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Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to ensure that the facilities of the Insolvency Service continue to be provided within the public sector; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: The policy of Her Majesty's Government is that where work can appropriately be undertaken in the private sector it should be, subject to that representing value for money.

In the event that a decision is taken to contract out certain of the functions of official receivers to the private sector, official receivers, as statutory office holders, would continue to be legally responsible for the discharge of those functions. Furthermore, the work undertaken by Stoy Hayward concluded that the contracting out of administrative functions would enable official receivers to concentrate on their investigative role.

Paper Products (EC Preference Scheme)

Mr. Corbett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the details of the outcome of negotiations with the European Community on revision of the generalised system of preferences scheme and its impact upon paper products.

Mr. Ian Taylor: Negotiations on the European Community's new generalised system of preferences were concluded on 19 December 1994. Paper products are classified in chapters 47 to 49 of the common customs tariff. All imports of such products classified in chapter


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47 enter the Community free of duty. Paper products in chapter 48 of the tariff, imported from developing countries under the GSP scheme, enter the Community free of duty. Of those products in chapter 49 of the tariff, which are subject to duty, most are on the list of products categorised as being "sensitive" for Community industry. Imports of these products from GSP countries will therefore be charged 70 per cent. of the normal duty. Because imports of paper products from Brazil have become highly competitive, they will no longer be eligible for GSP benefits from 1 January 1996.

Electricity Companies

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to introduce legislation to prevent foreign ownership of regional electricity companies; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar: I have no such plans.

Nuclear Power

Mr. David Porter: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to make a decision about the application by Nuclear Electric plc to build Sizewell C power station in Suffolk; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar: Both relevant planning authorities, the Suffolk county council and the Suffolk Coastal district council, have objected to the application. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is therefore statutorily obliged to call for a public inquiry to be held. Details of the public inquiry will be announced as soon as practicable.

Mr. David Porter: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the outcome of the nuclear review.

Mr. Eggar: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Tipping) on 19 October 1994, Official Report , column 239 .

Radar Jammers

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action he is taking to prevent the sale in the United Kingdom of non- transmitter radar jammers.

Mr. Ian Taylor: Responsibility for the regulation of civil radio use in the United Kingdom has been delegated to the

Radiocommunications Agency, under its chief executive Mr. Jim Norton. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Jim Norton to Mr. Colin Pickthall, dated 16 January 1995:

The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to reply to your Question about the sale of radar jammers.

I presume you are concerned about equipment which it is claimed can either simply detect (ie receive) the operation of a police radar speedmeter or in some cases neutralise it. Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 Orders can be made prohibiting the import, sale, manufacture or possession of radio apparatus which has the ability to cause interference to other radio use. The majority of radar detectors are simply radio receivers and are therefore inherently incapable of transmitting or causing interference to other radio use. Consequently it is not possible to make an Order under the Act prohibiting their sale, etc.

An Order could only be made in respect of those radar detectors which it is claimed neutralise police radars, by reflecting their signal,


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if it could be proved that they were so capable. To date we have no such evidence.

It is however an offence under the provisions of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 (the 1949 Act) to use any apparatus for the purpose of unauthorised reception or interfering with wireless telegraphy. Under this Act there is no bar as to who may instigate proceedings for offences under the Act. The Courts have also previously held that to offer for sale radio equipment which cannot be lawfully used is to incite members of the public to contravene the 1949 Act contrary to common law. Where radio equipment has been designed to be used for, or is used in the pursuit of other illegal activity, it is normal for the police or other relevant enforcement body to take the lead in any investigation. The Agency willingly assists in the investigation, by providing legal or technical advice, if asked to do so.

I hope this is helpful.

Textiles

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent changes there have been in the criteria or regulations for the granting of (a) regional selective assistance and (b) other development aid for expansion by textile firms in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The award of RSA and other development aid in support of expansion projects being undertaken by firms in the textiles and clothing sector is governed by EC state aid rules. Uncertainties arose last year about the need to give prior notification to the Commission of proposed aid to such projects. The temporary procedures introduced while member states reviewed the situation with the Commission, have now been removed and RSA and other forms of Government assistance continues to be available under established criteria.

Mortgage Interest Insurance

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information he has on the average insurance premium for a mortgagor wishing to take out insurance to cover mortgage interest payments in the event of unemployment and the total annual cost of such premiums for all those with mortgages.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) on 9 December 1994, Official Report , columns 390 91 .

Self-regulatory Professional Bodies

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to institute an independent watchdog to oversee professional bodies which have self-regulatory powers.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I have no plans to establish a body to oversee professional bodies which have self-regulatory powers.

