Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what reports have been brought to his attention by


Column 221

the nuclear installations inspectorate over the past two years in regard to the discovery of cracks found in the steam generator of the boilers at the Heysham A and Dungeness B nuclear plants; and what decisions he has taken in response to the nuclear installations inspectorate reports.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate does not report to this Department on its day-to -day inspection activities at nuclear power plants. The answer I gave to the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) on 19 January, Official Report, column 589 , referred to the action being taken by Nuclear Electric on cracks discovered at Dungeness B and Heysham 1 and explained that both plants would be brought back into operation only once the NII is satisfied that it is safe for them to do so.

Nuclear Reprocessing

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations his Department received from German nuclear companies on their intentions regarding cancellation of reprocessing contracts into British Nuclear Fuels prior to the thermal oxide reprocessing plant being licensed; and what assessment he has made of them.

Mr. Charles Wardle: No such representations were received.

Aerosols

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that the risks of injury resulting from accidental ignition of aerosols and aerosol contents are minimised; (2) how many injuries are sustained annually from the accidental ignition of aerosols and aerosol contents;

(3) what plans he has to encourage aerosol manufacturers to improve the safety of their products.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The Department's home accident surveillance system estimate, from a sample of accident and emergency hospital accident data, is that the number of injuries due to the accidental ignition of aerosols in United Kingdom is no more than 200 injuries in any year. There were 750 million aerosols sold in the UK in 1993. Aerosols are subject to the Aerosol Dispensers (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1977, as amended, the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Subject to the need to implement the recent Commission directive 94/1/EEC adapting to technical progress directive 75/324/EEC on aerosol dispensers and the thirteenth amendment to directive 76/769/EEC on the marketing and use of dangerous substances and preparations, I have no plans for any additional legislation.

World Trade

Mr. Battle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was (a) the total volume of world trade in dollars and (b) the percentage increase year-on-year in each year from 1990 91 to 1993 94.

Mr. Needham: The information, where available, is given in the following table:


Column 222


World Trade<1> in Goods                                                         

                    |1991 US Dollars    |Per cent. change on                    

                    |(billions)         |previous year                          

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

1990                |821.6              |n/a                                    

1991                |856.3              |4.2                                    

1992                |901.0              |5.2                                    

1993                |927.3              |2.9                                    

Note:                                                                           

<1> Trade is calculated as the arithmetic mean of exports and imports.          

Source:                                                                         

OECD Main Economic Indicators, December 1994.                                   

Trade Balance (Vehicles)

Mr. Spellar: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 11 January to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), Official Report , column 156 , if he will make a statement as to his Department's analysis of the reasons for the worsening of the trade balance in cars and commercial vehicles.

Mr. Needham: Despite an upturn in the United Kingdom car market during the last two years, continued recession in continental Europe has drastically affected car exports from the UK to those markets. Similarly, the strong growth in the UK commercial vehicle market last year led European manufacturers aggressively to target the UK at a time when their domestic markets have remained in recession. UK car and commercial vehicle manufacturers are well placed to reverse this position as the economy of mainland Europe recovers.

Merchant Banks

Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when merchant banks became exempt from legislation requiring disclosure of share purchases; and if he will review the procedure.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: Merchants banks as such are not exempt from the law on disclosure of interests in shares. Certain categories of interests in shares have been exempt from disclosure since a law on disclosure of interests in shares was first introduced in 1967. These categories have been updated subsequently and now include interests in shares held by banks and others by way of security; interests in shares held by market makers for the purposes of their market making business; and interests held by custodians in their capacity as such.

The law on disclosure of interests in shares is now being examined as part of the Department's company law reform programme.

Business Start-up

Mr. Allason: To ask the President of the Board of Trade by what percentage the single regeneration budget will be reduced in 1995 96; and what will be the impact in cash terms on the Devon and Cornwall training and enterprise council's funding for business start-up.

Mr. Curry: I have been asked to reply.

Total national expenditure on the single regeneration budget in 1995 96 is expected, on current plans, to be 8 per cent. lower in cash terms than that in 1994 95. Expenditure on business start-up schemes by Devon and Cornwall training and enterprise council in 1995 96 cannot yet be estimated. Existing commitments will continue to be honoured, but contracts for 1995-- 96 have not yet been signed. In addition, Devon and Cornwall


Column 223

TEC is a partner in three successful SRB bids which include business start-up and business training and advice project. The partnerships are currently preparing their delivery plans for these schemes.

