|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Hanley : During the recruiting year 1993-94 the Royal Navy has recruited 40 officers and 223 ratings from the North region. Information on applicants' preference is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Note : The North region is defined as the area from Cumbria to Cleveland northwards, including Northern Ireland.
Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the United Kingdom's home military bases, their locations and the number of service personnel based and civilian staff employed at each of them.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the internal investigation into the incident between HMS Valiant and the fishing vessel Audacious to be made available to members of the Department of Transport's fishing industry safety committee sub-group dealing with submarine and fishing vessels matters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : The investigation into the incident between HMS Valiant and fishing vessel Audacious has now been completed and the findings are being examined. As I indicated in the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) on 18 January 1994, Official Report , column 506 , the findings of the investigation will shortly be made available to the members of the Department of Transport's fishing industry safety group sub-group on submarine and fishing vessel interaction, which includes representatives of the fisherman's federations.
Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the notice required to be given to witnesses or persons appearing before a regimental board of inquiry about their right to be represented.
Mr. Hanley : There is no set period of notice required to be given to persons appearing before regimental inquiries or boards of inquiry. Reasonable steps are taken to ensure that those witnesses who are likely to be affected by the outcome of the board of inquiry, and are therefore entitled to be legally represented, have the opportunity to seek legal representation.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he has commissioned within his Department, or from outside consultants, any study on the long-term safety of the high-level liquid nuclear waste storage tanks at Sellafield ; and what is his policy in regard to evaluating independent expert reviews of nuclear waste storage safety.
Mr. Eggar : No, this is a matter for British Nuclear Fuels plc subject to the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate's views as to safety. Where appropriate, the NII considers factors such as studies by independent experts in its assessment of operators' safety cases.
Thousands Year |England |Wales |Scotland|United |Kingdom ------------------------------------------------------ 1964 |373.0 |79.4 |52.9 |505.3 1965 |353.9 |73.8 |49.6 |477.3 1966 |326.4 |64.9 |44.9 |436.2 1967 |307.7 |60.1 |41.9 |409.7 1968 |274.7 |54.1 |36.0 |364.8 1969 |240.1 |47.1 |31.5 |318.7 1970 |223.4 |42.2 |30.1 |295.7 1971 |216.4 |39.9 |30.1 |286.4 1972 |207.6 |38.0 |28.4 |274.0 1973 |200.9 |36.0 |26.7 |263.6 1974 |186.0 |32.2 |24.3 |242.5 1975 |190.9 |33.1 |24.8 |248.8 1976 |188.3 |31.8 |23.6 |243.7 1977 |188.0 |31.2 |22.9 |242.1 1978 |187.2 |30.2 |21.9 |239.3 1979 |182.8 |28.6 |21.0 |232.4 1980 |184.6 |27.6 |21.0 |233.2 1981 |178.4 |26.6 |19.8 |224.8 1982 |169.9 |25.5 |17.4 |212.8 1983 |162.3 |23.9 |16.5 |202.7 1984 |146.7 |21.3 |13.1 |181.1 1985 |139.6 |20.5 |11.3 |171.4 1986 |116.1 |14.7 |7.7 |138.5 1987 |94.4 |11.0 |4.5 |109.9 1988 |74.9 |10.6 |3.5 |89.0 1989 |69.8 |8.0 |2.4 |80.2 1990 |58.8 |5.1 |1.5 |65.4 1991 |52.8 |3.1 |1.4 |57.3 1992 |40.8 |1.6 |1.3 |43.7 1993 |29.3 |1.2 |1.2 |31.7 <1>1994 |9.6 |0.4 |1.0 |11.0 <1> Men on books at 28 February. Source: British Coal.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many public interest immunity certificates he, or his predecessors, have been asked to sign in each year since 1979 ; how many he or t of public interest immunity certificates signed since 1979.
The use of public interest immunity certificates is currently an issue before Lord Justice Scott's inquiry. I have already given my evidence to the inquiry.
Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what changes he plans to introduce to the current arrangements for retailing newspapers following the publication of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on newsagents.
Mr. Butler : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the Government's assistance for exceptional projects scheme of financial support for investment and research and development projects.
Mr. Sainsbury : I announced on 26 January 1993 the suspension of the assistance for exceptional projects scheme from 1 March 1993 until April 1994. I have decided to maintain this suspension until at least the end of June 1994.
