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Mr. MacGregor [holding answer 21 March 1994] : British Airways has been transformed into one of the world's leading airlines since privatisation, with passengers benefiting from its commitment to high standards


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of service. Privatisation of bus companies has resulted in greater efficiency for bus and coach services, more choice, more bus miles run, and lower cost to the taxpayers. The best way to achieve our objectives of improving the quality of the service for rail users is to provide similar approaches and opportunities for our railways.

Roads

Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the cost per mile for (a) porous asphalt road surface material and (b) concrete surfaces for (i) single carriageway road, (ii) two lane dual carriageway roads, (iii) three lane dual carriageway roads and (iv) four lane carriageway roads.

Mr. Robert Key [pursuant to his reply, 7 March 1994, c. 1] : The cost information is as follows :

It should be noted that these costs are not comparable since the porous asphalt is basically a surfacing material and contributes little to the overall strength of the road whilst the concrete surfaced road provides both a running surface and the main vehicle carrying system. Because the use of porous asphalt has only recently been permitted on trunk roads, there is not a lot of cost data on which to base estimates for its use at the moment so the estimated costs given can only be taken as indicative. The concrete costs should also be regarded as indicative since they will vary according to site and choice of pavement design.


                         Approximate                              

                         cost/mile                                

                        |Porous       |Typical                    

                        |asphalt      |concrete road              

                        |£            |£                          

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

Single carriageway      |90,000       |450,000                    

                                                                  

2 lane dual-all purpose |180,000      |900,000                    

           -motorway    |220,000      |1,100,000                  

                                                                  

3 lane dual-all purpose |250,000      |1,260,000                  

           -motorway    |275,000      |1,380,000                  

                                                                  

4 lane dual-all purpose |-            |-                          

           -motorway    |345,000      |1,750,000                  

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Correspondence

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many letters were received from, and written to, hon. Members by him and his ministerial colleagues in February.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My ministerial colleagues and I received 814 letters in February from hon. Members, to which we have replied.

EC Majority Voting

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what undertakings were given by the Government in 1973 on majority voting in the EC ; and if he will make it his policy that the present blocking minority of two major and one minor member states will not be abandoned unless agreed by the British people in a new referendum.


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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : In its White Paper entitled "The United Kingdom and the European Communities"--Cmnd 4715 of July 1971--which set out the terms of the United Kingdom's accession to the Community, the Government said :

"All the countries concerned recognise that an attempt to impose a majority view in a case where one or more member states considered their vital interests to be at stake would imperil the very fabric of the Community."

We have no intention of holding a referendum on the issue of qualified majority voting.

COCOM

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals Her Majesty's Government have put to the intergovernmental co-ordinating committee of western nations on technology transfer--COCOM--meetings to decide upon a successor regime to COCOM ; with which non-governmental organisations his Department has discussed this matter ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : British officials have participated in a series of intergovernmental meetings to discuss new multilateral arrangements to promote transparency and responsibility in the transfer of arms and sensitive dual-use goods. In the course of these meetings they have put forward a number of proposals designed to balance concerns about potential threats to security with the need to avoid unnecessary burdens on industry. Additionally, British officials have proposed, and partners have accepted, that existing controls on arms and related items should be maintained after the end of COCOM on 31 March if the new arrangements are not in place by then.

My Department has had no formal discussions on this issue with non- governmental organisations. However, my officials have discussed it informally with academics and representatives of other non-government bodies in the course of their regular contacts.

Building Projects

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what major building projects valued at over £1 million are being or have been wholly or partly financed since 1989 in (a) Doncaster, (b) Barnsley, (c) Rotherham and (d) Wakefield by his Department ; and what was the cost of each project to his Department.

Mr. Goodlad : None.

Mrs. Timmreck

Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the reasons for excluding Mrs. Timmreck from continued residence on St. Helena.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Immigration is a matter for the Government of St. Helena. On 19 Janaury 1994 the acting governor of St. Helena, exercising the power vested in him by section 10(1) of the Immigration Ordinance 1972, issued an exclusion order against Mrs. Timmreck, a Uruguayan citizen, because he was satisfied that it was not in the public interest that she should enter the island, on which she was not at the time resident.


