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Mr. Charles Wardle : The figures, including the amounts paid to private sector firms, are given in the table. The private sector firms participating were Computer Sciences Co. Ltd., Grafton Database Associates Ltd., Hoskyns', PA Consultants, Software AG and World Quality Systems. Individual contract costs are commercially confidential, but the total amount paid to private sector firms was £1.008 million.
Year |£ Thousands ------------------------------------ 1989-90 |173 1990-91 |357 1991-92 |699 1992-93 |218 |--- Total |1,447
Mr. Howard : Ann Kelly, who served on the British Railways Board up to 1992 with responsibility for promoting equal opportunities, has accepted my invitation to serve as a member of the Police Complaints Authority. She took up her appointment on 18 April.
Mr. Sproat : My Department has received a number of representations on this subject, particularly from tourist accommodation operators with more than six bedspaces. The effect of fire precautions legislation and its enforcement featured strongly in responses to my Department's inquiry into regulatory burdens on the tourism industry. These matters are currently being considered both by the Home Office and by the interdepartmental fire safety scrutiny team, announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade--to whom I have made the tourism industry's concerns known--on 17 January.
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment his Department has made of the effect of local government reorganisation on the English regional tourist board structure.
Mr. Sproat : Each of the regional tourist boards--RTBs--is an independent organisation, and their boundaries will not be directly affected by the outcome of the local government review. Local authorities have always been active supporters of the work of the RTBs, and I am sure the RTBs will be keen to co-operate with any new authorities which emerge from the review.
Mr. Sproat : The objectives of the Government's tourism policy are, as set out in my Department's annual report, to create the conditions which will encourage inward and domestic tourism so that the industry can make its full contribution to the economy and increase opportunities for access to our culture and heritage.
In pursuit of this overall aim my Department seeks to :
--facilitate the work of the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board in developing the tourism product to its full potential and in marketing it to the consumer both overseas and at home ; and
--ensure that all parts of Government take full account of the implications of their policies for the tourism industry and that unnecessary barriers to its development are removed.
Mr. Sproat : The consultants commissioned by the English tourist board to review the crown classification scheme are due to report to the board at the end of May. My Department will then discuss with the English tourist board its proposals for taking forward the recommendations of the report.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the impact on non-EC tourist traffic and expenditure in the United Kingdom as a result of implementing EC Commission proposal Com (94) 58 to amend directive 77/388/EEC.
Column 13before non-EU visitors can claim a VAT refund. There is some concern within the retail sector that this would have an adverse effect on tourist expenditure. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is well aware of these concerns and the Government have made clear their objections to this proposal.
Mr. Sproat : I have asked the English tourist board to review its research activities, including the United Kingdom tourism survey. The aim of this review is to assess whether information is being provided for the industry and for Government in a form that meets their needs. This review is due to be completed in the near future.
Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the effect of local government reorganisation on the public library service ; and what account he has taken of the views of the chairman of Library and Information Services, Council for England.
Mr. Sproat : In his annual report to Parliament on library matters, published last month in conjunction with that of the Library and Information Services Council, my right hon. Friend responded to the council's concern about the likely effect of local government reorganisation upon existing county library services in the following terms :
"I am well aware of the deep feelings which have been aroused by proposals for change in the structure of local government and have, myself, taken every opportunity to register within Government the importance of ensuring effective future arrangements for the delivery of the public library service, whatever the final outcome of the re-organisation".
Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how much of his Department's estimated outturn expenditure on administration for the year 1994-95 will be spent on (a) premises, (b) publicity and (c) salaries.
|£ Million ------------------------------ Premises |3.5 Publicity |0.1 Salaries |9.1
Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) how much of the cost for 1994-95 of the Office of the National Lottery will be spent on (a) salaries, (b) publicity and (c) administration ;
(2) how many staff are at present employed at the Office of the National Lottery ; and how many are likely to be employed once the lottery has begun its operation ;
(3) what services of the Office of the National Lottery have been contracted out ; to whom and for what purpose.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans his Department has (a) to utilise the Internet, (b) to make available on the Internet press releases and other departmental information which the public may wish to have access to and (c) to use the Internet as a means of increasing the openness of his Department.