Mr. Roger Evans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he intends to introduce a regional challenge as part of the way in which the European regional development fund will be deployed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heseltine : It is my intention to introduce, consistently with the council regulations, a new competitive element in the way that ERDF money is allocated in objective 1, 2 and 5b areas of England. Under this regional challenge, modelled on the city challenge concept, a proportion of ERDF money, to be determined in agreement with the Commission, would be allocated separately by competition on the basis of local regeneration or development proposals submitted by local partnerships.
Column 205Competition would take place only within each community support framework area. The distribution of the structural funds between the regions would not be affected.
I believe that this initiative will stimulate local communities to work together to produce imaginative proposals, encourage a more coherent overall approach to local issues, lever in significantly increased private sector funding and enhance value for money. Relevant United Kingdom public expenditure programmes, including the single regeneration budget, will in principle be available within existing public expenditure provision to contribute towards successful bids alongside the ERDF and other resources. The arrangements will be administrated in each region by the integrated regional offices.
Regional challenge should enhance the effectiveness of the structural funds in each community support framework area. The initiative will be worked up in consultation with the local partnerships and with the agreement of the Commission, with the aim of introducing it when the community support frameworks are adopted later this year.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales intends to open discussions immediately on the introduction of a separate regional challenge scheme in the Principality.
Mr. McLoughlin : Persons who do not wish to receive unsolicited mail can have themselves removed from most mailing lists by registering with the mailing preference service. I see no need for additional regulation in this area.
At the European level, the Community has so far spent over 1 BECU-- £700 million--through the research in advanced communications for Europe--RACE--programme. The research carried out will assist the development of integrated broadband communications.
At a national level, my Department jointly sponsors with the Science and Engineering Research Council, the following relevant link programmes : personal communications, £20 million, higher performance interfaces and protocols, £8 million, computer supported co-operative work, £13 million, and optoelectronic systems, £30 million. A recent study conducted for the Department of the international competitiveness of the United Kingdom telecommunications infrastructure concluded that the United Kingdom's existing information infrastructure can stand comparison with the best in the world. The work referred to will help to ensure that United Kingdom maintains this position.
Mr. Mills : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he plans to announce the recommendations of his consultants and his conclusions on the consultation period on the proposed privatisation of the Patent Office ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : I am still considering the report by the consultants on the review of the Patent Office, along with the views which have been put to the consultants and direct to my Department during the course of the review. I shall announce my conclusions as soon as I am in a position to do so.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 16 February, Official Report , columns 828-30 , what was the estimated percentage United Kingdom content of the cars manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1973 ; what is his estimate of the content in 1993 ; and if he will estimate the number of each category of cars produced by Rover and the overall United Kingdom content, including the operating profit but excluding licence payments.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 9 February, Official Report , column 319 , what are his reasons for expecting the takeover of Rover by BMW to make Rover more competitive than it would have been under the pre-existing arrangements with Honda ; and whether his expectation includes (a) overseas markets as well as the United Kingdom market, (b) cars as well as utilities, (c) medium cars as well as small cars and (d) contract suppliers as well as Rover itself.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report , columns 615-16 , if he will make a statement on the reasons why the number of fraudulent trading convictions submitted by bodies other than the Insolvency Service fell from five in 1992-93 to two in 1993-94.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The number of cases submitted by bodies other than the Insolvency Service which contain allegations of possible offences of fraudulent trading, and the number of prosecutions arising from such referrals, is small. The variations from year to year are erratic.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement as to how his consultants on the privatisation of the Insolvency Service should compare the efficiency of the Insolvency Service with that of insolvency practitioners with regard to mechanical processing work in the absence of data on the number of voluntary liquidations completed in any year.
Column 207private sector contractors with that provided by official receivers in performing those mechanical, processing tasks carried out by official receivers.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the current proposals being drawn up by the Insolvency Service agency for major information technology expenditure where the proposals have not yet been quantified or approved.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Insolvency Service continues to explore the possibility of productive investment in information technology across the range of its functions and in the light of its likely business needs.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much of the expenditure on information technology during the last five years and the expected expenditure during the next five years by the Insolvency Service relates to (a) mechanical processing work and (b) investigation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The bulk of the service's information technology expenditure over the last five years and during the next few years has been and will continue to be made in three areas. These are :
(i) development and support for the Insolvency Service information system mainframe system ;
(ii) development and installation of the service's local office information system--LOIS--which will replace ISIS in due course ; and (
(iii) the development of a new computer system for central accounting unit.
