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Mr. Ian Taylor: My Department has no present plans to control the disposal of smoke detectors. Disposal of radioactive material is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, who have the necessary regulatory powers under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993.

Mr. Garrett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many smoke detectors of the ionising type have been imported in each of the last five years; and from which countries.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The information requested is not available since the product in question is not an

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identifiable commodity within the standard international trade classification.

British Coal

Mr. Tipping: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the value of British Coal's land and property holdings; how far this value will be reduced by liabilities and contamination; what nature of disposal into the private sector is proposed; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The various options for the future of British Coal's non-operational property portfolio are currently being considered by British Coal in consultation with the Government. No decisions have been taken.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on progress in discussions with the preferred bidders for the regional coal companies in the privatisation of the mining business of British Coal.

Mr. Eggar [pursuant to his reply, 2 December 1994, c. 939- 40]: The Government have agreed with Celtic Energy, subject to contract, that Celtic will acquire the South Wales Coal company for £94.5 million; £88.4 million would be payable at completion. Of the balance, £4.9 million would be payable with interest in instalments over the three following years. Final payment of £1.2 million is expected in two instalments, with interest, in 1999 and 2000.

The bid price has been adjusted as envisaged in the information memorandum. The adjustments reflect developments since tenders were submitted in September 1994 or information which was not available at the time. The main adjustments relate to changes in the expected level of stocks, and certain liabilities and price information disclosed after bids were submitted. Celtic's bid price following these adjustments still clearly represents best value for money. The Department will shortly lay a minute before the House describing certain limited warranties and indemnities which it proposed to give to Celtic Energy.

The acquisition price would also be subject to certain technical adjustments following completion to take account of differences between the value of certain assets and liabilities as estimated at signature of the acquisition arrangement and the corresponding value to be established at completion.

Changing Tack Programme

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to restart the regional changing tack seminars on defence diversification; and if he will make a statement on the changing tack programme.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The Government have no plans to restart the changing tack seminar programme. The changing tack manual "New Perspectives for Defence Suppliers" remains available from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Ian Greer Associates

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions he or his Ministers met representatives of Ian Greer Associates in

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the last week to discuss matters relating to its clients' interests.

Mr. Heseltine: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave on 16 December, Official Report , column 851 .

Biological and Chemical Warfare

Mr. Flynn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all the quantities of biological and chemical warfare weapons material and precursors that have been imported from the mainland of Europe to the United Kingdom for storage or destruction.

Mr. Needham: The information requested is not available.

Telecommunications Licences

Mr. Congdon: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many telecommunications licences have been granted since the duopoly review in 1991.

Mr. Ian Taylor: I have today granted licences to Concert--the joint venture between BT and Microwave Communications International, MCI--and AT and T. This brings the number of licences granted since the end of the telecommunications duopoly to 60.

The privatisation and liberalisation of telecommunications in this country have made the UK one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of the availability of modern, competitive telecommunication services. The services that Concert and AT and T plan to provide under these new licences will further boost competition in the international simple resale market, which is already one of the most exciting sectors in telecommunications. Prices are falling for international calls, benefiting both business and individuals.

Companies House

Mr. Congdon: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the future of the Companies House agency.

Mr. Heseltine: The Department of Trade and Industry is looking at the scope for maximising private sector involvement in its work across the range of its activities.

On 19 July 1994, Official Report, column 179, I reported to the House that my Department had appointed consultants to explore further with the market how best to contract out most of the services of Companies House; and to consider whether and, if so, how far Companies House should withdraw from those activities where it might compete with other parts of the business information industry. I have now considered SRU Ltd's report, copies of which have been placed in the House Library--edited to omit commercially sensitive information. The object of the review of the future of Companies House has been to consider how best to build on its excellent record of improvements in efficiency, value for money and standards of service. I believe that this can best be achieved by closer involvement of the private sector in the running of Companies House activities.

