|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) what was the outcome of the informal EU Council of Ministers tourism meeting on 13 April :
(2) who represented the United Kingdom at the informal EU Council of Ministers tourism meeting on 13 April :
Mr. Sproat : The United Kingdom was represented by the head of my Department's tourism division and the United Kingdom tourism representative from Brussels. Meetings of this kind offer an opportunity for a purely informal exchange of views on matters of common interest. They have no powers to make decisions and the Council guidelines stipulate that such meetings should not reach formal conclusions. There were wide-ranging and useful discussions on subjects which included the future direction of European Union tourism policy, the tourism action plan and tourism statistics.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list the names and terms of reference of the consultancies he has commissioned to inquire into the operation of library services.
Mr. Sproat : Set out is a list of consultancies currently in progress, together with their respective terms of reference : 1. The Aslib Consultancy.
Review of public library service in England and Wales.
To assess the scope and value of public library services currently provided by local authorities in England and Wales ; to draw up guidelines and a framework for local choice for what should constitute a "comprehensive and efficient service" provided by a modern public library service ; to consider the desirability of any
Column 539changes in the requirements of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 ; and to identify key developments requiring national attention.
2. Broadvision Communications Limited.
Evaluation of Library and Information Plans (LIPs).
To provide an independent evaluation of the concept and process of Library and Information Plans, their planning, funding, development, implementation and impact on the library and information sector. 3. Coopers and Lybrand.
Review of schools library services.
To carry out a review of the schools library service in the light of the growing trend towards the delegation of the funding for the service to schools. The review will examine three sets of issues : resource allocation and delegation ; the marketing of the services ; and structural and internal management.
4. Brenda White Associates Limited.
Provision of secretariat and support services for the Libraries and Information Services Council (England) working party on library services for children and young people.
The Council has established the working party to :
(i) examine the library needs of children and young people and the extent to which they are being met by existing services and levels of staffing ;
(ii) examine the way in which library services for children and young people are provided through the public library service, school and further education libraries, and the school library service ; (
(iii) review recent research and development work into library services for children and young people, and assess its effectiveness and impact on services ;
(iv) examine the effect of external change on the library needs of children and young people and on library services for them ; (
(v) recommend improvements, and how to bring them about, in library services for children and young people.
5. KPMG Peat Marwick in association with Capital Planning Information Limited.
Investigation into the scope for contracting out in public libraries.
The Department of National Heritage, in conjunction with five pilot projects established by library authorities in England, is examining the scope for contracting out the direct delivery of all or some elements of the public library service. The consultants are assisting by developing the overall framework of the investigation and evaluating the lessons to be learnt from the pilot projects, which remain under the direction of the authorities concerned. After consulting widely on the lessons that emerge from the pilot projects and ensuring that all public library authorities are kept in touch with the exercise, the consultants will prepare a report showing whether all or parts of the public library service can be contracted out ; and the advantages and disadvantages of so doing, including best options, costings and potential savings.
Mr. Clapham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many full-time and part-time employees Royal Mail intends to employ at the Barnsley depot in (a) 1994-95, (b) 1995-96 and (c) 1996-97.
Mr. McLoughlin : The intended number of employees at Royal Mail depots is an operational matter for the Post Office.
Mr. Clapham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of full-time and part-time employees at the Barnsley Royal Mail depot in (a) 1991-92, (b) 1992-93 and (c) 1993-94.
Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that the numbers of full-time and part-time employees at the Barnsley Royal Mail depot were :
Year |Full-time|Part-time|Total -------------------------------------------------- 1991-92 |137 |62 |199 1992-93 |126 |71 |197 1993-94 |119 |80 |199
Mr. Clapham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if Royal Mail intends to continue with two foot deliveries of mail per day in the Barnsley area for the foreseeable future.
Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that it has no plans to change the mail service specification in the Barnsley area for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Mudie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the 14 companies which went into receivership or liquidation in 1992- 93 and caused £5,096,000 to be written off in the appropriation accounts 1992-93, class IV, vote 1.
Mr. Sainsbury : In the 1992-93 appropriation accounts class IV, vote 1, the losses of £5,096,000 under regional development grants and regional selective assistance schemes involved 14 cases and 12 companies. A list of the 12 companies follows :
Winchmore Knitting Factory Ltd.
Blue Ridge Care Ltd.
Northern Power Electronics Ltd.
Thermostar (UK) Ltd.
Great Northern Knitwear
Tolag Products and Company Ltd.
Swilynn Magnetic Industries Ltd.
City Vehicle Engineering
CBS Batteries Ltd.
Danum Windows Ltd.
Briquette Technology Ltd.
Unibit (Holdings) plc
Mr. Mudie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will break down the miscellaneous expenditure listed under section I, international trade in class IV, vote 2, of the appropriation accounts 1992 -93.
