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Mr. David Evans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to assist the countries of eastern Europe to benefit from the experience of the United Kingdom in respect of encouraging small businesses and the privatisation of state-owned industries.
Mr. Needham : The know-how fund, for which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible, is the Government's principal programme to assist the countries of eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union, to move to free market economies through the provision of advice and expertise. Two of the know-how fund key priority areas are assistance with the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and the encouragement of privatisation.
Column 468When Ministers from this Department visit the countries of eastern Europe, they use every opportunity to encourage the Governments concerned to continue on the path of economic reform including following policies which will promote the growth of a vibrant small firms sector and accelerate privatisation.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the increase in the United Kingdom of imports of manufactures by the Irish Republic, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal since 1970 ; and what was the forecast in the 1970 "Economic Assessment", Cm 4289.
United Kingdom imports of manufactures (£ million, current prices) Percentage changAnnualised percentage change |1970 |1992 |1993 |1970-92|1970-93|1970-92|1970-93 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Irish Republic |128 |3,249 |n/a |2,432 |n/a |16 |n/a Sweden |236 |2,783 |3,006 |1,077 |1,171 |12 |12 Norway |118 |965 |1,048 |719 |789 |10 |10 Denmark |75 |1,305 |n/a |1,642 |n/a |14 |n/a Switzerland |188 |3,823 |4,375 |1,935 |2,229 |15 |15 Austria |73 |922 |942 |1,157 |1,185 |12 |12 Portugal |56 |962 |n/a |1,604 |n/a |14 |n/a Note: n/a-1993 information on United Kingdom trade with EC member states is not available. Source:Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Needham : The figures for imports by manufacturer are not available. Information on United Kingdom new registrations of Proton cars, all of which were imported from Malaysia, are published annually by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in "Motor Industry of Great Britain : World Automotive Statistics." The most recent data are published in "Monthly Statistical Review". Copies are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : There is no agreed definition on the basis of which to identify bodies as economic development agencies. A number of organisations in the north-west are involved in assisting economic development, some independent, and some directly attached to existing bodies such as local authorities and chambers of commerce. The Government seek to promote a coherent and co-ordinated approach by all these bodies, for example through the business link initiative.
Top ten imports from Malaysia (£ million, currentprices) Commodity |Value --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Microprocessors with a processing capacity between 16 bits and 32 bits. |208 Motor vehicles of a cylinder capacity between 1000cc and 1500cc, new, assembled, other than station wagons and estate cars. |84 Digital monolithic integrated units, other than memories ,microprocessors, microcontrollers; other than gate arrays, standard cells, programmable logic devices; other than control circuits, interface circuits. |51 Data processing equipment, not elsewhere specified, other than peripheral units, punches, verifiers and calculators. |29 Microcontrollers with a processing capacity not exceeding 8bits. |25 Plywood consisting solely of sheets of wood, each ply not exceeding 6mm thickness with at least one outer ply of:Dark Red Meranti, Light Red Meranti, White Lauan, Sipo, Limba, Okoume, Obeche, Acajou' Afrique, Sapelli, Baboen, Mahogany,Palissandre du Bresil or Bois de Rose Femelle. |24 Unwrought tin, not alloyed. |23 Wood of Dark Red Meranti, Light Red Meranti and Meranti Bakau, sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, of a thickness exceeding 6mm. |23 Colour TV receivers with an integral tube, with a screeen width/height ratio less than 1.5, with a diagonal measurement of the screen between 32cm and37cm. |23 Non-ditigal monolithic integrated units other than amplifiers, voltage and current regulators, control circuits,interface circuits. |22 Source: HM Customs and Excise.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of buses, coaches and mini-buses on British roads (a) in 1970, (b) 1979, (c) 1988 and (d) 1992 ; what was the proportion of imported vehicles in each year ; and what factors underlie the trend in this proportion.
