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Mr. McLoughlin : There was no European Space Year 1993 with which the Government was involved. However, the United Kingdom made a significant contribution to International Space Year 1992, which did much to raise awareness of space through a wide variety of events and activities.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what restrictions are imposed on those allocated radio frequencies regarding hiring these out to third parties.
Mr. McLoughlin : Licences issued by the Radiocommunications Agency under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts authorise the licensee to use one or more radio frequencies for specified purposes. Licences are not transferable and do not permit the licensee to hire out radio channels to third parties except for certain types of licences issued to radio dealers and manufacturers to meet the temporary needs of their customers.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the most recent date on which his Department's export licence unit manual of instructions was revised in respect of weapons or technology used in the manufacture of weapons or military equipment.
Mr. Needham : All staff in the licensing units of the Export Control Organisation were issued with new and very detailed working instructions in March 1993. These instructions are continually brought up to date to reflect changing requirements and circumstances. For example, in the context of arms exports they have just been amended to reflect the use of the new standard document required to accompany consignments of arms transferred between member states of the EC. The ECO will also shortly issue to all its staff a new handbook which will, among other things, consolidate into a single volume many existing separate items of higher level guidance on all aspects of the conduct of the ECO's business.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the implications for United Kingdom policy on commercial reprocessing of nuclear fuel of the extra-territorial mandate to the United States President, contained in United States congressional resolution 1163 as part of the amended Defense Authorisation Bill 1994 (HR 2401) to take action to encourage the reduction of and cessation of civil nuclear reprocessing world wide.
Mr. Eggar : The Government have taken note of this resolution, which is not binding on the United States Administration.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the cost to his Department of the advertising campaign on Classic FM regarding the submission of company accounts ; and at whose instigation the campaign was undertaken.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Responsibility for the subject has been delegated to the chief executive of Companies House, for which my Department is responsible. I have, therefore, asked Mr. David Durham to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from David Durham to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 14 January 1994 :
On 12 January you tabled the following Parliamentary Question : "To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the cost to his department of the advertising campaign on Classic FM regarding the submission of company accounts, and at whose instigation the campaign was undertaken."
Column 513Following the answer given by the President of the Board of Trade, I am replying as Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency.
In the current financial year, Companies House has spent £47,000 on radio advertising with Classic FM with a further £23,500 committed. This figure includes VAT and covers radio advertising paid for directly by Companies House. The campaign was instigated by Companies House.
The introduction of Late Filing Penalties in July 1992 has provided a major boost to the completeness of the company register. However, many companies appear to remain unsure of their filing obligations and continue to file late. Companies House recognises that awareness of the legal obligations, which include dates by which company accounts must be filed, is an important aspect of the process of enabling companies to meet their obligations under the Companies Acts. We see it as our duty to ensure that we use all reasonable means to make the business community aware of the deadlines for filing the accounts and the mandatory penalties which apply. Independent market research is commissioned to monitor the effectiveness of our communications.
I hope this is helpful to you.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 6 December, Official Report, column 36 , when the hon. Member for Don Valley can expect to receive a list of biographical details and relevant dates of appointment of members of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have now written to the hon. Member with the information requested. I apologise for any inconvenience caused to the hon. Member by the delay in providing this.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 15 December, Official Report, column 681, in what form information in respect of the annual heating bills to his Department's offices is available.
Mr. Eggar : The costs of energy consumption disaggregated by building or by use are not available. Overall expenditure on energy has been :
|£ million ------------------------------ 1990-91 |5.16 1991-92 |5.95 1992-93 |5.49
These figures include estimated apportionments of costs in multi-occupancy buildings, and include former Department of Energy buildings throughout. We do not have comprehensive data before 1990-91 and data for 1993-94 have not yet been collated.
Mr. McAllion : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish for each service that has been market tested in his Department in 1993 (a) the cost of the testing process, including consultancy costs, (b) the result of the test, (c) the name of the successful contractor, (d) the value and duration of the contract, (e) the number of staff involved, (f) estimated annual cost reductions and (g) whether the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 were deemed to apply.