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Israr Ahmed

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the reasons for the disparity between his letter of 7 March concerning Israr Ahmed--ref. GV100/20467 and A515109--that Israr Ahmed's application had been referred by the post in Islamabad to the Home Office on 22 November and the letter from the Immigration and Nationality Department of the Home Office, dated 9 March, informing the sponsor in the United Kingdom that Israr Ahmed's application had been refused by the entry clearance officer in Islamabad.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The migration and visa correspondence unit's letter to the hon. Member dated 7 March said, correctly, that Mr., Israr Ahmed's application had been referred to the Home Office. The Home Office's subsequent letter to his sponsors, dated 9 March, said that the application was to be refused and that the ECO in Islamabad would so inform him. It did not say that the ECO had already done so. There was thus no discrepancy between the two.

General Affairs Council

Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith) of 14 March, Official Report, columns 474-77, on matters discussed and decisions taken at the General Affairs Council on 7 and 8 March, what formal votes were taken.

Mr. Heathcoat Amory : There were no formal votes on matters discussed in the Council. Details of "A" points approved by the Council, as published in the Council secretariat press release issued after the Council meeting, will be placed in the Library, for this and all future Council meetings.

South Africa (Mercury Waste)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have received regarding the local pollution effects of the processing of mercury wastes at the Thor recycling facility at Cato Ridge, South Africa, arising from the treatment of mercury-contaminated wastes imported from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We have received representations from Greenpeace-- as part of its "Wasting the World" campaign--and from Mr. Fred Kockott of Environmental Press Service, South Africa. In his letter of 8 November, Mr. Kockott referred to a petition being given to Her Majesty's Government but extensive inquiries have failed to locate such a document.

DEFENCE

Loan Guarantees

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will draw up proposals to offer small and medium-sized defence contractors loan guarantees for commercial ventures ; and what co-ordination his Department has with the Department of Trade and Industry's loan guarantee scheme for the support of such contractors.


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Mr. Aitken : We have no plans to draw up such proposals. The rules of the scheme operated by the Department of Trade and Industry draw no distinction between defence contractors and other eligible companies. The operation of that scheme is not a matter on which either my Department or the Department of Trade and Industry see a need for co-ordination between them.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions in the last five years he has knowingly provided incomplete information in answers to parliamentary questions other than on grounds of disproportionate cost ; and on what subjects.

Mr. Hanley : My Department answers parliamentary questions on the basis set out in paragraph 27 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers". My ministerial colleagues and I also seek to comply with Madam Speaker's guidance on the need for brief answers to oral questions.

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list for the last 12 months how many parliamentary questions he has referred to one of his Department's agencies for answer ; and what percentage of parliamentary questions to his Department this represents.

Mr. Hanley : The information requested is a matter of public record.

Ex-Service Men

Mr. Hanson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ex- service men remain unemployed after (a) three months, (b) six months and (c) one year following the end of their military service.

Mr. Hanley : Long-term statistics of this nature are not available. But data obtained from voluntary post-exit returns which ex-service personnel are encouraged to complete, indicates that some 80 per cent. of service leavers are employed or otherwise engaged in their chosen activity, such as further or higher education, within three months of discharge.

Low Flying

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list details of accidents involving low-flying military jets over Humberside and the three counties of Yorkshire in each year since 1990 and the current year to date in which the deaths of civilian pilots and/or passengers in other aircraft were involved ; and if he will make a statement about the settlements made to the bereaved civilian families.

Mr. Hanley : There have been no low-flying military jet accidents involving the deaths of civilians in the area, and for the period, stated.

Nuclear Warheads (Transport)

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what statutory provisions govern the applicability of speed limits to vehicles carrying nuclear warheads.

Mr. Aitken : Vehicles carrying nuclear warheads are subject to the same statutory provisions governing speed limits as other heavy goods vehicles.


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Correspondence

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many letters were received from, and written to, hon. Members by him and his ministerial colleagues in February.

Mr. Hanley : My ministerial colleagues and I received 638 letters from, and wrote 629 letters to, hon. Members during February 1994.

Service Personnel (Social Functions)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the rules relating to attendance of serving members of the armed forces at social functions organised by hon. Members.

Mr. Hanley : Rules set out in Queen's regulations prohibit members of the armed forces from taking an active part in the affairs of any political organisation, party or movement. Provided that service personnel do not infringe these rules, they may attend social functions organised by hon. Members.

Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the establishment of a nuclear weapons safety group by his Department as recommended in the Oxburgh report.

Mr. Hanley : The nuclear weapon safety group was established in January 1993.

Sir Peter Harding

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he was first informed that the position of Sir Peter Harding as Chief of the Defence Staff might be compromised.

Mr. Hanley : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence first became aware of the circumstances which lead up to the resignation of Sir Peter Harding on Saturday 12 March.