The business information industry is in the early stages of major technological change. In any plan for the future of Companies House, it will be important for it to be able to meet the changing needs of the market. I therefore

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propose to proceed with contractorisation on a progressive basis. This will involve Companies House--which will remain an executive agency--working in partnership with the private sector, both customers and suppliers, to develop and deliver new technology. At the same time, it will work through a programme of contracting out a range of activities, including functions carried out by the London and Edinburgh offices. It will be an essential part of any contracts that the existing high standards of service provided by Companies House should continue to be improved. Once the new technology is in place, I would expect to look again at the scope for further contracting out.

It is my intention to lay an order under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 early next year to enable the contracting out of the relevant CH functions.

The SRU report also concludes that the best way to maximise the exploitation of the information held in Companies House is for it to continue to provide as wide a range of access as possible to the raw data, leaving it to the rest of the business information industry to exploit that information through analysis, assessment, etcetera. I agree with this conclusion.


Mr. Michael Brown: To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, pursuant to his answer of 1 December, Official Report, column 807, he has now made a decision on any further amendments to the Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 1990.

Mr. Charles Wardle: Following consultation with the electricity industry and others, I have decided that the Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 1990 should be amended to make it clear that on-site generators who belong to the electricity pool may be exempt from the requirement for a supply licence where they supply qualifying consumers on the same site through a distribution or transmission system belonging to a third party.

I must make it clear that these on-site generators will have to meet all of the criteria for exemption that are presently described in this order, and that this amendment will not alter the present arrangements for trading electricity through the electricity pool. I will lay an order bringing this amendment--and the extension of transitional exemptions, which I announced on 1 December--into effect early next year.

Non-fossil Fuels

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to announce the details of the third renewables non-fossil fuel obligation order; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle: I have today laid before Parliament an order requiring the regional electricity companies in England and Wales to make arrangements to secure 626.92 MW of new electricity generating capacity from a range of renewable energy sources. This is the third renewables order under the non-fossil fuel arrangements--widely known as NFFO3--and covers the period 1 April 1995 to 31 March 2014. The prime purpose of this third renewable order is to create an initial market for those renewables- based

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electricity generation technologies which have the prospect, in the not-too-distant future, of competing against conventional generation technologies in the open market for electricity. In addition to market enablement, it will contribute towards the Government's broad aim of working towards 1,500 MW of new renewables-based generation capacity in the United Kingdom by the year 2000, thereby assisting the Government in meeting their Rio commitment of returning United Kingdom emissions of carbon dioxide to 1990 levels by same year. NFFO3 will also contribute to the policy objectives of establishing diverse, secure and sustainable energy supplies and encouraging the development of internationally competitive renewable energy industries.

I am pleased with the response to the tender invitation, which resulted in 520 firm bids coming forward, for a total of some 2,500 MW of capacity. The Government are therefore able to set an order covering technology bands previously supported under the first and second orders and showing clear convergence towards the market price for electricity, while also enabling a number of projects using energy crops and agricultural and forestry wastes to come forward. I understand the regional electricity companies have met their obligations arising from this NFFO3 order by signing collective contracts for 141 projects. I

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understand also that letters of notification will be issued shortly to all tenderers bidding into NFFO3.

Successful bidders will now need to obtain planning permission for their projects--if they have not already done so. The award of a NFFO contract is totally without prejudice to the planning approval process, which must be carried out in the normal way. Developers will also need to secure firm fuel supply contracts where this is relevant. For these reasons therefore, among others, the Government expect that around 300 to 400 MW of the 627 MW contracted capacity are likely to go forward to commissioning. The order provides for the obligation placed on the RECs to be reduced to reflect

non-commissioning of projects. To the extent that it appears in later years that the outturn will be outside this range, the Government would expect to take that into account in setting the policy for the further orders foreshadowed last year in my Department's "Renewable Energy Bulletin No. 5".

The following table shows the breakdown of contracted capacity under the obligation, according to technology band, together with the number of contracts signed, the lowest price to be paid for the electricity produced, the average price paid--weighted according to the expected output from each project--and the marginal highest price paid.

