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Miss Lestor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the British Government's contribution to the World bank's fifth dimension arrangements for re-financing multilateral debt.
Mr. Baldry: The United Kingdom does not contribute to the International Development Association fifth dimension, which is funded primarily by annual allocations from International Development Association loan reflows.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how he will (a) monitor Britain's contributions to multilateral aid and (b) ensure that those contributions are (i) well-spent and (ii) subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
Mr. Baldry: The United Kingdom participates actively in meetings at which overall policy priorities and expenditure proposals by multilateral organisations are discussed. The policies and programmes of the multilateral development banks are discussed and determined by their respective boards of directors, on all
Column 202of which the United Kingdom is represented. For assistance channelled through the European Community, policy issues are discussed in the Council of Ministers of the European Union and project proposals are considered in management committees. There is frequent contact between ODA administrators and advisers with the senior management of the multilateral institutions, a major objective being to help improve the efficiency of their systems and procedures including evaluation. Contributions to multilateral organisations which are administered by ODA form part of the aid programme which is subject to scrutiny by Parliament.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Her Majesty's Government have done to provide increased opportunities for, and participation by, women in education, training, planning and work in developing countries; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: The enhancement of the status of women is one of the Overseas Development Administration's seven priority objectives. The 1994 departmental report on Foreign and Commonwealth Office expenditure describes progress in pursuing this objective. The 1995 report will do likewise.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he next plans to visit Ilford to discuss the future of manufacturing industry.
Mr. Eggar: I hope to meet manufacturers from Ilford and the surrounding area early next year in the course of a series of meetings to promote manufacturing in London.
Mr. Henderson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures he will take to increase investment in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Heseltine: The most important influence on investment is a stable economic climate built on low inflation. Underlying inflation is at its lowest level for 27 years. My Department is helping companies to win in world markets through improvements in their competitiveness.
Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many people were in employment in manufacturing industries in June 1979 and June 1994.
Mr. Charles Wardle: Employment in manufacturing industry--Great Britain--was 7.3 million in June 1979 and 4.6 million in June 1994. The fall in manufacturing employment since 1979 reflects structural changes and sharply increased productivity.
Mr. John Greenway: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to improve the competitiveness of United Kingdom manufacturing firms.
Mr. Heseltine: The White Paper, "Competitiveness: Helping Business to Win" sets out the most comprehensive agenda ever to raise the competitiveness of United Kingdom manufacturing firms. The Government are committed to work with business to
Column 203create a climate in which all United Kingdom companies can compete and beat the world's best.
Mrs. Angela Knight: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he has to improve procedures to reduce the late payment of debt to small companies.
Mr. Ian Taylor: In the White Paper on competitiveness in May this year we announced a number of new measures to address the problem of late payment. The measures include:
new prompt payment requirements for Government Departments and their agencies;
improvements to court procedures for debt recovery and a review of the small claims limit;
the implementation of proposals that public companies should state their payment policies in their directors' reports;
the development of proposals for a British standard for prompt payment and
work with trade associations, business links and others to improve credit management in small firms.
We have also announced that we will re-examine the case for legislation for a statutory right to interest in two years if there had been no significant improvement.
Mr. Robert Hughes: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will initiate an investigation into standing charges on domestic gas, electricity, water and telephone bills.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Standing charges are a matter for utility companies and the independent regulators, and are subject to price controls. The Government see no case for an investigation.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his latest estimate of the likely benefits to the United Kingdom of ratification of the GATT Uruguay round.
Mr. Needham: The GATT has recently estimated that by 2005 the Uruguay round will boost annual world income by at least $510 billion. For the EU, the benefit would be around $164 billion--an annual increase equivalent to more than 3 per cent. of GDP. There is every reason to believe that United Kingdom income will increase in line with that of the EU as a whole.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of output was accounted for by manufacturing in (a) 1979 and (b) 1993.
Mr. Eggar: The share of manufacturing in GDP was 28.5 per cent. in 1979 and 21.7 per cent. in 1993. Other main industrialised countries have also seen a decline in the share of GDP accounted for by manufacturing.
Mr. Rooker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table of the size of the United Kingdom's non-oil manufacturing base for each year since 1979 assuming an index of 100 in 1979.
Mr. Charles Wardle: Index of Production for manufacturing industries, expressed in terms of 1979=100 is given in the table.
Manufacturing Output (1979=100 in 1990 prices) ------------------ 1979 |100.0 1980 |91.4 1981 |85.8 1982 |85.7 1983 |87.4 1984 |90.7 1985 |93.3 1986 |94.5 1987 |98.9 1988 |105.9 1989 |110.6 1990 |110.4 1991 |104.4 1992 |103.8 1993 |105.1 Source: Central Statistical Office. Note: Index includes mineral oil refining which accounted for 2 per cent. of production in 1990.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the privatisation of Companies House.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with his Ministers over the future of Companies House; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No decision has yet been taken on the future of Companies House.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade announced on 19 July that consultants were to explore further the possible contracting out of most of the activities of Companies House. Their report has now been received and is being considered.
