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The Legal Aid Advisory Committee (NI)
The Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct
The Advisory Council on Public Records
The Council on Tribunals
The Law Commission
Each of the 94 Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace in England and Wales produces an annual report.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list his Department's advisory non- departmental public bodies which are required to publish their advice to Government.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department which are required to lay their annual reports before Parliament.
The Legal Aid Advisory Committee (NI)
Column 206The Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct
The Advisory Council on Public Records, as part of the Annual Report of the Public Record Office
The Council on Tribunals
The Law Commission, where the report is made to the Lord Chancellor who then lays it before Parliament
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the advisory bodies which he has set up in his Department since the publication of "Public Bodies 1993".
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being planned by the United Kingdom, the European Union and other countries to remedy the defects in transport arrangements in efforts to counteract the famine in the Hararghe area of eastern Ethiopia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The rural road network in Hararghe is poor. But British non-governmental organisations operating in the region believe that transport capacity is adequate to distribute available food aid.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many requests for environmental information under the Access to Environmental Information Regulations 1992 have been received by his Department ; how many were answered within two months ; how many were refused ; and on what grounds in each case.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The ODA does not keep records of the number of requests received under the environmental information regulations nor when they were answered. The ODA keeps records of refusals to supply information and the grounds for refusal.
In the period up to 30 June 1994, the Department gave 14 refusals : in 11 cases because no formal environmental impact assessments existed and in one case because the content contained internal advice ; in another case, the report had been commissioned by, and was the property of, another Government ; and in the other case access was refused on the ground of commercial confidentiality.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on the proposal of the Commissioner for Social Affairs, in his communication on immigration and asylum to the European Parliament and the Council 1994, to adopt a community code of practice prohibiting racial discrimination in employment.
Column 207employment. The Government will consider their policy on the proposal when they have had the opportunity to study the draft.
Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many staff are involved in servicing the review bodies on doctors and dentists remuneration and on nursing staff, midwives, health visitors and professions allied to medicine ; how many national health service staff are covered by those review bodies ; and what is the annual cost of running those bodies.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : In 1994-95 the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration and the Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine are expected to be serviced directly by up to eight staff, shared equally between the two bodies and assisted as necessary by other clerical and secretarial staff of the Office of Manpower Economics. As at 30 September 1992, the latest date for which figures are available, there were some 123,000 doctors and dentists and the full-time equivalent of some 512,000 nursing staff, midwives, health visitors and professions allied to medicine in the NHS. This includes staff employed by NHS trusts, which are free to determine the pay of their staff locally.
The annual cost of running the two review bodies, in respect of the salary costs of the eight staff and the travel and subsistence costs for members-- who are otherwise unpaid--and staff is expected to be £299,000 in 1994 -95.
No objective 1 projects have been approved. Although negotiations on this Merseyside single programming document have been completed with the Commission, it--with the other United Kingdom objective 1 SPDs--is still waiting for the Commission to complete its internal procedures. Applications for European social funding supported projects such as Hope Street are, however, being invited this week.
Mr. Berry : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee if he will make a statement on the progress of his Committee's deliberations on improving access to the Palace of Westminster for disabled people ;
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee what further progress has been made by his Committee on improving access to the Palace of Westminster for disabled people.
Column 208Westminster for people with disabilities has been submitted to this Committee. Its proposals are being considered in the context of evidence from the Director of Works, a number of organisations representing disabled persons, and English Heritage. The Committee expects to receive further evidence this autumn and to make its conclusions known at the end of the year.
Pending the Committee's final recommendations, approval has been given for a large number of minor and uncontentious improvements to go ahead. A number have already been completed and others have been included in the rolling programme of works. A sum of £250,000 has been set aside for this purpose in the current year.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has received regarding the warrant issued by the Indonesian Government for the arrest of the human rights lawyer Adrian Buyung Nasution ; and if he will make representations to his Indonesian counterpart concerning the human rights situation in Indonesia.
