Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the breakdown by party political affiliation of members of the Gravesend bench.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The political balance of magistrates on the Gravesham bench, which covers Gravesend, on the latest information available is as follows :
|Number ------------------------------------ Conservative |24 Labour |13 Liberal Democrat |6 Independent/Not Known |10
Mr. Clappison : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement concerning the pilot study of recommendation 92 of the inter-agency working group on pre-trial issues.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The pilot study has now been evaluated and the Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General have received a report setting out its results. The inter-agency pre-trial issues steering group, which set up the pilot study, has recommended that the system under which magistrates' courts, when committing defendants to the Crown court for trial, fix a date upon which the case will be listed for a plea and directions hearing in the Crown court should be introduced on a national basis.
We, together with the Lord Chief Justice, welcome the report as a significant step towards a reduction in the number of cases which are listed for trial, with witnesses attending to give evidence, but which are not contested on the day. The percentage of such cases fell from 31 per cent. before the pilot to 18 per cent. during the pilot. The Lord Chancellor's Department is establishing an inter-agency implementation group to carry forward the implementation of the recommendation. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to introduce computerisation into the county court service ; how many county courts these plans will affect ; how many will not be so affected ; and what account he will take of whether a court has been computerised in deciding whether it should be closed.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor and I are committed to improving the efficiency of the court system by providing court staff with computer support where appropriate. To achieve this, all county court offices are already provided with some form of computer support in the areas of warrant production and control and of the handling of suitors' cash. Those systems are currently being upgraded. A project is also under way to extend the range of functions to which computer support can be given. The criteria applied in deciding whether it is appropriate to close a county court do not include the existence of computer support.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what criteria he applies when deciding which of the functions of the courts service are appropriate for contracting out and which are not.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The first and paramount criterion is the preservation of the independence and probity of the judicial process. If that is not at risk, general issues relating to the effective and efficient operation and management of the courts in providing a good-quality service to their users and value for money for the taxpayer would be taken into account.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to identify a core of activities of the courts service that are not appropriate for contracting out.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor is exploring the matter with the senior judiciary. Each activity will be considered on its own merits, bearing in mind the paramount need to maintain the independence and probity of the judicial process.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if funds drawn in the form of either interest or capital from a capital sum held abroad by a political party are subject to United Kingdom taxation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Dorrell : Political parties are chargeable to corporation tax or income and capital gains tax on their profits or gains depending on their status and organisation. Whether sums drawn in the form of interest or capital from a capital sum held abroad are subject to United Kingdom taxation will depend on whether those sums represent profits or gains, and on the particular circumstances in which the sums are drawn.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps are being taken internationally to reduce Japanese and German surpluses on visible trade.
Mr. Nelson : Trade surpluses reflect, in the main, structural factors, such as Japan's high domestic savings ratio and relative cyclical position. At last year's G7 summit in Tokyo, Japan undertook to implement fiscal and monetary measures to ensure sustained non-inflationary growth contributing to the goal of significantly reducing external imbalances.
Mr. French : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his assessment of the benefit to United Kingdom investors and financial institutions if the tax treatment of fonds commun de placement with undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities certificates is changed so it is practical to market them in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Dorrell : We have made no such assessment. I understand, however, that fonds commun de placement are mutual funds set up in other member states of the European Union by financial institutions established in those states. It is not clear to what extent changing the tax treatment of those funds to enhance their marketability in the United Kingdom would beneift financial institutions in the United Kingdom as opposed to those of other member states.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the yield from corporation tax in Northern Ireland each year since 1989-90.
Mr. Dorrell : It is not possible to provide a reliable geographical analysis of the yield of corporation tax. The tax is charged on total profits of a company, including income received from abroad. A company may surrender tax losses to another company in the same group anywhere in the United Kingdom and thus reduce the latter's tax charge.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was repaid by the inspector of foreign dividends or his equivalent to foreign holders of United Kingdom dividends, warrants etc. in relation to tax credits or to tax withheld in regard to their dividend payments in each fiscal year since 1985.
Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 1 July 1994] : Payments to foreign residents of tax credits on United Kingdom dividends under double taxation agreements made either at source by the company paying the dividend or by the inspector of foreign dividends are as follows :
Year |£ million ------------------------------ 1985-86 |440 1986-87 |490 1987-88 |480 1988-89 |510 1989-90 |550 1990-91 |490 1991-92 |480 1992-93 |550 1993-94 |470 Note: Excludes payments to sovereign immune bodies.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what action he has taken against the auditing firm and partners criticised in the inspectors' report on Rotaprint plc ; and what has been the outcome ;
Column 108(2) what action he has taken against the auditing firm and partners criticised in the inspectors' reports on Sound Diffusion ; and what has been the outcome.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 4 July 1994, Official Report, column 11.
Mr. Streeter : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to make regulations requiring electrical applicances to be supplied with a correctly fused plug ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : Regulations under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 will be laid before Parliament shortly, and from 1 February 1995 most domestic electrical appliances manufactured in, or imported into, the United Kingdom must be supplied with a correctly fused plug. Fatalities and injuries occur each year because of incorrectly fitted electric plugs. These regulations represent an important step forward in consumer safety for the British public.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what conveniently available figures he has for the import of slate into the United Kingdom.
Mr. Needham : Information on the topic is regularly published in "Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom", copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. French : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what is his assessment of the benefits that the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 has brought to home buyers ;
(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 ; and what plans he has to amend it.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Act was introduced to deter estate agents from making inaccurate statements about property. It has had practical effect only since April 1993, when the Property Misdescriptions (Specified Matters) Order 1992 came into force. It takes time for new legislation to settle and it is too soon to be able to judge how effectively the Act and the order are operating.
Mr. French : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many convictions there have been under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 ;
(2) how many prosecutions have been brought under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991.
Mr. McLoughlin : As of 29 June 1994, the Office of Fair Trading had been notified of six prosecutions under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, all of which resulted in convictions.
Mr. Henderson : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many applicants in each region of the United Kingdom have been rejected for regional selective assistance because of a failure to meet new guidelines ;
Column 109(2) what recent changes have been made in the guidelines relating to the disbursement of regional selective assistance ; and from when they took effect.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he received the report from the receivers to Teampace Holdings Ltd. ; what factors led the Department to decide against further investigations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The administrative receivers' report was received by the disqualification unit on 5 April 1993 and identified as meriting further investigation on 11 May 1993. Because of the need to prioritise the unit's resources, the matter was not taken forward, as I explained in my speech in the House on 29 June 1994, Official Report, columns 920-22.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what legal advice he has received on the implications of change in ownership of the Patent Office ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) which options in regard to the United Kingdom Patent Office have been ruled out ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what is the option which Price Waterhouse has been requested to provide covering the future of the Patent Office ; and if he will make a statement ;
(4) how many representations he has received on the future of the Patent Ofice in the last 12 months ; how many of them were in favour of the status quo ; and if he will make a statement ;
(5) if he will consider making an interim announcement in regard to the Patent Office.
Mr. McLoughlin : We are still considering the report by Price Waterhouse which was commissioned as part of the review of the Patent Office's performance as an agency and of its options for the future. The review covers a range of possibilities from abolition to maintenance of the status quo. It is also required to address the scope for contractorisation or privatisation. The review has thrown up a number of complex legal and policy issues, which we are considering. I should emphasise that no decision on the future of the office has yet been taken. An announcement will be made as soon as the review is complete.
Column 110Around 80 representations have been received regarding the future of the Patent Office. These reflect a wide range of issues.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many post office employees received injuries caused by dog attacks while delivering letters and parcels in 1993 ; how many work days were lost as a result ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : The handling of Post Office staff matters is the responsibility of Post Office management. However, I understand that in 1993 the total number of incidents involving animal attacks on Post Office employees was 6,040, of which 694 were sufficiently serious to require sick leave, amounting to a total of 4,527 working days.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken, or proposes to take, to investigate the activities in the United Kingdom of subsidiaries or companies related to the Inspectorate AG and Omni Group between 1987 and 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : It is not my Department's policy to comment on the affairs of individual companies. If the hon. Member has information to suggest that an inquiry would be appropriate, my officials would be pleased to consider any information forwarded in the usual manner.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if, for each of the investigations authorised under the Companies Acts, where inspectors have been appointed and the investigation is in progress or the final report remains unpublished, he will publish a table showing the cost of to date, the business connections of the inspectors, the manner in which costs have been disbursed to each of the inspectors, the total number of hours for which his Department has been charged and the basis of fees.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The table below covers all current Companies Acts inspections where the inspection has been announced or, if completed, the report has not yet been published or a decision whether to publish has not been taken. Further information on costs is commercially confidential and I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 20 July 1993, Official Report, column 132.
Company |Inspectors |Accountant |Legal inspectors |Cost of inspection/ |inspectors |costs |costs (inc support |(inc support staff |inspection to date |and |staff and VAT) |VAT) |£ (000's) |£ (000's) |£ (000's) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Guinness Plc |Mr. D. Donaldson QC |1,794 |482 |2,276 |Mr. I Watt FCA, formerly of |KPMG Peat Marwick Graylaw Holdings Ltd. |Miss E. Appleby QC |431 |43 |474 Link Service Stations Ltd. |Mr. P. Foss FCA, British Anzani Plc |Moore Rowland Bank Street Securities Ltd. |Miss E. Appleby QC |152 |20 |172 Medway Secondary Metals Ltd. |Mr. P. Foss FCA, |85 |15 |100 Pennine Comnmercial Holdings Plc |Moore Rowland |352 |35 |387 James Ferguson Holdings Plc |Mr. L. Ziman |4,180 |1,558 |5,738 Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers Ltd. |Nabarro Nathanson |Mr. W. Hoffman FCA, |Baker Tilly Consolidated Gold Fields Plc. |Mr. P. Heslop QC |3,415 |384 |3,799 |Mr. R. Lewis FCA, |Kidsons Impey Atlantic Computers Plc |Mr. E. Hamilton QC |4,643 |1,849 |6,492 Atlantic Computer Systems Plc |Mr. J. Scott FCA, |BDO Binder Hamlyn Wace UK Holdings Ltd. |Mr. A. Robertshaw |282 Tinsley Robor Plc |Mr. C. Mayhew European Colour Plc |both Departmental officers Mirror Group Newspapers Plc |Mr. J. Thomas QC |4,331 |1,003 |5,334 |Mr. R. Turner FCA, |Neville Russell Chancery Plc |Mr. R. Chandler, |86 |203 |KPMG Peat Marwick |Mr. A. Robertshaw |Mr. M. Deveson |Mr. A. Fausset |all Departmental officers Queens Moat Houses Plc |Mr. P. Phillips QC |724 |180 |904 |Mr. A. Burn FCA, |BDO Binder Hamlyn
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will appoint inspectors to investigate the liquidation of Euroscan.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I cannot comment on the affairs of individual companies. I am prepared to consider any information the hon. Member may provide in the usual way.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will appoint inspectors to investigate the liquidation of Corporate Communications.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : On the basis of the information currently before me, I am not persuaded that this is an appropriate case for the appointment of inspectors.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing the amount paid to each of his Department's inspectors for the reports published between 1979 and 1985.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The information requested by the hon. Member is set out in the table. The figures for costs include expenses incurred by the inspectors.
Company |Date of publication|Accountant |Legal inspectors |Total |inspectors |costs |costs (inc support |(inc support staff) |staff) |£ (000's) |£ (000's) |£ (000's) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cornhill Consolidated Group Ltd |31 December 1980 |- |- |(i) Burnholme and Forder Ltd |17 July 1979 |- |- |(i) Dowgate & General Investments Ltd |14 May 1979 |- |- |(i) CST Investments Ltd Words in Action Ltd |22 February 1979 |- |- |(ii) Ashbourne Investments Ltd |31 July 1979 |245 |82 |327 Darjeeling Holdings Ltd |30 April 1980 |155 |28 |183 The Central Provinces Manganese Ore Co. Ltd Data Investments Ltd Vivella Ltd Bandara Investments Ltd Bandarapola Ceylon Company Brayhead Ltd |17 July 1979 |- |- |(i) Larkfold Holdings Ltd |7 June 1979 |66 |18 |84 Kina Holdings Ltd |24 March 1981 |218 |22 |240 Scotia Investments Ltd |22 January 1981 |270 |83 |353 North Devon Railway Company Ltd |22 February 1979 |- |- |(ii) AEG-Telefunken (UK) Ltd |6 September 1979 |42 |5 |47 Credit Collections Ltd Norwest Holst Ltd |23 June 1982 |69 |63 |132 Gilgate Holdings Ltd |8 September 1981 |628 |28 |656 Rayborne Group Ltd Calomefern Ltd Desadean Properties Ltd Aveley Laboratories Ltd |19 May 1981 |17 |6 |23 Peachey Property Corp Ltd |30 January 1979 |- |- |(i) Peek Foods Ltd |8 December 1981 |- |- |(i) Orbit Holdings Ltd |23 December 1981 |30 |6 |36 Ozalid Group Holdings Ltd |13 March 1980 |84 |22 |106 The United Industrial Company Ltd |17 March 1981 |83 |7 |90 Fourth City and Commercial Investments Trust |27 January 1982 |268 |44 |312 Ltd Systematic Tooling Ltd Excelads Ltd Cambramain Ltd Ozalid Group Holdings Ltd |13 March 1980 |84 |22 |106 Ramor Investments Ltd |22 March 1983 |651 |109 |760 (iii) Derritron Ltd |(interim) Saint Piran Ltd |4 December 1980 |- |- |191 (iv) |(interim) |16 April 1981 |(final) Consolidated Gold Fields Ltd |5 August 1980 |- |- |(ii) Dunlop Holdings Ltd |17 February 1981 |- |- |(ii) |(interim) House of Fraser Plc |9 August 1984 |- |149 |149 (i) Cost information no longer available. (ii) Inspectors were Departmental officers and the cost of their investigation is not available. (iii) Costs are total costs of the investigation. (iv) Detailed cost information is no longer available.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will launch an independent inquiry into the affairs of Coopers and Lybrand following the DTI report on the company ; (2) if he will initiate an independent inquiry into the regulation of the major accounting firms by the Institute of Chartered Accountants ;
Column 114(3) if he will launch an independent inquiry into the affairs of Grant Thornton following the DTI report on the company.
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
Column 115industries whose share of exports by the main manufacturing countries has declined since 1979 as a result of lack of investment in new plant and machinery.
Mr. Sainsbury : The information requested is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proposal he has for updating legislation in relation to multi-level marketing ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Government are preparing proposals for changes to the present legislation, and hope to publish a consultation paper shortly.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 16 June, Official Report, column 630, what is the position in relation to VAT exemption for parcels sent via a privatised company by franked or account postage rather than by the purchase of a stamp.
Mr. McLoughlin : This issue is discussed in the Government's Green Paper "The Future of Postal Services" (Cm. 2614) published on 30 June. If the Government decide to proceed with privatisation or part-privatisation of the Royal Mail and Parcelforce, they will consider, in the light of EC law, the appropriate VAT treatment for non-obligatory parcels services provided by the new company. Such services would include those offered on account to commercial companies and other organisations, in competition with services from other parcels carriers.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will now make it his policy to receive a delegation led by the hon. Member for Macclesfield to discuss the provisions of the European directive on unfair consumer contracts and its implications for British industry.
Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 1 July 1994] : If my hon. Friend contacts the Minister for Consumer Affairs and Small Firms, I am sure that my noble Friend will be pleased to meet with him.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 23 June, Official Report, column 254, when he expects to complete the compliance cost assessment in relation to the European directive on unfair consumer contracts ; which trade associations and individual companies have been consulted specifically in connection with that assessment ; and if he will list all those provisions likely to prove onerous to industry which his Department succeeded in having deleted from the European directive on unfair consumer contracts.
Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 1 July 1994] : A compliance cost assessment is being prepared on the proposals to implement the EC directive on unfair terms in
Column 116consumer contracts and will be published shortly. All trade associations and companies that received the Department's consultation document were invited to make an estimate of the compliance costs. Provisions in earlier drafts of the directive which were considered likely to be onerous to industry included extension of the scope of the directive to all contract terms, whether negotiated or not ; inclusion of a blacklist of terms which would be unfair in all circumstances ; and an attempt to harmonise sale of goods legislation.
Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the President of the Board of Trade who will make the definition of the exclusive services which will be offered to the operators of the universal postal service, under the proposed reserved services directive of the European Union.
