Mr. Milburn : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many civil servants in his Department have applied 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 have been referred to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments ; and how many were granted.
Sir John Cope : The European Commissioner responsible for taxation policy has confirmed the United Kingdom Government's view that United Kingdom excise duty and VAT must be paid on unaccompanied duty-paid imports of excise goods. Customs are performing checks using intelligence techniques to detect individuals attempting to avoid duty payment. In this way illegal unaccompanied imports may be detected in transit, at the recipient's premises, or subsequently.
Sir John Cope : Duty-paid beer in quantities below the indicative limits may be imported freely by private travellers for their own use. The distribution can be anywhere throughout the United Kingdom. Customs have no means of knowing the final destination of such travellers and have therefore made no estimate of their regional distribution.
Mr. Couchman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evidence he has of the involvement of individuals with a criminal record, and of organised criminal groups, in the illegal importing and resale of duty-paid beer brought into the United Kingdom ostensibly for personal use.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his Department's plans to create more openness in government by publishing Government press releases and other information on a free access electronic news or bulletin board system.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government will continue to support the present VAT zero rate floor limit for refunds of goods bought in the United Kingdom by tourists from outside the European Union.
Sir John Cope : The Government support the present arrangements and have registered their opposition to the European Commission proposal for a minimum threshold before non-EC visitors can claim a VAT refund.
Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what procedures are in place for assessing and collecting duty from cross- channel travellers who return with opportunity purchases of alcohol for sale through businesses ; what advice is given to small businesses on the procedures ; and what plans he has to introduce a duty collection facility at Dover.
Sir John Cope [holding answer 13 May 1994] : The movement of commercial consignments of excise goods between member states is subject to procedures laid down in EC legislation, and these have been reproduced by Customs in notices which are freely available to the trade and public. Customs recognise the need to facilitate purchasers who have acquired excise goods outside of the established procedures. They are examining the existing arrangements to see if greater flexibility can be introduced. This includes the possibility of duty collection points at the ports.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what specific proposals she has to ensure the labelling of all foods the production of which has involved genetic engineering ; and if she will make a statement.
Column 295labelling of foods produced as a result of genetic modification. They are that mandatory labelling rules should apply in all cases where a foodstuff :
(a) contains a copy gene originally derived from a human ; (
(b) contains a copy gene originally derived from an animal which is the subject of religious dietary restrictions ; or
(c) is a plant or microbial material containing a copy gene originally derived from an animal.
These rules would not apply if the inserted gene had been destroyed during processing and was not, therefore, present in the food. Labelling of such foods is being considered by the EC Council of Ministers as part of a proposal on novel foods.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make it her policy to make mandatory the assessment procedures for the safety of genetically engineered foods in the United Kingdom ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many parliamentary questions, in the period November 1992 to March 1993 were answered with the response that the information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost ; how many were referred on to an agency chief executive ; and, in each case, what percentage of the total number of questions asked this constituted.
Mr. Jack : According to the POLIS database eight parliamentary questions answered by Ministers in this Department in the period 1 November 1992 and 31 March 1993 were given a response either that the information requested was not held centrally or that the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost and eight were referred to agency chief executives. Both those figures represent less than 1 per cent. of all written answers given in the same period.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will list the objections she has received in response to the second consultation document of reorganisation in the milk marketing scheme ; and if she will make a statement.
My right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Wales will consider the responses to the consultation exercise when deciding whether to approve the reorganisation scheme under the terms of the Agriculture Act 1993.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 18 April, Official Report , column 412 , if she will describe the procedures in place for prosecuting non-United Kingdom companies in breach of the Welfare of Animals During Transit Order 1992.
Mr. Soames : Acting directly or from information received from an inspector of this Department or a local authority, the police have general powers of arrest and detention under section 25 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 in respect of non-United Kingdom nationals suspected of having committed an offence under the Welfare of Animals during Transport Order 1992. These powers have been exercised on a number of occasions and offenders successfully prosecuted.
If a non-United Kingdom company has an agent in the United Kingdom authorised to accept service of a summons, it would, according to the circumstances of the case, be possible to bring a prosecution against such a company for offences against the order.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 13 April, Official Report , column 180 , to which local authorities statements have been given by her Department's staff with respect to possible prosecutions.
