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Mr. Robert G. Hughes: The Council reached agreement on the remaining aspects of the fourth framework programme. This will enable the Commission to issue calls for proposals on most, if not all, of the outstanding specific programmes in December. We believe that the framework programme presents United Kingdom researchers with a worthwhile challenge to which they will be able to respond fully, as they have done in the past.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the costs of recruiting, appointing and training casual staff appointed to replace casual staff whose period of placement has expired.
Mr. Ian Taylor: Casual staff are recruited where the requirement for staff is likely to be for less than 12 months. Exceptionally, their appointment can be extended. The need to replace casual staff with other casual staff does not therefore usually arise. Recruitment costs of casual staff are minimal.
Column 578the change in manufacturing output since (a) 1973 and (b) 1979 together with the change in imports of manufactures.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to publish the reports of consultants SRU Ltd. into (a) the privatisation of Companies House, (b) the concept of competing company registrars, and (c) the contracting out of Companies House; and what view was expressed by SRU Ltd. on whether its report into the contracting out of Companies House should be published.
Ms Walley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 30 November, Official Report , column 705 , what criteria he has established to assess the likely impact on the United Kingdom tile and sanitary ware industry of investment projects; and if he will publish details of the assessment he has made of the likely impact of the investment project in Merseyside on existing United Kingdom tile manufacturing.
Mr. Charles Wardle: No specific criteria have been established for the tile and sanitaryware industry. All applications are appraised against published criteria. This includes not only the likely impact that an investment might have on United Kingdom industry but also the extent to which the national and regional economy would benefit from any offer of assistance. This information is commercially confidential and is not available for publication.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what advice he has received on the effect contracting out of the Insolvency Service might have on the future disqualification and prosecution of bankrupts.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Stoy Hayward reported that the contracting out of the Official Receiver's case administration functions upon the making of the insolvency order would enable him to concentrate more on his investigatory role.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what advice he has received on the effects of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 on the contracting out of the Insolvency Service.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No decision to contract out has been taken; it is, therefore, too early to consider the issue of Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, the implications of which may not become clear until the nature of proposals in any bidding process could be assessed.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all the organisations and individuals who submitted written responses to the proposals of the interdepartmental fire safety scrutiny team contained in the report "Fire Safety Legislation and Enforcement".
I have placed a copy of the list in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hardy: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the contribution by British Coal Enterprise to the welfare and economy of coalfield areas; and if he will make a statement on its future.
The Government and British Coal are currently exploring options for the services provided by British Coal Enterprise. No final decisions have been taken about its future.
Mr. Steen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what liaison arrangements exist between his Department and overseas posts in order to provide him with information about the implementation in other member states of European Community legislation.
Mr. Ian Taylor: Overseas posts are under standing instructions to report on the general position on implementation of single market legislation in other member states; and on implementation of specific measures when requested.
Mr. Charles Wardle [holding answer 5 December 1994]: The project to automate the payment of benefit at post offices has two main aims: to provide the post office network with a streamlined and modern business infrastructure; and to help the Benefits Agency ensure that losses through payment fraud are minimised. It will put new electronic terminals in 20,000 post offices and will play a key part in supporting an expanded range of products and services for the 28 million people who visit them each week. When complete it will put post offices
Column 580at the leading edge of using technology to improve services to customers.
Following rigorous evaluation of formal bids from potential suppliers, five have been asked to develop their ideas further. Detailed proposals will be considered and tested over coming months, with a final decision on the choice of system and supplier being made next winter. We expect to see the first offices automated in the spring of 1996.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total expenditure on energy for offices and buildings by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies in each of the last three years for which figures are available.
|1991-92 |1992-93 |1993-94 |£ millions|£ millions|£ millions -------------------------------------------------------- Departments |19.50 |19.09 |19.11 Agencies |0.49 |0.59 |1.17
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the latest figures for the number of employees in the (a) catering, (b) clothing manufacture, (c) linen and (d) road haulage industries.
Mr. Ancram: The latest available figures from the quarterly employment survey show that at June 1994 there were an estimated 22, 990 persons employed in hotels and catering and 14,800 employed in the manufacture of footwear and clothing. More detailed figures on industrial activities such as linen and road haulage are available only from the census of employment. Results from the September 1991 census show that there were 1,866 persons employed in the linen industry and 4,243 in road haulage.
Mr. Ancram: The latest available figures, for October 1994, show that in Northern Ireland 65,326 people have been unemployed for more than six months and 53,049 have been unemployed for more than 12 months.
Year |Number of referrals ------------------------------------------------------------ 1990-91 |10,452 1991-92 |13,050
Mr. Ancram: By June 1994 about 220,000 hectares of hill land had been designated under the environmentally sensitive areas scheme. To date, 30,000 hectares of this area have been entered into agreements under which farmers agree to pursue farming practices which aim to protect and enhance the natural environment of their farms.