Mr. Goodlad : Rumours of Mr. Nasution's impending arrest have proved unfounded. The Indonesian authorities are well aware of the importance that we attach to respect for human rights. We draw it to their attention on a regular basis.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to his Indonesian counterpart with regard to the banning of Tempo , Editor and De Tik on 21 June and the confrontation between Indonesian security forces and a peaceful demonstration in Jakarta on 27 June ; and if he will make a statement on the current human rights situation in Indonesia.
Mr. Goodlad : None as yet, but we will seek an early opportunity to make representations on this issue. We welcome the Indonesian Government's efforts over the past year to improve their human rights record. It is, therefore, with surprise and concern that we learned of the banning of the three journals by the Indonesian Government. The decision appears inconsistent with the greater spirit of openness prevailing in Indonesia recently.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) of 16 June, Official Report, column 642, about United Kingdom citizens awaiting trial in overseas prisons ; what action he proposes to take to monitor the number of Britains on remand for long periods in Spanish gaols ; and if he will make representations on behalf of Colin Salt, currently on remand in Madrid, to press for an early court hearing.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We continually monitor all British nationals on remand in Spanish gaols, especially those remanded for long periods. Our consular officers are doing all that they properly can to help those detained and their
Column 209families. However, we have no standing to intervene in the Spanish legal process itself, and it is for Mr. Salt's lawyer to press for a hearing.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what statements the Nigerian head of state has made recently about the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group forces in Liberia ; what action is being proposed by the United Nations to respond to a withdrawal by the Nigerians from the ECOMOG forces ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : In a broadcast on Radio Nigeria on 24 June, President Abacha said that Nigeria intended to pull out of Liberia. In his fifth progress report on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, the United Nations Secretary-General noted concerns expressed by the President of Nigeria at the financial burden of participation in ECOMOG. The Secretary-General urged that troops should not be withdrawn precipitately and undertook to endeavour to obtain additional financial support from member states. The United States has contributed about US$30 million, while we have provided US$1 million of humanitarian aid.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what commitments were made by the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture when he met recently with the British high commissioner to Nigeria.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Her Majesty's high commissioner called on the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture on 17 June. The Minister stated the Nigerian Government's commitment to hand over to a democratically elected Government in the shortest possible time.
Mr. Nelson : The Government will continue to follow domestic policies which create the right conditions for sustainable growth by maintaining low inflation and sound public finances and by a continuing programme of reform designed to improve the efficiency of markets and strengthen the long-term supply performance of the economy.
Mr. Nelson : The Treasury is currently undergoing a fundamental review of its expenditure. Until the results of this are available, the implications of any management reorganisation will not be clear.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library the rules of guidance for profit-related pay schemes drawn up by the Inland Revenue covering (a) the involvement in profit- related pay of schemes not based on companies, (b) restrictions on conversion of existing pay into profit-related pay, (c) the definition and calculation of profit in profit-related pay and (d) other relevant matters.
Mr. Dorrell : The Inland Revenue publishes two booklets to help employers who would like to introduce a profit-related pay scheme which qualifies for tax relief. These are "Tax Relief for Profit-Related Pay : Notes for Guidance", PRP2, and "Tax Relife for Profit-Related Pay. Setting up a Scheme". I understand that a copy of both booklets is available in the Library.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing the growth in numbers of profit-related pay schemes, and participants in profit-related pay with a regional breakdown of schemes ; and if he will also estimate the revenue forgone in each year of profit-related pay together with the current year.
Live schemes |Number of |Number of as at |schemes |employee |participants ---------------------------------------------------- March 1988 |616 |90,000 March 1989 |869 |122,100 March 1990 |1,175 |232,000 March 1991 |1,277 |350,100 March 1992 |2,597 |718,100 March 1993 |4,615 |1,167,400 March 1994 |7,039 |1,794,100
|Estimated cost |of income tax |relief for PRP --------------------------------------------- 1987-88 |<1>- 1988-89 |10 1989-90 |15 1990-91 |25 1991-92 |40 1992-93 |200 1993-94 |300 1994-95 |n/y/a <1> Negligible.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library the Inland Revenue guidance on capital allowances for research and development ; if he will outline the circumstances under which expenditure on the development of a specific product or technique qualifies for such allowance ; if he will outline the legal or administrative source for the definition of research and development ; and whether the guidance or definitions are currently under review.