Both ISIS and LOIS supports the range of the service's functions.
Column 208Report, columns 419-20, what assessment he has made of the reasons why authorising bodies have struck off only one unfit insolvency practitioner since the introduction of the Insolvency Act 1986 where the initial complaint did not originate with the Insolvency Service ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Many complaints about the conduct of insolvency practitioners are made initially to my Department's Insolvency Service, notwithstanding that the particular practitioner concerned is authorised by one of the recognised professional bodies. This may be because the complainant is not aware of the authorisation procedures introduced by the Insolvency Act 1986 or, alternatively, he does not know by which of the bodies the practitioner is authorised.
The Insolvency Service refers such complaints to the appropriate authorising body to take such action as may be appropriate.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many trials for fraudulent trading resulted in an acquittal for each of the past five years ; and how many of those trials were instituted by the Insolvency Service.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The figures for trials in proceedings brought by my Department where any defendant pleaded not guilty to one or more charges of fraudulent trading are set out in the following table. Records are not kept in such a form that information about the origin of all these cases is readily available, but I can say that in 1992-93 seven of the unsuccessful trials arose from investigations by the Insolvency Service and that in 1993 -94 all of the unsuccessful trials arose from such investigations.
Fraudulent trading cases 1 April 1989-4 March 1994 Year |Total number of |Number of successful|Number of |unsuccessful |trials |trials --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1989-90 |18 |14 |4 1990-91 |14 |11 |3 1991-91 |27 |8 |9 1992-93 |27 |17 |10 1993<1> |29 |18 |11 <1>To 4 March 1994. Note: "Trials" means contested cases where one of the main counts is fraudulent trading. "Successful" means a conviction is secured for fraudulent trading against one or more defendants in the trial. "Unsuccessful" means no conviction for fraudulent trading was secured against any defendant in the trial. It includes cases where one or more convictions were secured in other counts, for example for Theft Act offences or for failure to keep proper accounting records. The figures are for cases prosecuted by the DTI. Other agencies, such as the Crown Prosecution Service, also prosecute offences of fraudulent trading.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the cost of employing consultants on the privatisation of the Insolvency Service ; and if the cost will be met from the Insolvency Service budget.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The purpose of the review of the future of the Insolvency Service is to examine the ways in which official receivers may concentrate more on their investigatory role by involving the private sector more in the mechanical processing work in insolvencies. The cost of the review, which is commercially confidential, will be met from Insolvency Service resources.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many compulsory insolvencies distinguishing between companies and personal bankruptcies were dealt with by insolvency practitioners in 1991-92, 1992- 93 and 1993-94.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The number of compulsory insolvencies passed to insolvency practitioners and the number of final accounts received from them on conclusion of their administration were as follows :
J 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 Cases to Final Cases to Final Cases to Final |IPs |a/c's |IPs |a/c's |IPs<1> |a/c's<2> -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bankruptcy |5,150 |2,844 |5,258 |3,024 |4,125 |2,969 Companies |1,514 |927 |1,417 |1,030 |1,119 |1,015 |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- Total |6,664 |3,771 |6,675 |4,054 |5,244 |3,984 <1> 9 months to 31 December 1993 <2> 11 months to 28 February 1994
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many directions to proceed with disqualification were issued in official receiver cases in 1992-93 and 1993-94 ; and if he will make a statement as to the reasons underlying the change in numbers.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : In 1992-93 there were 164 directions to proceed with disqualification proceedings in official receiver cases. In 1993-94 there were 50 directions for the nine months ended 31 December 1993.
The decline in the number of proceedings issued is a consequence of the reduced investigative time available to official receivers in the light of recent high levels of compulsory insolvencies.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list those areas in the United Kingdom originally designated for European Community objective 5b assistance but subsequently removed from such designation, giving the size and population of each area.
Mr. Sainsbury : In its announcement of 21 December 1993, the European Commission proposed an objective 5b population for the United Kingdom of 2.816 million. It did not designate precise areas but invited the Government to define in detail areas within the population total. The Commission subsequently increased this total to 2.841 million.
In order to accommodate a small number of additional areas originally proposed by the Government for objective 2, and in order to express the population of all the areas concerned on a different statistical basis requested by the Commission, it was necessary to propose a marginal adjustment to many of the areas originally proposed for objective 5b.