Mr. Hicks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when she expects to receive from the EC its report into allegations of subsidising of pig producers and pigmeat processors by certain member states ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 9 May 1994] : As a direct result of United Kingdom pressure on the Commission to investigate aid to French pig producers, the Commission published in its Official Journal of 15 April its intention to open proceedings under article 93(2) of the treaty against two French aid schemes.
We have sent in our comments to the Commission urging an immediate decision that the schemes be declared illegal and demanding the recovery of any aid paid. If the Commission cannot take an immediate decision, we have asked that interim measures be introduced prohibiting any further payment of aid pending a final decision.
Mr. Mudie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the members and dates of membership of the Renewable Energy Advisory Committee and of each committee established by the Renewable Energy Advisory Committee on each major technology.
Renewable Energy Advisory Committee Member |Organisation |Joined |committee --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. C. Hicks (Chair) |DTI |March 1994 Dr. A. Wheldon |Reading University |January 1992 Mr. A. Tweedale |Energy Supplies Ltd. |January 1985 Mr. G. Leach |Independent consultant|January 1985 Mr. G. Walker |EPSRC |January 1985 Mr. I. Mitchell |Countryside Commission|March 1994 Mr. R. Morris |Portlea Ltd. |August 1989 Mr. P. White |NORWEB |August 1989 Mr. G. Bevan |DTI |December 1985 Mr. J. Penman |DoE |June 1991 Mr. R. Penn |DTI |October 1991 Mr. R. Meir |DTI |November 1986 Mr. A. Hyde |DTI |March 1994 Dr. K. Brown |ETSU |April 1993 Ms C. Gray (Observer) |OST |September 1993 Mr. A. Brown (Observer) |ETSU |December 1993
The REAC has not established any committees on major technologies. There are, however, currently three advisory committees which provide advice to the Energy Technology Support Unit on the development and formulation of the Government's wind energy, solar energy and biofuels programmes. Details of membership and dates of membership of these three committees are as follows :
Wind Energy Advisory Committee Member |Organisation |Joined |committee -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. A. Brown (Chair) |ETSU |December 1993 Dr. J. Halliday |EPSRC |December 1992 Dr. A. Shuttleworth |Scottish Power |August 1993 Mr. A. S. Kennedy |North of Scotland Hydro- |January 1991 | Electric Professor M. Lowson |Bristol University |1979 Mr. D. Milborrow |Independent consultant |September 1984 Professor Wootton |City University |October 1993 Mr. M. Trinick |Bond Pearce Solicitors |October 1993 Dr. R. R. Wilson |James Howden and Co. Ltd.|July 1983 Mr. P. Simpson |Wind Energy Group Ltd. |December 1990 Mr. G. Swarbrick |South Western Electricity|June 1991 | plc Dr. J. Halliday |EPSRC |December 1992 Mr. R. Meir |DTI |1986 Mr. D. I. Page |ETSU |1983 Miss Y. Rizzi |DoE |February 1993
Solar Energy Advisory Committee Member |Organisation |Joined |committee -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. K. Brown (Chair) |ETSU |May 1993 Professor P. O'Sullivan |Bartlett School of |October 1983 | Architecture Dr. J. Wiltshire |Newcastle University |June 1984 Mr. G. Oldham |Independent consultant |March 1991 Mr. B. Heppel |Independent consultant |March 1989 Professor R. Hill |University of Northumbria|November 1993 Professor B. Brinkworth |University of Wales |November 1993 Dr. V. Crisp |BRE |September 1991 Mr. A. Field |DoE |November 1991 Mr. R. Meir |DTI |December 1986 Dr. A. J. Cole |ETSU |May 1991 Mr. J. Newman |DTI |November 1991 Dr. D. Vincent |DoE |January 1987
Biofuels Advisory Committee Member |Organisation |Joined |committee ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Dr. A. Brown (Chair) |ETSU |July 1986 Dr. A. V. Bridgewater |Aston University |July 1986 Mr. P. F. Hufton |NEI International |December 1990 | Combustion Ltd. Mr. Burdekin |Forestry Commission |March 1990 Mr. M. Jones |North London Wastes |November 1989 | Authority Mr. H. D. T. Moss |Shanks & McEwan |March 1990 Professor G. Noone |Severn Trent Water |December 1992 Mr. D. Thirkell |Independent |July 1992 Professor D. Hall |University of London |December 1993 Mr. R. Boon |Shell Petroleum |December 1993 Mr. K. Reilly |Associated Energy projects|July 1993 | plc Mr. L. Parry |United Kingdom Waste |July 1993 | Management Dr. K. Richards |ETSU |June 1993 Dr. M. Dwyer |MAFF |July 1992 Dr. P. Hinchcliff |DoE |May 1992 Mr. R. Kettle |DTI |September 1991 Mr. R. Meir |DTI |December 1986 Mr. S. Norgrove |DTI |July 1992 Mr. E. Winiarski |EPSRC |December 1992 Key: DTI-Department of Trade and Industry. DoE-Department of the Environment. MAFF-Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. ETSU-Energy Technology Support Unit. EPSRC-Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. BRE-Building Research Establishment. OST-Cabinet Office; Office of Science and Technology.