Mr. Needham : A breakdown of the miscellaneous international trade expenditure listed under class IV, vote 2, section I of the 1992-93 appropriation accounts follows :
|£000 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Overseas project fund expenditure to assist companies with the costs of pursuing major projects overseas |4,990 Assistance to overseas marketing research |1,181 The single European market campaign |2,918 International exhibitions: British participation at the Universal Exposition held in 1992 in Seville and the exposition in 1993 in Taejon, South Korea |7,131 Publicity and promotions for the British Overseas Trade Board's (BOTB) range of overseas trade services and other export promotion activities |3,598 Assistance to BOTB area-advisory groups and other non-official trade associations. |2,563 Other expenditure |2,773 Class IV, vote 2, section I total |25,154
Mr. Mudie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will name the company included in the losses
Column 541statement in class IV, vote 2, of the 1992- 93 appropriation accounts where his Department paid off the debit incurred by the Expo '92 concessionaire.
Mr. Needham : The company is Lionheart Catering Ltd., which was struck off the register by the Registrar of Companies on 5 January 1993 and dissolved by notice in the London Gazette dated 12 January 1993.
Mr. Riddick : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to introduce regulations permitting the use of a 35 ml spirit measure ; if he will explain the reason for the delay in the introduction of the regulation ; and to what extent such a delay is reconcilable with the Government's deregulation drive.
Mr. McLoughlin : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) on 10 May 1994, Official Report , columns 76-77 .
Mr. David Evans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made by the interconnector working party ; when it is likely to report ; what are the expected volumes ; and to what extent the Government remain committed to open access and published tariffs as the basis of the interconnector project.
Mr. Eggar : The United Kingdom-continent gas interconnector is a private sector project being developed by a group of seven oil and gas companies to build a pipeline linking the United Kingdom and Belgian gas grids. The Government welcome the widespread interest from potential users in participating in this strategic link and the progress being made towards a commitment this year to go ahead. The development of the commercial arrangements for the interconnector is a matter for the companies involved.
Mr. David Evans : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to seek a resolution of the issue of jurisdiction before agreeing any new treaty relating to a cross-median sub-sea pipeline ; what effect he expects the pending ratification of the law of the sea convention to have on these matters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The Government believe it is important to resolve the application of jurisdiction to submarine pipelines crossing the continental shelf boundary between the United Kingdom and Norway if such projects are to be considered. The Government have taken no decision about accession to the United Nations law of the sea convention.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is considering seeking arbitration at the International Court of Justice to clarify the position with regard to jurisdiction over sub-sea pipelines crossing the United Kingdom-Norwegian line.
Mr. Eggar : I can confirm that we are considering the option of seeking arbitration to clarify the application of jurisdiction to submarine pipelines crossing the continental shelf boundary between the United Kingdom and Norway.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made towards re-negotiation of the Frigg treaty ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : Progress has been made in a number of the areas under discussion with the Norwegian Government. The negotiations to revise the Frigg treaty are complex, however, and raise difficult issues for both Governments which it will not be easy to resolve.
I do not as a result envisage that it will be possible to complete negotiations with the Norwegian Government within the foreseeable future.
Mr. Burns : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of responses and entries to the 1994 SMART--small firms merit award for research and technology--competition.
Mr. McLoughlin : The 1994 small firms merit award for research and technology competition generated 6,360 responses and a record 1,494 entries.
Mr. Waterson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he will publish a White Paper on the conclusions of the GATT Uruguay round ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heseltine : The Government have today published a White Paper "The Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations 1986-94". Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and will be available in the Vote Office.
The Government warmly welcome the successful conclusion of the Uruguay round. It is something for which we have worked tirelessly over many years.
Liberalisation of international trade has always been one of the most effective means of boosting world growth. An OECD/World bank study has cautiously estimated that world annual output will be boosted by over US$270 billion after 10 years as a result of the agreement.
The results should offer great benefits to British business and consumers. As the fifth largest exporter in the world of goods and commercial services, the United Kingdom stands to be one of the biggest gainers from cuts in trade barriers world wide.
Major reductions in tariffs will provide substantial benefits to exporters through improved access to overseas markets. For example, in the sectors where tariff barriers are to be eliminated by the EC, Japan, the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom is well placed to make gains in those markets.
Cuts in the EC's own tariffs should lead to lower prices and wider choice for consumers. Consumers and taxpayers will also benefit from the reductions in farm subsidies and agricultural trade barriers which the round will bring. These represent an important basis for further liberalisation in future.
Inclusion of services and trade related intellectual property rights for the first time within the multilateral trade rules is particularly important. The Government pressed for these subjects to be included in the preparations for the round in the mid 1980s. Services already account
Column 543for 23 per cent. of United Kingdom trade, and trade in services is growing faster than trade in goods. The general agreement on trade in services will provide a more secure basis for the future growth of this trade to the benefit of United Kingdom service providers and the economy more widely.
The agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights-- TRIPS--is also a major achievement which will provide better international protection for innovative products from the United Kingdom and help to reduce tensions over trade in counterfeit goods. Stronger trade rules in areas such as subsidies, safeguards and anti-dumping will increase the stability and effectiveness of the multilateral trade system.
Creation of the World Trade Organisation itself puts the system on a permanent institutional basis. The new dispute settlement system should help ease trade tensions and reduce the scope for unilateral trade sanctions.
