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Step Agencies. This reply concerns the National Physical Laboratory.

Taking each of your questions in turn:

Headquarters Building: NPL has not acquired any additional buildings to those occupied prior to becoming an Agency.

Support Staff: While the balance of our support specialisms has changed, NPL has not acquired any net additional support staff since becoming an Agency. Such additional tasks as have been delegated to the Agency, eg wider personnel responsibilities, have been absorbed by existing staff.

Periodical Journals: NPL has continued to publish NPL News once or twice a year--there has been no significant change in cost since becoming an Agency.

Cars : NPL does not operate any executive cars.

Logos: NPL has always maintained its own `house style' and has revised it from time to time for promotional reasons. The last occasion was just prior to becoming an Agency, and the design cost was borne by the Department (about £3,000).

Clothing: NPL has introduced no new corporate clothing, but a number of industrial staff now wear overalls bearing the current logo at negligible additional cost.

Stationery: NPL has its own printing facilities for technical reports etc, and most corporate stationery is printed in-house at marginal cost. The Agency's total stationery costs are about £25k per annum.

I hope this provides the information you were seeking. Letter from P. R. S. Hartnack to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 31 January 1995 :

The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to respond to your Question about costs incurred by Next Steps agencies in his Department.

The Patent Office became an executive agency in March 1990 and over the following two years we relocated from London to a new building in Newport, South Wales. In October 1991 we became a trading fund and acquired title to the new building at a cost of £17 million.

Over the last five years we have reduced our cost base by about £7 million a year, partly because of lower accommodation costs, partly by efficiency savings, and partly because staff numbers have reduced in line with a long-standing decline in demand for our services following the establishment of a European Patent Office in Munich in 1978. We currently have 963 staff in post including 218 support staff (ie staff who are in support of our core functions of granting patents and registering trade marks and designs) compared with 1179 staff in post, including 285 support staff, on 1 March 1990.

We publish a number of journals in line with statutory obligations: the Official Journal (Patents) at an annual cost of £77, 890; the Trade Mark Journal at an annual cost of £78,528; and Reports of Patents, Design and Trade Mark Cases at an annual cost of £8,580. The cost of our Annual Report to Parliament for 1993 94 was £18,000. Non-statutory publications centre on free information about how to go about obtaining patents, trade marks and registered designs and we send out a total of nearly 250,000 information packs each year at a printing cost of £130,000. We also publish occasional material such as monographs on patent trends. Our total statutory and non-statutory printing costs are around £600,000 a year.

We have no fleet of executive cars, and we have no single executive cars.

Our logo (see heading of this letter) was created in 1986 by the DTI's Information Division at no cost to the Patent Office. The cost of overprinting standard stationery with the logo (1,500,000 sheets a year) is £4,000. We have a flag incorporating the logo which cost £268.

We have no corporate clothing and we do not have corporate stationery other than that described above.

Letter from John Hobday to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 27 January 1995:

Your recent Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade asked a number of questions about the costs incurred by

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Next Steps Agencies in his Department in introducing their own corporate identities.

The Accounts Services Agency was created in October 1991. Since when:

(i) the Agency has acquired its one and only operational centre the rental for which for 1994 95 was £135,125

(ii) it has not been necessary to increase the number of support staff

(iii) ASA has not published any periodical journals other than its three Annual Reports the cost of which were £6,410.10 in total (iv) the Agency does not possess any official cars

(v) the Agency's logo was designed at a cost of £100--the prize for an in-house staff competition

(vi) no corporate clothing is used

(vii) the costs of specially designed and printed corporate stationery was £19,147.15

The costs quoted include VAT. Some of these costs would be matched by savings on the equivalent Departmental budgets.

Letter from David Durham to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 31 January 1995:

You asked the President of the Board of Trade the following question: (PQ180)

"To ask the President of the Board of Trade, if he will set out for each of the Next Steps agencies in his Department, whether they have acquired their own headquarters buildings and, if so, at what purchase cost or annual rental; how many support staff they have required which were not required when their operations were within his Department; how many of them published periodical journals and at what annual cost; how many have fleets of executive cars or single executive cars and at what annual cost; how many have specially designed logos and at what cost; how many have corporate clothing and at what cost; and what is the cost of specially designed and printed corporate stationery."