Mr. Needham : The available data are published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd. in the annual series of "Motor Industry of Great Britain, World Automotive Statistics". Data for the number of buses and coaches, excluding minibuses, in use can be found in table 40--Great Britain--and table 47--Northern Ireland. The number of vehicles with 10 or more seats imported by the United Kingdom can be found in table 91 of the aforementioned publication. Table numbers refer to the 1993 edition ; there may be differences in earlier years. Figures for the proportion of imported vehicles in the total stock are not available.
This publication is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Needham : The latest information on United Kingdom trade with EC and the rest of the world was published in the first release, balance of United Kingdom visible trade December 1993, CSO(94)47, by the Central Statistical Office on 11 March 1994. The release is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all regulatory and statutory changes which were designed to have, or had, the effect of benefiting persons who have been or remained members of syndicates of Lloyd's of London.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The regulation of Lloyd's is based mainly on the Lloyd's Act 1982 and the Insurance Companies Act 1982. Under the latter, the Secretary of State monitors the adequacy of Lloyd's solvency to ensure that its assets are sufficient to pay policyholders' valid claims rather than being designed to benefit members of Lloyd's. Regulation under the Lloyd's Act is a matter for the council of Lloyd's. Substantial changes to the taxation of individual members of Lloyd's were made by the Finance Act 1993. Further changes are proposed in the current Finance Bill ; these reflect the admission of corporate members and also align the taxation of
Column 470individual members with the self-assessment procedures introduced for individuals generally. Taken as a whole, the measures have no significant cost to the Exchequer, and therefore convey no benefit to members of Lloyd's.
Mr. Needham : Neither I nor my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade have held such discussions, although when I visited Portugal recently I stressed the importance of increasing trade with far eastern markets generally.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the President of the Board of Trade which British firms have benefited from aid and trade provision assistance ; by how much ; and for what projects in Malaysia and Indonesia in each year since 1979.
Mr. Needham : Information on the topic was published annually in "Business Monitor MA20, Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom" until 1992, and summary tables spanning 10 years are published in the "Annual Abstract of Statistics". Figures for 1993 are published in the December 1993 issue of "Business Monitor MM20, Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom with countries outside the European Community (Extra-EC Trade)". Copies of these publications are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Heseltine : I am grateful to Mr. Sorrell for his review of the future of the Design Council, which he presented to my Department on 27 January. I shall place a copy of the review, together with the Government's response, in the Library of the House on 15 March.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 21 February, Official Report, column 22 , if he will provide whatever information is available of those occasions on which he, or other Ministers in his Department, have signed public interest immunity certificates, and for what reasons.
Annual average growth 1973-79 Per cent. |United |France Kingdom ------------------------------------------------------ Manufacturing production |-0.96 |1.54 Manufacturing productivity |0.6 |3.7 Manufacturing unit wage costs |18.0 |11.2 Source: OECD Main Economic Indicators.
During the last economic cycle, 1979 to 1990, however, manufacturing output and productivity grew more rapidly in the United Kingdom than in France. More recently, the latest available quarterly figures shows that manufacturing unit wage costs have risen, since the same period last year, by 1 per cent. in the United Kingdom and 6 per cent. in France.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the legal rights of United Kingdom citizens in Zimbabwe when threatened with deportation to the United Kingdom ;
(2) on what legal basis, other than extradition, United Kingdom citizens may be deported from Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the circumstances surrounding the return from Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom of Nicholas Mullen in February 1989 and their legal basis.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We understand that Mr. Mullen, who had an Irish passport, was deported on 6 February 1989 on the grounds of offences against Zimbabwe Immigration law. Our understanding is that the legal basis for deportations from Zimbabwe is contained in the Zimbabwe Immigration Act 18 of 1979.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have received a number of representations about the plight of the Kurdish community in Syria and elsewhere. We regularly raise our concerns about human rights issues with the Syrian authorities.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received concerning the treatment of the Kurdish community in Iran ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have received some representations on the treatment of Kurds in Iran. We are naturally sympathetic to the plight of the Kurdish people throughout the region and are following closely developments in this area, including Iranian action against the Kurdish democratic party of Iran on the Iran-Iraq border, about which we have made clear our concern to the Iranian authorities.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I have received a number of letters from honourable Members about the treatment of Kurds in Iraq. Foreign Office officials are in regular contact with representatives of the Kurdish administration.