Mr. Sumberg: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will refer the GEC bid for VSEL to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he intends to refer the GEC bid for VSEL to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Director General of Fair Trading is currently investigating this proposed merger and he will advise my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade in due course. A decision on whether or not it should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will be taken once that advice is received.
Lady Olga Maitland: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussion he has had with industry with regard to replacing dangerous solvents with safe substances.
Mr. Eggar: Restrictions on chemicals must be based on sound science and an assessment of the risks attached
Column 205to their legitimate use, and I have had no cause to discuss with industry the phasing out of any solvents. There are regulations in place which restrict the marketing and use of certain chemicals used in industrial and consumer products. Providing these regulations are observed, products should be safe in normal use.
Mr. Bennett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance his Department is giving to encourage firms to locate, or stay in Tameside.
Mr. Wardle: The services of INWARD, the regional development organisation for the north-west are available to Tameside as to other parts of the region. As Tameside is not an assisted area, regional selective assistance is not available. However, a business link outlet has been open in Denton since May to offer support to incoming as well as existing firms.
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received regarding anti-competitive practices by Stagecoach Ltd.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) has written to my right hon. Friend President of the Board of Trade about the activities of the Stagecoach bus company. My right hon. Friend has also received several letters about the conduct of Stagecoach subsidiaries in particular areas.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the responsibilities of his Department in relation to the crash of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heseltine: There are no direct responsibilities, but my Department is contributing to research on explosion hazards to civil aircraft set up as a result of the Lockerbie incident.
Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the provisions made by insurance companies to meet compensation for mis-sold personal pensions.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: My Department wrote on 25 October to all life offices asking them to provide, by the end of February 1995, revised estimates of their exposure to personal pensions misselling in the light of the criteria set out in the SIB statement.
Mr. Berry: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to change the structure or remit of the Gas Consumers Council.
Mr. Eggar: The DTI/Ofgas joint consultation document published in May invited views on the future role and organisation of the Gas Consumers Council. I am still considering the issue and await the Trade and Industry Select Committee's report with interest. No decision has been taken yet.
Mr. Hall: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of gas consumers will benefit from reduced prices as a result of the deregulation of domestic supply.
Mr. Eggar: Competition will exert a powerful downward pressure on prices and provide strong incentives for efficiency and improved service. It is not possible to estimate the outcome in detail, either in terms of the precise number of people who would benefit from reduced prices, or how large those reductions might be in each case. Independent suppliers have said they are confident of being able to offer average savings of around 10 per cent. on current British Gas prices.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many representations he has received during the past 12 months on the subject of the Insolvency Acts with particular reference to bankrupt contractors' inability to pay sub-contractors; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: My Department has received a number of representations during the past 12 months regarding the position of sub- contractors under insolvency legislation when their contractor becomes insolvent. This is seen to be a particular problem in the construction industry. In July a report following a review by Sir Michael Latham of contract arrangements in that industry--sponsored jointly by the Government and the industry--made a number of recommendations. An implementation forum has been established to take the issues forward.
Mr. Janner: To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to help the traditional industries of Leicester.
Mr. Charles Wardle: The DTI already has in place a number of schemes that are helping industries in Leicester and elsewhere. The first business link in the country opened in Leicester on 27 September last year with £725,000 funding from my Department. Business link Leicester is part of a national network which will provide world class business support to all industries in Leicester.
Mr. Thurnham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, what further plans he has to remove unnecessary regulations on business.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: We are continuing our efforts to reduce unnecessary burdens on business. Latest developments include: The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act received the Royal Assent on 3 November. We shall be bringing forward the first orders under the deregulation order-making power after the new special parliamentary arrangements for their scrutiny have been put in place.
The deregulation task force under Francis Maude is active on a number of fronts to reduce regulatory burdens on business.
In Europe an EC expert group is looking critically at the impact of EC and national legislation on competitiveness and employment. The United Kingdom and Germany have also set up a high-level group of businessmen to scrutinise EC regulations and to stimulate specific deregulatory measures in Europe.
Mr. Simon Coombs: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the operation and enforcement of the European directive on package travel.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The EC package travel directive has been implemented in the United Kingdom by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 and, where criminal sanctions apply, is enforced by local authority trading standards departments. My Department will publish revised guidance notes to the regulations shortly.
Mr. Hutton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing the number of applications for regional selective assistance which were rejected in each development and intermediate area in the last 12 months.
Mr. Charles Wardle: The latest complete information is given in the table.
RSA applications rejected in the period 1 April 1993-31 March 1994 |DA |IA |Total ------------------------------------------------- East Midlands |17 |13 |30 North East |21 |3 |24 North West |66 |57 |123 South East |- |4 |4 East |- |- |- London |- |- |- South West |12 |8 |20 West Midlands |11 |46 |57 Yorkshire and Humberside |3 |13 |16 Total |130 |144 |274
Mr. Hutton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the total amounts of regional selective assistance grants made in each development and intermediate area in the last 12 months.