Mr. Sproat : My Department's press releases, issued electronically through the Central Office of Information, are accessible to users of the Internet via Data-Star Dialog (Europe) or Mead/Lexis/Nexis. They are also available to subscribers to FT Profile, Reuters Textline and to POLIS.
My Department's press releases are also made available through the COI's fax retrieval service, details of which can be provided by its news distribution service.
Mr. Sproat : Since formation in April 1992, my Department and its agencies have not employed any private detective agencies. Private security firms have been employed and I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) on 21 April 1994, Official Report, column 613.
Mr. Brooke : Following a competitive tendering exercise, I have agreed to place a contract for the cladding and fitting-out of the final phase of construction with a joint venture consortium comprising Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. and Haden Young Ltd.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will estimate the cost of employing consultants in connection with privatisation programmes in which his Department has been engaged.
Mr. Gunnell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions advice from the single market compliance unit has led to a United Kingdom company successfully challenging a contract originally awarded to a company based in another member state of the European Union.
Column 15many companies on EC public purchasing procedures. Companies do not usually report back to us unless they face subsequent difficulty. We therefore do not know to what extent Government advice has enabled United Kingdom firms successfully to challenge public sector contracts originally awarded to companies from other member states.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many (a) portable telephones, (b) pagers and electronic bleepers and (c) car telephones are currently used by his Department ; what are the annual costs of operating this equipment ; and to which personnel it is made available.
Mr. Eggar : Records are no longer kept centrally of all uses of mobile telephones, pagers and electronic bleepers. However it is estimated that excluding "next steps" agencies there are some 700 mobile telephones and 480 pagers/bleepers in use in my Department at costs of around £280,000 and £65,000 per annum respectively. This equipment is in use where the costs can be shown to be justified by improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. This covers a wide range of personnel.
Mr. Heseltine : I have no plans at present to visit the hon. Gentleman's constituency. My last visit to Durham was on 18 September 1992 when I opened the new joint office of the Northern chambers of commerce and I attended the annual dinners of the Teeside and Tyne and Wear chambers in April and October of last year.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the current capacity of the electricity interconnector with France ; what percentage of this capacity is utilised ; and what proposals there are for constructing additional capacity to transmit electricity between Britain and continental Europe.
Mr. Eggar : The interconnector with France has a capacity of 2,000 MW. Since it was commissioned in 1986 it has generally been fully utilised. Proposals to construct additional capacity between Britain and continental Europe are a matter for the industry.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 14 April, Official Report, columns 251-53, on research establishments, when he expects to make a further announcement on his plans for contracting out.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total value of British exports at constant prices in each of the last five years ; and what proportion consisted exports of military equipment.
Mr. Heseltine : The value of United Kingdom exports, in constant 1990 prices, is given in the table. Information on exports of military equipment is not available in constant prices. The proportion of total visible exports accounted for by military equipment, in current prices, is given in the table.
Year |United Kingdom |Military |visible |Equipment<1> as |exports (£ billion, |a percentage of |1990 |total (in |prices) |current price terms) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1989 |95.8 |3.4 1990 |101.7 |2.8 1991 |102.9 |2.2 1992 |105.2 |2.7 1993 |108.3 |2.1 Source: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. Note: <1> Military equipment is defined, in terms of the Standard International Trade Classification (Revision 3), as aircraft and associated equipment (all tariff headings in division 79 other than those identified as "civil"; and excluding spacecraft and launch vehicles); warships (tariff heading 890600 100) and arms and ammunition (for military purposes) (division 98).
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list each current grant, incentive, advice, consultancy, award or other scheme involving either direct or indirect expenditure his Department sponsors together with the date of commencement, and the authority for each such scheme.
Mr. Eggar : The supply estimates for 1994-95 and the DTI's annual report for 1994--both published in March--copies of which are available in the Library of the House, describe in some detail the Department's current schemes involving programme expenditure. The information requested regarding dates of commencement and authority for individual schemes could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the controls or licence requirements in respect of the export of arms and ammunition to the counties of central and south America ; and how many licences were (a) issued and (b) applied for and rejected for such countries in the last three years.
Mr. Heseltine : Exports of arms and ammunition to all destinations are controlled under the relevant Export of Goods (Control) Order. Arms and ammunition as defined in the International Munitions List are prefixed "ML" in the orders. Details of the numbers of licences in respect of destinations in south and central America in the last three complete calendar years are as follows.