"any activities in the fields of natural or applied science for the extension of knowledge".
Whether any particular activities fall within this definition will depend on the facts of the case. However, in general terms, activities constitute scientific research if they involve the application of new scientific principles in an existing area of research or the application of existing principles in a new area of research. The essential test is innovation.
Scientific research is generally regarded as including the development of a piece of fundamental research up to the production stage. Expenditure on construction of prototypes, pilot plant and so on qualifies for scientific research allowances if the prototypes are used to test the results of the basic research or the possibility of applying the results of the basic research to manufacture. The Inland Revenue's main internal instruction books will be published as soon as practicable in accordance with the code of practice on access to Government information. Details of the publication arrangements should be available within the next few weeks.
Mr. French : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the regulatory organisations and Government Departments which have a role to play in relation to the unit trust industry, with their respective responsibilities.
(a) The Securities and Investments Board is responsible for authorising unit trusts and for product regulation of authorised unit trusts--AUTs. It also oversees self-regulating
organisations--SROs--recognisedunder the Financial Services Act 1986. Trustees and managers of AUTs may be authorised either directly from SIB or through membership of an SRO.
(b) The Investment Management Regulatory Organisation is the SRO for regulation of fund management.
(c) Regulation of retail sales at present falls within the scope of the Life Assurance and Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation for marketing of AUT products, and the Financial Intermediaries, Managers and Brokers Regulatory Association for independent financial advisers who offer investment advice to the general public. From 18 July, these functions will fall primarily to the Personal Investment Authority, or in certain instances to IMRO.
Column 212(d) Certain professional bodies also recognised by SIB under the FSA (RPBs) regulate the sale and marketing of AUTs through their member firms. The main ones are the various professional accountancy bodies--ICAEW, ICAS, ICAI and CACA--the Insurance Brokers Registration Council and the three law societies.
(e) The Treasury is responsible, under the FSA, for general policy oversight relating to collective investment schemes, including questions of whether responsibility for further functions relating to the investment and borrowing powers of AUTs should be transferred to SIB.
Sir John Cope : Both Basle and Geneva airports are in the unusual position of straddling Switzerland and France and allowing passengers to choose into which country to exit the airport. It would therefore be impossible to charge the higher £10 duty rate, as there is no distinction on a passenger's ticket to indicate whether he intends to enter Switzerland or France, and in any case, the extra £5 would be relatively easy to avoid by leaving the airport through a different exit and crossing a land frontier into Switzerland.
It has therefore been agreed that flights to Basle and Geneva may exceptionally be treated as subject to the lower £5 duty rate.
Mr. Jamieson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the use of excise duty and tax rates to encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for motor vehicles.
Sir John Cope : The rate of excise duty on natural gas used as a road fuel is currently half the rate applied to leaded petrol. When deciding the rates of duty on road fuels, all relevant factors are taken into consideration, including revenue yield, conservation of finite fuel resources and the effects of fuel usage on the environment.
Mr. Dorrell : The medium-term financial strategy in the 1994-95 "Financial Settlement and Budget Report" assumed privatisation proceeds of £5.5 billion in 1994-95 and £1 billion a year after. The assumption for 1995-96 was raised to £2.5 billion in the summer economic forecast, to reflect the latest assessment of likely proceeds from later instalments from the sale of the Government's residual stakes in the generating companies and from the sale of its other residual equity and debt holdings.
Column 213period up to 1995-96. Medium-term fiscal projections are published only in the medium-term financial strategy at Budget time. At its meeting on 23 June, Cabinet decided that control total spending should be kept within the cash ceilings announced in the Budget last year. Revised projections of the other components of general Government expenditure will be published in the Budget in November.