Coal Imports

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many million tonnes of coal were imported into the United Kingdom in 1994; and what was the impact of coal imports on the United Kingdom balance of payments.

Mr. Charles Wardle: Figures for the whole of 1994 are not yet available. Coal imports for the first three quarters of the year amounted to 11.9 million tonnes and were 13 per cent. below the level in the same period of 1993. The negative impact of these imports on the balance of payments figures will be about £400 million.

Manufacturing Supplies

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what capacity his Department has to supply comprehensive lists of manufacturing supplies in specific sectors to prospective purchasers of United Kingdom goods;

(2) what progress his Department has made in producing an acceptable comprehensive system for priority information on United Kingdom suppliers in each section of the manufacturing process.

Mr. Eggar: The network of regional supply offices currently being set up in England by my Department will provide major purchasers with information on competitive suppliers in their region and more widely. Each of the 10 offices will focus on particular business sectors taking into account local strengths and weaknesses. The network will complement similar initiatives run by the Welsh and Scottish development agencies.

In addition, the overseas trade services, jointly provided by my Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, supply information on United Kingdom suppliers to potential overseas purchasers through commercial staff overseas, either from the extensive information sources held overseas or by referral back to the United Kingdom to the source of supply service run on our behalf by Prelink Ltd.

Retail Price Maintenance

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the policy justification for the continuation of retail price maintenance for (a) pharmaceuticals, (b) newspapers and (c) periodicals; and what other products or services for which retail price maintenance is still in force there are.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: Resale price maintenance is unlawful under the Resale Prices Act 1976, subject to the possibility of exemption by the restrictive practices court on public interest grounds. Two exemptions are in force, for books and for certain pharmaceuticals, which were exempted on the grounds that price competition between retailers would be likely to lead to a reduction in the number of outlets offering prescription services. No exemption exists in relation to newspapers or periodicals.


Column 224

Leeds Training and Enterprise Council

Dr. Hampson: To ask the President of the President of the Board of Trade how much funding his Department will be providing to Leeds TEC in 1995 96 for small and medium businesses; and how much was provided in 1994 95.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The DTI grant offer to Leeds TEC for small and medium businesses in 1994 95 was £410,000. The budget for 1995 96 has yet to be settled.

Integrated Regional Offices

Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list those of his Department's responsibilities on which the integrated regional offices are required to advise him on the allocation of resources and, for each integrated regional office, the annual expenditure on each programme.

Mr. Heseltine: Regional directors advise on a range of programmes but do not hold programme budgets and are not therefore responsible for allocating resources to programmes. The 1993 94 expenditure proposed on each programme was detailed in the DTI's published MINIS 1994, available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list those of his Department's responsibilities which are administered by the integrated regional offices and, for each integrated regional office, the estimated annual expenditure on each of these responsibilities.

Mr. Heseltine: The range of activities undertaken by DTI in the regions has not changed with the introduction of the Government offices. The activities and the running costs associated with them for 1993 94 were published in MINIS 1994, available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Denham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list those of his Department's responsibilities on which integrated regional offices are responsible for preparing, advising on or implementing regional policy.

Mr. Heseltine: The Government offices in the regions assist my Department in work on a range of regional policy issues including regional selective assistance applications, the preparation of single programming documents for the structural funds and administering the regional innovation grants.

Inward Investing Companies

Mr. Deva: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what the total value of the output of inward investing companies in the United Kingdom was in 1993;

(2) what was the total value of the exports of inward investing companies in the United Kingdom in 1993.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The information is not available at present. However, in view of the importance of the contribution of these companies to the economic performance of the United Kingdom, the Department approached the Central Statistical Office last month to ask it to produce the information.


Column 225

Green Minister

Mr. Dafis: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the responsibilities of the Green Minister in his Department regarding oil and gas exploration and extraction.

Mr. Charles Wardle: My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has designated me as the Green Minister for the Department. I take decisions on oil and gas exploration and extraction on the basis of a number of criteria, including the possible effect such activities may have on the environment. In reaching these decisions, I take account of advice from a wide range of environmental organisations, including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

National Engineering Laboratory

Mr. Ingram: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what additional funds have been made available to the national engineering laboratory; and for what reason.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The National Engineering Laboratory is subject to net expenditure control. Therefore it is required to recover its full economic costs from work carried out for my Department and third parties. Any additional cash provisions are dealt with as part of the annual public expenditure settlement and presented to Parliament in my Department's main estimates.