Mr. Ancram [holding reply 12 December 1944]: Grant assistance is available to pig producers in Northern Ireland under the sub-programme for agriculture and rural development for the conversion or replacement of existing dry sow accommodation at a grant rate of 30 per cent. of expenditure of up to £25,000.
Mr. Moss [holding reply 12 December 1994]: As cash- limited organisations, health and social services boards are not permitted to overspend, that is, to make cash deficits. However, goods and services, for example equipment, building works etcetera, ordered in one financial year are frequently not received until the next. This can lead to "surpluses" in one year, when the allocation has been underspent, and "deficits" in the following year, when that year's allocation is overspent.
The "surpluses" and "deficits" for Northern Ireland's four health and social services boards for the periods 1991 92 to 1993--94 are as follows:
|Northern |Southern |Eastern |Western |£ |£ |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1991-92 |5,577,831 |4,502,548 |7,710,908 |3,227,379 1992-93 |1,012,744 |(2,276,927)|9,394,771 |2,346,866 1993-94 |1,543,080 |931,037 |(1,755,150)|2,233,802 Notes: Figures in brackets indicate "deficits". Figures quoted for 1993-94 exclude surpluses made by general practitioner fundholders.
Mr. Baldry: Aid provided to Colombia in financial years 1990 91, 1991 92, and 1992 93 was £3.66 million, £3.789 million and £2.433 million respectively. The provisional figure for 1993 94 is £2.454 million. Assistance included technical co-operation, emergency aid support, aid and trade provision activity, and anti-drugs technical assistance.
Colombia no longer qualifies for aid and trade provision support, but other programmes continue. Priorities agreed with the Government of Colombia for the technical co-operation programme include the modernisation of public sector administration and the sustainable management of renewable natural resources. Assistance in the latter sector has concentrated on coffee pest and disease control, and the post-harvest processing of fruit and vegetables.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evaluation of the standards of human rights in Colombia his Department has undertaken during the last five years; what were the
Column 582findings; how they affected the evaluation of aid to the Colombian regime; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: Our ambassador in Bogota reports regularly on human rights in Colombia. Our embassy is in frequent touch with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations in Colombia, as well as with our European Union partners on human rights issues. Human rights violations in Colombia have complex causes. Illegal drugs production and trafficking, the activities of guerrilla organisations and military and para-military forces, failure to bring successful prosecutions, as well as conditions of poverty and social inequality all contribute to the high level of abuses there. The administration of President Samper is addressing these issues frankly and openly. The priority which the Government of Colombia attach to these issues is welcome. We wish them success in their attempt to improve human rights observance.
Human rights considerations have not significantly affected decisions on the nature of our modest bilateral aid programme with Colombia. The programme is entirely technical co-operation, operating mainly through non- governmental organisations and autonomous institutions.
Column 583made to the UN Secretary-General's Rwanda emergency normalisation plan.
Mr. Baldry: Britain has provided bilateral assistance for priority health care, refugee repatriation, infrastructure repair and help to Rwanda Government ministries. The European Union's new programme of rehabilitation assistance, worth approximately £52 million, will include help for Kigali airport, road repair, health and education. The United Kingdom share of this programme is about £9 million.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries have responded to the Rwanda trust fund: how much they have contributed; and what is the proposed United Kingdom contribution.
Mr. Baldry: We understand that to date the Dutch have contributed $5 million to the UN trust fund for Rwanda. We will consider whether to make a contribution as part of our preparations for the United Nations development programme round table on Rwanda in January 1995.
Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has taken to ensure that the United Kingdom will be able to honour its share of the commitment made at the Edinburgh summit to increase European aid by 60 per cent. by the end of the decade.
Mr. Baldry: British contributions to both the European development fund and the EC aid budget are charged to the United Kingdom aid programme. The levels agreed for the aid programme in this year's public expenditure survey, for the years 1995 96 to 1997 98, include provision in each year for these costs. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary would expect to put forward proposals for later years, in future public expenditure surveys, on the same basis.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent the human rights record of a country is a criterion for the provision of aid; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: Aid allocation decisions take account of a range of criteria. These include human rights as part of good government. Other criteria include poverty and commitment to appropriate development policies.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of know-how fund money has been allocated by country to the Trades Union Congress or to trade unions to support the development of democratic trades unionism in the countries covered by the know-how fund for the years (a) 1991 92, (b) 1992 93 and (c) 1993 94.
