Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing the number of meetings held, the secretarial and advisory arrangements, the budgeted and actual expenditure and the subjects of any reports and submissions produced by the innovation advisory board in each of the last three years.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The innovation advisory board was wound up in September 1993. No formal successor arrangements have been put in place, but the Department's innovation unit, which contains 15 industrial secondees, is taking forward much of the board's work. The secretariat of the IAB was provided by staff of the Department of Trade and Industry; independent external members were appointed by the Secretary of State on the basis of their pre-eminence in relevant subjects rather than as representatives of particular businesses. The board advised the Department on various aspects of innovation policy, providing advice to the Secretary of State or senior officials as appropriate. The board gained a reputation, externally and internally, as a strong and effective champion of innovation and a valuable source of advice to DTI.
In the financial year 1991 92, the board met six times and in 1992 93 four times. It did not meet in 1993 94. The focus of its work during these periods was the interface between industry and financial institutions and between industry and education. The style of working was to prompt action by others. The board did not produce many reports or submissions. Those produced during these periods were:
Reports ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1991-92 |First United Kingdom Company R and D Scoreboard |"Innovation Plans Handbook" providing guidance to |companies on how to present their innovation plans |to investors and guidance to investors on how to |examine such plans. 1992-93 |Guidance on a modular masters degree in the |management of technology Second R and D Scoreboard. Submissions 1991-92 |Submission to the Cadbury Committee on the |Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance. |Submission to the Accountancy Standards Board |of Financial Reporting Exposure Draft.
Programme Expenditure for these periods was: |£ --------------------------------- 1991-92 |124,068.35 1992-93 |5,000.74 1993-94 |0
Staff costs were also incurred, but since these were an integral part of other related activities it would be disproportionately costly to identify these separately or to search for budgeted spend in the same periods.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what has been the total cost to date to public funds of the Office of Fair Trading's inquiry into the complaint made against the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre;
(2) who advises the Director General of Fair Trading in relation to Scottish law;
(3) from how many Edinburgh solicitors the Office of Fair Trading sought views on the complaint brought against the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre;
(4) on how many occasions officials from the Office of Fair Trading have visited Scotland in the course of their inquiry into the complaint made against the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre; (5) on whose authority a press release was issued by the Office of Fair Trading on 22 November regarding the referral of the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre to the restrictive practices court, Scotland; and what is the usual practice of putting such information into the public domain before the subject of the press release has been informed of the action being taken;
(6) what representations have been received by the Director General of Fair Trading concerning the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre; and how many were from members of the public;
(7) when the Solicitor's Office informed the Office of Fair Trading that it would be issuing a notice of referral to the restrictive practices court (Scotland) to the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre; when this referral was issued; and whether the issue preceded or succeeded the publication of a press release by the Office of Fair Trading referring to the office's action in this matter.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Director General of Fair Trading, Sir Bryan Carsberg, is responsible for administering the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976. I have today asked Sir Bryan to consider the questions that the hon. Member has put about the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre and he will write to him in due course.
Column 295involved in investigating a complaint against the Edinburgh solicitors' property centre.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received about the competitive position of the estate agents seeking instructions for the sale of properties in the Edinburgh area.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions he or his predecessors have made an order under section 11 or 12 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 in relation to services provided by solicitors.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Services provided by solicitors in their capacity as such are excluded by paragraph 1 of schedule 1 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976. Any other services provided by solicitors are brought under section 11 by the Restrictive Trade Practices (Services) Order 1976-- SI 1976 No.98. That order has been amended three times: 1985 No.2044, 1986 NO.2204 and 1989 No.1082. No order has been made under section 12.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration he is giving to a Government contribution to the support costs of the future large aircraft project; and when he expects to complete it.
Mr. Charles Wardle: The development of military aircraft is a matter for the Ministry of Defence, but the Department is closely involved in considering the industrial implications of the proposed project.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what studies his Department is (a) undertaking directly or (b) has commissioned into new long-range civil air transports; and when he expects to make their conclusions available to Parliament.
Mr. Charles Wardle: No such studies have been undertaken or commissioned, but the Department is in regular contact with the United Kingdom aerospace industry on market projections and plans for new projects.
Mr. Miller: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures he intends to take to ensure that the sound levels in telephone receivers are at a level which will not disadvantage the deaf and hard of hearing.
Mr. Ian Taylor: My Department is reviewing the technical requirements for United Kingdom approval of telecommunications terminal equipment, including telephones. The identified essential requirements are being consolidated into draft national technical regulations and these are being made available for a
Column 296statutory consultation with interested parties, including organisations representing people with hearing difficulties. There are no proposals to reduce sound levels in telephone receivers.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what percentage of initial unfit conduct reports received during the past six years from insolvency practitioners, pursuant to the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 were received within the time limits specified in the Act;
(2) if he will make a statement of what measures he has taken to ensure that insolvency practitioners fulfil their statutory requirement in relation to the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 requires an insolvency practitioner to report forthwith when it appears to him that the conduct of a director makes him unfit to be concerned in the management of a limited company. Where he has not so reported, he is required to submit a return no later than six months after his appointment as officeholder.