Mr. Sainsbury : DTI assists United Kingdom aerospace companies to participate in international collaborative projects wherever this is appropriate, and is in close contact with the United Kingdom industry on the proposed future large aircraft development.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will investigate the circumstances of the departure of the chairman of East Midlands Electricity, and the closure of the electrical contracting business.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will hold an inquiry in the joint venture of the East Midlands and the Yorkshire electricity boards on the retailing operations following the closure of the electrical contracting business operations in Ossett in West Yorkshire.
Mr. Eggar : I am pleased to announce the reappointment of Professor Stephen Littlechild as Director General of Electricity Supply for a second five-year term. The new term will commence on 1 September 1994. Since 1989 Professor Littlechild has played an important role in the creation of a competitive electricity market and I welcome his continuing involvement in the development of this sector of the economy.
Mr. Clapham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what discussions he has had with British Coal about the proposal to contractualise the basic element of the current British Coal redundancy scheme ;
(2) what discussions he has had with British Coal about the proposed employment package which is currently being put to the mining unions.
Mr. Eggar : The Government, through the statutory redundancy payments scheme, ensure that all qualifying redundant employees receive a basic level of compensation. Where employers are unable to pay, for example in the case of receivership, this payment is met by the Department of Employment.
Any redundancy arrangements after the privatisation of British Coal in excess of the statutory requirements will be a matter for private sector employers. Where employees are transferred to a new employer and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 apply, the new employer will take on contractual obligations which exist at the time of transfer.
Dame Peggy Fenner : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the consultation exercise his Department has been carrying out on the subject of lookalikes in the context of the Trade Marks Bill.
Mr. McLoughlin : The consultation exercise was carried out via the Standing Advisory Committee on Industrial Property, because this afforded a readily available mechanism for seeking the views of those with experience in this field. The consultation was not, however, restricted to members of SACIP, and comments were received from others, including the British Producers and Brand Owners Group and individual companies.
The overwhelming majority of the views received was against taking action in the Bill. Many made the point that this is not a trade marks issue, as the main characteristic of a lookalike product is that it does not copy a trade mark. This is also the Government's view.
There was a widespread feeling among those who commented that--compared with other countries--there may be an issue of unfair competition to be addressed. The Government believe, however, that the Bill, which broadens the definition of what may be registered as a trade mark and also widens the rights conferred, will improve the position by allowing shapes and distinctive packaging to be registered, and should be given a chance to work. If, once the Bill has been in force for a reasonable period, brand owners can demonstrate that there continues to be a problem, the Government would be prepared to look again at the situation.
Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will consult the chairman of the Post Office about the circumstances in which the contents of a letter posted at Streatham High Road main post office on 29 April at 11.30 am became known to a member of Combat 18 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Howell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what procedures have been laid down to enable members of the public to raise complaints against the operation of cable companies installing their equipment on highways and also on private property ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : Cable television operators are granted powers under section 10 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 to install cable systems in the maintainable highway and, with appropriate consent, on private land. Their licences include conditions designed to ensure that they operate in a responsible manner and adhere to all relevant street works legislation. Street works in the maintainable highway are subject to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, and its associated regulations, which are enforced by local highway authorities. Where work is undertaken on private land, it should be with the consent of the landowner, and any complaint arising from that work is a matter for the landowner and the cable operator concerned. Many cable operators provide freephone numbers to deal with inquiries.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the progress being made in discussions between the Ukrainian Government and representatives of the G7 to eliminate the danger of radiation threat from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Mr. Eggar : A G7 mission met representatives of the Ukrainian Government on 2 to 4 May. These were exploratory talks designed to prepare the ground for consideration, at the forthcoming G7 economic summit, in the context of nuclear safety in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, of how best we might work with Ukraine to secure the G7 objective of early closure of high-risk reactors such as Chernobyl.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 24 March, Official Report, columns 428-29, how many consultancy contracts have been let by his Department's executive agencies in the last five years ; and at what cost.
