Previous Section Home Page

British Aerospace Redundancies

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has for retraining staff recently declared redundant at British Aerospace,Lostock, Bolton, in skills suitable for employment in other manufacturing industry.

Miss Widdecombe : I understand that both the local training and enterprise council and the Employment


Column 241

Service continue to be closely in touch with British Aerospace about the services they can offer. This includes a range of Government-funded programmes to help redundant people find jobs, retrain or set up their own businesses.

Financial Sector Employees

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 22 February, Official Report, column 201, what account was taken in the figures published in his answer of persons employed in Greater London but not resident in Greater London.

Miss Widdecombe : The figures were from the labour force survey, which is a survey conducted by interviewing people at their home address. They showed the numbers of people employed in banking, finance, insurance and business services who were resident in Greater London. People employed in banking, finance, insurance and business services who are resident outside Greater London are included in LFS analyses according to their area of residence.

Workstart

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many of those who participated in the workstart pilots have gone on to find jobs.

Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 8 March 1994] : The pilots began last July, and we are currently evaluating them. However, since they provide subsidies to employers who recruit eligible long-term unemployed people for 12 months, their effectiveness in helping those people to remain in regular employment without the support of the scheme will not be clear for some time.

Channel Tunnel (Accidents)

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when his Department was first notified of an incident which occurred in the channel tunnel in January in which two channel tunnel workers were taken to hospital for treatment after a bolt of electricity arced across from the main cable ; what is the standard procedure for notifying his Department of accidents in the channel tunnel ; if he will publish a table giving a full list of accidents in or around the channel tunnel notified to his Department,including dates, nature and injuries sustained ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth [pursuant to his reply, 18 February 1994] : I regret that the answer given in my reply of 18 February 1994, Official Report, column 1024, was incomplete and that the final paragraph was omitted. The correct information is as follows : The Health and Safety Executive was notified of this incident on 18 January. It notified the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority on 19 January.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985 apply to the United Kingdom side of the channel tunnel, and reportable accidents and dangerous occurrences must be notified to the HSE. The HSE informs the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority immediately of any fatal accidents or incidents with potential for major consequences. The HSE also


Column 242

reports regularly to the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority other accident information to assist accident prevention on the French side of the project.

The detailed accident information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, between March 1987 and September 1993, the latest date for which information is available, a provisional total of 1,386 accidents which occurred during work on the United Kingdom side of the channel tunnel were reported to the HSE.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

North Korea (Magnox)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government have been requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide details of the Magnox nuclear plant design from which the North Koreans developed its nuclear reactor design for the plant currently part of the nuclear inspection effort of the special IAEA safeguards inspection team presently in North Korea.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Information has been provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Magnox reactor design to allow it to validate a computer programme used for reactor physics calculations. Such calculations can be applied in the safeguarding of any graphite moderated reactor.

Milk Quotas

Mr. Oliver Heald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to challenge the European Commision's decision to reduce penalties on Italy, Spain and Greece for exceeding the milk quotas.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have lodged challenges in the European Court of Justice against the Commission's decisions to reduce the penalties on Italy, Greece and Spain for exceeding their milk quotas in the late 1980s. The challenges affect the 1989 penalties on Italy and the 1990 penalties on all three countries. We believe the Commission exceeded its powers by reducing penalties for these years and by announcing its intention to reduce them in the accounts for 1991-1993. The rules on milk quotas are rigorously implemented in the United Kingdom and we expect the Commission to ensure that they are properly enforced elsewhere in the European Community. Taxpayers in the Community should not have to shoulder the loss to the Community budget of some £2 billion which the Commission's actions could entail.

Sudan

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration has been given to a United Nations embargo on oil imports into Sudan ; and what are the objections to such a move.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : A global embargo on oil imports would require the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution. We have not ruled out recourse to the UN Security Council but would not want to pursue this option unless we were sure that this was the right tactic.


Column 243

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will take action at the United Nations to insist that previously inaccessible areas of Sudan such as the Nuba mountains are opened up to human rights organisations and international aid organisations.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We whole-heartedly supported the recent resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, which called upon all parties to the civil war to permit international agencies, including human rights organisations, and humanitarian organisations access to the civilian population throughout Sudan. We are pressing this point again at the present meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries on the United Nations Security Council are resistant to any further moves being taken to increase pressure on Sudan to improve its record on human rights.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : China voted against the 1993 United Nations General Assembly resolution on the human rights situation in Sudan and was the only United Nations Security Council member to do so.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to approach the participants in the Sudanese civil war to see if they would agree to the establishment of safe havens in southern Sudan and in the Nuba mountains ; and what was their response.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development leaders have yet to succeed in bringing all parties to the civil war to the negotiating table, and have therefore not had the opportunity formally to suggest confidence building measures of the sort suggested by the hon. Gentleman.

