Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Heseltine : ECGD's status has recently been reviewed as part of the Government's ongoing next steps programme. In the light of this Ministers have concluded that ECGD's current status as a separate Government Department remains best suited, in present circumstances, to the achievement of its aims and objectives. This conclusion reflects, in part, the continuing high level of ministerial involvement in ECGD's business. The circumstances bearing on this conclusion will be considered again in three years' time to determine whether there has been any material change which would justify a further formal status review.

Coal Industry (Mine Plans)

Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the current location of the abandoned mine plans for the Northumberland, Durham and Cumberland coalfields.

Mr. Eggar : I understand that British Coal holds abandoned mine plans, on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, at Bretby in Staffordshire.

Consultants

Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether consultants retained by him on the review of the Warren Springs laboratory of AEA Technology have advised him of conflicts of interest.

Mr. Heseltine : No.

Generating Industry (Government Support)

Mr. Dafis : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total financial support from the Government during 1993, direct and indirect, including research, given to (a) coal-fired power generation, (b) nuclear power, (c) gas-fired power generation, (d) oil-fired power generation, (e) wind power and (f) wave power.

Mr. Eggar : Financial support is given to the power generation industry through the fossil fuel levy. In 1992-93 the levy raised £1, 348 million : of this some 98 per cent. went to nuclear power generators, and 2 per cent. to renewable generators. The proportion of levy receipts going to renewable generators is expected to increase during the 1990s, as more renewable generating plant is commissioned.

Information on the Government's expenditure on energy research and development is published in "Trade and Industry--The Government's Expenditure Plans 1994-95 to 1996-97", Cm 2504, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. The estimated outturn for 1993-94 expenditure on R and D on renewables and novel sources of energy given at page 57 includes £7.31 million for wind power and £0.196 million for wave power.

Wind Energy

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the location of those proposals for wind energy submitted for the new round of contracts under


Column 522

non-fossil fuel obligation 3 which are sited in Wales ; and if he will give (a) the size, (b) the proposers and (c) other details of each such proposed new site in Wales.

Mr. Eggar : This is a matter for the appropriate regional electricity companies and their agent, the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency Ltd, which is co-ordinating applications from generators seeking contracts under the proposed third renewables order.

City (Short-termism)

Mr. Elletson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures his Department will take to deal with the short-termism of the City.

Mr. Sainsbury : Although the issue is unproven, there is a perception that short-termism exists. A lack of effective dialogue between companies and their shareholders may lead to short-term attitudes ; by companies with regard to their investment decisions, and investors with regard to their shareholdings. My Department will continue to support initiatives which can lead to an improved level of understanding between the City and industry.

Regional Electricity Companies

Mr. Gunnell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what advice he has given Professor Littlechild concerning the potential subsidisation of the retail activities of regional electricity companies through their electricity supply functions.

Mr. Eggar : This is a matter for the Director General of Electricity Supply. It is a condition of regional electricity companies' licences that they may not cross-subsidise between their separate businesses.

Mr. Gunnell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many complaints have been received by his Department from customers of regional electricity companies who believe that through the price of electricity they subsidise the retail activities of those companies.

Mr. Eggar : Over the last financial year, 1993-94, the Department of Trade and Industry has received no complaints from consumers on this matter.

Mr. Gunnell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information is collected by OFFER concerning the retail activities of regional electricity companies.

Mr. Eggar : The Director General of Electricity Supply has no power to intervene in the running of the regional electricity companies' retail businesses. A condition in their licences ensures that the RECs may not cross-subsidise between their separate businesses, and the Director General has a duty to collect information to ensure that this is the case.

Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total amount received from the flotation of the regional electricity companies ; and what is their total current value.

Mr. Eggar : Proceeds from the sale of shares in the RECs was £5,040 million. In addition the companies were floated with a debt to the Government of £2,815 million.


Column 523

Some of this debt has already been paid back to the Treasury and some has yet to be redeemed. Total proceeds of the sale, therefore, will amount to £7,855 million.

As with most other public limited companies the current values of the regional electricity companies are publicly quoted and vary on a day to day basis.

Figures are given to the nearest million pounds.

National Grid

Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the esimated value of the National Grid following demerger from the regional electricity companies.

Mr. Eggar : This is a commercial matter for the current owners of the company to assess.

Coal Industry Bill

Mr. Mullin : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 12 April, column 106, if he will place in the Library a copy of the National Rivers Authority's response to the consultation exercise on the Coal Authority explanatory note and draft model licensing and leasing documents.

Mr. Eggar : The response has been placed in the Library of the House.

