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Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will make it his policy not to agree to any change in the procedure for choosing a President of the European Commission which would directly or indirectly remove or restrict the requirement for consensus ;
Column 657(2) if he will make it his policy not to agree to the appointment as a member of the European Commission any person who has not made it clear that he is opposed to any further transfer of power from Whitehall and Westminster to Brussels and Strasbourg ;
(3) if he will make it his policy not to agree to the appointment as President of the European Commission of a person with known federalist views ;
(4) if he will make it his policy not to agree to the appointment as a member of the European Commission of any person who has advocated the transfer of responsibility for monetary and exchange rate policy to the EC and its institutions.
The Prime Minister : I shall continue to insist that the President and other members of the Commission are appointed by common accord of the Governments of the member states, as the treaty requires. I shall consider candidates for the Presidency of the Commission on their merits.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what response Her Majesty's Government have given to lawyers of the two Libyan suspects of the bombing of Pan Am 103 who have made representations to Her Majesty's Government regarding the statement of Youssef Chaabane in a Beirut court that he planted the bomb.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 14 June 1994] : The Government made clear their doubts about the Bill as a whole at Second Reading and on other occasions, but we had also indicated that we would see what, if any, parts were appropriate to take further. In the event, debates during Committee confirmed our doubts, and the Government explained the reasons why they were unable to support the Bill at Report stage on 6 May.
Column 658it is responsible to (a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) KPMG Peat Marwick, (c) Ernst and Young, (d) Price Waterhouse, (e) Arthur Andersen, (f) Touche Ross, (g) Grant Thornton, (h) Robson Rhodes and (i) Pannell Kerr Forster for (i) privatisation, (ii) market testing, (iii) management advice, (iv) accounting, (v) audit, (vi) consultancy and (vii) other services in (1) 1980 to 1983, (2) 1984 to 1987, (3) 1988 to 1991 and (4) 1992-93.
Mr. Waldegrave : Information is not available for the period January 1980 to December 1983. From 1984 on, the available information on the number and value of contracts let to these consultancies by my Departments and their predecessors is as follows :
Period |Contracts let |Costs (£000) |Firms<1> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1984 to 1987 |6 |216 |(a), (d), (e), (f) 1988 to 1991 |9 |177 |(a), (b), (d), (f) 1992-93 |56 |2,723 |(a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) Note: To preserve commercial confidentiality contracts have not been identified under specific categories. The costs of contracts have been aggregated and are attributable to the firms indicated<1>. <1> (a) Coopers and Lybrand (f) Touche Ross (b) KPMG Peat Marwick (g) Grant Thornton (c) Ernst and Young (h) Robson Rhodes (d) Price Waterhouse (i) Pannell Kerr Forster (e) Arthur Andersen
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list those of his Department's advisory non-departmental public bodies which the Government are required to consult prior to legislation proposals ; and in respect of which bodies the Government must publish their response to advice supplied by them.
Mr. Waldegrave : "Public Bodies 1993", published in December 1993, lists non-departmental public bodies in existence at 1 April 1993. The following advisory non-departmental public bodies have been established by my Department since then :
Citizen's Charter Complaints Task Force
Technology Foresight Steering Group
Column 659Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department which are required to lay their annual reports before Parliament.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to review the need to bring executive agencies of Government fully within the scope of competition regulation and fair trading control.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : As the citizens charter second report 1994 explains, Crown immunity is being progressively reduced as legislative opportunities arise. In the meantime, Crown bodies are expected to behave as if they were bound by regulations. This applies to executive agencies, which are required to behave in accordance with the principles underlying competition law.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration he has given to proposals under which accountants acting as receivers, administrators and liquidators would be required to publish information about their affairs.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have considered proposals for the appointment of an independent monitor in individual insolvencies. I am anxious to encourage creditors to make use of the powers available to them to supervise insolvencies and I do not believe that the additional cost of such an independent monitor is justified.
However, the Government welcome the setting up of the joint institute monitoring unit by professional bodies whose members are engaged in insolvency practice. This will provide users of insolvency procedures with a basic level of assurance as to professional standards and regulatory compliance.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish figures corresponding to those in the December 1993 issue of "Business Monitor MM20" for total trade in tables 3 and 4 for intra-EEC trade together with those for 1992.
Mr. Needham : Information for 1993, including intra-EC trade, was published by the Central Statistical Office in tables 2 and 3 in the December 1993 issue of "Business Monitor MM20A", "Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom with the World (including data for countries within the European Community : Intrastat)". Information for 1992 was published in "Business Monitor MA20", "Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom". Both publications are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table corresponding to table F2 of the 1991 "Supplement to the Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics" showing separately the weighted average, excluding the United Kingdom, against the EC Six and the other listed countries.