Where an adjustment led to a net reduction in the proposed population for an area it was in the range from 2 to 11 per cent. The sum of these adjustments led to a total net reduction of 136,000. There were no implications for the United Kingdom's financial allocation under objective 5b.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the implications of the introduction of optical character recognition equipment in sorting offices for employment levels in the Post Office.
Column 210implications of the introduction of optical character recognition in sorting offices for employment levels in the Post Office as this is an operational matter for the Post Office board. I understand from the Post Office that any reduction in staffing levels to date has been achieved without compulsory redundancies and that it hopes to continue on this basis.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the impact of the regulatory regime in the United Kingdom on the ability of British Telecom to be a major player in global telecommunications.
Mr. McLoughlin : Current telecommunications regulation achieves a good balance between the need to ensure real and effective competition and the need to avoid over-burdensome restrictions on companies. BT has benefited from its experience in the liberalised United Kingdom environment. This has been in large part responsible for its development into an internationally successful company.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 18 January, Official Report, column 513, if he will make a statement on why Classic FM was used by his Department in its advertising campaign regarding the submission of company accounts ; and what other media outlets his Department considered, or employed.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Responsiility for the subject has been delegated to the chief executive of the Companies House executive agency for which my Department is responsible. I have, therefore, asked Mr. David Durham to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from Mr. David Durham to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 3 March 1994 :
On 2 March you tabled the following Parliamentary Question : "To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his Answer of 18th January, Official Report, column 513, if he will make a statement on why Classic FM was used by his Department in its advertising campaign regarding the submission of company accounts ; and what other media outlets his Department considered, or employed."
Following the answer given by Mr. Neil Hamilton MP, I am replying as Chief Executive of Companies House.
I have made use of Classic FM because it was an appropriate radio station for a national filing awareness campaign, having the most appropriate demographic profile of the national commercial stations. As I commented in my previous letter, 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.
Column 211Companies House does recognise 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 were deeply disappointed to learn from independent research that 55 per cent. of company directors did not know what their due dates were. 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 all accounts and the mandatory penalties which apply.
A variety of media are considered to ensure that company directors are aware of these facts and the penalties that apply. These include commercial radio, inserts in technical press, national press and direct reminders, all of which have been used at various times to good effect. In addition, as indicated in our winning Charter Mark submission, we attend roadshows, exhibitions, hold customer days, issue Notes for Guidance and provide a central enquiry unit. Independent market research is commissioned to monitor the effectiveness of our communications. Recent results indicated that 75 per cent. of accountants and 49 per cent. of companies thought it was important that Companies House should advertise to inform and remind companies of their due dates for filing.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Rowlands : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the occasions since 1979 when Ministers have issued written instructions to override his Department's accounting officer's objections.
Mr. Eggar [holding answer 24 February 1994] : From records currently available there have been no such occasions in the Department of Trade and Industry, but formal directions have been issued to ECGD on three occasions, all of which have been reported to Parliament-- Official Report , 8 July 1981, columns 125-26 ; 16 October 1990, columns 771-72 , and 30 June 1993, column 511 .
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 7 March 1994] : In the first place I look to the solicitor to the Department of Trade and Industry and his staff. I also have access, where necessary, to advice from the law officers. In cases where special expertise is required or where the effective use of resources makes this desirable, I make use of the services of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and of the Bar or solicitors in private practice.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of whether present arrangements are sufficient to ensure that no conflict of interest arises when investigating accountants are appointed as receivers of a company ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to review the arrangements whereby investigating accountants can be appointed as receivers of a company ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neil Hamilton [holding answer 7 March 1994] : My Department has already contributed to a review of ethical guidance initiated by the insolvency profession which covered, amongst other things, the issue of investigating accountants being appointed receivers and I do not believe further action is appropriate at the moment.
Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made about value added tax exemption being removed following the possible privatisation of the Royal Mail ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 4 March 1994] : The EC sixth VAT directive requires the supply of services by the public postal services to be VAT exempt. A privatised Royal Mail would continue to provide public postal services. The Government are therefore satisfied that VAT would not be charged on stamps sold by a privatised Royal Mail.
Mr. Michael : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will now extend the current review of the enforcement of fire safety legislation to allow further consultation with fire service authorities and with particular reference to the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority.
Mr. Neil Hamilton [holding answer 4 March 1994] : The review of fire safety enforcement and legislation involves consultation with all interested parties. These include representatives of all the various fire service bodies, including the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority.