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Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what assessment he has made of the tonnage of sandeels caught by Danish vessels over traditional Scottish fishing grounds in each of the last five years ; and what was the value of the sandeels caught. (2) what assessment he has made of the tonnage of sandeels caught by Danish vessels over the Wee bankie, the Cockenzie bank and the Marr bank in each of the last five years ; and what was the value of the sandeels caught.
Column 606Head, extending roughly 120 miles into the North Sea. The 1993 figures will become available later this year. Separate figures are not readily available for Danish catches.
Year |Catch |Average value |('000 tonnes)|per tonne |£ -------------------------------------------------------- 1988 |291.1 |36 1989 |228.3 |39 1990 |141.4 |45 1991 |228.2 |48 1992 |422.4 |46 Source: International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (catches): Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department (value of catches).
The bulk of these catches were taken in the southern and eastern parts of the area. Estimated catch in the Marr bank, Wee bankie and Cockenzie bank was 60,000 tonnes in 1992.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : In recent years, much has been done to raise the status and quality of further education in Scotland so that students have the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities through vocational as well as academic routes.
If FE students are to receive top-quality education, college lecturers must themselves be effectively trained to provide it. The kind of training that they receive has a significant bearing on the standards of education the public expect FE colleges to deliver. This is why the Government set up a review committee in May 1992 to consider and make recommendations on the future arrangements for the initial training of lecturers. The report of the review committee was published in September last year and has since been the subject of an extensive consultation exercise with representatives of the education sector.
The Government fully endorse the report's conclusions that lecturing staff in further education should be trained and qualified to the highest standards. In writing to the FE colleges about their development plans, before final decisions were reached on the report, Scottish Office Education Department officials stressed the desirability, in the interests of both colleges and lecturers, of continuing to support the teaching qualification (further education) course offered by the Scottish school of further education, which is now part of Strathclyde university. I am glad to say that there has been an encouraging response and an increase in the uptake of places on the course. Although we do not intend to make it compulsory for lecturers to undertake the course, we accept the report's recommendation that lecturers should be strongly encouraged to undertake the teaching qualification (further education) course and will continue to explore ways in which the recent increase in uptake can be sustained. The General Teaching Council for Scotland will also, of course, continue to accredit the TQ(FE) course for registration purposes and to encourage prospective lecturers to register, although, as recommended in the report, registration will continue to be a matter for individuals. Relationships between FE and schools will develop as a result of our
Column 607"Higher Still" proposals and, since incorporation, a variety of FE/HE links have emerged. We accept, therefore, the report's recommendation that the issues of compulsory qualification and GTC registration should be reconsidered in a few years time in the light of these developments.
To ensure the effective implementation of the other recommendations in the report, we will establish a working group, with strong representation from the FE sector, to define FE training needs and competences, and to draw up national guidelines on which future TQ(FE) courses will be based. The working group, assisted by the short-term appointment of a consultant, will be asked to report by November 1994. In tandem with this exercise, the Scottish Office Education Department will, in conjunction with the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, conduct an analysis of the costs of the current TQ(FE) course and consider costed options for its future funding. In the meantime, the existing TQ(FE) course will continue to be
Column 608provided solely by the Scottish school of further education. The school will be invited to embody as many as possible of the Anderson committee recommendations into the course structure and content, and to collaborate with the colleges to ensure that it is stimulating, responsive and relevant.
Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total number and value of regional enterprise grants for (a) innovation and (b) investment and regional selective assistance awards for the Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-East Fife travel-to-work areas for the year ended 1 August 1993.
Mr. Stewart [holding answer 27 June 1994] : The information requested is given in the table. North-East Fife TTWA was not classed as an assisted area in either the previous or current version of the assisted areas map.
R Regional Enterprise Grants and Regional Selective Assistance Offers accepted 1 August 1992 to 31 July 1993 Travel-to-worRegional Regional Regional Innovation Grants Investment Grants Selective Assistance |Number |Value |Number |Value |Number |Value |(£) |(£) |(£) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dunfermline |5 |125,000 |2 |17,659 |3 |240,000 Kirkcaldy |4 |97,630 |8 |102,873 |8 |2,774,000
Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the level of regional selective assistance grants and regional enterprise grants in Fife compared to the number and levels of grant offered.
Mr. Stewart [holding answer 27 June 1994] : The data from projects completed either successfully or otherwise in recent years have shown that, on average, 70 per cent. of the value of regional selective assistance offers accepted in Scotland was eventually paid. The comparable figure for regional enterprise grants was 75 per cent. Figures for individual regions will fluctuate around these levels.