Mr. Ingram: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which organisations have expressed an interest in purchasing the national engineering laboratory; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ian Taylor: A number of organisations have expressed such an interest. Their identities are commercially confidential.

Mr. Ingram: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what parts of the national engineering laboratory, including building and land, have been included in the prospectus for the sale of the national engineering laboratory.

Mr. Ian Taylor: My Department has offered for sale the business and assets of the national engineering laboratory. The buildings and lands are not owned by the Department.

Glass Oven Doors

Mr. David Young: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many cases have been reported of exploding glass oven doors; what safety monitoring of ovens with such doors has taken place; and what action is being taken by his Department.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 24 January 1995]: The number of incidents involving exploding glass oven doors which have been reported to my Department's consumer safety unit is:


Year   |Number       

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

1984   |12           

1985   |25           

1986   |32           

1987   |28           

1988   |34           

1989   |9            

1990   |10           

1991   |8            

1992   |2            

1993   |2            

1994   |3            

Although very few injuries occurred, the increase in the number of reported incidents between 1984 and 1988 prompted my Department to discuss the problem with industry. This led to a significant improvement to British standard 3193--specification for thermally toughened glass panels for use in domestic appliances. Improvements were also made in the way in which glass doors are attached to cookers, and both aspects are reflected in the reduced number of incidents since that time.

Although there has been a significant reduction in the number of incidents reported since 1989, my Department continue to monitor the situation and to contribute to the relevant European standards--CEN and CENELEC--safety committees on cookers and glass which now fully reflect the British standard.

Internet

Sir Wyn Roberts: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will encourage the establishment of a British-based equivalent of the Internet system in order for Britain to promote its interests worldwide.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 23 January 1995]: The Internet is now so international and amorphous that its operation would be very difficult to influence in order to provide a national benefit. However, the DTI is monitoring its development and the prospect of other networks closely.

The United Kingdom's interests are best served by the fullest development of new telecommunication networks and services, led by the private sector and reflecting the economic interests of businesses, public institutions and households. The UK is in a very strong position to use these capabilities because of the state of development of our communications infrastructure. The Government's policy of telecommunications liberalisation has encouraged substantial investment in modern communications networks with the capacity to support the multimedia applications that the new communications networks require. There are many companies in Britain working on such applications.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Immigration Appeals Authority

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, how many special adjudicators are employed by the Immigration Appeals Authority; and what plans he has to increase that number.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The Lord Chancellor has designated 62 immigration adjudicators to be special adjudicators for the purposes of section 8(5) of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993, 18 of whom are full-time adjudicators. Ten new part-time special


Column 227

adjudicators were designated in December 1994 and further increases in the numbers are likely during the course of the year, the precise numbers depending on the work load of the immigration appellate authorities.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the total


Column 228

establishment of the Immigration Appeals Authority; and if he will provide a breakdown of that establishment by function and location.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The information is set out in the tables:


Column 227


1. Adjudicators                                                                     

                             Adjudicators                                           

Centre        |Staff in post|Full-time    |Part-time    |Courtrooms                 

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

London        |52           |7            |17           |8                          

West London   |43           |7            |26           |15                         

Birmingham    |8            |2            |13           |4                          

Leeds         |8            |1            |14           |3                          

Manchester    |7            |-            |15           |4                          

Glasgow       |7            |1            |8            |2                          

                                                                                    

              |125          |18           |93           |36                         


2. Immigration Appeal       

Tribunal                    

                    |No.    

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

Staff in post       |12     

Chairmen {Full-time |3      

         {Part-time |7      

Lay members         |26     

Courtrooms          |2      

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what guidance is given to special adjudicators of the Immigration Appeals Authority on the level of recognisance to be required when granting bail to persons detained under Immigration Act powers.

Mr. John M. Taylor: No such guidance is given by the Lord Chancellor's Department. The level of recognisance in these cases is a matter for the special adjudicator's discretion.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many applications for bail were made to the Immigration Appeals Authority by persons detained under Immigration Act powers in (a) 1993 and (b) 1994 to date; and how many of these applications were successful.

Mr. John M. Taylor: There were 531 such applications in 1993; 898 in 1994; and to date there have been 56 in 1995. The outcome of a bail application is recorded on the individual file but results are not collated centrally. The information requested could therefore be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the total cost in the financial year 1993 94 to his Department of hearing applications for bail by persons detained under Immigration Act powers.

Mr. John M. Taylor: I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 15 December 1994, Official Report , column 729 .