Statistics are not available for the past six years, but the National Audit Office examined a representative sample of 102 initial reports submitted between April and June 1992, which showed that 22 per cent. were received within six months.
In March 1993, the Insolvency Service issued guidelines to insolvency practitioners to assist them in complying with their obligations to report unfit conduct in a timely way but without sacrifice to quality. These guidelines have been re-enforced by newsletters to insolvency practitioners.
In addition, insolvency practitioners are subject to monitoring visits either by their authorising bodies or by the joint insolvency monitoring unit, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with insolvency legislation including the requirements of the Company Directors Disqualification Act.
In 1995, separate visits will be undertaken by the Insolvency Service to practitioners who have demonstrated poor compliance with the Act. If there is no subsequent improvement in performance, the practitioner will face possible licensing action or in extreme cases prosecution.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will propose legislation to make it lawful for a supplier of telephone services to disconnect lines advertised by unauthorised displays at public telephones.
Mr. Ian Taylor: I have no plans to do so. Although I recognise my hon. Friend's concern about this matter, it would not be appropriate to seek to regulate the placing of advertisements in unauthorised places through telecommunications legislation.
Column 297and the documents which he intends to be made available on the Internet over the next year which will be accessible via the world wide web server "open.gov.uk" or any specific departmental server.
Mr. Ian Taylor: In line with a recent Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency initiative, my officials are actively considering how the facilities of the Internet might add value to current arrangements for the distribution of departmental information. This consideration includes the use of the world wide web server, "open.gov.uk."
As previously stated, the Command Paper "Developing Broadband Communications in the UK" was placed on the CCTA Government service Internet server a few days after publication and there have been around 1,750 accesses to date.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his oral answer of 23 November, Official Report, column 583, what has been the change in United Kingdom exports of finished manufactures to (a) the EEC and (b) non-EEC countries since 1984; and if he will make a statement.
(2) what preparations his Department has made for the implementation of the chemical weapons convention and for the establishment of the national authority.
Mr. Heseltine: Primary legislation is required to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the chemical weapons convention. This will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time and other Government legislative priorities permit.
My Department has a section dedicated to preparing for the implementation of the CWC, including the establishment of a national authority. These preparations are now at an advanced stage. We have been liaising closely with other Government Departments which have an interest in the CWC and with industry representatives. My Department will be issuing a discussion document early in the New Year, to canvass industry views on the implementation of the CWC in industry in the UK.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: None. The Secretary of State's powers under the Insurance Companies Act 1982 are primarily concerned with the solvency of insurance companies and, except where such matters are concerned, he does not intervene in their day-to-day business.
Column 298providers of mortgage insurance to make full disclosure of management and similar costs at the point of sale of mortgage insurance.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No. This would not be appropriate. The United Kingdom general insurance market is already highly competitive. In addition, the Association of British Insurer's general business code of practice requires insurance intermediaries not to impose any charge in addition to the premium required by the insurer without disclosing the amount and purpose of such charge and to disclose, on request, the commission.
Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will make it his policy to ensure that mortgage insurance policies allow those individuals claiming under their policies to take short-term employment without losing their right to continue to claim under their policies when that period of employment concludes; (2) what action he is planning to take to ensure that providers of mortgage insurance limit increases in premiums for those individuals who have previously suffered a period of unemployment;
(3) if he will make it his policy to require insurers to provide mortgage insurance to the self-employed, to those on fixed contracts and to those in part-time work.
Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the total annual cost in premiums if all mortgages taken out after October 1995 were to be covered by mortgage insurance for the financial year 1995 96 and each of the following four financial years.
Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the total amount paid out on mortgage insurance policies in the last full financial year for which figures are available.
Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the number of mortgage insurance policies currently in operation which cover (a) 50 per cent. or more and (b) less than 50 per cent. of the full cost of the associated mortgage for (i) one year or less, (ii) two years or less, (iii) three years or less and (iv) more than three years.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Association of British Insurers estimates that some 1.1 million policies are in force. Generally, policies cover 100 per cent. of the cost of the associated mortgage. The ABI estimates that 90 per cent. of the policies will pay up to one year and 10 per cent. up to two years. The ABI is not aware of any policies that pay for more than two years.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what requests he has received from external bodies to use the collective expertise on his energy advisory panel to assist them in energy assessment; and what reports he has received to date from the energy advisory panel.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his oral answer of 23 November, Official Report , column 583, what has been the change in net capital employed in manufacturing in real terms since 1979.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 7 December 1994]: Figures on net capital stock by sector are published in table 14.7 in the Central Statistical Office Blue Book--United Kingdom national accounts--which is available in the Library of the House. Net capital stock figures by industry are not available.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what has been the increase in real terms in net capital employed in (a) United Kingdom manufacturing and (b) commercial and industrial firms other than manufacturing since 1979; and to what extent he ascribes the difference to the Government's fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 7 December 1994]: Figures on net capital stock by sector are published in table 14.7 in the Central Statistical Office Blue Book--United Kingdom national accounts--which is available in the Library of the House. Net capital stock figures by industry are not available. The capital employed by a firm is influenced by a number of factors including expected demand and rates of return.