Armenia

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had about his countrie's application for membership of the Council of Europe with the President of Armenia during his recent visit.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Armenia has not applied for Council of Europe membership and the issue was not raised during President Ter-Petrossian's recent visit.

Russian Army

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his estimate of the strength of the Russian Army in Kaliningrad ; what assessment he has made as to whether it conforms to the CFE treaty and other commitments ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Russian ground forces in the Kaliningrad oblast number about 41,500 of which some 38,000 are Russian army personnel. The equipment and manpower ceilings imposed respectively by the conventional armed forces in Europe treaty and the concluding act of the negotiation on personnel strength of conventional armed forces in Europe do not come into effect until November 1995.


Column 244

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role and responsibilities of the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The creation in December 1993 of the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a wide-ranging mandate, marked a significant step forward in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. The post will complement and reinforce existing human rights machinery.

Freephone and Freepost

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of freephone and freephone facilities currently being operated by his Department ; how much these facilities are costing ; for what purposes these facilities are being used ; and how much his Department has spent on operating freephone and freepost facilities in each financial year since 1979.

Mr. Goodlad : The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not entered into any agreement to subscribe to freephone or freepost number facilities. Staff can use the national freepost number, 0800, but are automatically barred by our telephone exchanges from using the premium rate numbers 0898 and 0891. Consequently there are no costs involved.

Azerbaijan

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had about his country's application for membership of the Council of Europe with the President of Azerbaijan during his recent visit.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Azerbaijan has not applied for Council of Europe membership and the issue was not raised during President Aliev's recent visit.

Iraq

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will lift the embargo on trade with Iraq.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Sanctions will not be lifted until Iraq complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Israeli Settlers

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the Israeli Government to disarm Israeli settlers, to commit itself to no further settlements in Palestinian -occupied territory and to see that existing settlements are effectively policed.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : It is very important that the Government of Israel disarm extremist settlers. We welcome the actions announced so far by the Israeli Prime Minister including consideration of outlawing two extremist settler organisations. Our view remains that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.


Column 245

Foreign Affairs Council

Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council on 21 and 22 February.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 21 and 22 February.

The Council discussed preparations for the Marrakesh ministerial meeting in April at which the final act of the Uruguay round will be signed. There was agreement that the final act should be signed by both the Commission and the member states and that member states should participate in the world trade organisation. It was also agreed that the European Parliament should be consulted under the assent procedure on the Community's acceptance of the world trade organisation agreement.

The Commission's proposal for a reciprocal agreement between the United States and the European Community on the mutual recognition of spirit designations was agreed by a qualified majority, with Greece and Italy voting against. The agreement will protect the designation of six EC spirits in the United States, including Scotch whisky, and two United States spirits in the EC.

Ministers discussed the safeguard procedures in the EEA internal regulation. No decision was reached. Ministers also discussed the recent Swiss vote to ban all HGV transit traffic within 10 years. The Commission was asked to prepare a report on how this vote would effect the proposed negotiations on EC-Swiss transport agreements. The Council agreed an European Union position on structural funds for the accession negotiations with the four applicants. The Council was followed by ministerial negotiating sessions with the applicants. A package of secondary issues was agreed with the Finns. The applicants outlined their concerns on the agriculture and regional policy dossiers. Further discussion of these was left for the 25 to 28 February special ministerial meeting on enlargement.

Ministers discussed arrangements for financing costs arising under the intergovernmental pillars of the treaty on European Union and agreed to return to the issue at a future meeting.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Coal Privatisation

6. Mr. Wray : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to meet the chairman of British Coal to discuss the privatisation of the coal industry.

Mr. Eggar : Both the President and I meet the chairman regularly to discuss the privatisation of the coal industry and other matters.

Electricity Industry

21. Mr. Maxton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he is meeting the Director General of Electricity Supply to discuss the agreement between OFFER and the two generators, National Power and PowerGen, on electricity prices and the sale of plant.

Mr. Eggar : My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I meet the Director-General of Electricity Supply from time to time to discuss various issues.


Column 246

Industrial Growth

22. Mr. Mark Robinson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what forecasts he has made for industrial growth in the United Kingdom and other EU countries.