1991 1992 1993 |Issued |Refused|Issued |Refused|Issued |Refused -------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexico |16 |0 |23 |0 |9 |0 Belize |5 |0 |1 |0 |7 |0 Guatemala |0 |0 |1 |0 |1 |0 Honduras |2 |0 |16 |0 |11 |0 El Salvador |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 Nicaragua |0 |0 |0 |0 |1 |0 Costa Rica |0 |0 |2 |0 |0 |0 Panama |1 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 Colo"mbia |12 |0 |19 |0 |10 |0 Venezuela |18 |0 |20 |0 |21 |0 Guyana |1 |0 |2 |0 |4 |0 Surinam |1 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 Ecuador |22 |0 |20 |0 |17 |0 Peru |14 |1 |15 |0 |23 |0 Brazil |148 |0 |261 |0 |595 |0 Bolivia |0 |0 |2 |0 |6 |0 Chile |264 |0 |303 |0 |83 |0 Paraguay |2 |0 |2 |0 |5 |0 Argentina |1 |3 |2 |4 |0 |5 Uruguay |3 |0 |8 |0 |4 |0
Mr. Eggar : The Director General of Gas Supply and I have today published our joint consultative document, "Competition and Choice in the Gas Market". This outlines an approach to bringing the benefits of competition to the domestic gas supply market, and describes the regulatory arrangements which could be put in place. This is a consultation document, and no decisions have been taken.
Comments are requested on certain issues by the end of June, and on the remainder by the end of July. Copies of the document have been placed in the Library of the House. Further copies are available from the Library at the Office of Gas Supply.
The proposals envisage the separation of the business of gas supply, which is increasingly subject to competition, from gas transportation, which will continue to be substantially a monopoly. The proposed new licensing framework will allow independent suppliers, as well as the British Gas supply business, to have their gas transported through the pipeline system and supply customers. Regulation on the supply business will gradually be relaxed as the benefits of competition flow, although a number of important conditions, such as debt and disconnection, will be retained indefinitely.
Because of the complexity of the issues and the need to feed back experience as it is gained, the introduction of competition will be phased in carefully. For the first two years, the extent of competition will be limited to 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. of the volume of gas sold.
Column 18A new British Gas network code, to be agreed by OFGAS, will ensure that all approved suppliers--including the British Gas supply business--can use the transportation system on a fair and responsible basis. The document envisages that prices charged by the British Gas transportation network will be controlled by a formula.
The document makes it clear that safety will remain paramount. Broadly, the present system for handling gas emergencies will continue, with the British Gas transportation and storage business responsible for providing the emergency service, including making safe any leak on the customer's side of the meter and the first half hour of any repair work associated with a leak. The transportation business would also handle connections to the network. The Health and Safety Commission will make a thorough study of the safety implications of the proposals in the document.
Special considerations apply to the domestic market. they include. Assurance of Supply
Customers of British Gas at present have a high assurance of supply. We see no reason why the competitive market should not provide a similarly high level of assurance--and the consumer will benefit from the choice provided by competition.
Standards of Service
The document recognises the importance of meeting high standards of service, especially in areas such as debt and disconnection, and services for the elderly and disabled. The document proposes that the same regulatory standards should apply in these areas both to British Gas and its competitors.
The principal effect of competition is likely to be overall downward pressure on costs and prices. Competition is a spur to efficiency, innovation and higher standards of service. Within this overall pattern, small price differentials are likely to emerge gradually as relative prices move to reflect costs.
However it will be important to avoid abrupt price movements and a number of proposals are put forward in this area. The document makes clear that :
the present RPI-4 price formula will continue to apply until at least 1997 ;
the maximum level of standing charge, will continue to be capped at 1986 levels in real terms--at least until 1997 ;
--OFGAS's proposals on transportation standing charges should help reduce any pressures to raise prices for the average small consumer ;
--during the transitional period between 1996 and 1998, it is expected that no British Gas published tariff will increase by more than the rate of inflation, taking one year with another and apart from factors outside the control of the gas supply industry.