Mr. Eggar : My Department is currently analysing the outcome of the 1992-93 "Competing for Quality" programme with the efficiency unit in the Cabinet Office. Much of the information requested in the question will, once it has been finalised, be published in aggregate form in the "Citizen's Charter Second Report". On an individual contract basis, much of the information is commercially confidential.
Mr. Page : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what would be the expected net inflow to the United Kingdom recording rights owners of a harmonised European private copying royalty on blank tapes and recording equipment.
Mr. McLoughlin : The European Commission has not submitted any proposal for harmonised European private copyright royalty, nor is it clear whether or when it will do so. It is therefore not possible to say what money flows involving the United Kingdom would occur, since these would be determined by factors which cannot be known in the absence of a proposal, in particular the rate of royalty and whether payments are to be made to nationals of countries outside the European Union.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the average cost of (a) erecting and (b) maintaining local low- power television relay masts in the United Kingdom.
Mr. McLoughlin : The average cost of erecting a low-power broadcaster's television relay station is in the order of £40,000, with maintenance costs of about £3,000 per year. However, these costs can be markedly affected by factors such as site rental and access, laying- on of electricity at remote sites, and mast erection and equipment housing.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) of 12 January, Official Report, column 167, if he will give the basis for his statement on the number of jobs dependent on THORP.
Mr. Eggar : The employment figures given in that answer derive from estimates set out in the British Nuclear Fuels plc document "The Economic and Commercial Justification for THORP". A copy of this document has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the future of the Accounts Service Agency.
Mr. Eggar : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Heald) on 29 October 1993, Official Report, column 805. The review of the Accounts Services Agency has recently been concluded. I hope to make an announcement in the near future.
Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to support the EU Rechar 2 initiative in areas that have suffered substantial job losses in the mining industry.
Mr. Sainsbury : No such initiative yet exists. Precise Commission proposals for the future of the structural fund's community initiatives are still awaited.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment his Department has made of price differentials wthin the European Community between vehicles made by European Community-based manufacturers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The issue of differences in car prices within the European Community has been looked at by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the European Commission. Neither concluded that the difference in prices was the result of anti-competitive practices but both agreed that the market should be kept under review. Car manufacturers now provide details of car prices to the Commission, which publishes comparative EC price lists for selected vehicles twice a year. The latest data relating to the situation on 1 November 1993 indicate that manufacturers have tended to reduce price differentials for most of their models.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the Government's policy on the storage of surpluses of plutonium from reprocessing foreign spent fuel at Sellafield and the length of time that those surpluses will be stored.
Mr. Eggar : Plutonium recovered from reprocessing by British Nuclear Fuels plc will be stored at Sellafield on behalf of the company's customers until transferred to them under safeguards for recycling or other civil purposes. In the meanwhile, storage will be undertaken subject to stringent safety, security and safeguards procedures.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade on what date his Department received the recommendation of the
Director-General of Fair Trading regarding the proposed acquisition by British Bus plc of GM Buses-North ; what was the substance of the Director General of Fair Trading's recommendation ; and when he intends to make a decision on the possible referral of the decision to the Monopolies and mergers Commission.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I understand that the proposed acquisition by British Bus plc of Greater Manchester Buses North Ltd. is currently being considered by the Director General of Fair Trading. Ministers in due course shall need to take a decision on whether or not to refer the acquisition to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, taking account of advice from the Director General. The substance of his advice is confidential. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that all relevant factors will be taken into account in considering the case.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received regarding the review of the Post Office ; when his Department is expected to announce the findings of the review ; what consultation his Department has undertaken with other countries during the review ; what has been the total cost to date of the review exercise ; what is the total number of staff employed and resources devoted to the exercise ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : We have received numerous representations on the subject of the Post Office review, including from the Post Office itself, hon. Members, members of the public, other customers of the Post Office, trade unions and other interested parties.