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 4 July 1994] : The maximum scope of the reserved area is likely to be defined at Community level, and member states will be free to establish smaller reserved areas if they wish.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the current training targets for the Barnsley/Doncaster TEC ; and if he will make a statement.
Miss Widdecombe : The training and enterprise council's corporate plan for 1994-1997 sets out local targets which it has agreed with key players in education and training, to contribute towards the achievement of the national education and training targets. The TEC's corporate plan is available in the Library.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what internationally recognised qualifications are obtainable through the Barnsley/Doncaster TEC ; and if he will make a statement.
Miss Widdecombe : The qualifications which are obtainable through the Barnsley and Doncaster training and enterprise council are nationally recognised qualifications. A second EC directive on mutual recognition of qualifications has been adopted which will give national vocational qualifications and Scottish vocational qualifications currency throughout the Community.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what the amount of Government expenditure on training the existing work force has been in each year since 1979 at 1993 prices ; (2) how much Government expenditure has been spent on overall training in each year since 1979 at 1993 prices.
Miss Widdecombe : Expenditure by the Department on training, education, enterprise, employment measures and labour market services in Great Britain is detailed in the table. Information relating to other Government expenditure on training is not available to this Department. The Employment Department group is offering a total of 1.5 million opportunities for unemployed people in 1994-95, the same as 1993-94's record level.
£ million |Cash |Real terms |(1993 prices) -------------------------------------------------------- 1979-80 |878 |2,091 1980-81 |1,324 |2,664 1981-82 |1,452 |2,663 1982-83 |1,645 |2,817 1983-84 |2,067 |3,383 1984-85 |2,203 |3,433 1985-86 |2,420 |3,572 1986-87 |2,969 |4,259 1987-88 |3,217 |4,381 1988-89 |3,137 |4,003 1989-90 |3,008 |3,589 1990-91 |2,871 |3,170 1991-92 |2,779 |2,885 1992-93 |2,692 |-
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his most recent estimate of the amount spent on training by (a) private employers, (b) public employers, (c) Government and (d) individuals.
Miss Widdecombe : Estimates from the "Training in Britain" study of 1986-87 of the amount spent on training in Great Britain by private sector firms with 10 or more employees, public sector employers, Government and individuals are shown in the table :
|£'000 million ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Private sector firms with 10 or more employees |9 Public sector employers (excludes armed services) |5 Government |7 Individuals |8
It is estimated that British employers currently spend over £20,000 million a year on training and developing their employees. The estimate of Government expenditure includes expenditure by the then Manpower Services Commission on training programmes and the costs of post-compulsory education outside schools. Expenditure in 1992-93 by the Department on training, education, enterprise, employment measures and labour market services in Great Britain was £2,692 million. The estimate of expenditure by individuals consists mainly of earnings forgone by those in post-compulsory education.
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of relative wage levels in the financial services industry in (a) London, (b) Dublin and (c) Luxembourg ; and what implications this has for employment opportunities.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Reliable information is not available at this level.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out the total cost of external consultancy fees in relation to market testing.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 29 June 1994] : As reflected in information already provided to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the civil service, during the period 1 April 1992 to 31 December 1993, the total cost of external consultancy fees incurred by the Department in relation to market testing was £845,319. The Employment Department group's market-testing programme is being developed within existing resources.
Ms Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what amount of the United Kingdom's bilateral aid spending is focused on basic needs provision ; and if he will set out separately figures for spending on health, primary education and clean water provision (a) in cash prices and (b) as a percentage of the United Kingdom's total bilateral aid spending.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : It is estimated that a minimum of £111 million of the United Kingdom's bilateral aid was focused on basic needs provision in 1992-93. Some £13 million of this was provided as block grants to non-governmental organisations and £8 million was provided as a grant to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The sectoral figures shown in the table are included within the £111 millon :
------------------------------------------ Health and Population |48.9|8.6 |3.8 Basic Education<1> |15.8|2.8 |1.2 Water and Sanitation |25.8|4.5 |2.0 <1> Basic education, including primary education, some teacher training and adult literacy, is estimated to be 15 per cent. of the total ODA spending in the education sector.
In addition, in 1992-93, £150 million of emergency aid was provided. Most of this goes to meet basic human needs in time of crisis.