Mr. Heseltine : United Kingdom and Ireland are estimated to be the only EC economies where industrial production rose last year. Both the OECD and the European Commission are forecasting that the United Kingdom will be the fastest-growing major economy in 1994 and 1995.

Nuclear Industry

23. Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the implications of the recent announcement of the part-privatisation of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for the nuclear industry's future.

Mr. Eggar : The AEA provides services to the nuclear industry and to a wide range of non-nuclear customers. I believe that privatisation will lead to a greater cost-effectiveness and better value for money for all the AEA's customers.

Land Mines

24. Mr. Cohen : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a further statement on his Department's policy on the export of land mines.

Mr. Needham : I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Leyton on 12 January, Official Report, column 168.

Business Confidence

25. Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he next proposes to meet the Confederation of British Industry to discuss business confidence.

Mr. Heseltine : My Department has frequent contact with the CBI and its members to discuss a variety of matters of mutual interest. I regularly receive the results of the CBI quarterly survey, the most recent of which showed the fifth consecutive rise in business confidence.

Manufacturing Industry

26. Mr. Sheerman : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of United Kingdom manufacturing industry is now owned by foreign companies.

Mr. Heseltine : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry on 23 February 1994, Official Report, column 230.

35. Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his strategy to promote the growth of United Kingdom manufacturing industry including research and development.

Mr. McLoughlin : My Department's refocused innovation policy seeks to promote manufacturing industry by putting more resources into helping companies--especially smaller companies--gain access to and exploit technology, whether from the United Kingdom or overseas.


Column 247

Environmental Technology Exports

27. Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the value of British exports in environmental technology, at the latest date for which figures are available ; and what share this represents of world trade.

Mr. Needham : Exports of pollution control and monitoring equipment totalled some £480 million in 1992. Figures for world trade are not available on the same basis, but in 1991 exports from the United Kingdom are estimated to have accounted for approximately 10 per cent. of exports of this type of equipment from OECD countries.

Small Firms

28. Mr. Wigley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will take steps to amend company law to safeguard small companies threatened as a result of the insolvency of larger companies who are their customers.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have no such plans.

Pit Closures

29. Mr. Skinner : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he next intends to meet the chairman of British Coal to discuss pit closures.

Mr. Eggar : Both my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I meet the chairman of British Coal regularly to discuss a variety of coal industry matters.

Shipbuilding Industry

30. Mr. Hutton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the future prospects for the British shipbuilding industry.

Mr. Sainsbury : It is generally expected that there will be an upturn in demand for merchant ships in the second half of the decade, which will provide more opportunities for the shipbuilding industry.

Motor Car Production

31. Mr. Dykes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the current levels of motor car production in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) France and (c) Germany.

Mr. Sainsbury : In 1993 the United Kingdom produced 1.376 million cars, France 2.836 million and the provisional figure for Germany is 3.753 million.

Companies (Political Donations)

32. Mr. Turner : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will seek to amend the Companies Act 1985 to provide for more publicity to be given to political donations made by companies.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : No. The present law requires sufficient disclosure. The Companies Act 1985 requires companies to disclose, in their directors' reports,political donations exceeding £200.

Mobile Phones

33. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures his Department is taking to lessen the possibility of theft and fraudulent use of mobile phones.


Column 248

Mr. McLoughlin : The scale of mobile phone thefts, and their subsequent fraudulent use, is of considerable concern to the Government, the companies involved and the victims of these crimes. I met my hon. Friend and a delegation from the Federation of Communication Services recently to discuss what further steps could be taken to tackle this problem. I welcome the initiatives which the industry is already taking, including wider use of equipment marking schemes and improved control of electronic serial numbers. My Department, with the Home Office and Oftel, are discussing with the industry how these initiatives should be pursued further. The Government are considering the proposals from my hon. Friend and the FCS for introducing a new criminal offence of reprogramming a mobile phone. In doing so, we shall have particular regard to whether mobile phone users can be adequately protected if such an offence is created, and whether any new offence would in practice be at all effective in reducing the problem of mobile phone thefts.

Iron And Steel Scrap

34. Mr. Barnes : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he next plans to meet representatives of the British Foundry Association to discuss iron and steel scrap prices ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : I shall be meeting a delegation of hon. Members and representatives of the steel and foundry industries on 14 March.

Wide-bodied Large Aircraft

36. Mr. Eastham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance his Department will give to the British aerospace industry towards developing the next generation of wide-bodied large aircraft.

