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Bosnia

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 23 November, Official Report, column 452, when he expects to be able to supply the information on visa applications from Bosnian citizens offered in his answer.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : For the period 9 November to 4 December, the first month's operation of the visa requirement for nationals of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 663 visa applications for the United Kingdom, for both visits and settlement, were received at our posts at Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Rome, Milan, Dusseldorf, Paris and Sofia. A total of 182 applications were refused. This figure includes the 166 visa applicants in the convoy arranged by the ALERT group whose applications were refused by the Home Office.

I regret it is not possible to identify the number of visa applications that have been refused from applicants with relatives in the United Kingdom. The method of recording


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statistics at post worldwide does not allow us to give the precise detail which the hon. Member has requested without disproportionate expense.

Somalia

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list every visit made (a) to Hargeisa, (b) to any other part of northern Somalia (Republic of Somaliland), (c) Mogadishu and (d) any other part of Somalia outside the Republic of Somaliland by (i) Ministers and (ii) official representatives of the British Government in each of the last 24 months.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The following is the information requested : Visits to North-West Somalia : Ministers

No Ministers have visited in the last 24 months.

Visits to North-West Somalia : Officials

February 1992

Head of East African Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a member of the British Embassy, Addis Ababa to Hargeisa, Boroma and Berbera.

November 1992

HM Ambassador, Addis Ababa to Hargeisa, Berbera, Sheikh and Burao. Assistant Head of African Department (Equatorial) Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a member of the British Embassy, Addis Ababa to Hargeisa and Berbera.

Visits to rest of Somalia : Ministers

September 1992

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to Mogadishu.

Baroness Chalker to Mogadishu and Hoddur.

Visits to rest of Somalia : Officials

August 1992

Member of the British High Commission, Nairobi Mogadishu and Hoddur.

September 1992

Officials accompanying Secretary of State to Mogadishu. Officials accompanying Baroness Chalker to Mogadishu and Hoddur. October 1992

Member of the British High Commission, Nairobi, to Mogadishu.

Kenya

Mr. Duncan-Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the prospects for free and fair elections in Kenya.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We warmly welcome the Kenyan Government's expressed commitment to free and fair elections, to which end we have given considerable practical assistance. We have provided all the ballot boxes, trained key electoral officials, supplied some office equipment to the electoral commission, and have made a significant financial contribution through the Commonwealth Secretariat to the Commonwealth observer team. We are also supporting local projects to educate the electorate and monitor election media coverage. The total cost of our assistance is now over £800,000.

While there have been improvements in recent weeks, we remain concerned about the evenness of the playing field. We continue to urge the Kenyan Government to be more open, establish a better dialogue with the opposition, allow all parties unhindered campaigning in all parts of the


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country, ensure freedom of the press and reasonable access by opposition parties to the broadcast media. We are making the same points about openness and transparency to the electoral commission. Electoral observers will base their assessment not just on the events of polling day but on the conduct of the whole electoral process. Above all, it is essential that all concerned should avoid the use or encouragement of violence or intimidation before, during and after the elections.

Tibet

Mr. Duncan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he has received from the Chinese authorities to the draft resolution on the situation in Tibet put forward at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Goodlad : We, together with our EC partners, took the lead in promoting the draft of a resolution on the human rights situation in China including Tibet at the UN Commission on Human Rights earlier this year. The draft resolution referred to a resolution on Tibet adopted in the UN sub- commission in August 1991. The Chinese authorities opposed the draft resolution, which was subsequently defeated by a procedural motion.

Radiation

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the benefits to the United Kingdom of the resources committed to the joint research centres and European Atomic Energy Community for research into radiation risk and protection since 1973.

Mr. Robert Jackson : I have been asked to reply.