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Summary of third renewables order (NFFO-3)                                                                                                             

                                                 |Contracted      |Number of       |Lowest          |Weighted        |Highest                          

Technology Band                                  |capacity        |projects        |contracted price|average price<1>|contracted price                 

                                                 |MW dnc                           |p/kWh           |p/kWh           |p/kWh                            



Exceeding 1.6 MWdnc                              |145.92          |31              |3.98            |4.32            |4.80                             

Not exceeding 1.6 MWdnc                          |19.71           |24              |4.49            |5.29            |5.99                             

Hydro                                            |14.48           |15              |4.25            |4.46            |4.85                             

Landfill Gas                                     |82.07           |42              |3.29            |3.76            |4.00                             

Municipal and industrial waste                   |241.87          |20              |3.48            |3.84            |4.00                             


Energy crops and agricultural and forestry waste                                                                                                       

Energy crops/forestry waste-gasification         |19.06           |3               |8.49            |8.65            |8.75                             

Residual (other)                                 |103.81          |6               |4.90            |5.07            |5.23                             

                                                 |--------        |--------        |--------        |--------        |--------                         

Total                                            |626.92          |141             |-               |4.35            |-                                

<1> Average price to be paid, weighted according to the expected output from each project.                                                             

Detailed consultations have taken place throughout the NFFO3 process, from the formulation of initial plans for the third order, to the decision on the shape and size of the order--the latter taking account of the cost and quality of bids received. The Government acknowledge the contribution of all those bodies which have been involved in many ways in the making of this order. In particular, it welcomes the advice from the Director General of Electricity Supply, as a contribution to the debate and the perspective it brings. The Government's overall consideration has been to strike a balance between the degree of market stimulation brought forward through the obligation and the cost to the customer. The difference between the "pool price" for electricity and the price paid to the generator for electricity supplied under NFFO contracts is funded through the fossil fuel levy, which is applied to sales of electricity to the final customer. If contracted projects do not go forward to commissioning and generation, then the

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cost to the fossil fuel levy will reduce accordingly. The Government have also considered the balance between support for renewables technologies covered by previous orders and support for newer renewables technologies. The Government are determined to work towards convergence between the price for electricity from renewables and the open market price, and believe that the inclusion of promising newer technologies in NFFO3 is the most likely way to achieve this for these technologies.

The Government believe that, in addition to the general prospects for the utilisation of agricultural and forestry wastes, there is considerable long -term potential for short-rotation coppice as an energy crop. However, the commercial exploitation of coppicing will require substantial reductions in costs through experience and optimisation of both the fuel supply chain and the conversion technology. I believe, therefore, that the time is now ripe to include within NFFO a tranche of capacity

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based on biomass gasification, which is both technically efficient and offers the prospect of significant economies of scale and replication. In addition, I am pleased to announce that, as a contribution to the process of optimising the production of coppice wood, the Government have awarded a £500,000 contract to the Forestry Commission research division for coppice field trials over the whole of the United Kingdom, bringing the total DTI R and D support in this area to £2 million per year.

The Government have also reflected on how best to continue the stimulus given to wind power. The Government consider that they should distinguish between wind farms and smaller projects involving single individual turbines or small clusters of them--perhaps community based and serving a different market. They expect that only 20 or so of the wind farms will commission, having regard to factors such as the need for planning permission referred to. In addition, the Government have noted that one developer was responsible for a large number of the bids for wind farms put forward under NFFO3. By holding this developer to no more than 10 projects, the Government have been able to secure increased diversity of supply within the wind band. At this early stage in the development of the market for wind, the Government believe that this diversity is desirable, in order not to lose the potential benefits that may arise from a spread of players in this field.

I welcome the publication in late November of the "Best Practice Guidelines for Wind Energy Development" by the British Wind Energy Association. This is a constructive step, representing a responsible approach, which should ensure that wind projects are appropriately sited. I welcome also the announcement this morning by "The Wind Fund plc" of its intention to open an investment fund to the public in January 1995, which will offer an opportunity to individuals to invest in wind projects--particularly smaller projects--and possibly other renewable energy schemes. This is a further positive step forward in bringing renewable energy projects from conception to commissioning and generation, and in part results from research funded by the DTI.

