project. The effect is to increase the net cost of the PSA THESIS computer system to £12.1 million.
Mr. Maclean : The annual report of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for 1990-91, its first as a next steps agency, was published on 31 July 1991. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
During the year under report, there was a significant increase in the number of applications for product licences of all types and a continuing heavy workload in other areas. Full costs have been recovered across all the sectors of VMD's business activities. This has been matched by improvements in service and the report describes the benefits which have accrued to the VMD's customers from the initiatives that have been put in place since the directorate was established as a next steps agency. The report confirms the high priority which the VMD gives to ensuring that the consumer, the animals themselves and the environment are properly protected through the licensing procedures for veterinary medicines.
The test results gathered for the calendar year 1990 under the national surveillance scheme, which monitors the levels of veterinary residues passing into the meat for human consumption, are also reported. Under this programme more than 48,500 samples were taken in 1990, an increase of almost 20 per cent. on the numbers sampled in 1989. I am pleased to say that the number of samples exceeding the recommended maximum residue limits were reassuringly low. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the chief executive and his staff on the progress they have made during this first year and look forward to receiving reports of further improvements in future years.
Mr. Gummer [pursuant to his reply, 25 April 1991, c. 554] : We took steps to deal with farms where pigs showed suspicious symptoms even before it was confirmed that blue ear pig disease was present in England. Once it was confirmed, on 13 June, our restrictions went further than the trade restrictions required by European Community rules, particularly in the designation of large restricted areas and in the controls imposed on farms which had received pigs which might have been carrying infection.
This framework of controls has enabled detailed studies to be carried out on the nature of the disease and its spread, making use in particular of the blood test developed at the Central Veterinary Laboratory. That research shows that the virus can be present in pigs which show only slight symptoms, or none at all ; that infection can persist on pig farms long after clinical signs have disappeared ; that fattening pigs, as well as those used for breeding, can be involved in its spread ; and that it can be spread by animals which themselves show no sign of the
Column 154disease. The disease is behaving in the same way as similar conditions have done in north America, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
The understanding that we have gained of the disease will be central to planning our own future strategy and that of the Community as a whole. Clearly, infection is more widespread than would be suggested by clinical signs alone, and can be expected to spread further, even where farms are subject to restrictions much tighter than those required by Community rules. It is now equally clear that some elements of the controls which we put in place in June do not increase the level of protection to the national pig herd enough to justify the disruption that they cause.
I have, therefore, decided to remove the elements of our restrictions on national pig movements that research has shown not to be worth while. All movement and area restrictions will be lifted from premises other than those where disease has been confirmed or is suspected. However, the trade restrictions required by Community rules--notably restrictions on exports from infected or suspect premises or the parishes in which they are located --will remain. Restrictions will also be maintained on the movement of pigs from such premises until eight weeks after clinical signs disappear, which clearly can be expected to reduce the extent to which infection is spread. The disease will remain notifiable and movements off restricted premises will remain subject to licence.
I have greatly valued the close contacts that we have had with the British Veterinary Association and producers organisations since blue ear pig disease was first suspected. In consultation with those bodies we have over the past weeks made a number of adjustments to our controls. We shall continue to consult them fully in the light of any further scientific advice that emerges.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his Department's plans for the working party on school meals ; who are the members of the working party ; what meetings it has held ; what plans it has for the future ; and when he hopes to publish nutritional guidelines for school meals.
Mr. Gummer : I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the catering working group which was established last year by my Department, the Department of Health and the Health Education Authority. Its purpose is wider than suggested by the hon. Member and is to advise the MAFF-DH-HEA nutrition liaison group, an interdepartmental committee of officials, on ways of increasing the provision of healthier food in all types of catering outlets. In addition to representatives from the sponsoring Departments, the membership comprises representatives from the Department of Education and Science, the Royal Society of Health, the industrial catering sector-- company staff restaurants--and the commercial sector. An independent academic chairman has been appointed. The Health Education Authority provides the secretariat. Three meetings have so far been held.
The working group's terms of reference are to consider and make recommendations regarding :
(a) raising the catering industry's awareness of the importance of healthy eating to the national diet and inter alia national health ; (
Column 155(b) providing guidance to caterers on achieving healthier choice in the methods of food selection, preparation and service ;
(c) identifying and advising those organisations responsible for catering education and training on the importance of including nutritional and dietary education within the curriculum of all courses.
