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Mr. McKelvey : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has raised with the Hungarian Government the effect on Scotch whisky exporters of Hungary's restrictive quota system applied to imported spirits.

Mr. Needham : My Department has been aware of the difficulties which importers of spirits face in this market for some time, and has raised these with Hungarian counterparts when appropriate. We have agreed with the Scotch Whisky Association that, over the next few months at least, we may be of greatest help in supporting the industry's representations to the Hungarian administration. This we are doing, although recognising that progress may be difficult to sustain over the period of the Hungarian general elections which are due to be held in May.

Liquor Tax (Japan)

Mr. McKelvey : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action Her Majesty's Government plans to take following the Japanese Government's failure to implement in full the requirements of a 1987 GATT panel in regard to liquor tax as part of its budget proposals for 1994-95.

Mr. Needham : It is disappointing that the proposals in the budget currently passing through the Japanese Diet would merely reduce, rather than remove, tax discrimination against imported liquors. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade and I have all made clear to the Japanese Government on every possible occasion that we expect the recommendations of the GATT panel to be implemented as soon as possible. We will be considering with our EU partners what further action can be taken.


Mr. Milburn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many contracts his Department has had with consultants ; and what has been the total cost in each of the last five years.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 23 March 1994] : The information requested is shown in the table.

Number and value (including amendments) of consultancy  


awarded by the Department of Trade and Industry,        


Calendar Year |Number of    |Value (£)                  



1989          |415          |26,578,000                 

1990          |517          |27,620,000                 

1991          |597          |38,491,000                 

1992          |543          |36,612,000                 

1993          |402          |29,369,000                 

The above figures exclude consultancy contracts let independently by the Department's executive agencies.

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Fire Safety

Mr. Mans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the conclusions and recommendations of the review of fire safety legislation and enforcement he announced on 17th January.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The review of fire safety legislation and enforcement by a Government scrutiny team was announced on 17 January and is still in progress. It is taking representations from anyone with an interest.

I am aware that there are some concerns about the wording in an early draft of a report by the construction industry deregulation task force which suggested that the Government's position is already settled. That was a mistaken claim by the authors of the report and does not represent the Government's position. The scrutiny team is due to complete its work by the end of May and an announcement will be made in due course against the background of the Government's commitment not to compromise safety standards.

Column 430



Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Attorney-General how many letters were received from, and written to, hon. Members by (a) himself and (b) the Solicitor General in February.

The Solicitor-General : (a) 48 received, 30 written and (b) three received, two written.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Attorney-General 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.

The Solicitor-General : The Law Officers answer parliamentary questions in accordance with paragraph 27 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers".

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Attorney-General 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.

The Solicitor-General : None.


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