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the total budget of the Immigration Appeals Authority in the financial year 1993 94.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The total budget of the immigration appellate authorities in the financial year 1993 94 was £6,397,850.


Column 228

Magistrates Courts (Appointment System)

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate there is of savings likely to the legal aid fund by the adoption of an appointment system in magistrates courts; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor: No estimate has been made of potential savings to the legal aid fund.

Solicitors Complaints Bureau

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps he is taking to ensure that practice rule 15 does not prevent the Solicitors Complaints Bureau from investigating a serious complaint.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The Law Society's statutory powers to deal with complaints about solicitors have been delegated to the Solicitors Complaints Bureau. The legal services ombudsman has paid particular attention to the application of practice rule 15 by the SCB and in his third annual report he warned that many complaints could only be dealt with effectively if investigated by the SCB. The SCB has a statutory duty to have regard to the recommendations of the ombudsman.

Commercial Lobbying

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) on how many occasions in the last four months he or his ministerial colleagues have been approached by commercial lobbying organisations on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements;

(2) on how many occasions in the last four months of which he has knowledge any civil servants in his Department have been approached by commercial lobbying organisations on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements.

Mr. John M. Taylor: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Column 229

PRIME MINISTER

World Summit for Social Development

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Prime Minister if he will be attending the world summit for social development.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Bristol, East (Ms Corston) on 23 January, Official Report , column 23 .

Commercial Lobbying

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions in the last four months of which he has knowledge any civil servants in his Department have been approached by commercial lobbying organisations on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster today.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Parliamentary Questions

Ms Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many parliamentary questions he has referred to chief executives of next steps agencies.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Since 1992, 16 parliamentary questions have been referred to the chief executives of the United Kingdom Passport Agency, of the Forensic Science Service and of the Fire Service College. The Prison Service Agency does not maintain a central record of parliamentary questions answered by the director general and the information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Prison Statistics

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list by prison (a) the target prison population, (b) the actual prison population, (c) the staff establishment in full-time equivalents and (d) staff in post in full-time equivalents for each year since 1991.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Services, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 25 January 1995 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about a list by prison of (a) the target prison population, (b) the actual prison population, (c) the staff establishment in full-time equivalents and (d) staff in post in full-time equivalents for each year since 1971.

Individual Prison Service establishments do not have target populations. Information on the accommodation (at 31 March) and average population of prison establishments is published in the


Column 230

Prison Service annual reports, copies of which are in the Library of the House.

The annual report for 1993 94 has yet to be published but the information on total accommodations and average number of prisoners is as in the attached table (annex 1).

Information on the average population of establishments for April to November 1994 is set out in the attached table at annex 2, together with the average certified normal accommodation (CNA). Copies of both annexes have been placed in the House of Commons libraries.

I will write to you separately with the figures on staffing levels at establishments.

Director General of the Prison Service

Lady Olga Maitland: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures were undertaken when the Director General of the Prison Service was selected; how many candidates were considered for this post; and what criteria were used in assessing the candidates.

Mr. Howard: The Civil Service Commissioners are required to approve all agency chief executive appointments and the appointment of the Director General of the Prison Service was approved by them in the normal way. The appointment was advertised and an executive search conducted. The First Civil Service Commissioner chaired the selection procedure. The board considered nearly 40 candidates and interviewed five. Three were assessed as of an acceptable standard and, in view of the importance of the appointment, the procedure adopted was that the board adjourned in order to allow the then Home Secretary to meet those candidates. The board then reconvened. The appointment was a matter for my predecessor but the candidate he appointed was approved by the board under the First Civil Service Commissioner's chairmanship. The main criteria for selection were set out in the advertisement for the post: experience, most probably at chief executive level, of leading a substantial organisation in the public or private sector; a track record of successful management of large-scale change, delivering improved quality and efficiency; first-class communication skills and good judgment.

Prison Damage

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of refurbishing prisons following damage by prisoners acting unlawfully for each year since 1990.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.


Column 231

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 25 January 1995 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the cost of refurbishing prisons as a result of damage caused by prisoners acting unlawfully for each year since 1990.

The total costs for refurbishing establishments damaged by prisoners in each financial year since 1990/1, for which figures are available, are as follows:

1990 91: £27.9 million

1991 92: £512,000

1992 93: £464,000

1993 94: £5,072,000

1994 95: £135,000*

*Costs for the current financial year to date.


Next Section

  Home Page