The group is expected to meet approximately three times a year and its considerations will include the possible need for guidelines for "healthy catering practice" in all catering outlets, including schools.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will consult local authority associations representing trading standards authorities prior to making directions under section 6(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990 ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what plans he has to set up consultative arrangements with local authority associations concerning the financial arrangements of actions taken under section 6(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990 ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what has been the cost of the action taken by his Ministry before and following the making of each direction under section 6(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990 ; if he will give details of each action taken ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : I have issued a direction under section 6(3) of the Food Safety Act to four individual local authorities, each in respect of a premises in their respective areas where my officers were carrying out an investigation in connection with alleged widespread irregularities in the marketing of orange juice. The effect of such directions is to remove from the local authority to myself the costs of any investigation and enforcement action. These costs are carried within the general votes of my own department and are thus not readily separately identified. The investigation is in any case not yet concluded. I will endeavour where appropriate to consult with affected local authorities beforehand on the use of the powers in section 6(3) ; on this occasion I consider that it was correct in the public interest to exercise my powers without any such prior consultation. My overriding concern must be the protection of the public.
Mr. Raffan : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what assessment he has made of the reasons for the fall in applications for new licences and animal test certificates in 1990 ; (2) what estimate he has made of the average cost involved and length of time required by veterinary medicine companies in preparing data on safety and quality for submission of an application for new products ; and if he will outline the data required to be submitted ;
(3) what assessment he has made of the effect of the cost of licensing veterinary medicine products on the amount of research undertaken.
Mr. Maclean : My hon. Friend has written to me asking the same three questions. I will be replying shortly, and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House and the Public Information Office.
Mr. Lennnox-Boyd : I warmly welcome the entry to the United Nations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
We have long had diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea and now have diplomatic relations with each of the Baltic states. We hope to establish diplomatic relations with the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia shortly. Our support for the admisson of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations has meant that we also now recognise the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a state, but have no plans to establish diplomatic relations.
Mr. Brandon-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent announcement of the third review conference concerning the 1925 Geneva protocol to the biological and toxin weapons convention.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I am pleased to say that on 27 September the ambassador of the United Kingdom delegation to the conference on disarmament in Geneva announced at the third review conference of the biological and toxin weapons convention that Her Majesty's Government had decided to withdraw that part of our reservation to the 1925 Geneva protocol which maintained our right to retaliate in kind if biological weapons were used against us. The protocol prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare.
Mr. Cash : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement on the outcome of the ministerial meeting of the intergovernmental conference on political union on 29 July and 30 September.
Mr. Hurd : I attended ministerial meetings of the intergovernmental conference on political union on 29 July and 30 September. The meeting on 29 July was procedural. The Netherlands presidency outlined its plans for the negotiations, to include ministerial meetings in September, November and December, and a two to three-day "conclave" of Foreign Ministers in the week of 11 November. The presidency said that it intended after this conclave to prepare a draft Treaty for discussion by the President of the Council, Mr. Lubbers, during his tour of member states' capitals before the European Council at Maastricht on 9 and 10 December.
On 24 September the presidency tabled a new draft treaty text, incorporating substantive changes from the text prepared by the Luxembourg presidency in advance of
Column 157the European Council in Luxembourg on 28 and 29 June. The ministerial meeting on 30 September concluded that negotiations should continue on the basis of the Luxembourg presidency text. The Netherlands text was subsequently withdrawn. An inter- institutional conference between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament was held on 1 October. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office represented the United Kingdom.
Mr. Dickens : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Councils on 29 July, 6 and 30 September, respectively.
Mr. Hurd : My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I represented the United Kingdom at the Foreign Affairs Council on 29 July. The Council agreed to provide 50,000 tonnes of food aid to Albania and asked the Commission to produce an opinion on the Swedish application to join the European Community. The Council also reviewed progress in the negotiations on a European economic area and on the Uruguay round. Ministers issued statements on the middle east peace process and on Burma. They agreed that the troika of Foreign Ministers should return to Yugoslavia to seek agreement on a ceasefire.
At the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 September, the United Kingdom was represented by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Council discussed the association agreement negotiations with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, but were unable to reach agreement on a revised negotiating mandate for the Commission. Ministers met their counterparts from the Baltic states and issued a statement stressing the willingness of the Community and member states to establish diplomatic relations with them. Ministers also discussed the latest developments in Yugoslavia and agreed to convene a peace conference on 7 September.
My hon. Friends, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Minister for Trade, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I represented the United Kingdom at the Foreign Affairs Council on 30 September and 1 October. The Council agreed the Commission's negotiating mandate for the association agreement negotiations with Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Council also agreed to send a further 50,000 tonnes of food aid to Albania sourced from eastern Europe under triangular purchasing arrangements. The Council asked the Commission to begin exploratory talks with the three Baltic states on trade and co-operation agreements. It also agreed to include these countries and Albania in the Community's PHARE programme and the generalised system of preferences. The Council asked the Commission to begin exploratory talks with Bulgaria on an association agreement. The Council agreed on the importance of a co-ordinated western response to the recent Soviet request for food aid on the basis of a full assessment of need, burden-sharing, and conditionality. It amended the regulation on a credit guarantee for the Soviet Union to permit purchases from eastern and central European countries.