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received that the recognised professional bodies, to whom he has granted self-regulatory powers, are not acting within their own guidelines on the question of integrity within their complaints procedure.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I have, on occasion, received representations that a complaint made against a member of a recognised professional body has not been dealt with


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fairly and/or promptly. Such representations are taken up by my officials.

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to take action against members of registered professional bodies who fail to work within their own fundamental principles.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: Where a recognised professional body is satisfied that a member has not observed the rules and regulations of the body which governs his professional conduct, it is a matter for that body to decide what disciplinary action should be taken.

Insolvency Practitioners

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to ensure that the fees of insolvency practitioners and the professionals they employ are levied at a fixed rate.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: In most types of insolvency, the creditors fix the fees of the insolvency practitioner, subject to review by the court. In an administrative receivership, the fee payable is a matter for agreement between the debenture holder appointing him, and the insolvency practitioner, although it may be reviewed by the court on the application of a liquidator. It would not be practicable to specify rates of payment for services provided to an insolvency practitioner by other professionals.

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to require that an insolvency practitioner appointed as a receiver should be a person different from the accountant or insolvency practitioner which prepared the report on the company's affairs.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: The arguments for and against preventing accountants who act as advisers to banks from acting as administrative receivers of client companies have been considered and I am not convinced that the practice should be proscribed.

Company Liquidations

Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to extend the receiver's duty of care to include the unsecured creditors and/or a guarantor of a company in receivership.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I have no plans to do so.

British Coal Assets

Mr. Redmond: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what considerations underlay his decision not to refer to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission the proposed acquisition by R.J.B. Mining of certain assets of British Coal; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade's decision not to refer the proposed acquisition of certain assets of British Coal, namely the Harworth methane power generating plant and the minerals and aggregates, other than coal, extracted from opencast sites of Central North, South and North East Regional Coal companies, was in accordance with the Director General of Fair Trading's advice, which is confidential. My right hon. Friend took into account all relevant factors and concluded that the case raised no concerns justifying a reference.


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Offshore Oil Industry

Mr. Spellar: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action he is taking to ensure that vessels and equipment for the new offshore Atlantic oil fields are built in Britain.

Mr. Eggar: A number of the oil and gas developments in the Atlantic are likely to use floating production facilities and my Department established a working group last year to assess the demand and United Kingdom companies' ability to compete for these facilities. The group was also asked to identify steps to strengthen United Kingdom competitiveness and its recommendations are being pursued with the industry. As a result of this work, the competitive position of United Kingdom companies has already improved.

Cable Damage

Mr. David Young: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the estimated cost of repairing damage to other undertakers' cables by NYNEX in the Bolton metro area covered by North West Gas Board and North West Electricity.

Mr. Ian Taylor: Cable operators' streetworks are subject to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, which makes an undertaker liable to pay compensation for damage caused to another undertaker's apparatus. The estimated cost of repair for damage is therefore a matter for NYNEX.

HPC Virus

Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to review the law of intellectual property in the United Kingdom following the decision of the High Court of Justice that Chiron Corporation of California has intellectual ownership of the virus HPC; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ian Taylor: There is no reason to review existing patent law following the High Court decision in the Chiron case. The law is designed to encourage research


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and development in all fields of technology, including biotechnology, where inventions satisfying the criteria of patentability--novelty, inventive step and industrial

applicability--are eligible for protection.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Agricultural Support

Mr. Austin Michell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the annual cost to the United Kingdom for each of the last 10 years of EEC expenditure on agricultural support.

Mr. Jack: The Exchequer cost of agricultural support under EC schemes within the UK is set out in table 9.1 of the editions of the "Agriculture in UK" from 1988 to 1993, and for years prior to 1988 in table 9.1 of the Government White Paper, "The Annual Review of Agriculture". These publications have been deposited in the Library of the House of Commons. The 1994 edition of "Agriculture in the UK" will be published in March. The UK also contributes to the cost of EC agricultural support in other member states through our net contributions to the EC budget.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what tonnage of each CAP product was dumped on world markets in (a) 1974 and (b) each of the past three years; and what was the loss per tonne incurred in each case.

Mr. Jack: Certain agricultural exports benefit from refunds which bridge the gap between EU internal and world price levels. The total volumes of CAP products exported from the EU in 1974 and in the last three years are given in the first table.

Since only some of these exports are subsidised by refunds, it is not possible to give a rate of expenditure per tonne for each commodity. Total expenditure on export refunds by commodity is shown in the second table.