Mr. Nelson [holding answer 27 June 1994] : In January, I announced a review of the Building Societies Act 1986 to explore the scope for a further liberalisation of the building societies legislation. The review, which was to be in two stages, was to look at the main restrictions of the Act, including the wholesale funding limit and procedures relating to mergers, conversions and takeovers. The initial stage was to be concluded by the early summer and, if the case for making more extensive changes to the legislation needed to be explored, there would be a wider consultation in the autumn, with the aim of concluding the review by the end of the year. The first stage is now complete and we have reached a number of conclusions :
Building societies have a valuable part to play in maintaining a competitive market in retail financial services.
They should be enabled to continue and develop that role. The process of steady, orderly rationalisation within the sector should be allowed to continue.
The extension of societies' powers in specific areas needs to be accompanied by improvements in the accountability of their boards to the members.
Smaller societies have a particular part to play in their local communities.
Societies dominate housing finance and personal savings because they offer a high standard of service to their customers. Their low-cost operations represent keen competition for banks and other providers of financial services, to the benefit of consumers. They are among the few major financial institutions based outside London. They provide diversity and choice.
There is, however, a need to improve the accountability of societies' boards to their members. During the first stage of the review, a number of respondents pointed out that directors are under no obligation to inform members of takeover offers from institutions outside the sector. When a suitable opportunity arises, the Government intend to bring before the House legislation to require boards to inform the members, at the next general meeting, of any such non-confidential offers which they have received, in the same way as they must do now for merger bids from other societies. In order to give societies the opportunities that they need to develop, the gradual process of extending the range of activities which they are permitted to undertake should continue. So I am announcing today a package of specific measures, which we propose to implement by secondary legislation, either under the Building Societies Act or by making use, after its enactment, of the general power in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill currently before Parliament.
The most important changes will be : an increase in the wholesale funding limit from 40 to 50 per cent ; the granting of powers to establish subsidiaries to make loans
Column 214to incorporated bodies that are not secured on land ; and the power to own a general insurance company offering buildings and contents, and mortgage payment protection insurance policies. All these changes will be subject to prudential control by the Building Societies Commission.
These changes will introduce a further element of competition into markets where societies have previously not operated, or have operated only as agents of others, and give them much of the additional flexibility which many have told us that they need. To allow societies to continue to play their part in this country's financial life, and to discourage destabilising flows of funds, on the basis of takeover rumours, the Government believe that it will continue to be necessary for there to be stringent statutory controls on takeovers by existing commercial companies- -as was Parliament's intention in passing the 1986 Act.
Societies will continue to be carefully monitored by the Building Societies Commission and subject to competition law. The implications of the decision to allow societies to own general insurance companies will also be taken into account in the Government's response--promised for later this year--to the recent report by the Director General of Fair Trading which recommended the implementation of the provisions of the Courts and Legal Services Act relating to tying-in. The Government have now decided that it would be useful to proceed with the second stage of this review, to examine further how best to promote the process of evolutionary change in the building society sector.
This stage will involve considering ideas for further improving the accountability of directors to members--in particular, whether it should be made easier to allow candidates nominated by the members to serve as directors, while continuing to ensure that boards have the necessary mix of skills and experience to do their job.
Meanwhile the Building Societies Commission will be finalising its new prudential guidance on boards and management and on a new requirement for a greater degree of disclosure in societies' annual accounts.
We will consider, too, a number of other specific changes to the legislation which have been put to us by the Building Societies Association. These include a review of the financial and other limits in the 1986 Act which can be altered only by statutory instrument ; clarification of section 18 of the Act, dealing with powers to invest in subsidiaries ; facilitating larger distributions of funds to members in a merger ; a review of societies' basic lending powers, set out in sections 10 to 13 ; and giving societies the power to acquire mortgage debts directly, rather than through subsidiaries. The Government also see merit in giving further thought to whether societies' powers could be more systematically streamlined--for example by replacing the current prescriptive provisions with a more permissive structure. At the same time, we would need to consider what constraints had to be retained to ensure that the main business of a building society remained the provision of residential mortgages, savings accounts and other financial services to its members. Many of the changes to be considered in the second stage of the review will require primary legislation for their implementation and finding time for this will, of course, depend upon a suitable opportunity becoming available.
The Treasury will be issuing, during the summer, a consultation paper on the issues raised in the second, and