Column 158The Council reviewed progress in the negotiations on a European economic area. It identified three main areas-- fish, the EFTA cohesion fund and alpine transit--which needed further work before the joint EC/EFTA ministerial meeting on 21 October.
The Council agreed the Commission's negotiating mandate for the free trade agreement negotiations with the Gulf Co-operation Council. Ministers reviewed the situation in Yugoslavia. They held an Association Council with Turkey in the margins of the meeting. They also discussed the EC role in a middle east peace conference and the modalities of the appointment of a Commission representative in the occupied territories.
Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement of forthcoming business in the European Community Council of Ministers.
1 October Environment Council
7 October Economic and Finance Council
7 October Transport Council
14 October Labour and Social Affairs Council
15 October Consumer Affairs Council.
The Agriculture Council will meet on 21 and 22 October and Ministers will discuss the reform of the common agriculture policy, the agricultural aspects of the GATT Uruguay round, and sweeteners in food. Ministers may also discuss meat products, and food quality. The Research Council will meet on 28 October. Ministers will discuss, and may agree common positions for, the following specific programmes under the third framework programme 1990-1994 : controlled nuclear fusion ; nuclear fission safety ; and human capital and mobility. Ministers may also consider the Commission's proposal for the joint research centre's 1992-1994 programme.
The Fisheries Council may meet on 28 October and Ministers might discuss technical conservation regulations.
The Energy Council will meet on 29 October and Ministers will give further consideration to the proposed energy charter for the development of a free market in energy across the whole of Europe and beyond. Under the heading of "Energy and the Environment", Ministers will examine issues concerning CO emissions and response strategies, and may adopt the SAVE decision on energy efficiency. Ministers will also discuss the related hot water boilers directive, proposals to amend the existing Commission powers on oil crisis management and oil stocks, and accession by the Community to the IEA. Ministers might consider proposals to increase competition in the energy sector through the liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets.
Column 159Mr. Norman Lamont : I refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made on 19 July, at columns 715-29, and the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 22 July, at columns 757- 64.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Governor of the Bank of England concerning the latter's statement that BCCI had a criminal culture and the effect of that statement on the careers of members of staff ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maples : I know that the Governor did not intend to imply that all the staff of the BCCI were dishonest or involved in the fraud which led to the closure of the bank. Such an implication is patently not true. Hon. Members may also wish to know that I issued the following statement to the press on 4 October :
"The Government has always made it clear that they would like to see depositors get as much of their money back from BCCI as possible. However, as I said to the House in July, I have always thought that a restructuring would prove difficult to achieve in the circumstances and that now also seems to be the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Government.
There was, of course, no question of either the Bank of England or the Government being obstructive in this. The Bank have always said they would look at any proposal put to them and there would certainly have been no question of the Government obstructing a successful restructuring had one proved possible. But in fact no proposal has been put forward.
I recognise that this is very disappointing for the employees. The Abu Dhabi Government appear to have made generous proposals to assist them. I hope the staff will find work again soon. In July, the Chancellor, commented in the House that it would be monstrously unfair if honest, hardworking employees of BCCI were tainted by the actions of their superiors. I hope that prospective employers will not hold the fact that they worked for BCCI against them. Depositors will get compensation from the statutory deposit protection scheme as soon as a winding up order is made. I understand the provisional liquidator is still in discussion with the shareholders about the global position. In the meantime, interim compensation is being provided by the scheme put in place by the Abu Dhabi Government. I understand that the vast majority of depositors with the United Kingdom branches stand to get back 75 per cent. of their full deposit under the statutory scheme. The extent to which depositors will get back the rest of their money will obviously depend on the outcome of the liquidation.
Mr. Maples : The Government have been most concerned by the continuing stories that Asian businesses affected by the closure of the BCCI are having difficulties establishing new banking facilities. We have therefore taken steps to publicise again the help available from the clearing banks, the provisional liquidator Touche Ross, and Government Departments. The details were again set out in a letter which I sent to Mr. Nirj Deva on 30 September and which was also issued as a Treasury press notice. The text is as follows and has been published in the Daily Jang . We have also placed an advertisement setting out the various helpline numbers in the Asian Trader, which is widely distributed.
Nirj Deva Esq
433 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4AU 30 September 1991
We have spoken recently about the effect which the closure of BCCI has had on the many small Asian businesses which banked with it. As I told you, I have been concerned about the
Column 160continuing stories that some of these businesses are still having problems establishing new banking facilities. I have been even more concerned at reports that the Asian community believe that the Government is indifferent to their problems, or worse, that BCCI has closed down because it was an Asian bank. Nothing, I can assure you could be further from the truth.