I have been asked to respond direct to you as Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency.

Headquarters Building

Companies House headquarters occupies a property in Cardiff that has been a crown freehold since it was built in 1975. No change in ownership has occurred as a consequence of CH becoming an executive agency. The property's book value in CH's balance sheet for 31 March 1994 was £13.8 million.

Support Staff

It is now over 6 years since CH became an executive agency, and the many changes in the nature of our operations make comparisons between staff functions over this period of time difficult. The total number of staff in post (measured as full-time equivalents) has fallen from 1081 on 3 October 1988 (Agency Day) to 1006 at 31 December 1994. Of these, 156 were classified as "support staff" in October 1988, compared with 184 in December 1994. However the term "support" staff includes computer, accounting, and building service staff as well as other functions such as personnel, typing, training and customer service. The largest single category of support staff are computer staff, whose numbers increased from 43 to 58, reflecting the much greater use of information technology to deliver CH's services.


Companies House publishes a periodical called "The Register", which is used to disseminate information about changes in company law, current prices for our services and details of new services, and information about our performance against published targets. It is distributed free to anyone who wishes to receive it, and published four times a year. The present annual cost of publication, including postage, is approximately £70,000 for a circulation of 22,000 per issue.

Executive Cars

There are no cars provided for staff, executive or otherwise. The costs of official travel by car are reimbursed by means of Treasury and Inland Revenue approved mileage rates. In certain cases, involving longer journeys, staff are encouraged to use hire cars where this is cheaper than standard mileage rates.

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Specially Designed Logos and Stationery

The present CH logo was part of a single, integrated corporate design exercise undertaken in 1990, which included corporate stationery designs as well as the logo itself. It is not possible to separate out the design cost of the logo alone. The total design cost was £30,000.

The great bulk of our stationery costs arise from the printing and distribution of statutory forms and notes for guidance for companies. To try to answer your question, we have looked at our costs for standard A4 corporate letterhead stationery. We presently pay £320 per 10,000 sheets of 80gm 1 side, 2 colour paper. We understand that this is in fact less than that paid for comparable items by our parent Department, DTI.

Corporate Clothing

CH provides uniform clothing for all staff working in areas open to the public. Clothing is provided for 64 staff at an average cost per person of £105.

Small Businesses

Mr. Shersby: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list those Government measures of particular help for small businesses introduced since May 1992.

Mr. Ian Taylor: Government measures introduced since May 1992 focus on the establishment of a network of Business Links, to bring together in partnership and in one location, all the key local business support providers.

Business Links will provide a range of integrated support services including advice on exports, innovation and technology and design. Sixty- nine Business Links are now open, with around 200 planned by the end of 1995.

Other measures include:

A new consultancy service which will offer both a diagnostic and consultancy service and a consultancy brokerage service for smaller firms.

The small firms training loans scheme, launched in June 1994, will help very small businesses pay for both training consultancy and training related to business objectives. The training initiative for small firms, which will start in April this year will enable businesses to develop, in house, the training skills of key workers. Budget measures over successive years have encouraged both investment through the enterprise investment scheme and venture capital and trusts, and re-investment, changes to capital gains tax in businesses.

The issue of late payment of debt has been addressed in a variety of ways including the development of proposals for a British standard for prompt payment and further prompt payment requirements on Government Departments and their agencies.

Changes were introduced to the small firms loan guarantee scheme in 1993 to improve access to finance. These included offering established businesses 85 per cent. guarantee on loans up to £250,000 and reducing the premiums paid by borrowers.

Many of the reforms introduced under the deregulation initiative--for example, the small firms litmus test to assess the impact of any legislative proposals on the sector--are of particular benefit to small firms.

A new three-year programme for the small firms merit award for research and technology programme, which provides grants to small firms to help them with the development of new innovative products was announced this month. The related support for products under research programme continues to be available.

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Regional Electricity Companies

Mr. Wilson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what meetings he has had with the regional electricity companies to discuss regional investment.

Mr. Charles Wardle: DTI Ministers meet representatives of the regional electricity companies from time to time to discuss a wide range of issues.