£ million Region |1991 |1990 |1989 ------------------------------------------------------ Borders |10.9 |17.3 |16.2 Central |292.4 |220.7 |185.3 Dumfries and Galloway |31.8 |30.5 |33.0 Fife |72.7 |90.8 |87.2 Grampian |105.2 |106.6 |91.0 Highland |25.2 |29.6 |23.1 Lothian |177.3 |165.9 |200.1 Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles |3.0 |2.2 |3.9 Strathclyde |417.0 |521.1 |522.0 Tayside |69.9 |106.3 |70.5 |---- |---- |---- Scottish total |1,205.5|1,291.0|1,232.2 Source: Annual Census of Production 1989-1991.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a table showing how many Forestry Commission woodlands have been sold to the private sector since 1980, or from whichever year figures are available ; how many of these are subject to (a) voluntary and (b) legally binding access agreements ; what is the total hectarage of these woodlands ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 24 June 1994] : Between July 1981, when the Forestry Commission's disposals programme started, and 31 March 1994, the Commission sold some 2,500 individual areas of forest land covering 105,000 hectares. Arrangements for securing continued public access to Forestry Commission woodlands, by way of prior agreements entered into between the Commission and local authorities, were introduced in October 1991. By 31 March 1994, the Commission had sold eight areas of forest land, covering 123 hectares, which are subject to legally binding access agreements. The Commission does not maintain records of the extent of voluntary public access allowed to woodlands sold without legally binding agreements.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to support or promote the development of low or zero- emission vehicles for use in public transport services ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 609hon. Member to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister for Roads and Traffic on 28 June 1994, Official Report, columns 477-78.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 26 May, Official Report, columns 324-25, where he has published his estimate of the effect of granting each specific request of the Post Office for greater commercial freedom, including its effect on (a) the current business and (b) projects of existing private firms.
(2) what services offered by (a) the Royal Mail and (b) Parcelforce which are currently zero-rated will attract VAT after privatisation ;
(3) pursuant to his answer of 16 June, Official Report, column 630, whether all the services at present offered by Parcelforce will retain their VAT zero-rating status after privatisation.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what were the conclusions of the current review into the Insolvency Service by Stoy Hayward on whether the private sector can beat the Insolvency Service for value for money.
Column 610the Insolvency Service before they are closed ; what staff are doing the checking ; and on what length of contract they are employed.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what account was taken of the law of comparative costs in international trade and developing the proposals in his White Paper on competitiveness.
Mr. Sainsbury : As the White Paper on competitiveness makes it clear, the Government are committed to fair and open markets which provide a spur to enterprise and improved efficiency. This allows the United Kingdom to export those goods which it can produce most efficiently in line with the law of comparative costs.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to investigate the relationship between the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and major accountancy firms.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing for each industry the estimated percentage utilisation of capacity in 1990 and the increase or decrease in output since 1990 at the latest available date, together with the estimated utilisation of capacity.
Mr. Sainsbury : Official data on capacity utilisation by industry are not available. The CBI industrial trends survey monitors changes in balances of companies reporting below capacity working, by industry groups. Industrial output figures are published in the monthly digest of statistics. Both publications are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his oral answer of 22 June, Official Report, column 231, if he will make a statement on the proposals for opening up the international market in electricity.
Mr. Eggar : The Government welcome the European Commission's proposals to liberalise the electricity market in the European Union. The European energy market must be opened up if costs are to be driven down and the competitiveness of European industry improved. The Government's objective is therefore to reach agreement on the Commission's proposals as soon as possible.
Mr. Eggar : The electricity generating industry buys from competitive suppliers. The White Paper, "Competitiveness : Helping Business to Win", Cm 2563, sets out the approach that the Government are taking to ensure that British suppliers maximise their competitiveness.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade under which sections of the Companies Acts the recognised supervisory bodies owe a duty of care to shareholders, creditors, employees, bank depositors and pension scheme members.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what training his Department provided or funded for the Director General of Gas Supply prior to her appointment ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : Ms Spottiswoode was appointed as Director General designate one month before she took up post as Director General of Gas Supply on 1 November 1992, so that she could familiarise herself with the industry and with current issues. My Department was aware of her intention to attend a course on the gas industry before she took up her appointment but was not asked to contribute to the cost.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information was supplied to his Department during the appointment process by the Director General of Gas Supply concerning connection with the gas industry as called for in paragraph 14 of his job specification.
Mr. Eggar : Ms Spottiswoode's connections with the gas industry were made known to the Department both by the executive search consultants and by Ms Spottiswoode herself during the appointment process.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, further to his White paper, "Competitiveness : Helping Business to Win", whether he considered the effect of movements on the exchange rate on competitiveness ; and if he will publish his estimate of the amount by which labour productivity in manufacturing would have to rise to offset the increase in United Kingdom relative export prices compared with those of Germany since February 1993.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions since 1979 his Department has discussed conflicts of interests with the individuals appointed to act as inspectors to investigate company affairs.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many of the individuals currently acting as inspectors under the provisions of the Companies Acts have any business connection with any accountancy and/or law firm criticised in reports by his Department.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made as to the adequacy of the supply of home-produced or imported steel ; and if he will publish a table showing (a) United Kingdom production, imports and net home disposals of steel in each month in 1989 and in this year to date, (b) the rate of return on capital required to make it profitable for United Kingdom steel manufacturers to invest in new capacity in the United Kingdom at current rates of exchange and (c) the actual rates of return on replacement and historic cost in 1993 generally and for the United Kingdom.
