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Motor Industry

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the development of the British car industry in the Common Market since 1975 and the extent to which forecasts made at that time were fulfilled.

Mr. Sainsbury : Relevant statistics relating to the development of the British motor industry can be found in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' annual publication "Motor Industry of Great Britain--World Automotive Statistics" which is held in the Library of the House.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 23 February, Official Report, column 229, to what extent his Department is responsible for collecting information concerning the effect of the change in the terms of trade for manufactures on production and trade in motor cars ; what steps had been taken by him or on his behalf to secure such information and with what result ; what account will be taken of this matter in the following White Paper on competitiveness ; what steps his Department has taken to obtain the information from trade organisations and academics specialising in the development of the car industry ; and if he will now do so.

Mr. Sainsbury : Data relating to international trade by the United Kingdom are collected by Customs and Excise and published by the Central Statistical Office. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders also publishes trade statistics calculated from the data collected by Customs and Excise. The CSO also compiles the producer price index for motor vehicles and parts thereof, but no separate index is published for motor cars alone. Data are not collected relating to the prices at which new cars are sold at retail distribution to final buyers within the United Kingdom.

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The terms of trade of motor cars in international markets and their production are determined by market forces, including the competitiveness of individual car manufacturers.

The White Paper on competitiveness will be presented to Parliament later this year.


Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he will take to ensure that the auditing firms that audit public limited companies will be required to file annual accounts and other information with the appropriate supervisory body.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have no plans to introduce such a requirement.

An auditor which is a company or an unregistered company within the meaning of the Companies Act 1985 is already subject to the disclosure requirements of that Act. With the exception of certain partnerships which are subject to the Partnerships and Unlimited Companies (Accounts) Regulations 1993, unincorporated bodies are not required to publish accounts.

Liquidators' Fees

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what have been the total fees of the liquidators associated with (a) Polly Peck, (b) the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and (c) the Maxwell Group of companies.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : My Department does not have this information.

Time Zones

Dame Angela Rumbold : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how he intends to proceed upon the deregulation task forces' recommendation that the United Kingdom should harmonise its time with that of Europe following his Department's decision not to use the procedures of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I have been asked to reply.

We are taking the views of the transport and communications task force into account in our consideration of policy on future summer time arrangements, which we hope to bring to a conclusion soon.

Radio Spectrum Review Committee

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he will publish the report of the stage 3 radio spectrum review committee ; and if he will make a statement on the future management of the radio spectrum.

Mr. Heseltine : [pursuant to his reply, 10 March 1994, c. 336- 37] . The consultative document has been published today and I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

The document seeks views on how to manage the spectrum to maximise the economic benefit derived from it while preserving access by the armed forces, the emergency services and the widest range of other users, such as the scientific community and hobbyists. It envisages an extended role for the private sector in planning the spectrum and assigning frequencies, with the Radiocommunications Agency retaining responsibility for a number of core functions that need to be performed by Government.

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The document also proposes changes to the basis of charging for access to the spectrum to clarify the choices facing radio users. At present, the licence fees paid by radio users give little incentive to use spectrum efficiently. The development of a secondary market in spectrum access rights and selective auctions would enable the value of the spectrum to be better reflected in pricing and make it easier for new users to gain access to spectrum.


Mr. Hanson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to stop arms sales to Indonesia.

Mr. Needham : No. All applications for export licences for arms are subject to rigorous scrutiny on a case-by-case basis.


Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Sir Ivan Lawrence : To ask the Attorney-General how many public interest immunity certificates were signed in each year since 1964.

The Attorney-General : I understand that no central records have been kept.

As to the signing of certificates by the Law Officers, I refer my hon. and learned Friend to the answer that I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), Official Report, column 13. We do not have any records for any earlier period.

Disabled Employees

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Attorney-General how many registered disabled people are employed in his Department ; and what percentage this is of the total.

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The Attorney-General : The number of registered disabled people employed by the departments for which I am responsible is set out in the table.

The Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Treasury Solicitor's Department also employ people with disabilities who are not registered, but the numbers are not readily available. Each of the Law Officers departments is an equal opportunities employer.

                                |Registered     |Percentage of                  

Department                      |disabled people|total workforce                


Legal secretariat to the                                                        

Law Officers                    |-              |-                              


Crown Prosecution Service       |38             |0.6                            


Serious Fraud Office            |-              |-                              


Treasury Solicitor's Department |11             |2.0                            

Open Government

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Attorney-General what will be the implications for the operation of his Department of the code of practice on open government.

The Attorney-General : In respect of the departments for which I have responsibility, the code of practice directly applies only to the Treasury Solicitor's Department. The Department is currently preparing a procedure for compliance with the code which will reinforce and build on existing arrangements for the provision of information. The Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office will seek voluntarily to comply with the code so far as possible.


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