Arms Exports (Indonesia)

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will make it his policy to halt immediately all arms exports to Indonesia if it is established that weapons or military vehicles which have been manufactured in Britain and exported to Indonesia are being used against the people of East Timor ; (2) what guarantees he has received from the Indonesian Government that British aircraft and weapons which have been exported to Indonesia will not be used against the people of East Timor.

Mr. Heseltine : Specific assurances have been given to the Government in respect of Hawk aircraft sales.

Because all applications for licensable goods are subject to strict controls and are scrutinised on a case by case basis, no further asssurances or guarantees have been deemed necessary.

If we believe that a prospective purchase of military goods is likely to be used for repressive purposes against a civilian population, the application is rejected.

If there is any evidence of British military equipment being used for repressive purposes against civilians I shall certainly consider it.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Cleaners

Mr. McMaster : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many cleaners are employed within the House and its associated offices ; how many hours on average each cleaner works ; and what is the hourly rate of pay for each grade of cleaner.

Mr. Beith : The House currently employs one full-time cleaner working 37 hours per week and 69 part-time


Column 524

cleaners working 17 hours per week in the Serjeant at Arms Department and one part-time cleaner in charge working 30 hours per week and four part-time cleaners working 28 hours per week in the Department of the Library. In negotiations recently concluded between management and the relevant trade union representatives, the number of part -time cleaners in the Serjeant's Department will, over time, be reduced to 62 by natural wastage.

The hourly rate of pay of the cleaners is £4.7044 per hour, rising to £4.78 after five years' service, and that of the cleaner in charge is £4.94/£5.37 depending on length of service, rising to £5.56 after three years' satisfactory service and £5.75 after a further three years satisfactory service.

Exhibitions (Upper Waiting Hall)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee if he has considered an application for an exhibition relating to education in developing countries to be displayed in the Upper Waiting Hall.

Mr. Michael J. Martin : I understand that, under procedures agreed by the Administration Committee, arrangements have been made for the exhibition to be held in the Upper Waiting Hall from Monday 16 May to Friday 20 May.

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMISSION

Government Agencies

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission what funds are being made available to the National Audit Office to investigate the work of Government agencies.

Sir Peter Hordern : The National Audit Office's budget of £36.5 million for 1994-95 includes provision both for financial audit of Government Departments, executive agencies, and a wide range of other public sector bodies, and for value for money investigations. As my hon. Friend will know, the forward investigation programme of the National Audit Office is a matter for the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.

Register of Members' Interests

Sir Ralph Howell : To ask the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 14 March, Official Report , column 513 , for what reason the original HMSO estimate for the printing and publishing costs of the December 1992 Register of Members' Interests, HC 325 of 1992-93 was incorrect ; by what percentage the revised figure differs from the previous estimate ; what is the basis for those estimated costs and their revision ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to Her Majesty's Stationery Office under its chief executive. I have asked him to write to the hon. Member direct. Letter from Mr. P. Freeman to Sir Ralph Howell, dated 19 April 1994 :


Column 525

As you are aware, your Parliamentary Question to the Lord President of the Council, about the HMSO estimates for the printing and publishing costs of the December 1992 Register of Members' Interests has been referred to me for reply.

Regrettably, the cause for the error in the costs quoted in the Register was a calculation mistake which occurred within HMSO. In order to prevent any repetition, our verification procedure has been strengthened.

The revised cost estimate is 150 per cent. of the former incorrect figure. The production costs of preparation, pre-press, printing, finishing, packing and distribution provide the principle basis for HMSO cost estimates ; publishing costs are normally calculated as a percentage addition.

Please let me know if I can help further.

TRANSPORT

M25

Sir Cranley Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he expects to be in a position to publish his proposals for additional capacity on the M25 between junctions 10 and 12 ; (2) what criteria his Department is using in preparing the design of any proposals to provide additional capacity on the M25 between junctions 10 and 12 ; and what possibilities are being examined.

Mr. Key : These questions relate to operational matters of the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my right hon. Friend.


Column 526

Letter from Mr. L. Haynes to Sir Cranley Onslow, dated 19 April 1994 :

The Minister for Roads and Traffic, Mr. Robert Key, has asked me to write to you in reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the provision of additional capacity between junctions 10 and 12 of the M25.

Consultants have been asked to investigate options for increasing the capacity of this section of the motorway beyond dual four lanes to meet the traffic needs of this busy section of the M25 taking into account of environmental and economic constraints.

Following the recent Roads Review, this scheme is in the Priority 2 category. It is necessary, therefore, to reassess the programme. This process is not expected to take very long but until it has been completed I am afraid I am unable to say when any proposals could be published. I will write to you again then.