Main manufacturing countries' exports of manufactures: unit value indices 1985=100 Weighted average excluding United Kingdom |Non-EC<1>|EC(6) ---------------------------------------- 1975q1 |64 |83 1975q2 |65 |83 1975q3 |63 |78 1975q4 |64 |77 1976q1 |64 |77 1976q2 |66 |78 1976q3 |66 |80 1976q4 |68 |83 1977q1 |68 |85 1977q2 |69 |86 1977q3 |70 |88 1977q4 |73 |91 1978q1 |75 |96 1978q2 |78 |98 1978q3 |83 |102 1978q4 |85 |108 1979q1 |87 |112 1979q2 |88 |112 1979q3 |91 |121 1979q4 |92 |126 1980q1 |93 |132 1980q2 |96 |131 1980q3 |99 |134 1980q4 |101 |129 1981q1 |101 |120 1981q2 |100 |113 1981q3 |100 |109 1981q4 |104 |116 1982q1 |104 |113 1982q2 |103 |112 1982q3 |101 |107 1982q4 |100 |107 1983q1 |102 |110 1983q2 |101 |106 1983q3 |100 |102 1983q4 |102 |102 1984q1 |102 |103 1984q2 |103 |103 1984q3 |100 |98 1984q4 |99 |95 1985q1 |97 |91 1985q2 |98 |96 1985q3 |101 |104 1985q4 |105 |112 1986q1 |108 |122 1986q2 |110 |124 1986q3 |114 |131 1986q4 |115 |135 1987q1 |119 |145 1987q2 |122 |147 1987q3 |122 |145 1987q4 |126 |155 1988q1 |129 |156 1988q2 |130 |155 1988q3 |127 |145 1988q4 |131 |155 1989q1 |131 |152 1989q2 |128 |148 1989q3 |128 |149 1989q4 |130 |157 1990q1 |132 |167 1990q2 |132 |169 1990q3 |137 |177 1990q4 |142 |187 1991q1 |141 |183 1991q2 |136 |163 1991q3 |136 |162 1991q4 |139 |174 1992q1 |125 |-
Weighted average excluding United Kingdom Year |Non-EC<1>|EC (6) ---------------------------------------- 1975 |64 |80 1976 |66 |80 1977 |70 |88 1978 |80 |101 1979 |90 |118 1980 |97 |131 1981 |101 |115 1982 |102 |110 1983 |101 |105 1984 |101 |99 1985 |100 |101 1986 |112 |128 1987 |122 |148 1988 |130 |153 1989 |129 |152 1990 |138 |175 1991 |134 |170 <1> Non-EC comprises: Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America, Canada and Japan. Note: Manufactures is defined as SITC sections 5-8. Data is only available back to 1975.
Updated and rebased to 1990 = 100 data will be available from 8 July 1994 on the central shared database, which can be accessed from the Library.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing by standard industrial trade classification two-digit division the industries whose share of the United Kingdom market has increased (a) since 1973 and (b) since 1979.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing by SITC two-digit division the industries whose share of exports by the main manufacturing countries has declined since 1985.
SITC divisions for which the United Kingdom share of main manufacturing countries' exports decreased between 1985 and 1991 SITC Code |Description --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 00 |Live animals 01 |Meat, meat preparations 05 |Vegetables and fruit 06 |Sugar, surgical preparations, honey 07 |Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices 09 |Miscellaneous edible products etc. 12 |Tobacco, tobacco manufactures 21 |Hides, skins, furskins, raw 22 |Oil seed, oleaginus fruit 24 |Cork and wood 28 |Metalliferous ore, scrap 29 |Crude animal, vegetable material 32 |Coal, coke, briquettes 33 |Petroleum, petroleum products 34 |Gas, natural, manufactured 43 |Animal, vegetable fats, oils, nes 51 |Organic chemicals 52 |Inorganic chemicals 53 |Dyes, colouring materials 55 |Essential oils, perfume, etc. 57 |Plastics in primary form 59 |Chemical materials nes 61 |Leather, leather goods 63 |Cork, wood manufactures 65 |Textile yarn, fabric, etc. 66 |Non-metallic, mineral manufactures 69 |Metals manufactures, nes 72 |Special industrial machinery 73 |Metal working machinery 74 |General industrial machinery nes 77 |Electrical mch. apparatus, parts nes 81 |Prefabricated buildings, fittings etc. 82 |Furniture, bedding, etc. 84 |Clothing and accessories 87 |Scientific equipment nes
Mr. Heseltine : I am today publishing a Green Paper on the future of postal services. It sets out the challenges and opportunities facing the Post Office businesses and the Government's response to them.