Column 19Energy Efficiency
The document considers whether it might be reasonable to broaden the director's powers in this area. It also suggests that suppliers should be enabled to sell total energy packages, including both gas and energy saving measures, so that least cost planning can be undertaken by consumers at the level of the individual kitchen. Comments are requested on the points raised in the document. On certain issues of direct relevance to the preparation of draft legislation--which are marked at the end of each chapter--comments should be received by the end of June 1994. For other issues, comments can be received up to the end of July.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration he has given of the impact on low-income gas consumers of a 2 per cent. premium on gas bills to achieve the Government's energy conservation targets.
Mr. Eggar : The Government are committed to achieving the Rio target and look to energy efficiency programmes devised by the Energy Saving Trust to make a sizeable contribution to meeting the target. Consideration is being given to the means of financing these programmes, including their costs to gas consumers. No decisions have been taken.
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 6 May 1994] : If an oil company takes over another which has a petroleum licence, this would constitute a change of control of that licensee. A change of control of a licensee might, in certain circumstances, trigger the Secretary of State's power to revoke the licence. If an oil company takes over another company which has applied for a licence, such an application would be treated on its merits. Under the relevant legislation the Secretary of State has power to grant licences to such persons as he thinks fit.
Sir Michael Grylls : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consultation has taken place with Her Majesty's Government with regard to the continuation of licences when an oil company takes over another.
Mr. Heseltine : Such consultations take place from time to time in relation to developments in the market. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him today, which sets out the Secretary of State's powers in the event of a change of control of a licensee.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 22 April, Official Report, column 708 , if he will now announce a new redundancy scheme for mineworkers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The operation of British Coal's redundancy arrangements is a matter for the corporation. I understand it is currently discussing with the unions the redundancy arrangements for industrial employees to apply after 30 April.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce a statutory requirement to ensure that the new coal authority must ensure appropriate environmental safeguards and levels of public accountability for the privatised coal industry ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 6 May 1994] : It will be for the successor companies to discharge their obligations to protect the environment, and for the relevant regulators to enforce these obligations.
Mr. Needham : Information on the balance of trade in manufacturing is no longer readily available on a monthly basis for 1979. In the second quarter of 1979, the United Kingdom had a trade surplus in manufactures worth £1.1 billion. In the last three months to January 1994, the United Kingdom had a deficit of £2.5 billion.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many civil servants in his Department and the Department of Energy applied in each year since 1986 through the business appointments system to take up an outside appointment (a) as an independent consultant, (b) in a firm of consultants and (c) in other employment ; how many were referred to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments ; and how many were granted.
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 3 May 1994] : The table sets out the information requested. Under the business appointment rules Departments may not withhold approval but they may impose conditions on applicants. They may, for example, impose waiting periods of up to two years before outside employment is taken up.
Year |Total |Independent |Firm of |Others |Referred to |Applications|Consultants |Consultants |Advisory |Committee ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Department of Trade and Industry 1986 |48 |5 |5 |38 |3 1987 |83 |4 |15 |64 |5 1988 |107 |23 |13 |71 |3 1989 |138 |7 |13 |118 |5 1990 |168 |29 |7 |132 |1 1991 |46 |6 |7 |33 |2 1992 |72 |14 |25 |33 |2 1993 |51 |17 |7 |27 |1 1994 (Q1) |34 |4 |11 |19 |0 Department of Energy 1986 |1 |0 |0 |1 |0 1987 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 1988 |1 |0 |0 |1 |0 1989 |2 |0 |0 |2 |0 1990 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 1991 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 1992 |1 |0 |0 |1 |0
Mr. Byers : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what have been the costs incurred by his office in (a) providing legal advice to witnesses appearing before the Scott inquiry, (b) drawing up evidence to be submitted to the Scott inquiry, (c) officials and legal advisers attending the Scott inquiry and (d) any other related costs.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 6 May 1994] : The cost to the DTI of providing legal advice to witnesses giving evidence to Lord Justice Scott's inquiry is currently £165,976. Officials and Ministers, whether serving or former, have provided evidence to the inquiry on a personal basis and have not been supervised by the Department. It is not possible, therefore, to estimate the time spent or cost incurred in the provision of such evidence. Serving officials are required to submit evidence and attend the inquiry as invited by Lord Justice Scott as part of their official duties.
The direct central cost of the provision of evidence and information from the DTI to the inquiry is estimated to be £311,219, which represents the cost of the inquiry liaison unit within the DTI and the costs of the attendant registry. The direct costs of the Scott inquiry to date, falling to my department, have been £1,028, 000.