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Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress his officials have made in amending current regulations to enable police authorities to provide non-contributory insurance cover for special constables who are injured or killed in the course of their duties; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean [holding answer 28 November 1994]: Adequate arrangements exist under regulations to cover any special constable killed or permanently disabled in the course of his or her duties. As far as injury or illness are concerned, the majority of specials are adequately provided for under the regulations and police authorities are free to recommend an ex-gratia payment in any case in which they consider the regulatory cover to be inadequate. But I have asked officials to review the current regulations to identify ways in which they might
Column 564sensibly be improved. These may include the provision of personal accident insurance cover.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what indication he has of the number of people imprisoned over the last year for (a) non-payment of debt and (b) non-payment of court fines; what is the trend over recent years in respect of (i) the numbers in each category and (ii) the length of prison sentences for the people in both categories; what is the average cost of keeping an individual in prison; what are the average debts and fines over which the person was imprisoned; and what proposals he has to end or reduce terms of imprisonment for those involved in relatively small cases of debt or fine.
Mr. Maclean [holding answer 28 November 1994]: Provisional information shows that some 23,000 persons were received into Prison Service establishments in England and Wales for fine default in 1993 and about 17,500 between January and September 1994. A total of 2,020 persons were received for non-payment of debt in 1993 and about 1,330 between January and September 1994. Information for the previous 10 years was published in "Prison Statistics, England and Wales, 1992", tables 6.3 and 7.1 Cm 2581, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Information for 1982 92 on the length of time served by fine defaulters and debtors is also published in "Prison Statistics", tables 6.5 and 7.1. The average net operating cost per prisoner per week is published in the "Prison Service Annual Report and Accounts, April 1992 March 1993", table D, volume 2, Cm 2385, and was £494 at 1992 93 prices.
The Government believe that wherever possible fines should be enforced by the range of other measures available to the courts without recourse to imprisonment. They have no plans at present, however, to remove imprisonment as final sanction for offenders who have failed to respond to other methods of enforcement.
--SO1 (4)--for the year 1995 following recent changes within the Metropolitan police; and what has been the
Column 565comparable level of such resources allocated for 1994, 1993, 1992 and 1991.
Mr. Maclean [holding answer 22 November 1994]: Staffing levels for the obscene publication branch in 1995 96 are still under consideration. Manpower levels and costs for the financial years 1991 92, 1992 93, 1993 94 and current 1994 95 levels are as follows:
Police |Civil staff ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1991-92 | 1 Detective Superintendent |1 Higher Executive Officer 1 Detective Inspector |4 Executive Officers 8 Detective Sergeants |6 Administrative Officers 8 Detective Constables | Total cost: £883,606 | | 1992-93 | 1 Detective Superintendent |1 Higher Executive Officer 1 Detective Inspector |4 Executive Officers 10 Detective Sergeants |4 Administrative Officers 9 Detective Constables | Total cost: £1,083,628 | | 1993-94 | 1 Detective Superintendent |1 Higher Executive Officer 1 Detective Inspector |3 Executive Officers 7 Detective Sergeants |3 Administrative Officers 8 Detective Constables | Total cost: £987,040 | | 1994-95 | 1 Detective Chief Inspector |2 Executive Officers 1 Detective Inspector |4 Administrative Officers 7 Detective Sergeants | 6 Detective Constables | Total cost: Not available |
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what assessment he has made of which method of decommissioning nuclear power stations is most compatible with the principle of sustainable development as defined at the Rio earth summit agreement;
(2) what assessment he has made of whether a method of decommissioning nuclear power stations exists which is compatible with the principle of sustainable development.
Mr. Eggar: The consultation document, "Review of Radioactive Waste Management Policy: Preliminary Conclusions", published by the Department of the Environment in August, considered a variety of decommissioning strategies. Responses are being considered and a statement will be made in due course.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which body manages the Windscale advanced gas-cooled reactor decommissioning project; and what are his plans for the future management of the project.
Column 566the DRAWMOPS directorate within the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Government division. The DRAWMOPS directorate has recently awarded a management contract for the next phase of WAGR decommissioning to AEA Technology following a competitive tender exercise. This contract is to manage the decommissioning through to the removal of all main components including the four heat exchangers and reactor internals which is expected to take five and a half years.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if Her Majesty's Government will underwrite the costs of decommissioning nuclear power stations if it proves to be prohibitive for private finances.
decommissioning nuclear power stations.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to make it a criminal offence to change the electronic identity of a mobile telephone; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ian Taylor: My Department, with the Home Office and Oftel, have been discussing with the mobile phone industry what steps can be taken to tackle the problem of mobile phone theft. In particular, the industry is considering improved control of electronic serial numbers and equipment marking schemes. The Federation of Communication Services has proposed the introduction of a new criminal offence of reprogramming a mobile phone. Discussions are continuing with the industry about whether any new offence along these lines would be at all effective in reducing the problem of mobile phone thefts, and whether such an offence could be compatible with protection of the legitimate interests of mobile phone users and others.
Significant offences already exist under the Theft Acts 1968 and 1978 covering the theft and handling of mobile phones and section 42 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 covering the fraudulent use of telecommunications equipment.
Mr. Ian Taylor: Mobile phone services are currently available in an area where over 98 per cent. of the United Kingdom population live, well in excess of the figure of 90 per cent. of the United Kingdom population required by the licences issued to the mobile telecommunications operators under the Telecommunications Act 1984. The Department of Trade and Industry does not hold figures on the percentage of land area of the United kingdom which can be reached by mobile phones.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many licences under the Export of Goods (Control) Order were (a) applied for and (b) issued in 1992 and in 1993, stating in each case how many were for sole use military equipment.
Mr. Ian Taylor: This question could be answered only at disproportionate cost. There will, however, be some details of licences issued and refused during the years in question 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. Fatchett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the outstanding amount on export credits guarantees on arms deals between United Kingdom companies and (a) Nigeria, (b) Indonesia, (c) Malaysia, (d) Saudi Arabia, (e) Jordan, (f) Qatar, (g) the United Arab Emirates, (h) Oman and (i) Turkey.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 24 November 1994]: ECGD has no business requirement to analyse amounts outstanding in terms of arms or other trade sectors. Consequently the Exports Credits Guarantee Department data on amounts outstanding in these markets are not held on a basis which enables me to provide the information requested.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all the companies represented in the trade mission of November 1994 to Saudi Arabia; and what is his Department's role in respect to this mission.
Mr. Needham: Due to commercial confidentiality I am unable to list the companies involved in the mission organised by British Aerospace. It involved some 50 companies mainly drawn from the engineering and food processing sectors.
My Department's involvement in this mission was in an advisory capacity, due to our involvement in the joint offset committee which aims to encourage companies to set up manufacturing joint ventures in Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom diversify its economy.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to the oral answer of the Minister of Defence Procurement on 22 November Official Report, column 461, when Her Majesty's Government intend to ratify the chemical weapons convention.
Mr. Heseltine: The Government intend to ratify the chemical weapons convention as soon as possible. The necessary implementing legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time and other Government legislative priorities permit.
(2) what are the reasons for the delay between the signing of the chemical weapons convention and its ratification.
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 28 November 1994]: The Government intend to ratify the chemical weapons convention as soon as possible. The necessary implementing legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time and other Government legislative priorities permit.
Mr. Charles Wardle: Call-out charges levied by electricity companies for work on equipment and wiring belonging to the customer, and British Gas call-out charges in respect of appliance servicing and repair, are subject to competitive pricing by other service providers and are not regulated.
There is generally no call-out charge by British Gas to make safe escapes of gas.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made in reducing unemployment in south-east England, particularly in the new assisted areas; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar: The level of unemployment in the south east, excluding London, has shown a welcome fall from a high point of 9.7 per cent. in January 1993 to its current level of 7.1 per cent. Unemployment within the assisted areas has also fallen as shown in the table.
|January 1991 |January 1992 |January 1993 |January 1994 |<2>October 1994 Per cent. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- South East |4.5 |7.6 |9.7 |8.9 |7.1 |<1>(4.2) |<1>(7.3) |<1>(9.4) |<1>(8.6) |<1>(7.3) Thanet |10.2 |13.7 |16.4 |16.4 |13.9 Dover and Deal |5.3 |8.5 |11.2 |11.3 |9.4 Folkestone |7.1 |9.9 |12.3 |13.3 |11.6 Hastings |7.3 |11.0 |13.9 |13.2 |11.3 Isle of Wight |9.5 |11.5 |14.4 |14.5 |10.2 Sittingbourne and Sheerness |8.3 |12.1 |15.3 |14.8 |12.2 <1> Seasonally adjusted figures. <2> Latest available figures.