We have one of the best postal services in the world. The Post Office and its employees have responded well to the challenges of recent years, but enormous changes are taking place in the markets in which the Post Office operates. If the Post Office businesses are to seize the opportunities and respond to increasing competition, while providing further improvements in the service to customers, then more fundamental changes are required. In its recent report on the future of the Post Office, the Select Committee on Trade and Industry said :
"What is undoubtedly true is that the Post Office cannot be retained in its present form".
The Government agree. The status quo is not an option.
As I made clear in my statement to the House on 19 May, the Government's consideration of those issues is subject to three vital and non-negotiable commitments. These are the maintenance of a nationwide letter and parcel service with daily delivery to every address in the United Kingdom, a uniform and affordable structure of prices, and a nationwide network of post offices.
The Government propose to retain the current structure of the nationwide network of post offices, keeping Post
Column 663Office Counters in the public sector. It believes that the present partnership between Post Office Counters, at the hub of the network, and the private sector business people who run sub-post offices--which represent over 19,000 of the nearly 20,000 post offices-- works well and should continue. The Government intend to maintain and strengthen the business and the network by allowing them to take on new areas of work, building on their existing activities. It also proposes that there should be significant investment in the automation of many of their clerical routines, in particular benefit payments.
As for Royal Mail, the Government accept that, to survive and prosper, the business needs greater commercial freedom to seize new opportunities and to meet greater competitive challenges in the communications market. The Green Paper sets out the options for achieving this that the Government are considering.
The Government's preferred option is a new partnership arrangement under which the Royal Mail, together with Parcelforce, would be jointly owned by the Government, the public, sub-postmasters and employees, with the Government retaining a stake of 49 per cent. of the shares. Any further sale of shares by the Government would be subject to parliamentary approval. Under this option, the Government would guarantee the three non- negotiable commitments through legislation.
The Green Paper discusses the issues of regulation and competition in the postal sector, and describes how greater competition and choice would be progressively introduced for customers. It also discusses consumer representation, the position of the Post Office's employees and sub- postmasters and VAT, as well as the royal associations which the Post Office has traditionally enjoyed. The Government are inviting comments on the Green Paper by 30 September.
Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether consideration has been given to the impact of paragraph 6.4.2 of chapter 3 of the European Green Paper on post as it relates to the privatisation of (a) the Royal Mail and (b) Parcelforce ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : The EC Green Paper has no legislative force and therefore has no impact on the legal position. The section referred to by the hon. Member does indicate that the Commission intends to review the competitive interface between public postal services and those of other operators in respect of VAT. The Government have also addressed this issue in their own Green Paper, published today. The Commission has not, however, brought forward any proposals in this sector. Public postal services, such as the universal services which will under any outcome continue to be provided by Royal Mail and Parcelforce, therefore remain free of VAT.
Ms Walley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many people are in current full-time employment with Parcelforce in Stoke-on- Trent ; how many of them are currently in temporary contracts ; how many of them are currently employed as casual workers ; what are the recruitment procedures used in respect of (a) permanent, (b) part-time and (c) casual work ; and if he will give details of different rates of pay and conditions of employment in respect of (i) permanent, (ii) part-time and (iii) casual work.
Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with the European Commission about amending article 13(a)(1)(a) of the EC sixth VAT directive, whereby public postal services are exempt from VAT.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Commission has indicated in its Green Paper on postal services its intention to review the VAT treatment of postal services, and this has arisen in discussions with them. The Commission has not, however, brought forward any proposed amendment.
Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with the European Commission about the interpretation of article 13(a)(1)(a) of the EC sixth VAT directive as it relates to the privatisation of Parcelforce.
Mr. McLoughlin : My officials, together with those of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, have had a number of contacts with the Commission of the European Communities about that provision of the sixth directive. The Government are satisfied that, under the directive as it stands, privatisation would not mean the imposition of VAT on the universal letter and parcel services provided by Royal Mail and Parcelforce. The Government have made it clear that under any option they finally adopt, stamps will continue to be free of VAT.
Mr. Jenkin : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the share of invisible exports which go to other EC countries ; and if he will make a statement about the significance of invisible exports to the United Kingdom economy.