Mr. Sainsbury : Any application for assistance towards developing new wide-bodied aircraft will be considered on merit and in the light of competing calls on public funds.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

37. Mr. Steen : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to review the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : Under the Government's deregulation initiative, Departments are reviewing all 3,500 regulations for which they are responsible which impose burdens upon business.

The document "Deregulation : Cutting Red Tape" published on 19 January sets out at pages 36 to 44 the deregulatory action my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has already taken and is considering taking to revise the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Energy Exports

38. Mr. Elletson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to assist United Kingdom energy companies to win export orders.

Mr. Needham : The DTI and FCO's overseas trade services provide a broad package of support and market advice which is available to companies in the energy sector, as indeed it is to those in all sectors.


Column 249

Special initiatives are also undertaken, such as outward missions to markets of particular interest to energy companies. Recent missions arranged by the projects export promotion division of the DTI visited China, Vietnam and India. In addition, the Minister for Energy,has visited south-east Asia, Kazakhstan and Algeria to promote the United Kingdom's wide-ranging expertise in the energy sector. PEP also provides the secretariat for the power sector working group of the Overseas Projects Board ; which is a working group of senior personnel from industries involved in power generation, including generators, manufacturers and distributors. Its aim is to support initiatives to improve the United Kingdom's performance in winning overseas power project contracts.

The DTI's oil and gas projects and supplies office, which provides support for United Kingdom industry's effort to win orders in international oil and gas markets in the upstream, downstream and petrochemical sectors, has increased the resources which it devotes to export promotion. OSO's support for United Kingdom involvement in overseas markets is being given the highest priority.

Motor Industry (Japanese Investment)

Mr. Michael : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to encourage an increase in the level of Japanese investment in the motor industry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Government welcome inward investment. Japanese automotive companies have brought jobs and helped transform United Kingdom technical and management practices. We believe that the Government's commitment to their success will lead them to make further investments in the United Kingdom.

Insolvency Service

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are his proposals for monitoring insolvency practitioners in the future ; and how unfit practitioners will be struck off.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : Following discussions between my Department's Insolvency Service and the professional bodies recognised to authorise insolvency practitioners, the professional bodies have begun putting in place programmes for the routine monitoring of their practitioners. This work was previously carried out by the Insolvency Service, which will continue to monitor the activities of practitioners authorised by the Secretary of State.

In addition to the routine monitoring programmes, the professional bodies will continue, as previously, to respond to complaints about practitioners and carry out inspections of practices where necessary. The Insolvency Service will assist the bodies in the early stages of their monitoring programmes and is taking a close interest in the development of standards and consistency of approach in this area. Each of the professional bodies has disciplinary procedures in place to deal with complaints about practitioners and there is a range of sanctions available to the bodies including withdrawal of authorisation where it appears to the body that the practitioner is no longer fit and proper. Similarly, the Secretary of State has the power to


Column 250

withdraw the authorisation of a practitioner authorised by him subject to the practitioner's right to have the matter referred to the insolvency practitioners tribunal.

Plutonium

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of the 24,000 kg of plutonium in nuclear fuel rods awaiting reprocessing at Sellafield, listed on page four of his departmental press release P/94/121 of 1 March,comprising the seventh annual publication of plutonium figures, is (a) owned by foreign customers and (b) destined for reprocessing through the thermal oxide reprocessing plant ; and if he will make a statement on the safeguards applied to this plutonium.

Mr. Eggar : All the material in question is subject to the terms of the United Kingdom--International Atomic Energy Agency--Euratom Safeguards agreement. The majority of it is owned by overseas customers and destined for reprocessing in THORP.

Japanese Inward Investment

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment his Department has made of the levels of Japanese inward investment for 1995,1996 and 1997 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : Future levels of inward investment are difficult to assess, however it is widely accepted that the current level of interest from Japanese investors is unlikely to increase until the economic situation in Japan improves.

The warm welcome which this Government and country have for long given to investment from Japan remains as positive as ever. It is therefore encouraging to note that, even though the level of investment from Japan has decreased in recent years, the United Kingdom has maintained its position as the preferred location for Japanese companies with over 41 per cent.--by value to March 1993 --of the total Japanese investment in the EC. Future investment from Japan is likely to come from small and medium sized companies, expansions by existing investors and research and development investment, including local research and development departments being set up by manufacturers already in Europe.

Source : Japanese Ministry of Finance.


Next Section

  Home Page