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Total exports outside EC: 1974, 1991-1993                                      

Units: Metric tonnes                                                           

Products                |1974      |1991      |1992      |1993                 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cereals                 |9,288,000 |21,801,506|27,095,031|23,616,767           

Rice                    |291,000   |501,722   |495,181                         

                                                                               

Sugar                   |270,000   |4,528,622 |4,663,957 |5,414,515            

Olive oil               |12,300    |175,751   |190,265   |182,412              

Oilseeds                |255,400   |126,729   |272,133   |128,396              

                                                                               

Fruit and Veg Fresh     |n/a       |3,199,957 |3,191,777 |4,244.761            

Fruit and Veg Processed |n/a       |359,525   |342,701   |350,209              

Wine                    |360,800   |1,057,813 |1,069,320 |1,418,278            

Tobacco                 |n/a       |139,355   |119,527   |147,056              

                                                                               

Cheese                  |188,500   |483,582   |466,229   |524,034              

Butter                  |118,500   |301,636   |223,616   |184,563              

Skimmed Milk            |339,000   |241,834   |384,471   |276,338              

                                                                               

Beef and Veal           |178,000   |1,059,232 |1,051,712 |1,029,904            

Sheep Meat              |2,900     |38,862    |7,712     |6,676                

Poultry                 |141,000   |469,333   |511,497   |652,320              

Pigmeat                 |271,000   |366,226   |244,729   |361,624              

Eggs                    |31,300    |104,873   |106,401   |110,089              

Source:                                                                        

1974 figures: The Agricultural Situation in the Community 1976 Report.         

1991-93 figures: COMEXT.                                                       

1974 figures are expressed to nearest 100 tonnes.                              


                         |MUA<1>            |MECU              |MECU              |MECU                                 

Export refunds on:       |1974              |1991              |1992              |1993                                 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cereals                  |76                |3,602             |3,140             |2,789                                

Rice                     |0.5               |78                |92                |59                                   

Sugar                    |8                 |1,251             |1,306             |1,531                                

Olive Oil                |0.8               |112               |48                |69                                   

Oilseeds                 |0                 |0                 |0                 |0                                    

Fruit and Veg-Fresh      |18                |77                |92                |156                                  

Fruit and Veg- Processed |<2>-              |18                |25                |31                                   

Wine                     |0.1               |56                |77                |100                                  

Tobacco                  |0                 |65                |57                |36                                   

Milk Products            |344               |2,249             |2,056             |2,287                                

Beef                     |55                |1,282             |1,333             |1,712                                

Sheepmeat                |N/A               |0                 |0                 |0                                    

Pigmeat                  |56                |199               |130               |193                                  

Eggs and Poultry         |17                |169               |193               |291                                  

                                                                                                                        

Total                    |575.4             |9,158             |8,549             |9,254                                

Source:                                                                                                                 

1974: 1991-93 FEOGA Financial Reports.                                                                                  

Notes:                                                                                                                  

<1>mua = millions of units of account.                                                                                  

<2>For 1974 expenditure for fruit and veg refers to fresh and processed as a whole.                                     

Exchange Rates:                                                                                                         

1974: 1 u.a = £0.5098                                                                                                   

1991: 1 ecu = £0.69973                                                                                                  

1992: 1 ecu = £0.70765                                                                                                  

1993: 1 ecu = £0.78627                                                                                                  

Fishing

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his letter, reference 81869, of 7 November 1994, to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, what discussions he is having with the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation Scientific Council on the moratorium for the fishing for capelin (a) off east Greenland and (b) on the Grand banks; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jack: There is a moratorium on the fishery for capelin on the Grand banks for 1995. The Scientific Council of the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation will make its recommendations for the 1996 total allowable catch to the annual meeting of NAFO in September 1995, at which the United Kingdom will be represented within the EU delegation.

The NAFO Scientific Council does not give advice on the capelin stock at East Greenland, Iceland and Jan Mayen. This is provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and management decisions are taken jointly by the Greenlandic, Icelandic and Norwegian authorities. The ICES advice in May 1994 was for a TAC for 1994 1995 of 1,430,000 tonnes.

Suckler Cow Premium

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what date in 1994 he released the first suckler cow premium advance subsidy cheques to English farmers.

Mr. Jack: The first advance payments of the 1994 suckler cow premium were sent to farmers in England on 1 November 1994. This is the earliest date permitted by the EU regulations.


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Public Appointments

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which of the members of his think tank on CAP reform were first identified by the Public Appointments Unit.

Mr. Jack: None of the members of the CAP policy group were identified by the public appointments unit. Members were recruited from among contacts known to the Department, on the basis of their individual ideas and reputation for imaginative thinking, as well as their practical experience.

Infant Formulae

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends making the United Kingdom regulations to implement EC directives 91/321 and 95/52 on the composition, labelling and marketing of infant and follow-on formulae.