Highway Scheme Funding

Ms Corston : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the highway schemes funded under section 272 of the Highways Act 1980, in 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 showing (a) the total cost of each scheme, (b) the amount of the grant under section 272 and whether it was a grant or a loan, (c) to whom the grant or loan was authorised, (d) the reasons for using this procedure and (e) a description of the scheme.

Mr. Key : Details of the highway schemes that the Department agreed in principle would be funded under section 272 of the Highways Act 1980 in 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 are as follows :


Column 525


Year                              |Route/Scheme                     |Total cost                       |Grant or Loan                    |To whom grant or                 |Scheme description                                                 

                                                                    |(£ million)                                                        |loan authorised                                                                                      

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

1990 to 1991                      |A606 Little Wymondley bypass,    |11.3                             |100 per cent.                    |Hertfordshire county council     |Dual two-lane all-purpose bypass                                   

                                  |  Hertfordshire                                                    |  grant                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

1990 to 1991                      |A418 Wing bypass,                |18.3                             |100 per cent.                    |Buckinghamshire county           |Dual two-lane all-purpose bypass                                   

                                  |  Buckinghamshire                                                  |  grant                          |  council                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

1990 to 1991                      |A134 Fornham St. Martin,         |4.2                              |100 per cent.                    |Suffolk county council           |Dual two-lane all-purpose bypass                                   

                                  |  Suffolk                                                          |  grant                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

1991 to 1992                      |A6(M) M56 (Manchester airport    |14.8                             |100 per cent.                    |Cheshire county council          |Part of dual carriageway A34                                       

                                  |  link) central section, Cheshire                                  |  grant                                                            |  Wilmslow and Handford bypass                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

1991 to 1992                      |A16 Market Deeping/Deeping       |5.8                              |100 per cent.                    |Lincolnshire county council      |Dual two-lane all-purpose bypass                                   

                                  |  St. James bypass, Lincolnshire                                   |  grant                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

1992 to 1993                      |A12 Lowestoft eastern relief     |3.57                             |100 per cent.                    |Suffolk county council           |Single carriageway relief road                                     

                                  |  road, Suffolk                                                    |  grant                                                                                                                                

Section 272 grants were awarded to these schemes because the Department intends to trunk the route and these improvements would offer significant benefits to the road network.

Rail Services, South-West

Mr. Harvey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations his Department has received in 1994 from north Devon about the future of rail services in the south-west.

Mr. Freeman : My Department has received two representations from north Devon about the future of rail services in the south-west. Both concerned the future of the Exeter to Barnstaple line.


Column 526

Transport Council

Mr. Lester : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what were the results of the Transport Council held in Luxembourg on 18 April.

Mr. MacGregor : The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 18 April. I represented the United Kingdom.

The Council had further discussions following the wise men's report on the airline industry. The Commission will present an action plan to the June Council. There is increasing support for the United Kingdom position on the need to implement in full the third aviation package and to have new Commission guidelines to deal with state aids.

Although there was some support for the United Kingdom view that the work on the opening of negotiations on air and road transport agreements with


Column 527

Switzerland should be resumed, further discussion was postponed until after the General Affairs Council in May has considered the wider implications of the recent Swiss referendum on lorry transit. The Council asked for the draft directive on Community railway licensing to be further developed. Most member states, including the United Kingdom, favoured restricting its scope to operators of international services. More detailed discussions will take place before the proposal returns to the Council.

The Council remitted for further consideration by officials a proposed directive on transport of dangerous goods by road which seeks to extend to transport within a member state the provisions of a European agreement on such transport internationally.

The Council instructed the Commission to open negotiations on road transit with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania ; and asked officials to consider further a mandate for wider negotiations on road transport with central and eastern European countries.

The Commission reported on progress on the continuing negotiations with east European countries on an agreement for the inland waterway sector. The Commission presented its proposal for a decision establishing guidelines for trans-European transport networks covering all modes of transport. I welcomed the proposal while highlighting the United Kingdom concern that trans-European network funding should not distort competition. I also mentioned that the United Kingdom would be likely to request changes to the United Kingdom network following the United Kingdom national roads programme review.

Other matters mentioned included Commission discussions with the United States of America on aviation and maritime issues and progress in the working groups on road safety. I undertook to send colleagues copies of the Donaldson report on the protection of the United Kingdom coastline from pollution from shipping when it is published. I propose to place it on the agenda for the next Council in June. No votes were taken on any of the items.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many sites of special scientific interest will have been saved by the recent Government announcements in relation to the roads programme.

Mr. Key : As a result of our recent review of the national road programme for England, eight sites of special scientific interest which could have been affected directly or indirectly by road schemes are no longer affected.

A5

Sir David Madel : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the second public inquiry into the Sheep lane junction on the A5 north of Dunstable will commence ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key [holding answer 18 April 1994] : The development of this scheme is now an operational matter for the Highways Agency. The chief executive has written to my hon. Friend about the revised proposals for the Sheep lane junction.