EC programmes on radiation protection research, in particular those funded by shared cost actions, have been of great scientific value to the United Kingdom. Research undertaken by the EC is helping to provide the scientific base for an objective assessment of the effects and risks of radiation from natural, medical and industrial sources, and has led to the development of methods to optimise radiation protection. Research within the United Kingdom has also benefited : work has been completed through EC programmes that would not have been possible for any one member state to conduct alone. The United Kingdom has consistently gained more in contracts than its share of the programmes' costs.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Iraq

Mr. Flynn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of the contribution made to the Iraq nuclear weapons programme of the technical aid provided by the United Kingdom to Iraq via the Baghdad pact nuclear training centre since 1962.

Mr. Heseltine : It is my understanding from the limited information available that Iraq ceased to participate in the activities of the training centre when it was transferred to Tehran following the revolution in Iraq in 1959.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make available to Lord Justice Scott's


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inquiry all papers, records and evidence assembled by his inspectors in the course of their inquiries into Astra Holdings plc.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : All relevant Government papers will be made available to Lord Justice Scott on request.

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent, Official Report, 9 November, column 589 , for what reasons confidentiality was requested by Her Majesty's Government to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq in the provision of information of possible involvement of United Kingdom companies in the Iraq nuclear programme.

Mr. Needham : Lack of confidentialilty would hamper and could prejudice investigations into any evidence of wrong-doing or breaches of export controls.

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what information his Department's export control organisation has in regard to the compliance by United Kingdom-based or registered companies with the Export of Goods (Control) (Iraq and Kuwait Sanctions) Order 1990, date 8 August 1990 ;

(2) what investigations his Department has made to verify the compliance of United Kingdom exporters with European Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2340/90 banning trade with Iraq.

Mr. Needham : United Nations Security Council resolution 661 was adopted on 6 August 1990 and imposed a total economic embargo against Iraq following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The Government have no evidence of any major breaches of the Iraq sanctions by British exporters or businesses. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise have successfully prosecuted two businesses for minor breaches of sanctions involving the export to Iraq of office furniture and goods to an Iraqi canning factory.

If the hon. Member has any evidence of a contravention of sanctions it shall be urgently investigated, and if appropriate would be a matter for the courts.

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information he possesses on the role of (a) Apremont S.A. Company of Panama, (b) Muiden Chemie Company of the Netherlands, (c) GEA Company, Remie Ltd. and Erber Ltd. of Italy, (d) SPEL Company of Portugal and (e) Banco Nazionale Del Lavoro in facilitating the export of United Kingdom origin military equipment to Iraq since 1985.

Mr. Needham : Matters relating to the export of defence equipment from the United Kingdom to Iraq are for Lord Justice Scott's inquiry to consider.

Export Licences

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will now make it his policy to permit public disclosure of information contained in section C6 of the export licence application form, where the prospective export is deemed to be a dual-use military-sensitive technology.

Mr. Needham : No. I see no reason to change the policy followed by successive Administrations that details of individual export licence applications should not be made public.


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Arms Embargos

Mr. Meacher : To ask the President of the Board of Trade which countries have been subject to United Kingdom's arms embargos over the last 20 years ; and for which exact periods.

Mr. Needham : I will write to the hon. Gentleman with the details.

Japan (Energy Talks)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the matters discussed in the bilateral meeting between the European Community and Japan on energy matters held at the end of October.

Mr. Eggar : The meeting on 30 October was between directorate general XVII (energy) of the European Commission and the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. I understand that they discussed a broad range of energy issues.

Coal Industry

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will await the publication of the Trade and Industry Select Committee's report into the future of the coal industry before publishing the results of his departmental inquiry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar : The results of the Government's coal review will be published in a White Paper early in the new year. The timing of publication of the Trade and Industry Select Committee's report is a matter for the Committee, but I believe that it will be helpful to the House if it is available when the House debates the White Paper.