Mr. Needham : EC member states accounted for 35 per cent. of the United Kingdom's invisible credits in 1992, the latest year for which an analysis by country is available. Total invisible credits accounted for nearly half of United Kingdom's overseas earnings in 1993, and represented 18 per cent. of "money GDP".
Mr. Meacher : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration was given to evidence from the trustees before the Official Receiver's decision not to apply to the courts for a suspension before the automatic discharge in November of the bankruptcy of Mr. Asil Nadir ; and on what grounds this decision was reached.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Official Receiver's application under section 279(3) of the Insolvency Act 1986 in the case of Mr. Asil Nadir-- Suspension of automatic discharge--was lodged in court on 5 May 1994 and is due to be heard on 1 July 1994.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 22 June, Official Report, column 225, if he will publish a table indicating the downtrend of manufacturing employment in the developed world between 1979 and 1994.
Mr. Neil Hamilton [holding answer 27 June 1994] : Not all the figures requested are available. The best guide to trends in the number of business starts and closures comes from the annual VAT data ; quarterly data are not available. Figures for the years 1990 to 1992 are published in "VAT Registrations and Deregistrations, County and District Analysis", 1980 to 1991, and 1992 editions. Both these documents are available in the Library of the House or online via NOMIS.
Quarterly figures for company insolvencies in Scotland were last published on 6 May in the Association of British Chambers of Commerce's "Business Briefing", which is available in the Library of the House. Equivalent figures for Fife are not available.
Miss Widdecombe : In May 1994, the seasonally adjusted number of unfilled vacancies at United Kingdom jobcentres stood at 147,000. It is estimated that, nationally, jobcentre vacancies represent about one third of all unfilled vacancies.
Modern apprenticeships are training places ; high-quality training, typically taking about three years to complete. In five years' time there could be over 150,000 apprentices in training if employers respond, as I am sure that they will.
Sir Harold Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what sum his Department is currently spending on promoting the employment of disabled persons ; and what the figures were in each of the last 15 years.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : People with disabilities have access to all the Department's employment and training programmes, and benefit from all the Department's initiatives on promoting employment opportunities. Expenditure on disabled people within mainstream programmes cannot be disaggregated from overall programme expenditure. The following table contains such information as is available on programme expenditure on specialist programmes and initiatives for disabled people only and relates to expenditure from 1986-87 onward. It is not possible to provide figures for the years before 1986-87 without incurring disproportionate cost.
Employment Department Expenditure on Promoting People with Disabilities |£000 --------------------------------- 1986-87 |90,451 1987-88 |94,181 1988-89 |98,465 1989-90 |<1>116,764 1990-91 |128,892 1991-92 |142,807 1992-93 |<2>160,011 1993-94 |163,651 1994-95 |<3>174,461 Notes: All yearly totals are cash figures. The figures are based on Employment Department and Employment Service (ES) published appropriation accounts, except the 1993-94 and 1994-95 figures, which are based on the ES supply estimates. They do not include any administration costs or Supported (formerly sheltered) Employment research and development costs. <1> From and including 1989-90, totals include expenditure on services for people with disabilities which, in previous years, were not separately identifiable. <2> Totals for 1992-93 and 1993-94 include expenditure on advertising and publicity which, in previous years, were not separately identifiable. <3> Includes resources transferred from the revenue support grant of the Department of the Environment, Scottish and Welsh Offices for local authority expenditure on Supported Employment.
Mr. David Hunt : I am appointing seven new members and reappointing 10 existing members to the National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities for a period of three years from 1 July 1994. The chairman of the Council, Mr. Alan Smith MBE, FIPM, FBIM, FinstD, has also been reappointed.
The members of the council are :
Members appointed after consultation with organisations representing employers
Ms J. T. Mellor
Mr. P. H. Newman
Mr. R. C. Spoor OBE, RD, DCL, DL, FCA
Members appointed after consultation with organisations representing workers
Mrs. G. M. Davies RGN
Ms R. Donaghy
Mr. R. D. Exell
Professor I. W. Bruce BSocSc, CIMgt
Mr. W. G. Davies
Dr. S. Duckworth MSc., LRCP., MRCS
Dr. A. L. M. Fingret MBBS., MFOM
Sir P. Large CBE
Mr. H. W. Massie OBE
Mr. T. V. F. Pape BSc
Ms S. Scott-Parker
Mr. T. R. Sermon FCIS
Mr. I. N. Sneddon
Ms F. D. Worman FIPM