Column 528

Letter from Mr. L. Haynes to Sir David Madel, dated 19 April 1994 :

Robert Key, Minister for Roads and Traffic, has asked me to reply to your question about development plans for the A5, Sheep Lane junction as responsibility for taking the scheme forward will now rest with the Highways Agency.

As I think you know, the Inspector at the first Public Inquiry rejected the Department's proposals for improvement of the junction by means of grade separation and recommended, instead, a roundabout solution. The Secretaries of State for the Environment and Transport accepted this and a roundabout scheme is now being developed by the Agency's Eastern Regional Office.

An option report is expected within the next 6 weeks. Following this, we should be in a position to publish draft Orders in the Autumn. The publication process will ensure that all those with an interest in the scheme will be able to register their views. It is too soon to say whether a Public Inquiry will be necessary as this will depend on the weight and nature of objections received. If one is required then it is likely to be held around six months after publication of the draft Orders.

Progress thereafter will depend on satisfactory completion of statutory procedures and availability of funds.

I shall ensure that you are kept informed of key stage developments.

Air Traffic Services

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has now received the report from the working group of officials on the options for privatisation of the national air traffic services of the Civil Aviation Authority ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor : I have received the working group report, which I am currently considering, and I hope to announce my response shortly.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many parliamentary questions to his Department in the past five years have not been answered because of disproportionate cost or because the information requested was not held centrally ; how many could be answered now due to computerisation and/or more effective operational systems ; and if he will list each such question along with the name and constituency of the hon. Member who tabled it.

Mr. Norris : The number of questions to the Department that were not answered due to disproportionate cost or because the information was not held centrally over the last five years was 88.

The number of such questions that could now be answered due to increased computerisation and other changes to operational systems could be calculated only at disproportionate cost.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Somalia

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support the United Kingdom Government are giving towards de-mining activity in Somaliland ; and where de-mining activity is currently taking place in Somalia.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are not funding de-mining work currently. We provided almost £700,000 to support


Column 529

work in north-west Somalia from November 1991 to May 1993. We understand UNOSOM II is supporting 14 local mine clearance schemes and plans to expand them and to open a de-mining training school in Mogadishu.

Aid and Trade Provision

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which dam and large-scale power projects approved for ATP assistance in the last five years there has not been a full environmental impact assessment.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : All ODA projects, including ATP projects, are subject to environmental assessment according to the guidelines and procedures described in our Manual of Environmental Appraisal, first issued in 1989, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. If on initial screening the proposed development registers any significant environmental impacts then we would take further steps to ensure a more detailed environmental appraisal, or environmental impact assessment, is carried out.

The following two projects were not subject to more detailed environmental appraisal : gas turbines, Philippines ; scattered diesels, Indonesia. Both projects were approved before the ODA guidelines on environmental appraisal came into being.

Rwanda

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many refugees are estimated to be fleeing Rwanda ; and what response is being made by the international community.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated, as of 15 April 1994, that some 26,000 people had fled Rwanda, 12,000 of whom were Burundi refugees who had sought refuge in Rwanda ; 9,000 Rwandese refugees are reported to have fled to Zaire. The situation, however, is in a state of flux. Britain has so far committed some £820,000 in humanitarian aid as our share of the international response. Details of responses by other donor countries are not yet available.

PRIME MINISTER

Council of Ministers

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 12 April, Official Report, column 29, concerning the powers of Her Majesty's Government within the Council of Ministers of the European Community, which articles listed refer to (a) obligatory duties or action as required by the treaties and (b) optional actions.

The Prime Minister : Whether the treaty requires the Council to act, or gives it a discretion whether or not to act, specific proposals for action made under the articles listed in my previous answer require the unanimous agreement of the Council.


Column 530

Friendly Countries

Mr. Byers : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 31 March, Official Report, column 908, regarding friendly countries, which countries and Governments are presently regarded as sharing the United Kingdom's objectives.

The Prime Minister : I have nothing to add to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member on 31 March at column 908.

Appointments

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the current members of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

The Prime Minister : The members of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments are :

The right hon. the Lord Carlisle of Bucklow QC-- Chairman The Lord Bridges GCMG

Sir John Blelloch KCB

Sir Trevor Holdsworth

Sir Charles Huxtable KCB CBE

Sir Robin Ibbs KBE

The right hon. Peter Shore MP

The right hon. the Lord Thomson of Monifieth KT

I have recently appointed the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and Sir John Blelloch, following the retirement at the end of their appointments of Lord Merlyn-Rees and Sir Patrick Nairne.


Next Section

  Home Page