Mrs. Browning: The infant formula and follow-on formula regulations 1995 have been laid before Parliament today and will come into force on 1 March 1995 to implement the relevant EC legislation. Following consultation, the Government have concluded that the current controls on advertising, which have been operated voluntarily by the industry, should be maintained where possible. We have therefore sought to incorporate the existing arrangements into the new regulations.

Agricultural Wages Board

Ms Harman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the employers' response to the consultation regarding the decision to retain the agricultural wages board.

Mr. Jack: The consultation period on the future operation of the agricultural wages board ran from July to November 1993. Over that period, almost 4,000 responses were received with only 10 advocating abolition of the board. Most employers and organisations representing employers' interests recommended retention; however, those responses recommending abolition came from employer interests. An analysis of responses was placed in the Library of the House on 9 June 1994. We also took into account comments received after the close of the formal consultation period.

Some further representations suggesting abolition of the board came from employers and organisations representing employers in the horticulture, poultry and mushroom sectors, with most noting concerns for their sectors of the particular impact of the 1994 AWB minimum wage settlement. However, the views of the great majority of employers and the main representative organisations remained unchanged.

Ms Harman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the decision to retain the agricultural wages board on wage rates and wage rate differentials in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Jack: The agricultural wages board is an independent organisation and reaches its own decisions on minimum wage rates and differentials. It is not possible to predict the future impact of the board's determinations on levels of remuneration in the agricultural sector.


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Live Animal Exports

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on calves from Ireland being exported to the continent through Plymouth docks; and whether the British regulations as regards journey plans and feeding, watering and resting intervals apply to them.

Mrs. Browning: Movements of such animals from the Republic or Northern Ireland are covered by the provisions of the Welfare of Animals during Transport Order 1992 once the animals come within British jurisdiction and hauliers are required to comply with those provisions.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many animals were classed as too unwell to travel from Plymouth docks to France on the night of 19 December 1994; (2) what assessment he has made of whether the welfare of livestock being transported abroad can be adequately accounted for when said livestock is in lorries on boats and the drivers of the lorries are not on the boats; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will make a statement on the lorries exporting livestock from Plymouth docks on the night of 19 December 1994; how many lorries were turned away; and for what reasons.

Mrs. Browning: None of the animals inspected at the dock while in their lorries were considered too unwell to travel. However two lorries loaded with sheep were turned away because the veterinary inspection for health certification purposes had taken place more than 48 hours prior to their loading--the maximum period permitted under EC health rules. The ship sailed with 12 lorries on board and their drivers. Officials are now satisfied with the arrangements made by the shipping company to provide standby drivers on the French side for any lorry not accompanied by its driver. The vessel sails with a veterinary surgeon who assumes responsibility for the welfare of the animals until such time as they are driven away from the port of disembarkation.

Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the recent obstruction of vehicles carrying live animals for slaughter abroad.

Mrs. Browning: We deplore the activities of those who would disrupt by violent means the lawful activities of those engaged in this trade.

Abattoirs

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was (a) the total capacity and (b) the total number of abattoirs in England in 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1994; and how many abattoirs in England now conform to the requirements of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992.

Mrs. Browning: The number of licensed red meat abattoirs in England were:

1979: 977

1984: 961

1989: 689

1994: 424

In 1994 all 424 abattoirs were licensed under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992; 274 were operating under temporary derogations while


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upgrading their premises to comply in full with the structural requirements.

The Department does not hold figures on the total capacity of abattoirs.

Veal

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what public funding has been made available to promote the marketing of humanely reared veal in each of the years since the use of veal crates was banned in the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Browning: The marketing development scheme is available for a broad range of marketing projects. This could include the marketing of humanely-produced veal, but no application has to date been made for this purpose.

Farm Animal Welfare Council

Mr. Haselhurst: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who are the members currently appointed to the Farm Animal Welfare Council.

Mrs. Browning: The current membership of the Farm Animal Welfare Council is as follows:

Professor Sir Colin R. W. Spedding CBE--Chairman

Mr. C. B. Atkinson

Dr. M. R. Baxter

Mr. M. G. Berry

Rev. A. L. Birbeck MBE

Dr. W. J. M. Black JP

Professor D. M. Broom

Mr. J. A. R. Dewhirst

Mr. T. C. Harris

Mrs. F. F. Hodgson

Mr. C. T. P. Hollands OBE

Mrs. J. A. MacArthur Clark

Mr. R. Macpherson

Miss C. A. Milbum

Dr. M. Pattison

Mr. F. E. Shields MBE

Mr. P. F. Staines MBE

Mr. J. G. Thomas

Mrs. J. M. Tumbull JP

Mr. A. Watkins

Mrs. T. M. Wickham

Dr. A. C. Winter


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