|Business |Percentage |(£ million) |Increase/Decrease ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1980-81 |305.7 |n/a 1981-82 |65.94 |-78.39 1982-83 |415.06 |+529.45 1983-84 |305.54 |-26.39 1984-85 |40.65 |-86.70 1985-86 |77.19 |+89.89 1986-87 |65.67 |-14.92 1987-88 |0.00 |-100.00 1988-89 |0.06 |n/a 1989-90 |0.35 |+483.33 1990-91 |349.51 |+99,760.00 1991-92 |0.10 |-99.97 1992-93 |44.48 |+44,380.00 1993-94 |413.39 |+829.38 Reliable comparative data is not available prior to 1980-81. The figures for 1993-94 remain provisional pending publication of ECGD's Trading Accounts for the 1993-94 financial year.
|Business |Percentage ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1980-81 |51.73 |n/a 1981-82 |42.44 |-17.96 1982-83 |626.57 |+1,376.37 1983-84 |224.15 |-64.23 1984-85 |74.52 |-66.75 1985-86 |35.97 |-51.73 1986-87 |86.37 |+140.12 1987-88 |83.35 |-3.50 1988-89 |5.03 |-93.97 1989-90 |79.65 |+1,483.50 1990-91 |69.84 |-12.32 1991-92 |12.81 |-81.66 1992-93 |101.97 |+696.02 1993-94 |208.54 |+104.51 Reliable comparative data is not available prior to 1980-81. The figures for 1993-94 remain provisional pending publication of ECGD's Trading Accounts for the 1993-94 financial year.
|Business |Percentage |(£ million) |Increase/Decrease ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1980-81 |16.12 |n/a 1981-82 |3.94 |-75.56 1982-83 |0.23 |-94.16 1983-84 |75.24 |+3,2613.04 1984-85 |7.93 |-89.46 1985-86 |165.42 |+1,986.00 1986-87 |38.14 |-76.94 1987-88 |49.42 |+29.58 1988-89 |125.09 |+153.12 1989-90 |54.66 |-56.30 1990-91 |51.02 |-6.66 1991-92 |175.41 |+243.81 1992-93 |130.32 |-25.71 1993-94 |111.85 |-14.17 Reliable comparative data is not available prior to 1980-81. The figures for 1993-94 remain provisional pending publication of ECGD's Trading Accounts for the 1993-94 financial year.
|Business |Percentage ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1980-81 |9.31 |n/a 1981-82 |149.94 |+1,510.53 1982-83 |566.35 |+277.72 1983-84 |301.08 |-46.84 1984-85 |248.75 |-17.38 1985-86 |139.75 |-43.82 1986-87 |72.74 |-47.95 1987-88 |47.92 |-34.12 1988-89 |67.36 |+40.57 1989-90 |52.29 |-22.37 1990-91 |149.59 |+186.08 1991-92 |124.11 |-17.03 1992-93 |450.40 |+262.90 1993-94 |100.14 |-77.77 Reliable comparative data are not available prior to 1980-81. The figures for 1993-94 remain provisional pending publication of ECGD's Trading Accounts for the 1993-94 financial year.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The Lord Chancellor is pleased to consider the appointment of stipendiary magistrates following requests from the local advisory committees. No request has been received from the South Cleveland advisory committee.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The required strength of any bench is determined by the number of magistrates needed to deal with the work without the annual number of half-day sittings for individual magistrates being excessive. The strength of the Teesside bench on 1 December was 274, and a further 23 people are being recommended to the Lord Chancellor for appointment. The current and projected annual average number of sittings per magistrate is 43, which is a little high but is not regarded by the Lord Chancellor as excessive.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on what occasions since 1979 civil servants in his Department have been asked to draft speeches of a constituency nature for use in a Minister's own constituency.
Mr. John M. Taylor: None. Civil servants may provide briefing of a factual nature for Ministers on matters relating to their own Departments. In addition, Ministers, in preparing for a constituency speech, can draw on material produced by their Department during the normal course of business.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will itemise the refurbishment works undertaken on buildings housing departmental staff in the last three years, indicating the costs involved and the nature of the refurbishments.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Maintenance and refurbishment works carried out in 1992 93 totalled £18,444,000 and in 1993 94, £21,094,000. The figures for 1991 92 are not readily available, nor are details of schemes in 1992 93. Details of expenditure on major court refurbishment schemes during 1993 94 was as follows:
|£ ----------------------------------------------- Lewes Combined Court |3,118,000 Lincoln Castle Crown Court |482,000 Nottingham Combined Court |642,000 Plymouth Combined Court |364,000 Royal Courts of Justice |3,233,000
The balance was expended by regional budget holders on a variety of works, a proportion of which would be in respect of refurbishment schemes. However, the detailed information could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of people of the United Kingdom were eligible for free legal aid in each year from 1990 to 1993; and if he will make a statement.
1990: --29 per cent.
1991: --25 per cent.
1992: --27 per cent.
1993: --21 per cent.
The figures are based on the family expenditure survey reports for the years in question.