Menwith Hill Station (Visits)

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the numbers of (a) elected members of local authorities and (b) officials of local authorities who have been permitted to visit any part of the Menwith Hill station during the past five years.

Mr. Hanley : A number of elected representatives from local authorities in the vicinity of Menwith Hill, and their officials, have been to the station in the last five years, for social events or for local planning reasons. Detailed records of exact numbers are not, however, available for the period in question. Such visits have not included any briefing on the role of the station or any access to operation areas.

EMPLOYMENT

Ministerial Offices

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many bottles of (a) whisky and gin and (b) sherry and port were consumed by his private offices in 1993-94.


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Mr. Michael Forsyth : The information is not available.

Advertising

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 14 February, Official Report, column 644, if (a) where applicable, he will place in the Library the results of any market research relating to the campaigns and (b) he will publish (i) the number of people attending the new horizons events, (ii) the number of responses from employers to the workstart campaign, (iii) the number of people who took up the jobfinders grant, (iv) the number of places offered by employers in the work trials and the take-up by unemployed people and (v) the number of people and voluntary organisations taking part in the community action programme during this financial year.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : When the results of the market research are available, I will arrange for copies to be placed in the Library. The answers to the remaining questions are :

(i) To date the number of people who have attended the new horizons events is 7,800. (ii) As a result of the workstart campaign there have been in excess of 1,200 inquiries from employers. (iii) The jobfinder's grant was launched on 7 February 1994 in the east and west midlands. Up to 11 March 373 people had received grants. (iv) To the end of January 1994, the latest date for which figures are available, 11,319 unemployed people had taken part in a work trial. Figures on the number of work trials offered by employers are not collected. (v) To the end of February 1994, the latest date for which figures are available, 11,728 people had taken part in community action. Figures for the number of voluntary organisations taking part in community action are not available.

Mr. J. C. Shaw

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from Mr. J. C. Shaw of Shaws, Master Bakers, Liverpool ; what response he has made ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I received a letter from Mr. Shaw yesterday and will reply shortly.

Training and Enterprise Councils

Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will place in the Library a copy of the new Inter-TEC comparison quartile tables for the year ending 12 September 1993.

Miss Widdecombe : Inter-TEC comparison tables for 1992-93 were published on 13 September 1993. A copy is available in the Library. I intend to publish full-year comparisons for 1993-94 this summer. I do not plan to publish in-year tables because uneven flows of information during the year can distort comparisons of performance.

Careers Service

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment by what date applicants to become providers in the careers service will be required to express an interest in order to be considered.

Miss Widdecombe : The Department has invited initial expressions of interest by 31 March regarding careers


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service provision in England from April 1995 onwards. We will continue to respond to any subsequent requests until mid- April. No organisation or individual will be prevented from submitting a bid to run a Careers Service through failure to express interest. Bids themselves are likely to be invited by the autumn.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is inviting (a) private and (b) state schools to consider applying to become providers of the careers service.

Miss Widdecombe : Bids to provide careers service in England will be welcome from any organisation, including schools, that believes it can meet the high standards and other requirements set out by the Department.

Miners (Redeployment and Retraining)

Mr. Tipping : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what financial assistance he has made available to training and enterprise councils to help with the redeployment and retraining of miners from (a) Colgrave, (b) Silverhill, (c) Bevercotes, (d) Cripstone, (e) Calverton, (f) Rufford, (g) Annersley/Bentink, (h) Manton and (i) Ollerton.

Miss Widdecombe : The amount of financial assistance being made available through training and enterprise councils and the Employment Service is given in the following table :


           |Indicative           

           |budgets              

Collieries |£ million            

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

Cotgrave   |1.7                  

Silverhill |2.2                  

Bevercotes |2.2                  

Clipstone  |2.7                  

Calverton  |2.0                  

Rufford    |2.2                  

Annesley   |1.9                  

Manton     |1.4                  

Ollerton   |1.9                  

           |---                  

Total      |18.2                 

The budgets above were made available to TECs and the ES. They are also inclusive of training for work allowances.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Forestry Privatisation

15. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when she next intends to meet employees of the Forestry Commission to discuss forestry privatisation in England and Wales.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have no plans to meet representatives of the Forestry Commission's employees.

The commission's senior staff regularly meet the trade unions representing its employees to discuss a range of issues.


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Animal Transportation

16. Mr. Lewis : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the current progress towards securing an improvement in the welfare of live animals in transit.

27. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps she has taken to persuade the EC properly to regulate the transport of live animals ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Soames : There has been no resolution as yet of the differences that emerged at the Agriculture Council in December, when my right hon. Friend refused to accept measures which did not offer sufficient safeguards for animal welfare.

Farm Workers

17. Mr. Cox : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when she last met representatives of the rural, agricultural and allied workers group of the Transport and General Workers Union to discuss the welfare of farm workers.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I last met representatives of the TGWU in January 1994.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

18. Mr. Thomason : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will report on progress on the introduction of the new environmentally sensitive areas.

Mr. Jack : Six new environmentally senstive areas were launched last week. They are in the Blackdown hills, Cotswold hills, Dartmoor, Essex coast, Shropshire hills and the upper Thames tributaries.

Nutritional Requirements

19. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans she has for introducing an independent commission of experts to ensure that agricultural products reflect nutritional requirements.

Mr. Soames : I have no such plans.

Animal Welfare

20. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans she has to improve the welfare of animals at slaughter.

Mr. Soames : We shall implement the new EC directive and remaining agreed Farm Animal Welfare Council recommendations as soon as possible.

Milk

21. Mr. Alexander : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals she has to ensure that major ex-farm purchasers of milk will be subject to regulation against uncompetitive practices.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : After the end of the milk marketing scheme, milk purchasers will be subject to normal competition rules.


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The restriction on the powers of the Director General of Fair Trading to make monopoly references of the wholesale of milk will be removed.

Farm Incomes

22. Mr. Duncan : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the change in farmers' income over the last year.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Ainsworth).

Fruit Farmers

23. Mrs. Lait : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations she has received about the problems facing British fruit farmers ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Jack : I have received a number of representations from consumers, growers and hon. Members, principally about the future of our unique apples ; especially the Cox. We believe that many of the difficulties faced by this sector are attributable to the current EC regime for fresh fruit and vegetables, which we believe should be reformed.

Moorland Scheme

24. Mr. Hicks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken to promote the new moorland scheme.

Mr. Jack : The new moorland scheme has not yet been approved by the European Commission. As such, the details of the scheme cannot yet be finalised. When


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Commission approval is received we will issue a press notice on the scheme and advise farmers how they can obtain further details.

Bananas

25. Mr. Wells : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will announce her decision on the future of the single European market for bananas.

Mr. Jack : The European Community regime establishing the single market for bananas came into force on 1 July 1993. No decision on its future is called for from my right hon. Friend.

Common Agricultural Policy

26. Mr. Jenkin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions she has had concerning the unpublished European Commission report on the reform of the common agricultural policy ; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : This internal European Commission study has yet to be completed and published. Publication is a matter for the Commission and if it decides to make the study available, I will read it with interest.

Wild Birds

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will give specific details of all current licences issued to kill wild bird species including details of the premises and the wild bird species concerned.

Mr. Soames : The details requested are as follows :


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Number of licences currently in force by MAFF region                                                                  

Species            |Type of |Northern|North   |North   |South   |East    |Anglia  |South   |South   |Wessex           

                   |premises         |East    |Mercia  |Mercia  |Midlands         |East    |West                      

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

Bullfinch<1>       |Farm    |-       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-                

Brent goose        |Farm    |-       |-       |-       |-       |14      |5       |30      |-       |-                

Cormorant          |Fishery |7       |-       |4       |2       |-       |1       |3       |-       |-                

Heron              |Fishery |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |5       |-       |-                

Goosander          |Fishery |-       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-                

Blackbird          |Farm    |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |1                

Canada goose<2><3> |Farm    |-       |3       |7       |4       |6       |4       |8       |-       |1                

Greylag goose<3>   |Farm    |-       |2       |-       |-       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-                

Coot<3>            |Farm    |-       |-       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-       |-       |-                

Wigeon<2>          |Farm    |-       |-       |-       |-       |1       |-       |-       |-       |-                

Feral pigeon<4>    |Factory |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |1       |-                

House sparrow<4>   |Factory |-       |1       |-       |-       |-       |-       |-       |1       |-                

<1> Excludes the general licence issued to kill bullfinches in selected counties as the returns of action taken are   

not yet available.                                                                                                    

<2> Includes the pricking of eggs.                                                                                    

<3> These birds all have an open season when they may be killed without a licence. The licences shown are to kill     

during the closed season.                                                                                             

<4> A general licence has been issued to kill these birds throughout the year. The licences shown are to use methods  

otherwise prohibited under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.                                                     


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