Mr. Sainsbury : Estimates of the adequacy of steel supply are a matter for industry. The available figures of production, imports and net home disposals are published in the monthly digest of statistics--table 10.2--a copy of which is in the Library of the House. It is for companies to decide what rate of return is required to make investment in new capacity profitable. There are no official data on rates of return, but information may be available from commercial organisations that analyse company accounts.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the number, standard and quality of those companies which have pre-qualified to buy the mining assets of British Coal ; whether he has now invited further companies to make offers for those assets ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : In considering all applications to pre-qualify, DTI, in consultation with its advisers, took into account a range of factors, including the technical and commercial ability of applicants to manage regional coal companies and care and maintenance collieries, and the likely ability of the applicant to finance any bid they may tender. No further companies have been invited to make offers for the mining assets of the British Coal Corporation.
Mr. Hanson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many prosecutions for the contravention of the Pyramid Selling Schemes Regulations 1989 and the Pyramid Selling Schemes (Amendment) Regulations 1990 took place in 1993-94 ; and how many were successful.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with (a) his Government colleagues, (b) employers' organisations and (c) the training and enterprise councils regarding the Price Waterhouse report on the west midlands economy with particular reference to skills shortages.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Government office for the west midlands is aware of the Price Waterhouse report, which is one of a series on the west midlands economy. GOWM will be taking the report into account alongside others in discussions with TECs and representational bodies following publication of the White Paper, "Competitiveness : Helping Business to Win".
Mr. Sainsbury : The supply of skilled labour is one of the key competitiveness issues addressed in the Government's White Paper, "Competitiveness : Helping Business to Win", Cm. 2563. New measures to be implemented over the next three years are outlined in the White Paper. Training is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.
Column 614International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on 17 June. It will be open for signature from 20 September and will enter into force after ratification by 22 states, including 17 states with at least one civil nuclear power plant.
The main objective of the convention is to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety worldwide. Countries ratifying the convention will submit national reports, for discussion at periodic review meetings, on how they meet or intend to meet safety obligations established in the convention. The Government welcome the agreement on the convention text and hope that the states with civil nuclear powers plants will ratify the convention.
Two loans were extended to the company, in 1986 and 1988, totalling £23.4 million, to safeguard employment at the company's South Crofty tin mine. When the loans were offered, independent forecasters were expecting that the tin price would recover ; this would have permitted Carnon to trade profitably and hence repay the loans. However, the continuing low price of tin has meant that there is no longer any realistic prospect of repayment.
The waiving of repayment of the loans is dependent on two conditions : that the company succeeds, by the closing date of 4 August, in raising the "minimum subscription" set out in its prospectus to be published on 30 June ; and that the House of Commons does not object to this waiver before the closing date.
The waiving of the debts is intended to permit Carnon the opportunity to raise fresh funding to continue its operations but my decision is not intended to imply any comment on or endorsement of the company's financial standing or position. Any potential investor must form his or her own judgment of the merits of investing on the basis of information supplied by Carnon.
(2) if he will make it his policy not to make any changes to the Fire Precautions Act 1971 until there has been a debate in the House ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) if he will place in the Library a copy of the recommendations of the Home Office fire safety division to the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill contruction task force ;
(4) which fire service organisations and local authority organisations were consulted by the construction task force before it produced its recommendations regarding deregulation of fire safety regulations.
Mr. Neil Hamilton [holding answer 28 June 1994] : The recommendations of all seven business deregulation task forces were published on 19 January and copies were placed in the Library of the House. The working papers on which their recommendations were based were placed in the Library of the House on 30 March.
Column 615The construction industry task force held discussions with officials and Ministers in several Government Departments, including the Home Office. No discussions were held with fire service or local authority organisations because the nature of the task force exercise was to provide the Government with evidence of business concerns. The fire safety review, announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 17 January, Official Report , column 381 , explored issues identified by the task force and others. Publication of the report of this review was announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 22 June, Official Report , columns 228-29 . The Government are committed to full consultation on the report with all interested parties and we have made it clear that no changes will be made to existing arrangements until these consultations are complete.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he will publish the recommendations of the construction industry deregulation task force ; and if he will make a statement on the review of fire safety and enforcement carried out by the task force.
Mr. Neil Hamilton [holding answer 27 June 1994] : The recommendations of all seven business deregulation task forces were published on 19 January and copies were placed in the Library of the House. The working papers on which their recommendations were based were placed in the Library of the House on 30 March.
Publication of the review of fire safety legislation and enforcement was announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 22 June, Official Report, columns 228-29 and I have nothing further to add to his statement.
Mr. Hanson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action has been taken to facilitate tracing of promoters of chain letter earnings schemes ; and what further measures he plans ; (2) what representations have been made to him regarding chain letter earnings schemes in 1993-94 ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) how many complaints he has received with regard to participants who have suffered financially as a result of chain letter earnings schemes in 1993-94 ; and if he will make a statement ;
(4) what action is being taken to increase the protection of the participant in chain letter earnings schemes ;
(5) if he will make a statement on chain letter earnings schemes ; and what steps he has taken to maximise the awareness of the possible offences that can be committed under these schemes.