Mr. Baldry: The know-how fund has allocated some £200,000 to trades union-related assistance in the region since 1991. Further funds have been allocated, and new projects are being planned. The breakdown by country, expressed as a percentage of the total country programmes, is as follows:
Country |1991-92|1992-93|1993-94 ----------------------------------------------- Bulgaria |2.49 |0.09 |0.00 Czechoslovakia |0.11 |0.53 |0.00 Czech Republic |0.00 |0.00 |0.13 Hungary |0.02 |0.00 |0.00 Poland |0.27 |0.99 |0.00 Romania |0.58 |0.00 |0.45 Russia |0.00 |<0.01 |<0.01
Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 22 November, Official Report, column 70, about energy efficiency projects, if he will list the members of the British Soviet business consortium awarded the energy efficiency training project for Russia in 1992 93.
Mr. Baldry: The Members of the British Soviet business consortium awarded the energy efficiency training project for Russia in 1992 93 were British Gas, British Coal, Scottish Power, NIFES, WS Atkins, Linden Consulting Partnership, BICC-Andover Controls, GEC-Satchwell Controls, Freeman Group, Babcock, Phoenix Burners-Nor Ray Vac, Lighting Enterprises Consultancy and March Consulting Group.
Mr. Baldry: In 1993 94 Eritrea received £5.8 million in bilateral assistance, including emergency aid. Eritrea is also a recipient of multilateral assistance to which Britain makes a significant contribution. Our share of the European Union's rehabilitation and development assistance since 1993 is £7 million. Eritrea also receives emergency aid from the European Union.
Mr. Sproat: Under the terms of the Fire Precautions Act 1971, fire certificates are required only for premises employing more than 20 persons or more than 10 persons above the ground floor. Therefore, only specific areas of royal palaces require fire certificates. (a) occupied royal palaces: At Windsor castle, certificates have been issued for the Round tower and the Saxon tower. Applications are being processed for two other areas.
Column 585Applications are being processed for eight areas in other places. (b) unoccupied royal palaces: At the Tower of London a certificate has been issued for the new armouries. Applications are being processed for one other area at the tower and two areas at Hampton Court palace.
Mr. Bernie Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to use the millennium fund to build a permanent museum or monument dedicated to those who suffered and died during the period of African enslavement; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Dorrell: It will be for the millennium commissioners to determine the purposes to which they apply their share of the national lottery proceeds in response to the applications they receive. Copies of the Millennium Commission's detailed guidance on how to make applications for lottery funds, along with those produced by the other distributing bodies, have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what would be the cost of a 25 per cent. reduction in television licence fees paid by single pensioner households; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 12 December 1994]: The current cost of providing a 25 per cent. reduction in television licence fees for all single pensioner households would be about £60 million per annum.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what was the total expenditure on energy for offices and buildings by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies in each of the last three years for which figures are available.
Mr. Dorrell: My Department was established in April 1992 but did not occupy its own premises until May 1993. In the year 1993 94 we spent £72,089 on energy for offices and buildings. In the current year to date we have spent £39,902.
My agencies the Royal Parks agency and the Historic Royal Palaces agency are unable to identify the energy costs for offices and buildings as much of their energy expenditure is in respect of lighting and maintaining parks, gardens and grounds.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make an assessment of the effect of the enforced retirement of substantial numbers of Customs and Excise officers on the continuing problem of beer and Scotch whisky smuggling.
review--FER--carried out by Customs and Excise will mean that the Department reduces in size by about 4,000 over five years. All possible steps will be taken to avoid redundancy and it is envisaged that the reductions will be achieved through natural wastage and voluntary severance schemes.
The amount or resources devoted to detecting the smuggling of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products will not be affected by the FER. Indeed, there will soon be a modest increase in the number of excise verification officers deployed by the Department.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Customs and Excise officers are involved in reducing drug smuggling and the unauthorised importation of alcoholic drinks in the financial year 1994 95; and how many officers will be involved in each of the next three years.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: In 1994 95 Customs expects to have deployed about 5,100 staff years on drugs control work. As well as including staff years from the customs function, this figure includes elements on investigation, intelligence, legal support, training and information systems.
Enforcement techniques established in Customs over recent years have increased the use of better targeted, intelligence-led interceptions in place of static routine checks. This has enabled a more effective enforcement effort while allowing freer movement of legitimate traffic. The customs fundamental expenditure review shows that further moves in this direction can be made.
To combat smuggling of excise goods from other EU member states, Customs has allocated some 240 staff to single market excise work, most of whom are specially trained excise verification officers. The EVO effort is intelligence directed, and is supported by specialist investigation staff and the control measures taken by Excise and VAT visiting officers.
Column 587The resource will not be affected by the fundamental expenditure review. Indeed, there will be a modest increase in the number of EVOs deployed by the Department. However staff numbers for the next three financial years have not yet been finally determined.