Letter from Mike Hoddinott to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
Your recent Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade asked how many consultancy contracts have been let by the Department's executive agencies in the last five years ; and at what cost. Details in respect of Accounts Services Agency are as follows :
Contracts |Number |Cost in £'000 -------------------------------------------------------- 1989-90 |1 |21 1990-91 |0 |0 1991-92 |0 |0 1992-93 |34 |248 1993-94 |19 |164
The costs for each year include VAT although Account Services Agency had separate VAT registration for the years 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Letter from David Durham to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
You tabled the following Parliamentary Question :
"To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his Answer of 24th March, Official Report, columns 428-9, how many consultancy contracts have been let by his Department's executive agencies in the last five years ; and at what cost."
I have been asked to reply to this question, as Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency. The following information is, of course, only relevant to this Agency.
The number of consultancy contracts let and the costs involved were as follows :
|Number |Cost |£ -------------------------------- 1993-94 |20 |147,271 1992-93 |23 |205,075 1991-92 |17 |231,653
The cost of consultancy in 1990-91 was £283,441. Because of changes to our financial systems in 1991, I regret that the precise numbers of contracts before 1991-92, or their cost before 1990-91, is not readily available.
I hope this information is helpful.
Letter from Peter Joyce to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 : The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to reply to your Question about contracts let by The Insolvency Service. Since The Insolvency Service became an Executive Agency in March 1990, eight contracts have been awarded to management consultants at a total cost of £0.33 million.
The Service also uses the private sector for advice on, development of and delivery in relation to specialist areas such as training, design and information technology systems.
Letter from R. D. Worswick to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
I have been asked to answer with respect to the Laboratory of the Government Chemist your question to the President of the Board of Trade concerning the cost and number of consultancy contracts let by the Executive Agencies of the Department of Trade and Industry. Over the last five years (up to and including 1993-94) the Laboratory of the Government Chemist has let fourteen consultancy contracts at a total cost of £442,000.
Letter from W. Edgar to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 : PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION NO. 29
"To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 24 March, Official Report, columns 428-9, how many consultancy contracts have been let by his Department's executive agencies in the last five years, and at what cost".
Over the past five years NEL has let 22 consultancy contracts at a total cost of £360,447.
You should note that the above consultancies were in respect of activities such as the development of commercial systems and investigation of new markets for NEL services.
Letter from P. B. Clapham to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
I am writing in response to your question to the President of the Board of Trade about the number and cost of consultancy contracts which have been let by his Department's Executive Agencies during the last five years.
Column 302The total number of external consultancies let by the National Physical Laboratory during the period was 82. The total cost was £1, 472,325 excluding VAT.
I hope this provides the information need.
Letter from Seton Bennett to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
Parliamentary question : Consultancy contracts
I have been asked to reply, in respect of this Agency, to your recent question to the President of the Board of Trade concerning consultancy contracts let in the last five years.
The Number of consultancy contracts let by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory between April 1989 and March 1994 was 8, at a cost of £42,376.
Letter from P. R. S. Hartnack to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 :
I am replying in respect of the Patent Office to the question you tabled in Parliament on 29 April, regarding consultancy contracts let by DTI executive agencies over the last five years.
The Patent Office has been empowered to let contracts since it became an agency in March 1990. Since then, we have let five "general" or "management" consultancy contracts, at a cost of £10, 100. Three of these involved advice on recruitment advertising or the establishment of training projects. Over this period we have also placed ten contracts for advice on building works and other property services (at a cost of £53,600) in connection with the seven sites from which we operate ; and three contracts (£34,800) for legal and information technology advice : the Patent Office is very dependent upon its IT systems in order to perform its statutory duties. I hope that this is helpful.
Letter from Jim Norton to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 16 May 1994 : I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade about the number of consultancy contracts let by this Agency in the last five years ; and at what cost.
The Radiocommunications Agency was created as an Executive Agency of the DTI in April 1990. Before that date all contracts were let through the DTI. The figures in the table below therefore relate only to the years from 1990 -91. Details are given concerning all contracts let to external consultants. Some of these contracts span financial years with payments being made on a staged basis across the life of the contract.