No decisions on the review have yet been taken. We shall make an announcement when they are.
In the course of the review Ministers and officials have looked at the experience of a number of countries in the postal sector, including among others the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada.
I gave the outturn costs for consultancy work on the Post Office review and the sale of Parcelforce in 1992-93 to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon- Tyne, Central (Mr. Brown), Official Report, 5 November 1993, column 513-14.
I gave the figures for the staff employed on the review in my Department in the reply to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), Official Report, 25 November 1993, column 111.
Mr. Meale : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the names of all individuals who are or were members of the House of Lords who since 1979 have been appointed to any quasi-autonomous non- governmental organisations, excluding appointments as justices of the peace, giving in each case the title of the post, any salary payable and the duration of the appointment.
Mr. Eggar [holding answer 11 January 1994] : The table sets out the information available :
Name |Post |Salary |Duration --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Viscount Chelmsford |Member of the Simple Trade | Procedures Board |Unpaid |1 November 1992-31 October 1995 Lord Justice Mustill |Chairman of the Advisory Committee (now Baron Mustill) |on Arbitration Law |Unpaid |1985 to December 1989 Lord Rockley |Member of the Design Council |Unpaid |12 December 1987-20 December 1993 Earl of Limerick |Chairman of the British Overseas Trade | Board |£5,000 per annum |1979 to March 1983 |Member of the British Overseas Trade | Board |Unpaid<1> |November 1984-1991 Earl Jellicoe |Chairman of the British Overseas Trade|£7,500 per annum<2> | Board |£7,726 per annum<3> |£7,988 per annum<4> |£10,000 per annum<5> |£10,760 per annum<6> |£11,515 per annum<7> |April 1982 to 1985 Lord Bridges |Member of the British Overseas Trade | Board |Unpaid<1> |1979-1982 Lord Selsdon |Member of the British Overseas Trade | Board |Unpaid<1> |1983-1985 Baroness Miller |Member of the Monopolies and | Mergers Commission |£12,735 per annum |3 March 1992-31 December 1993 <1>Unpaid (was able to claim expenses when he attended meetings). <2>1 April 1983-31 March 1984. <3>1 April 1984-31 October 1984. <4>1 November 1984-31 December 1984. <5>1 January 1985-30 June 1985. <6>1 July 1985-28 February 1986. <7>1 March 1986-15 July 1986.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to be in a position to announce the final EC agreement on those areas within the United Kingdom which will be eligible for objective 5b funding ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 17 January 1994] : Shortly.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he now intends to announce the scope and terms of reference of the nuclear review ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar [holding answer 17 January 1994] : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Merchant) on 16 December 1993, Official Report, column 759.
Mr. Hardy : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the cost to public funds of the support which is to be available to assist private individuals or companies to prepare bids for the purchase of British Coal collieries and property.
Mr. Eggar [holding answer 17 January 1994] : We announced on 25 March 1993 that up to £1 million would be available to assist management and employee buy-out teams preparing to bid for pits offered for licence or main privatisation.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 7 December 1993, Official Report, column 152, if he will set out those criteria which
Column 518will be used to determine which sequences of nucleotides of specific industrial application, which may be derived from human genes, will be suitable to be patentable.
Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 17 January 1994] : Since the law does not specifically preclude patents for genetic sequences, judgments need to be made on any applications for patents in this area by the patent examiner dealing with a particular application. These judgments will turn on the individual circumstances of the case and the law provides that they can be tested in the courts. It is therefore not possible for the Patent Office to set down specific criteria to determine which sequences may be patentable.
As explained in the answer of 7 December 1993, normal criteria of novelty and inventive step are used to determine when a sequence of nucleotides is patentable. This means, for novelty, that the sequence must not have been disclosed anywhere before the filing of the application and, in relation to the inventive step, that the patent examiner must make a judgment on the degree of ingenuity involved in locating the gene of interest and any subsequent cloning or sequencing work.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the right hon. Member for
Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will publish details of the numbers employed full and part time in the Palace of Westminster ; and if he will break this down by main divisions.