Mr. Charles Wardle: This information is published in the annual reports on the Industrial Development Act 1982, available in the Library of the House. Final figures on grants made since 1 April 1994 are not yet available.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade in what form he plans to publish his response to submissions to the nuclear review.
Mr. Eggar: No decisions on either the form or the timing of the announcement of our conclusions have yet been made.
Mr. Hanson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he will make a statement about the Government's sell-off plans for British Coal.
Mr. Eggar: On 12 October the Government announced that preferred bidders had been identified for the regional coal companies and certain care and maintenance collieries. Detailed discussions with the preferred bidders are continuing, with a view to completing the sales by the end of the year.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his Department's policy on attracting new investment in Hampshire.
Mr. Eggar: The Government's economic policies have been directed to creating the right environment to encourage growth and investment. The low taxation and inflation levels the country now enjoys are a direct consequence of those policies. My Department's deregulation initiative helps to remove disincentives for investment by reducing the regulatory burden on companies.
Investment from overseas companies in the United Kingdom is also a major contributor to the United Kingdom economy. My Department's Invest in Britain Bureau is active in promoting the United Kingdom to overseas investors and in ensuring, in collaboration with the Government offices in the regions, that any enquiries received are properly handled. All these activities help to attract new investment to the United Kingdom.
We look to local authorities and other local partners such as training and enterprise councils to create at the local level the infrastructure and regulatory framework which will build on the Government's activities to produce an environment which is attractive to and supportive of investment.
Mr. Denis MacShane: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will veto any further applications for subsidies for European steel producers beyond those covered by the December 1993 Council of Ministers' agreement and if he will also endorse the policy of no more subsidy in the steel industry following decisions reached at the 8 November European Council of Ministers; and if he will make it his policy in future to intervene on behalf of industry.
Mr. Charles Wardle: Her Majesty's Government are committed to the December 1993 agreement and will continue to press for rigorous enforcement of the state aid rules. At the 8 November Industry Council we made clear the grave difficulties we would have in assenting to any further derogation requests. The free and fair operation of market forces is the best means of securing the long term prosperity of the United Kingdom steel industry.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many export licences were applied for under the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1985 (a) in 1992 and (b) in 1993; how many in each case were in respect of applications made under part III, group 1 of the order; and how many of the applications were circulated to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Ian Taylor: This question could be answered only at disproportionate cost. There will however be some details of licences issued and refused in the annual report of the Export Control Organisation to be published shortly. A copy of that report will be placed in the Library of the House and I will also arrange for the hon. Member to receive a personal copy.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when approvals were given to the British Nuclear Fuels for the acceptance by the German nuclear authorities for the return of conditioned radioactive wastes from reprocessing at Sellafield in the categories of (a) solid low-level residues, (b) MEB-Crud barium carbonate slurry, (c) radioactive hulls and ends, (d) centrifuge cake slurry and (e) vitrified high-level wastes; and how many further categories of waste remain to be approved for return.
Mr. Charles Wardle: This a matter for the management of British Nuclear Fuels plc.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list on a country-by-country basis the number of applications for export licences for defence equipment that were (a) received and (b) issued in 1993.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 21 November 1994]: This question could be answered only at disproportionate cost. There will however be some details of licences issued and refused in the annual report of the Export Control Organisation to be published shortly. A copy of that report will be placed in the Library of the House and I will also arrange for the hon. Member to receive a personal copy.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what funding is available from Government Departments to combat the effects of severe flooding and the damage caused thereby; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones: Local authorities are expected to make provision for responding to emergencies such as storms and floods when setting their budgets. In addition my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State may provide extra financial assistance for disasters and emergencies, such as severe flooding under the Bellwin scheme in accordance with section 155 of the Local Government Finance Act 1989.
Loans may also be available from the social fund to individuals qualifying on grounds of hardship.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many representations have been made by his Department to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the subject of the export of live animals from Wales; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what representations he has made to the Commission of the European Union on the subject of the export of live animals from Wales; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones: The Welsh Office is in regular contact with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and about the export of live animals. The Minister of Agriculture, who has been conducting the negotiations and discussions with the Commission on behalf of the United Kingdom Agriculture Departments on the issue of
Column 210live animals exports, is actively seeking agreement on new European Union rules.
Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with local authorities regarding funding of arts provision in Wales following local government reorganisation.
Mr. Gwilym Jones: None, while the Arts Council of Wales has initiated discussions with transition committees.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when the Government will sign the European charter on minority languages; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones: Government Departments with an interest in the European charter for regional or minority languages are still considering its implications for the United Kingdom. The decision on whether to sign the charter must take into account the situation of each of the indigenous minority languages spoken with the United Kingdom.