Mr. Ian Taylor: Regional policy seeks to address disparities in employment opportunities and to develop the indigenous potential of the assisted areas, including their ability to attract high technology investment. But investment decisions by high technology and other firms must remain, in general, matters for commercial judgment. The Government do provide advice to companies on technological developments through business link offices.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what the level of funding for the National Consumer Council was in (a) 1991, (b) 1992, (c) 1993 and (d) 1994; and if he will make a statement.
1990 91: £1,606,650
1991 92: £1,895,609
1992 93: £2,138,978
1993 94: £2,322,686
Final figures for 1994 95 are not yet available.
Note: Figures include DTI contribution to NCC staff pension fund.
Source: National Consumer Council Annual Reports 1990 91 to 1993 94
Figures do not include grant-in-aid paid to the NCC's Associate Councils (the Scottish and Welsh Consumer Councils) and the Consumers in Europe Group.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the average and the median time his Department has taken to pay suppliers in each of the last 12 months; and what proportion of bills it took more than six weeks to pay.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The information requested is not available. However, my Department conducts an annual survey of the proportion of its bills paid on time which is defined as within 30 days--or another period if agreed with the supplier--of receipt of both a valid invoice and the goods or services. The result is published in the annual Trade and Industry expenditure plans which is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what are his reasons for reopening consideration of the proposed takeover of T. Bailey Forman Ltd. following the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report of October 1994;
(2) on how many occasions in the last five years companies have been allowed to make representations for reconsideration of a recommendation following a report on a takeover proposal from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Column 570decision as to whether to give consent to such transfers is for Ministers to make.
In publishing the MMC report on the proposed transfer of the newspaper titles of T. Bailey Forman on 31 October I announced that I accepted the MMC adverse findings and that I would refuse consent unless satisfactory conditions could be agreed by 5 December. I invited third party comments on such conditions by 21 November. The last time that Ministers consulted interested parties about conditions to attach consent to a newspaper transfer was in February 1989 following the MMC report on the proposed acquisition by EMAP plc of shares in TR Beckett Ltd.
Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions in the past five years unanimous recommendations on takeover proposals from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission have been subsequently overturned.
Mr. Wilson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which consultants were appointed to assist in production of the booklet "Marketing Your Business"; how much was paid to them; what was the remit given to them; and by what process they were appointed.
Mr. Ian Taylor: Business skills seminar workbooks including "Marketing Your Business" were originally written in 1988 by a group of experienced training providers on behalf of the Training Agency. Their remit was to produce a series of workbooks for use and reference by owner managers of new and small businesses. I understand that they were appointed on recommendation of Training Agency area offices.
This book was one of a series of books written by a number of people. It is not possible to identify the separate cost of writing this particular book.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will produce a table to show what proportion of United Kingdom exports, including services and invisibles, was exported to the rest of the EC single market in each of the last 10 years.
EC<1> share of United Kingdom current account credits |Per cent. ------------------------------ 1984 |37.2 1985 |39.1 1986 |37.8 1987 |38.5 1988 |38.5 1989 |38.7 1990 |41.2 1991 |44.0 1992 |45.0 1993 |43.6 Source: United Kingdom Balance of Payments, The Pink Book 1994, CSO. Note: <1> EC includes Portugal and Spain (which joined in 1986) for all years and the former German Democratic Republic from the second half of 1990.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 28 November 1994]: There are now 52 business links fully operational. By the end of the year this will raise to over 60 and by the end of next year I expect there to be 200, covering all parts of England.
Mr. Rooker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the charging policy of his Department and the agencies for which he is responsible in respect of inquiries under the code of practice on access to Government.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 22 November 1994]: In line with guidance on charging policy produced by the Office of Public Services and Science, which recognised the diversity of cost and operational structure across the range of bodies implementing the code, my Department has developed the following scheme of charges for information under the code of practice on access to government information. The Department has always provided much information free of charge. When requests for information under the code can be dealt with simply and quickly the Department makes no charge. Only when a significant diversion of resource is required will a charge be made in line with the amount of work involved in extracting and preparing the information to answer the request.