Mr. Beith : Details of those staff employed by the House of Commons Commission are as follows :
Department |Full-time |Part-time |Fixed term |Secondments |permanent |permanent |appointees |staff |staff -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Speaker's Office |11 |1 |Nil |1 Clerk's Department |170 |17 |15 |5 Serjeant's Department |311 |69 |1 |3 Finance and Administration Department |105 |2 |5 |1 Library |153 |33 |Nil |1 Official Report |94 |5 |13 |Nil Refreshment Department |280 |36 |2 |Nil
Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee when the fire regulations for the Palace of Westminster were last reviewed ; and what assessment has been made of their adequacy.
Mr. Ray Powell : The Home Office fire service inspectorate recently reviewed the fire precautions in the Palace of Westminster and recommended additional measures. Works are progressing and a new fire certificate is expected to be issued later this year.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the site of the former forensic science laboratory at Newtownbreda will be sold ; what proposals he has for the future of this site ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir John Wheeler : It is not known at present if the Newtownbreda site will be sold. The site is no longer required by the Northern Ireland Office and its future use is currently under consideration.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the average prison sentence imposed for defaulting on a fine ; what is the average period actually spent in prison by such a defaulter in Northern Ireland ; and what is the average cost of such a person's imprisonment.
Sir John Wheeler : The average prison sentence imposed for fine defaulting in Northern Ireland is 18 days and the average period actually served by such a defaulter is seven days. These figures have remained constant in recent years.
The current weekly cost of a prisoner, inclusive of all categories, in the Northern Ireland prison system is £1,238. No separate figure for fine defaulters is available.
Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish for each service that has been market tested in his Department in 1993 (a) the cost of the testing process, including consultancy costs, (b) the result of the test, (c) the name of the successful contractor, (d) the value and duration of the contract, (e) the number
Column 520of staff involved, (f) estimated annual cost reductions and (g) whether the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 were deemed to apply.
Sir John Wheeler : My Department is currently analysing the outcome of the 1992-93 "Competing for Quality" programme with the efficiency unit in the Cabinet Office. Much of the information requested will, once it has been finalised, be published in aggregate form in the "Citizen's Charter Second Report". On an individual contract basis, much of the information is commercially confidential.
Ms Corston : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will refer the practice of strip searching to the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.
Sir John Wheeler : No. The issues for consideration by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights must be for the commission to determine.
Mr. Faulds : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish the attendance figures for 1993 reported by the Ulster museum, including its outstations, with the percentage increase or decrease on the attendance figures for 1992.
Mr. Ancram : In 1993 a total of 268,300 people visited the Ulster museum and the Armagh County museum--a decrease of 40.5 per cent. on the attendance figure for 1992.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will arrange for a copy of the guidelines issued by broadcasting organisations in the Republic of Ireland arising from the non-renewal of section 31 of the Irish Broadcasting Act 1960 to be placed in the Library ; and how many households in Northern Ireland he estimates are able to receive television and radio broadcasts originating from the Irish Republic.
Sir Patrick Mayhew : It is not considered appropriate to place a copy of the guidelines in the Library. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 television sets can receive signals from the Republic in Northern Ireland ; radio signals can be received in any interference-free area in Northern Ireland.
Lady Olga Maitland : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how the departments of the Northern Ireland civil service and the Northern Ireland Office are responding to the "next steps" initiative ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir John Wheeler : The response of the Departments of Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Northern Ireland Office to "next steps" forms an important component of the overall programme of civil service management reform in Northern Ireland.
In the province the important work of the administration has continued in spite of the many difficulties faced by our civil servants, in common with the private sector work force. The "next steps" programme is designed to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, and to improve standards of service and value for money. "Next steps" is the vehicle for providing, through those executive agencies which serve the public in Northern Ireland, the improved quality which is necessary if we are to meet our citizens charter commitments. In line with the progress reported by the Government recently in the White Paper on the fourth "Next Steps Review" (Cm 2430), agency coverage in Northern Ireland has been increasing steadily. There are now nine agencies in place covering some 30 per cent. of the work force.
