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Mr. McLoughlin : It is my intention that legislation amending the Price Marking Order 1991 should be laid in Parliament before the summer recess as part of a set of measures implementing the units of measurement directive.

Mr. Purchase : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he intends to ask the EC for a further derogation to avoid the final stage, on 1 January 2000, of switching to metric weight for goods sold loose.

Mr. McLoughlin : There are no plans at present to seek a further derogation.

Mr. Purchase : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will provide an early public information programme to help consumers understand the switch to metric weights on 1 January 1995.

Mr. McLoughlin : The Government are considering what, if any, public information programme should be provided to supplement any action taken by retailers.

Biotechnology

Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the expenditure on, and the results of, the "biotechnology means business" programme ; and what future proposals he has for technology transfer in biotechnology.

Mr. Sainsbury : The DTI's expenditure on the "biotechnology means business" awareness-raising programme amounted to £420,000. The pilot campaign reached an audience of some 30,000 companies, nine regional seminars were held and 557 expressions of interest from companies resulted. The pilot has confirmed the value of promoting awareness of commercial opportunities of biotechnology and a successor initiative is under consideration.

The Independent

Mr. Moss : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a further statement on the proposed transfer of The Independent.

Mr. Heseltine : Pursuant to the reply given on 24 February, Official Report, column 317 . Following a period of consultation in which interested parties had the opportunity to submit comments, I can now announce my decisions.

The first application related to an offer made for all of the shares in Newspaper Publishing, owner of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday , by a consortium comprising Promotora de Informaciones, Espresso International Holding and Mirror Group Newspapers. My consent was sought without an inquiry by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission under section 58(3)(a) of the Fair Trading Act 1973.


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In the light of the inquiries which my Department has conducted into the financial position of Newspaper Publishing, and of representations received by my Department during the consultation phase, I am satisfied that The Independent and The Independent on Sunday titles are not economic as going concerns and as separate newspapers and that, if the papers are to continue, the case is one of urgency. I have in addition decided to exercise the discretion given to me under section 58(3)(a) of the Fair Trading Act 1973 to give consent to the consortium's offer for Newspaper Publishing without a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The second application, from Independent Newspapers plc of Ireland was similarly based on section 58(3)(a) but related to an increase in the level of its shareholding above the level which triggers the need for my consent.

Having regard to the financial analysis to which I have referred, and to representations on this application received during the consultation phase, I am satisfied that the criteria set out in section 58(3)(a) are met in relation to this application also. I accordingly give my consent to the increased shareholding in Newspaper Publishing by Independent Newspapers plc without a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

I have considered whether my consent in relation to either or both of these applications should be qualified by conditions, including in relation to editorial independence. Usually the relationship between publisher and editor is defined contractually in the light of the publisher's appraisal of the market opportunity. I have concluded that, in this case, the public interest does not require me to take a different view or to stipulate conditions in relation to either application.

The consortium's offer for Newspaper Publishing has also been cleared by the EC Commission under the European Community merger regulation.

Non-fossil Fuel Obligation

Mr. Martlew : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the projects for which he gave approval under the non-fossil fuel obligation in (a) the first tranche and (b) the second tranche giving (i) the type of project and (ii) the country in which it is located ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 17 March 1994] : Full lists of all projects which gained contracts under the first two renewables orders are given in the press releases issued by the Office of Electricity Regulation on 3 October 1990 and 6 November 1991 respectively, copies of which I have placed in the Library of the House.

British Coal Privatisation

Mr. Tipping : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what budget provision he has made in 1993-94 for consultations in connection with the restructuring and privatisation of British Coal.

Mr. Eggar : There is no separately identifiable budget for consultations in connection with the restructuring and privatisation of British Coal. However, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him of 19 January 1994, Official Report, column 649, which gave the 1993-94 provision for consultancies.


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WALES

NHS Management Vacancies

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has had from (a) the Institute of Health Services Management and (b) others in relation to the approval of systems set up to approve the advertising and filling of clerical and management vacancies in the NHS in Wales ; how many clerical staff are required within his Department to operate this approved system ; and what reporting system to Ministers has been set up to monitor the success of his system.

Mr. Redwood : I have not received direct representations from the Institute of Health Service Management but I have discussed the matter with chairmen of health authorities. The amount of clerical staff time involved is minimal and NHS management staff numbers are routinely collected on a quarterly basis which will enable monitoring to take place.

Health Policy Division Merger

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 634, what consequential amendments in the accounting and audit trail within his Department will arise from the merging of the health policy division previously accountable via the permanent secretary with the NHS directorate in Wales.

Mr. Redwood : Accountability for the Welsh Office's votes will be set out in the supply estimates to be published on 24 March.

Groundwater Notices

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with the chairman of the Cardiff Bay development corporation concerning the Ordnance Survey maps used in issuing the groundwater notices and covering letters, both as to dates of survey maps used, breaches of copyright and the compensation fee paid to the Ordnance Survey ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redwood : None.


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Civil Servants

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list for each civil service grade in his Department (a) the total number of persons employed and (b) the percentage of this figure who are women.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 17 March 1994] : The position at 1 January 1994 is given in the following table :


Grade                    |Total in Grade|Female                       

                                        |Percentage of                

                                        |Total                        

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Grade 1                  |1             |0                            

Grade 2 and equivalent   |2             |0                            

Grade 3 and equivalent   |13            |8                            

Grade 4 and equivalent   |6             |33                           

Grade 5 and equivalent   |60            |15                           

Grade 6 and equivalent   |76            |18                           

Grade 7 and equivalent   |195           |27                           

SEO and equivalent       |146           |18                           

HEO and equivalent       |307           |36                           

AT/HEO'Ds and equivalent |23            |52                           

EO and equivalent        |496           |58                           

AO and equivalent        |662           |72                           

AA and equivalent        |491           |63                           

                         |-------       |-------                      

Total                    |2,479         |53                           

Footnote:                                                             

(i) Part-time staff are counted as one.                               

(ii) Figures exclude casual staff.                                    

Cardiff Bay Barrage

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what indemnities have been sought by the Balfour Beatty-Costain consortium in relation to the construction contract for the Cardiff bay barrage.

Mr. Redwood : Balfour Beatty and Costain sought clarification from the corporation of the funding arrangements which would apply if Cardiff Bay development corporation were to be dissolved before the construction contract ended. Their attention has now been drawn to the legislation relating to the dissolution of urban development corporations. No indemnity has been given.


 

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