With the conclusion of this third round of bidding, it is important to enter a period of analysis, reflection and full consultation, so that lessons can be fully learned from NFFO3, before contemplating options for the size and shape of any future order--or the bidding process which might be employed. Nevertheless, the Government hope that a fourth order can be announced in 1995, to come into effect in 1996. Views on the future of NFFO would be welcome, preferably expressed collectively by the relevant association or trade body. NFFO is a success, with over 340 MW of capacity already operational under NFFO1 and NFFO2 contracts, and this third order is expected to double that capacity. NFFO has an international reputation, as a process that works, stimulating the market and manufacturing industry. By continuing our policy, we have high expectations of enabling a significant contribution to electricity generation--at market prices--from renewable sources of energy in the medium and longer term.

Statutory Bodies

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all those statutory bodies which

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must, within their statutory remit, protect the interests of consumers.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 16 December 1994]: The following statutory bodies have a general responsibility for the interests of consumers, or classes of consumers, of the industries which they shadow:

Domestic Coal Consumers Council--section 4 of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946;

Post Office Users National Council and the Country Councils for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland--section 14 of the Post Office Act 1969;

Advisory committees on telecommunications for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the advisory bodies on telecommunications matters affecting small businesses, and persons who are disabled or of pensionable age--section 54 of the Telecommunications Act 1984;

Gas Consumers Council--section 2 of the Gas Act 1986;

Central Rail Users Consultative Committee and eight rail users consultative committees--section 77 of the Railways Act 1993; London regional passengers committee--section 40 of the London Regional Transport Act 1984.

In addition, the Director General of Fair Trading; the Director General of Telecommunications; the Director General of Gas Supply; the Director General of Electricity Supply; the Director General of Water Services; and the Rail Regulator have specific responsibility for promoting and/or protecting the interests of consumers/customers. The Director General for Electricity Supply is required to appoint consumers' committees and the Director General of Water Services to appoint customer services committees.


Mr. Tipping: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will set out the total subsidy paid for additional deep mined coal as outlined in "Prospects for Coal"; how many tonnes of coal this involves; and how many individual payments have been made.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 16 December 1994]: To date, the Department has paid £6,109,510 of subsidy covering the sale of almost 600,000 tonnes of additional coal.

The Department has made seven offers of subsidy so far. Under the terms of each offer, claims for payment are made on the basis of actual deliveries made. To date, the Department has made 15 such individual payments.

Russian Military Design Bureaux

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consultation he has had with his United States counterparts in the Department of Commerce and Department of Energy over the reasons for the United States Government's refusal to allow the direct commercial trading by United States private companies with the Russian military design bureaux and production associations; and if he will review the present permissive arrangements in the United Kingdom on the direct commercial agreements by British companies with military design bureaux and production associations in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 16 December 1994]: I am not aware of any such contacts by members of my Department and I do not intend to instigate a review. Overseas trading arrangements of British companies are a matter for their own commercial judgment subject only to export control procedures where applicable.

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Mr. Parry: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's trading relations with Cuba.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 16 December 1994]: Cuba is on the United Kingdom list of destinations for which export licence applications are subject to special licensing procedures. There are no United Kingdom restrictions on imports from Cuba which are not applied more generally against imports from all sources.

Subject to the above, the United Kingdom enjoys normal trading relations with Cuba, and the Government's policy is to encourage United Kingdom firms to exploit the growing civil market opportunities there.

I visited Cuba in September with a group of senior British business men to promote the development of trading relations, and initialled a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement.