Nuclear Electric

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures he has taken and plans to take as part of the energy review to assess accurately Nuclear Electric's economic case for extending the life of the seven Magnox stations ; which outside consultants are being used by his Department for this purpose ; how many civil service personnel-hours will be required to assess Nuclear Electric's submission to his Department's inquiry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar : The coal review is considering the implications of the statutory obligation on electricity suppliers to purchase non-fossil power, including that from nuclear sources. Ernst and Young has been appointed to assist the coal review team in

(i) the assessment and analysis of information provided by Nuclear Electric plc and verified by Nuclear Electric's auditors, BDO Binder Hamlyn, on the costs of the company's Magnox stations with particular emphasis on the avoidable costs of premature closure, and on the cash flow and accounting implications ;

(ii) the examination of information provided by Nuclear Electric, to the DTI and the Select Committee in respect of its actual and projected receipts of the fossil fuel levy.

The coal review team will be considering carefully the evidence provided by Nuclear Electric and the results of this work.


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Nuclear Levy

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the purpose of the nuclear levy.

Mr. Eggar : The purpose of the fossil fuel levy is to finance the above-market element of the price paid by the regional electricity companies for electricity purchased under qualifying arrangements within the non-fossil fuel obligation.

Electricity Generation

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will estimate the average avoidable costs for each kilowatt hour of generating electricity by Magnox, ACR, Sizewell B, United Kingdom coal, imported coal and CCGT.

Mr. Eggar : My Department is assessing the relative costs of coal- fired and other sources of generation as part of the Government's coal review.

Overseas Contracts

Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the estimated value of contracts between United Kingdom industry and (a) Iraq, (b) Iran and (c) Indonesia since the installation of the current regimes in each country.

Mr. Needham : Figures for contract values are unobtainable. The value of United Kingdom exports of goods to the countries in question was as follows. Iraq from 1979 to October 1992 £5,092.2 million, Iran from 1989 to October 1992 £1,563.1 million, Indonesia from 1966 to October 1992 £4,374.1 million. Figures for 1965 are not available.

Economic Trends

Mr. Rathbone : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what forecast he has made of trends in the economy in the south-east region between 1993 and 1998.

Mr. Sainsbury : My Department does not forecast future trends in regional economic performance.

Power Station, Wirral

Mr. Parry : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the applications currently before his Department or the Office of Electricity Regulation to build a gas power station on the Wirral ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar : None.

Micro-wave Transceiver

Mr. Purchase : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what research he has commissioned into the biological effect on people from micro-wave transceivers of the type currently being positioned on the top of high-rise council flats in Wolverhampton ; and what assessment he has made of whether the equipment which his Department has licensed companies to install meets the appropriate British and international standards necessary to safeguard residents from any harmful effects.


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Mr. Leigh : The Radiocommunications Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry monitors work undertaken, in the United Kingdom and abroad, on the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation. The agency's memorandum entitled "Safety Precautions Relating to Intense Radio Frequency Radiation"--RA 119--refers to the exposure levels recommended by the Medical Research Council and is available to manufacturers, owners, employers and operators who have a responsibility in relation to the safe use of radio.

Vietnam

Mr. Mullin : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to review the ban on ECGD cover for trade with Vietnam ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Needham : There is no ban on ECGD cover for Vietnam. The availability of such cover for any market is dependent upon the ECGD's assessment of the risks and payment performance.

In the case of Vietnam, the ECGD will consider United Kingdom investments. However, cover for medium and long term trade credits was withdrawn following defaults on payment. Unfortunately these remain unremedied, but the ECGD will continue to watch developments closely with a view to resuming cover when conditions are sufficiently improved.

Rural Post Offices

Mr. Llwyd : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what changes are envisaged in the provision of Government services over the counters of post offices in Wales in the light of the recent statement by the Post Office ; and what representations have been made about the needs of rural Wales in this regard.

Mr. Leigh : It is not envisaged that any changes in the provision of Government services over the counters of post offices in Wales will result from the restructuring of Post Office Counters Ltd. which was announced on 3 December. No representations have been received about the needs of rural Wales in the specific context of this restructuring which will have no effect on the number on staffing of individual post offices.

Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Mr. Hague : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the future of the small firms loan guarantee scheme.

Mr. Heseltine : I am today announcing a number of changes to the small firms loan guarantee scheme which will focus lending more closely on those businesses which will most benefit from this type of support.