Charges are based on a two-tier composite hourly rate according to the grade of person performing the work. For SEO and below the rate is £14 per hour, and for grade 7 and above the rate is £34 per hour. There is no charge if the information can be supplied for a forecast amount of less than £100. If the estimated amount is more than £1,000 the charge will be calculated on a grade-by-grade basis of the average pay cost for that grade together with direct costs such as photocopying.
I have asked each of the agency chief executives to write to the hon. Member about their schemes of charges.
Letter from Mike Hoddinott to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994:
Your recent Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade asked for a statement on charging policy in respect of inquiries under the Code of Practice on Access to Government. Each agency chief executive has been asked to reply.
The charging policy of Accounts Services Agency follows that for the Department.
Letter from David Durham to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994:
You recently tabled the following Parliamentary Question to which I have been asked to respond direct to you as Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency.
To ask the President of the Board of Trade, if he will make a statement on the charging policy of his Department and the agencies for which he is responsible in respect of inquiries under the Code of Practice on Access to Government.
Companies House is a public registry, and most information on companies is charged for under Companies Act powers, based on the full economic cost of providing it.
Where requests are received involving the Code, our policy is to make a flat charge of £5 to cover administrative cost. If the work involved in satisfying the request is likely to take more than half a
Column 572day of staff time, our policy is to give a quote for the full cost and obtain agreement to this before undertaking the work.
To date, no requests involving the Code have been received. Letter from Peter Joyce to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994: You asked the President of the Board of Trade to make a statement on the charging policy of his Department and the agencies for which he is responsible in respect of inquiries under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. I am replying on behalf of The Insolvency Service.
The Service has developed its charging policy in accordance with guidance produced by the Office of Public Services and Science. To cover the costs of dealing with applications, there is a standard minimum charge of £20 for each access request under the Code. Where dealing with a request would involve considerable expenditure of resources and the estimated costs of supplying the information would exceed £100, an additional charge will be made based on the hourly rates of the grades carrying out the work. For insolvency specialist grades, these hourly rates are set out in the Insolvency Regulations 1994 and begin at £26 an hour for an examiner grade, rising to £49 an hour for an official receiver.
The Service will however advise applicants where the information sought is already provided in the normal course of its activities without charge or is known to be available free of charge elsewhere, so that the applicant will not incur costs unnecessarily through the formal operation of the Code.
The Service also publishes information guides for the public which are available free of charge.
Letter from R. D. Worswick to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994:
Mr. Taylor's answer to your Parliamentary Question on the charging policy of the Department of Trade and Industry and its Agencies in respect of enquiries under the Code of Practice on Access to Government indicated that Chief Executives of Agencies would write to you.
In the case of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, we are following the Department's charging policy, as described in Mr. Taylor's response. Since the introduction of the Code in April 1994 we have adopted the two tier composite hourly charging regime at the rates determined by DTI as a whole: £14 for a senior scientific officer (equivalent to a senior executive officer) or below; and £34 for Grade 7 and above. As for the Department, there is no charge if the information can be supplied for a forecast amount of less than £100; and if the estimated amount is more than £1000 the charge will be calculated on a grade by grade basis of the average pay cost for that grade (or equivalent) together with any direct costs.
Letter from W. Edgar to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994:
I would refer to your question to the President of the Board of Trade in respect of the charging policy for enquiries under the Code of Practice on Access to Government. As an Executive Agency of the DTI involved in the supply of technology services to the public and private sector our charges are dictated by the market place for our services and the level of the competition which we face. We operate in competition with both the public and private sectors for the majority of our services and therefore all of our charging is market driven.
Letter from Peter Clapham to Mr. Jeff Rooker, dated 29 November 1994:
I am writing in response to your question to the President of the Board of Trade regarding the charging policy of the DTI and its Agencies in respect of inquiries under the Code of Practice to Access to Government Information.
The National Physical Laboratory makes no charge for providing small quantities of information which are readily available. Where a significant amount of effort is involved, the full economic cost of the work is charged.
I hope this provides the information you require.