We condemn Iraq's continued abuse of the human rights of all its citizens, including the Kurds. We urge Iraq to observe Security Council resolution 688, which calls on Iraq to cease repression of its civilians. We condemn the continued blockade of the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, and the cutting off of electricity to Dohuk governorate.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held at the United Nations or in the European Union on the issue of the establishment of safe havens in southern Sudan ; and what was the outcome.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Eritrean Government have informed the president of the United Nations Security Council of an incursion into Eritrean territory from Sudan by 20 agents of Eritrean Jihad on 16 December 1993. The Eritreans have subsequently informed the President that gunmen killed an Eritrean official in the Sudanese town of Kassala on 18 February.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps he intends to urge upon the international community to maintain pressure upon the Sudanese Government to end the civil war and human rights abuses.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We will continue to support the peace initiative of the Kenyan, Ugandan, Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments and to urge the parties to the conflict to respond positively. With our European Union partners we have decided to impose an arms embargo on Sudan as a further expression of our abhorrence of the continuing violence.
On 10 March, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights passed by 35 votes to nine a further resolution, which we fully supported, highlighting continued human rights abuses in Sudan. We will continue to press bilaterally and with our European union partners for an end to such abuses. The resolution renewed the mandate of the special rapporteur.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has identified whose planes were recently shot down by NATO forces over Bosnia ; and from where they were flying.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : United Nations investigations continue, but it is almost certain that the planes were flying from Udbina airfield in the Serb -held area of Croatia. It is not yet certain to whom these aircraft belonged.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 7 March, Official Report, column 20 , if he will set out what Her Majesty's Government were told by the Indonesian authorities in response to the inquiries made about the death of Mr. Peters and Mr. Rennie in East Timor.
Facts were difficult to establish in a territory for which Indonesia was not the administering authority. But the results of its inquiries, at our and Australia's request, led to the conclusion that Mr. Peters and Mr. Rennie, along with the other members of the Australian TV crew, had been killed in Balibo on 16 October 1975. Local reports at the time suggest that the House in which the crew were sheltering was caught in heavy crossfire between the forces of the three internal warring parties--UDT, APODETI and FRETILIN--and set on fire. There were no survivors.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his latest estimate of the number of Timorese killed by arms exported from the United Kingdom ; what representations Her Majesty's
Column 474Government have made to the United Nations Human Rights Commission concerning the actions of the Indonesian Government in East Timor ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad : None. We have no evidence that British-supplied defence equipment has ever been used against the people of East Timor. With our European Union partners we have welcomed Indonesian and Portuguese agreement to a consensus statement on East Timor at this year's session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the supply of military hardware by British companies to Indonesia for use by Indonesian forces in East Timor.
Mr. Goodlad : In accordance with our guidelines for considering export license applications, we have not supplied any military equipment to Indonesia which is likely to be used for repressive purposes against the civilian population in East Timor.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Sri Lanka's human rights record continues to improve. The Sri Lankan Government committed themselves to a further programme of reform on 7 March at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by the Government and the European Union to end Greece's unilateral blockade of Macedonia.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have strongly urged the Greek Government to lift these unjustifiable measures. The Commission has written to the Greek Government questioning the legality of their action in respect of the European Community's customs union, the common commercial policy and the functioning of the internal market. It is for the Commission, as guardians of the treaty, to decide whether to institute infraction proceedings before the European Court of Justice.
Mr. Cash : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library all draft treaties and proposals relating to economic, monetary and political union as soon as they are received.
Column 475Council's General Affairs meetings ; how it is decided how the United Kingdom will be represented at the General Affairs Council ; and what matters were discussed and decisions taken at the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 7 and 8 March.
Mr. Hurd : I normally represent the United Kingdom at the Foreign Affairs Council and I am normally accompanied by a Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Where issues concerning other Departments feature on the Council agenda, a Minister from the relevant Department may also attend.
I take the decision on who represents the United Kingdom at these meetings, in consultation with my colleagues.
I attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 7-8 March accompanied by my hon. Friends the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), the Minister for Trade, the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham), and the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack).
Association councils were held with Poland and Hungary. These were the first to take place under the terms of the European Community's association agreements with those countries.
Ministers agreed a package of proposals to involve the six central and eastern Europe associate countries--Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania--in the work of the CFSP pillar of the European Union. This builds on the initiative which Mr. Andreatta, the Italian Foreign Minister, and I launched in December 1993. The proposals will now be put to the six associate countries. Ministers discussed the practical arrangements for handling CFSP expenditure and instructed officials to undertake further work on the options.
The President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, presented a progress report on follow-up to the December European Council conclusions on the White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment. He highlighted four main areas of action : deepening the single market ; taking forward the creation of trans-European networks ; improving information infrastructures ; and making labour markets more flexible.
The Council discussed the own resources decision and reached agreement on most outstanding points. The budget discipline decision was also discussed, but no agreement was reached.
The Commission reported to the Council on market access offers following the completion of the Uruguay round negotiations. The Council decided that the Presidency and the Commission should sign the final act embodying the results of the Uruguay round negotiations, and the agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation, on behalf of the Council on 15 April at Marrakesh. Signature will be subject to verification of the final text and completion of the necessary approval procedures. Representatives of the member states will also sign the final act and the WTO agreement at Marrakesh. The Council agreed a statement expressing concern at the recent announcement by the United States of its intention to resuscitate the Super 301 procedures of the Trade Act 1974. It requested the Commission to scrutinise
Column 476the legality and implementation of these provisions to ensure that the European Community's GATT rights are not violated.
The Council heard a report from Sir Leon Brittan on the meeting of the EC- China joint commission in Peking on 28 February.
The President of the European Commission introduced the Commission's communication on immigration and asylum. The communication will now be discussed in working groups within the justice and home affairs pillar. The Government will shortly provide the House with an explanatory memorandum in accordance with the usual scrutiny procedures.
Ministers discussed latest developments in the former Yugoslavia. The Council agreed to extend for six months the Union's joint action to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Bosnia. Ministers issued a declaration calling for the resumption of middle east peace negotiations and noting the Union's willingness to contribute to an international presence in the occupied territories, should this be agreed in the United Nations Security Council. The Council agreed in principle on the extension to the EFTA states, under the European Economic Area agreement, of some 300 single market measures passed between August 1991 and December 1993, the interim acquis. Ministers also discussed aspects of the EEA internal regulation.
The Council discussed the negotiating mandates for voluntary restraint agreements on steel imports from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Members of the Council reconstituted themselves as a ministerial meeting in order to continue the accession negotiations in Norway. This followed the good progress made at the ministerial meeting held between 28 February and 1 March to negotiate the accession of Austria, Sweden and Finland.
By the time of the conclusion of a meeting on 8 March, agreement had been reached on the following main elements :
A wide-ranging package of measures to enable the orderly integration of the four applicants into the common agriculture policy. Agriculture prices in all four countries will be aligned with EC prices on accession. But in Austria, Finland and Norway, it was agreed that, for a transitional period, digressive national aids to farmers should be authorised where support levels differ significantly.
It was agreed that the Austrian region of Burgenland should be designated eligible for objective 1 status under the structural funds. In recognition of the unique problems of northern Scandinavia, it was also agreed to institute a new objective 6 for regions with a very low population density- -less than eight inhabitants per sq km. A number of areas in Sweden, Finland and Norway were designated eligible for objective 6. Eligibility for objectives 2 to 5b will be determined before accession.
All four applicants were granted a number of derogations in the fields of VAT and excise. Similar derogations are already enjoyed by a number of existing member states.
The Union has agreed to fund, after accession, the applicants' commitments to the financial mechanism set up under the European Economic Area agreement. The operation of the mechanism, which benefits Northern Ireland, will remain unchanged.
All four applicants will pay their full contribution to the EC budget from the date of accession. But in recognition of the shortfall in CAP receipts in the first year of membership, and the financial costs of bringing their agricultural policies into line with the CAP, the Union has agreed a temporary package of financial