First, in order to give greater assistance to businesses in our inner cities I will be extending and further enhancing the scheme's inner city variant which already provides additional benefits over the main scheme. From April next year the special terms will be available to eligible small firms in successful city challenge areas as well as those in inner city task force areas. I can announce further help for firms in such areas. The premium paid by firms to the Government for the guarantee will be halved from the current level of 2 per cent. of the guaranteed portion of the loan to 1 per cent.


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These changes will extend the special terms to many more potential borrowers and will enable them to borrow more cheaply.

Two further changes will be made to the scheme overall, also to take effect from April next year. These are :

(i the introduction of a minimum lending level of £5,000 for support under the scheme, except within those areas eligible for the special inner city terms ;

(ii the exclusion of a number of local services where the support for firms has previously been largely at the expense of displacement of business from other firms in the locality. The sectors affected are retaling, hairdressing, taxi and cab hire and motor vehicle repair. In the longer term, I will be exploring how the scheme could further be improved by linking loans with appropriate help, advice and training in business skills.

These changes will help ensure that Government support under the scheme which amounts to £177 million since it began in 1981 and enabled £980 million to be lent to over 32,000 small firms, remains focused on those areas where the maximum benefit can be obtained for businesses and the taxpayer.

Machine Tools Exports

Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total amount of machine tools exported to (a) Iraq and (b) Iran in the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Needham [holding answer 8 December 1992] : The figures for 1991 were as follows :

Iraq--nil.

Iran--£9.5 million.

Manufactured Goods

Mr. Milburn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list in percentage change order the 50 classifications of manufactured goods which have shown greatest imports growth since 1979, and the balance of trade deficit or surplus on each in 1979 and currently.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 10 December 1992] : The standard international trade classification was revised in 1988. It is, therefore, not possible to compare current data with data prior to 1988 at a sufficiently detailed level.

Tropical Timber

Mr. Morley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what quantity of mahogany was imported into the United Kingdom in 1992 to date from Brazil.

Mr. Needham [holding answer 11 December 1992] : The information is not available for 1992 because the United Kingdom trade classification no longer separately indentifies mahogany from other non- coniferous woods. Until 1991 mahogany was identified as code 440723901 of the standard international trade classification, revision 3. The latest available figures are for 1991, when the United Kingdom imported 45,762 cu m of mahogany from Brazil.

Bogus Business Directories

Mr. Hardy : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action he is taking to prevent or discourage the promotion of bogus business directories.

Mr. Leigh [holding answer 11 December 1992] : The Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971 makes it an


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offence to demand payment in respect of a directory entry which has not been ordered by the person concerned. This is effective in preventing any such requests originating in the United Kingdom. My Department publishes warnings and an information sheet to alert businesses to offences by foreign companies.

Financial Reporting Review Panel

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what legislation governs appeals by shareholders against the decisions of the Financial Reporting Review Panel.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : Section 245B of the Companies Act 1985 provides that a person authorised by the Secretary of State may make an application to the courts for a declaration that annual accounts of a company do not comply with the requirements of the Act and for an order requiring the preparation of revised accounts. The Financial Reporting Review Panel--FRRP --has been so authorised. It is for the courts to decide the merits of any case brought by the FRRP. Since the FRRP exercises public law functions under section 245B it is thought that the courts would decide that it is a body subject to judicial review, although this issue has not been before the courts. It is for the courts to decide who could bring applications for judicial review.

TRANSPORT

Nuclear Material

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what number of shipments of plutonium nitrate have taken place from Dounreay to Sellafield since April 1988 ; what routes have been taken ; and what safety assessment his Department has made.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : There have been eight shipments using the route from Thurso by road to Scrabster then by sea to Workington and by road to Sellafield, in flasks approved by the Department in 1979 : this approval has been renewed every three years since then.

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what internal reviews his Department has conducted or commissioned into the criteria developed to assess the standards of integrity of transport containers developed to carry plutonium to and from the United Kingdom.


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