We have plans to look at the scope to extend this coverage to include the remaining significant executive activities, and in doing so to establish, on a case-by-case basis, that these activities continue to be appropriate for the civil service.
There is no presumption that every existing business unit must be an agency. We will wish to confirm, by way of prior options studies, that an activity remains necessary, and also to consider whether it should be pursued through privatisation, or contracting out. Four such studies are coming close to completion and are looking in depth at the Public Records Office, the Estate Services Directorate of the Management Executive for HPSS, the Industrial Research and Technology Unit, and the Forensic Science Laboratory. If agency status is agreed for any of these I will make a further announcement.
The schedule set out lists additional studies for which a timetable is now settled. I am still considering further possibilities, and will make another announcement to the House in due course.
Schedule Dept. |Departmental |proposed |completion dates ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DED |Insolvency Service |by January 1995 DED |Health and Safety |by December 1994 DED |Trading Standards |by April 1994 DFP |Departmental Information |by September 1994 | Systems Units DFP |Telecommunications |by May 1995 DFP |Civil Service Superannuation |by March 1995 | (in conjunction with HPSS | Superannuation) DFP |Business Development Services |by March 1994 DFP |Statistics, Census Office, GRO|by March 1994 DHSS |HPSS Superannuation |See DFP, | Superannuation above DHSS |Health Service Information |by June 1994 | Systems DOE |Roads Services |by December 1994 DOE |Environment Services |by December 1994 DOE |Land/Deeds Registration |by December 1994 DOE |Planning Service |by December 1994 NIO |Prison Service |by June 1994
Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue is forgone by having a lower VAT rate of 2 per cent. rather than 17 per cent. on imported works of art ; and if he will make a statement on the impact of the seventh VAT directive on this.
Sir John Cope : At present works of art are exempt from VAT at importation into the United Kingdom. Under a derogation from the seventh VAT directive agreed in principle at ECOFIN on 13 December the United Kingdom will apply the standard rate of VAT to one-seventh of the value of works of art at importation. This is expected to yield in a full year about £2 million. To apply the standard rate to the whole value would yield more if the market were unaffected but in practice the amount would depend on the effects of such a measure on the United Kingdom art market.
Mrs. Anne Campbell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the average percentage loss of annual income due to the March and November 1993 Budgets for the 10 per cent. lowest income group and the 10 per cent. highest income group.
Mr. Dorrell : Relative to indexation, the main tax-related measures taking effect before the next Budget will cost the 10 per cent. of households with the lowest net incomes, adjusted for family composition, just over 1 per cent. of their net income on average and the 10 per cent. of households with the highest net incomes just under 2 per cent. of their net income on average.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his most recent estimate as to the amount of revenue lost through the purchase of beer made on the continent and sold in the United Kingdom.
Sir John Cope : At this stage Customs and Excise estimate that the revenue loss through illegal sales in the United Kingdom of alcohol and tobacco purchased in other EC member states does not exceed £35 million. The bulk of this is on hand rolling tobacco.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what considerations underlie the practice of destroying alcoholic drinks confiscated by the Customs.
Sir John Cope : Customs destroy seized alcoholic drinks when they judge it necessary to safeguard the Revenue, or to protect the market for legitimate United Kingdom traders, and there is no acceptable alternative means of disposal.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action is being taken to reduce the amount of beer and wine purchased in France for own consumption and then sold in the United Kingdom.
Sir John Cope : The law prescribes severe penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment for anyone attempting to defraud the Revenue in this way. In addition, goods imported by offenders and the vehicles used are liable to seizure. Customs and Excise are using excise verification officers to detect and prosecute the individuals involved. A range of controls are applied, which include checks made at retail outlets. In the 11 months to November 1993, EVOs made 1,016 detections involving £1,624,543 revenue.