BCCI was closed by the international regulators who authorised and supervised it because of evidence of a massive fraud striking at the heart of the operation. The nationality of those involved was irrelevant. The Government has, however, been acutely aware that many of those who have suffered from the closure of the UK branches are Asian businessmen and small depositors and it is a matter of deep concern to us that so many thriving, profitable businesses of such value to the economy have been so badly damaged. We have the highest possible respect for the Asian community. They are hard working, self sufficient and epitomise everything that we have tried to foster over the past twelve years. That they should so disproportionately have been the victims of this bank fraud is truly tragic.
Because of my concern for the effect on small businesses, both I and my officials have been in regular touch with the Bank of England to ensure that everything that can reasonably be done to help them is being done. I spoke to the Governor again recently because of the continuing stories about the problems small businesses were having, and the Bank pursued the matter with the clearing banks. As I think you are aware, the clearers responded very positively after the closure of BCCI on 5 July, nominating contact points in their branches to deal with potential customers from BCCI. But they have reported that surprisingly few customers of BCCI have approached them.
Similarly, Touche Ross the provisional liquidators have also been doing everything they can to help. From the outset, they made arrangements for customers to release their banking records to the clearers, and they have also been working very hard to find ways of releasing security held by BCCI. This has been taking some time in some cases. As provisional liquidators, they cannot simply release the security without establishing the customers' net position with the bank, and that can take time where the banking relationship of the particular customer in question was complex. But I understand that they have now dealt with all but a comparatively few difficult cases. Most of the businessmen who approached them for help now have new banking facilities established with one of the clearers. Touche Ross also, however, report that surprisingly few businesses have contacted them.
Clearly, neither the clearers nor the provisional liquidator can give assistance unless they are actually asked. I am therefore attaching to this letter a list of clearing bank contact points and the telephone number of Touche Ross and copying the letter to the press, in the hope that the information will therefore reach as many of those who need it as possible. If there are other ways in which I could bring this information to the attention of the Asian business community, please let me know.
I am also taking this opportunity to include some information about the Department of Employment Loan Guarantee scheme and the DTI Enterprise Initiative, both of which may be of use to businesses affected by the closure of BCCI. The Loan Guarantee scheme offers a Government guarantee of 70 per cent. (85 per cent. in Inner City Task Force Areas) on loans of up to £100,000 from participating commercial banks, where a small firm is unable to offer security or lacks the track record normally required by banks and other financial institutions involved in the scheme. Details can be obtained from the address on the attached list.
Any business which applies will have to provide a business plan, and it has been suggested to us that may present a problem for some of the smaller businesses affected by the closure of BCCI. The DTI Enterprise Initiative can assist in arranging consultancy services to help a small business prepare such a plan. Further information can be obtained from the contacts on the attached list.
In some cases, however, all that may be needed is guidance and assistance from more experienced businessmen in the
Column 161local community or a professional advisor, such as the business's usual accountant. Both may be able to assist a small business in presenting its case to the clearing banks.
I hope this information will be useful. I am very concerned about the continuing stories of Asian businesses having problems and I would welcome any further information you and others can offer about the specific problems being experienced so that we can see what more, if anything, might be done to resolve them.
Helpline numbers and points of contact for BCCI customers 1. The following banks have set up helplines and/or branch contact points :
(a) Bank of Scotland : 031 243 5524
031 243 5542
(b) Clydesdale : 041 223 2532
041 223 2899
(c) Lloyds :
Bayswater 071 221 4218
Berkeley Square 071 491 4239
Commercial Road 071 790 2445
Covent Garden 071 836 3045
Earl's Court 071 835 1464
Whitechapel High Street 071 709 0491
Fenchurch Street 071 481 4991
Kensington High Street 071 938 2171
Knightsbridge 071 589 2223
Marble Arch 071 723 4247
Old Bond Street 071 629 0288
Paddington 071 723 0131
Pall Mall 071 839 1288
Park Lane 071 409 3545
South Kensington 071 589 4883
Swiss Cottage 071 722 7144
Southall 081 574 7922
Croydon 081 649 7711
Wembley 081 903 6366
Birmingham, Colmore Row 021 233 1255
Bradford 0274 783181
Leeds, Park Row 0532 448181
Manchester, King Street 061 833 0222
Isle of Man, Douglas
Regent Street 071 734 4090
(d) National Westminster :
Piccadilly Circus 071 434 3151
Orchard House, Oxford Street 071 408 1232
Bush House, Aldwych 071 836 5593
London South West
Southall 081 574 2300
London South East
Croydon 081 681 3199
Lewisham 081 318 7331
Tooting 081 672 7611
Handsworth 021 523 6111
Digbeth 021 643 6922
Birmingham, Bennetts Hill 021 643 8941
Manchester, 33 Piccadilly 061 236 5642
Manchester, City Office 061 829 1420
Oldham 061 633 3005
London North West
Wembley 081 903 1303