Arms Exports

Mr. MacShane: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) which Arab or middle east countries have been the subject of arms export licence refusals in 1993 on the grounds of internal oppression or regional security;

(2) which countries in Europe or the former Soviet Union have been the subject of arms export licence refusals in 1993 on the grounds of internal oppression or regional security;

(3) which countries in Asia have been the subject of arms export licence refusals in 1993 on the grounds of internal oppression or regional security.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answers 19 December 1994]: Export licence applications for arms may be refused for a number of reasons and these questions could only be answered at disproportionate cost. The annual report of the Export Control Organisation will, however, be available shortly and will give some details of licences refused by destination and classification of goods. 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. Battle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what sum was spent by his Department on research in each of the last 10 years; what percentage this was of the total annual budget; what is the budget for the forthcoming year; what percentage this is of his total budget; and what additional new research is to be undertaken.

Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 13 December 1994]: The sums spent on research and development by the Department for the last 10 years were reported in the statistical supplement to the 1994 "Forward Look of Government-funded Science, Engineering and Technology". The expenditure on research and development and the percentage that this expenditure was of total departmental expenditure are given:

                    |R and D expenditure|Percentage of total                    


1985-86             |406.7              |21.1                                   

1986-87             |555.3              |20.3                                   

1987-88             |500.8              |33.6                                   

1988-89             |504.6              |23.3                                   

1989-90             |476.1              |30.2                                   

1990-91             |462.6              |29.5                                   

1991-92             |364.8              |26.0                                   

1992-93             |350.8              |26.6                                   

1993-94             |310.3              |23.2                                   

1994-95             |245.0              |17.8                                   


1. Figures include the Department of Energy.                                    

2. The percentages are based on total central Government spend on trade and     

industry excluding nationalised industries financing requirements.              

3. Figures for 1993-94 are estimated outturns.                                  

4. Figures for 1994-95 are at provision.                                        

The expenditure on research and development in the coming year has still to be determined, and will be reported in the statistical supplement to the 1995 "Forward Look".

The decline in the Department's spend on R and D over the period partly reflects the inclusion of net aerospace launch aid figures. In the first half of the period, launch aid payments far outstripped receipts. More recently, this situation has been reversed. There has also been a substantial reduction in expenditure on energy R and D, the principal factor in which has been the decision to withdraw from research on the prototype fast nuclear reactor at Dounreay.

Economic Development

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy that local authority economic development plans are held in regional Government offices.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: I have been asked to reply.

We see no need to introduce such a policy; local authorities that have prepared an economic development plan are required by statute to make the document available to representatives of the local business community and to such other persons as they consider it desirable to consult about their plan.

Water Authorities

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many executive and non-executive directors there were in each water authority in the year before privatisation; what was their aggregate remuneration; and what is their current number and aggregate remuneration, including share options and other incentive payments.

Mr. Atkins: I have been asked to reply.

Information about the numbers and remuneration of water authority chairmen and members in the year prior to privatisation can be found in "Public Bodies 1989", issued by the Cabinet Office, Office of Public Service and Science. A copy of this publication is available in the Library.

Information relating to the numbers and remuneration, share options and other incentive payments of current water company directors is published in the annual reports of individual companies. This information is not held centrally.

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Empty Property

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to make use of his Department's empty residential property.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The Scottish Office target for 1994 95 is to dispose of, or bring back into use, 60 out of an estimated total of 158 empty residential properties. The report of the task force on Government Departments' empty houses did not identify any problem affecting the Department which needed attention but we are committed to doing all we can to bring empty property back into constructive use. Sale or lease to a housing association for rent to those in housing need is one option to be considered for empty property, but the approach in each case will depend on local circumstances.


Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many miles of motorway are currently (a) open, (b) under construction and (c) planned in Scotland either (i) as new motorway or (ii) as existing motorway being widened.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: As at 30 November 1994 in Scotland there were 188 miles of trunk road motorway and a further 19 miles of non trunk motorway, the responsibility for which lies with the local authorities.

Twelve miles of new trunk road motorway are currently under construction with a further 30 miles planned. Four miles of non-trunk motorway are also planned.

Much of the motorway network constructed in the 1960s and 1970s is approaching the end of its structural life and will require major maintenance or reconstruction. Some of this work may involve widening.

Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the parliamentary constituencies in which lies each scheme in his Department's national road programme.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The information requested is set out in the table for all those schemes costing over £3 million which either are under construction or were announced by my right hon. Friend on 19 May 1994 as expected to start before March 1997. Our future plans are, of course, subject to schemes satisfying the usual value for money criteria together with satisfactory completion of statutory procedures and the necessary preparatory work.

Scheme                                    |Parliamentary                                              



A74(M) Eaglesfield to Kirkpatrick-Fleming |Dumfries                                                   

A74(M) Cleuchbrae to Dinwoodie Green      |Dumfries                                                   

A74(M) Ecclefechan to Eaglesfield Phase 2 |Dumfries                                                   

M8 Newbridge to Edinburgh                 |Livingston                                                 

A87 Skye Bridge Approach Roads            |Ross, Cromarty and Skye                                    

M77 Ayr Road Route                        |Eastwood                                                   

A74(M) Paddy's Rickle Bridge to Beattock  |Clydesdale/Dumfries                                        

A1 Tranent to Haddington                  |East Lothian                                               

A74(M) Beattock to Cleuchbrae             |Dumfries                                                   

M8 Baillieston to Newhouse                |Motherwell North                                           

M77 Fenwick to B764 (Floak)               |Kilmarnock and Loudoun                                     

A68 Dalkeith Bypass (advance works)       |Midlothian                                                 

A1 Haddington to Dunbar                   |East Lothian                                               

A96 Kintore Bypass                        |Gordon                                                     

A9 Logie Easter to Garrick Bridge         |Ross, Cromarty and Skye                                    

A830 Loch Nan Uamh to Polnish Bridge      |Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber                              

A828 Creagan Bridge                       |Argyll and Bute                                            

Local Enterprise Companies

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to monitor the on-going composition of the boards of local enterprise companies, particularly in respect of such boards continuing to reflect a diverse business, community and geographic representation of the entire area covered; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart: Local enterprise companies are required to ensure that at least two thirds of their boards of directors are chairmen, directors, chief executives or other top level managers within the private sector who either live or work within the local enterprise company's area of operation. Other board members must live within the local area. These requirements are placed on the local enterprise companies through their operating contracts with Scottish Enterprise and with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Responsibility for contract compliance and monitoring rests with the enterprise bodies and I have therefore asked their chairman to write to the hon. Member.

Executive Search Agencies

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what use his Department has made of executive search agencies in filling vacancies within his Department and executive agencies administered by his Department during the last year; and how much these services have cost his Department.

Mr. Lang: My Department has made use of executive search agencies on two recruitment campaigns between 1 December 1993 and 30 November 1994. The total cost of these services was £69,912 including VAT. None of the executive agencies within my Department has made use of such services during the last year.


Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what non- lethal methods of goose control are approved by his Ministry; and what measure he is taking to promote them.

Sir Hector Monro: Copies of the advisory leaflet "Wild Geese and Scottish Agriculture" are available at offices of the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department and are issued to farmers who report problems associated with the presence of geese on their land. The leaflet provides information about various scaring devices including flags, scarecrows, gas guns and mechanically operated scarers.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are his reasons for the granting of a licence to a farmer on the Solway firth to kill barnacle geese; how

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many geese have so far been killed under licence on the Solway firth; and how many are permitted to be killed overall.

Sir Hector Monro: Licences were granted in January 1994 and October 1994 for the purpose of preventing serious damage to crops. In issuing licences the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department takes into account the history of goose usage of an area, reports of goose numbers at particular times and carries out on-the-ground inspections. Account has also been taken of the outcome of a case in Dumfries sheriff court in which the farmer was acquitted on charges of killing geese without a licence.

Ten geese were reported killed under the licence issued in January and which expired in April. As at 15 December no geese had been killed under the current licence.

The licence is not subject to a bag limit but can be revoked at any time for example for non-compliance with the conditions attached to it.

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