Trade liberalisation is a continuous process and no trade agreement can settle every trade dispute. But the completion of the Uruguay round represents an enormous achievement in which the world has chosen trade liberalisation rather than protectionism. The conclusions of the round provide a secure basis for future expansion of world trade and the growth and prosperity which go with it.
Mr. Yeo : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the terms of reference for the nuclear review.
Mr. Eggar : I am now in a position to announce the terms of reference, timing and format of the nuclear review. This answer has been agreed with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has responsibility for the nuclear power generating industry in Scotland.
The Government believe that the future role of nuclear power in the United Kingdom's electricity supply will depend on it proving itself competitive while maintaining rigorous standards of safety and environmental protection.
The coal review established that there is a sound economic basis for continuing to operate existing nuclear stations. The nuclear review will not consider whether Sizewell B should be brought on stream. Sizewell B is on course to start operating this year, subject to the receipt by Nuclear Electric of such consents as are required by law. Decisions on these consents are matters for the appropriate Ministers and authorities and are not matters for the review. The review will, however, take into account the decisions made on Sizewell B, whether the consents are granted or refused.
The nuclear review will focus on the future prospects for nuclear power. It will examine the economic and commercial viability of new nuclear stations in the United Kingdom, against the background of the Government's energy policy as set out in the White Paper "The Prospects for Coal", Cm. 2235.
The Government have asked the nuclear generating industry to make the commercial case for new nuclear generating capacity and to make that case publicly available. Whether any new nuclear station could be built with private sector finance will be a key test of that case. The Government would welcome comments on the industry's case, which will be published shortly.
Column 544The Government also invite submissions from interested parties on whether new nuclear power stations offer particular diversity, security of supply and environmental benefits or disadvantages. The review will examine possible options for introducing private sector finance into the nuclear industry. As part of this, the Government are prepared to consider without commitment
representations on whether privatisation would in principle be feasible, and what a practical timescale might be. The review will address the question of how best to manage the substantial nuclear waste and decommissioning liabilities which are currently the responsibility of the public sector, so as to secure value for money for the taxpayer while ensuring necessary safety and environmental standards are met.
The review will also assess the existing arrangements to enable the full costs of nuclear power in the United Kingdom to be met, taking account of the Trade and Industry Committee's recommendations on the fossil fuel levy in its report, "British Energy Policy and the Market for Coal," HC 236.
Submissions on these issues should be made in writing both to my Department and the Scottish Office, to be received by 30 September. All substantive submissions received by the Government will be made publicly available. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of this House and of the House of Lords. Commercially confidential information in submissions received by the Government, internal papers and advice and reports internal to Government, and advice from external advisers will not be made publicly available in this way. The review will be undertaken by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Scottish Office Industry Department, in consultation with other Government Departments as appropriate. The Government may appoint consultants to advise it on matters relevant to the review as the need arises.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is announcing today a separate review of radioactive waste management policy, to be conducted in parallel with the nuclear review.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proposals have been put forward for the decommissioning of the 3MW wind turbine at Burgar hill, Orkney ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar [holding answer 18 May 1994] : No arrangements have been made for decommissioning as the future of the turbine is still being considered.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what provisions have been included in the national curriculum to enable pupils with disabilities to participate in team games on an equal basis with their able-bodied counterparts ; what representations he has received on this issue ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : The current national curriculum for physical education, which includes games, was drafted so that specific interpretation or modification is required for
Column 545as few pupils with special educational needs as possible. The aim was to ensure that all children should have the opportunity to take part in national curriculum physical education.
When reviewing the national curriculum, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority appointed a special needs advisory group specifically to ensure that the requirements of pupils with special educational needs were taken fully into account. The revised proposals for physical education, published for consultation earlier this month, include elements of the programmes of study which can be taught to all pupils in ways appropriate to their abilities. Where necessary, pupils with special educational needs will be able to gain experience of team games through activities such as wheelchair basketball, rounders and table tennis.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what considerations underlay his decision to revise guidelines for staffing levels in special schools and not for educational psychology services ;
(2) what plans he has to introduce guidelines for the staffing levels for educational psychology services following the increase in their statutory role and functions ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : My right hon. Friend has not revised the guidance on staffing levels for pupils with special educational needs. This remains as set out in circular 11/90, "Staffing for Pupils with Special Educational Needs". There are no plans to revise it or to introduce guidelines for the staffing levels of educational psychology services. It is for each local education authority to determine such staffing levels based on local needs and priorities.
Mr. Pickthall : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what element of funding for the Further Education Funding Council is designed to cover the cost of students' meals.
Mr. Boswell : Further education funding is not separately earmarked for students' meals. Colleges have discretion if they wish to use part of their FEFC recurrent funding to support catering services for students.
Mr. Hawkins : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what are the figures for January 1994 for teacher numbers and vacancies ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robin Squire : The Department's annual survey of teacher numbers and vacancies in maintained schools including
grant-maintained schools shows that full-time equivalent teacher numbers in England rose by nearly 1,900 between January 1993 and January 1994. The vacancy rate of 0.4 per cent. equals last year's lowest-ever recorded rate. The numbers involved equate to one vacancy for every 16 schools, a four- fold improvement on the position in 1990.
Provisional teacher numbers in LEA-maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools and self-governing