Mr. Cummings: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to meet the Director General of the Office of Electricity Regulation to discuss proposals for the regulation of foreign owned the regional electricity companies.

Mr. Charles Wardle: My colleagues and I discuss a wide range of issues with the Director General of the Office of Electricity Regulation from time to time.

Arms Exhibitions

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 19 January, Official Report, column 593, to the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), if he will list for each overseas defence exhibition listed, the number of export licences granted to British firms to permit the temporary export of military technology for display.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The information requested could be extracted only by examining the original licence application papers for all the relevant countries of destination for the periods in question; and this could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Non-fossil Fuel Obligation

Dr. Michael Clark: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what steps are being taken to quantify the market price of electricity to which renewables are expected to converge under the NFFO programme;

(2) what steps are being taken to ensure that projects which are offered power purchase agreements under the NFFO programme have had cash flow forecasts certified as financeable by a reputable organisation;

(3) what steps are being taken under the NFFO programme, to provide an initial market for new and renewable technologies awaiting demonstration in Britain;

(4) what steps are being taken to provide wood with a separate technology band within which to bid under the NFFO programme.

Mr. Charles Wardle: Renewable energy non-fossil fuel obligation orders for England and Wales have been laid before Parliament in 1990, 1991 and 1994, in order to facilitate an initial market for those renewable energy technologies which are both technically robust and can be deployed at a cost which, with the benefits of experience under successive NFFO orders, can be expected to converge towards the market price for electricity. The obligations under these NFFO orders were set at 103 MW, 457 MW and 627 MW respectively, that is, a total of 1186 MW, convering hydro, large and small-scale wind projects, sewage gas, landfill gas, municipal and industrial waste, energy crops and agricultural and forestry wastes.

However, a proportion of the contracts made to meet the obligations under the orders are not expected to go forward to commissioning, for reasons such as failure to secure planning permission or project finance. As a

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consequence, the level of the relevant obligation will be reduced by an amount corresponding to the capacity of the projects terminated.

The Government are working towards 1,500 MW of new renewables-based generation capacity in the UK by 2000, mainly through NFFO-type arrangements.

Specific provision was made under the third renewables order, requiring the regional electricity companies in England and Wales to secure capacity based on gasification by partial combustion of energy crops and agriculture waste. Three projects with an aggregate capacity of 19 MW were awarded contracts, each of which is expected to use wood grown specifically as a fuel.

Over the next few months, the Government will be considering the possible size, shape and timing of the prospective fourth renewables order for England and Wales, taking account of representations made to them, including those on the market price for electricity from renewable sources, technology banding and the specific issue of an obligation for wood grown as a fuel. That fourth renewables order would be expected to be laid before Parliament in 1996, with a fifth order in prospect for 1998.

Judgment of the commercial viability of individual projects is a matter for the Director General of Electricity Supply.


Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions his Department has had with Nuclear Electric about the construction of a gas station at Sizewell C.

Mr. Charles Wardle: My Department has had no such discussions with the company.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the nuclear installations inspectorate will be publishing the results of the long-term safety review on Sizewell A.

Mr. Charles Wardle: I understand that the Health and Safety Executive expects to publish the findings of the nuclear installations inspectorate's assessment of the Sizewell A long-term safety review in early April 1995.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what timetable he set for the construction of Sizewell B.

Mr. Charles Wardle: The CEGB's committed programme envisaged commencement of fuel loading 72 months after first permanent structural concrete. This was achieved within 73 months, on 17 September 1994. The committed programme envisaged full commercial power six months after completion of fuel loading.

Nuclear Waste Shipments

Ms Walley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the number of shipments of high- level waste from the United Kingdom if the current proposal for substitutions (a) is and (b) is not adopted.

Mr. Charles Wardle: This is a matter for the management of British Nuclear Fuels plc.

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Konver Funds

Mr. French: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made on the distribution of Konver funds.

Mr. Eggar: Konver I grants worth £17.9 million were allocated in 1993 to projects across the country. The introduction of Konver II, intended to cover the period 1994 to 1997, has, however, been delayed throughout the EU.

On 1 July 1994 the European Commission published a notice on Konver II asking member states to send by 1 August lists of areas eligible according to stated job loss criteria; it would then issue a list for the whole EU by 1 October. The Government and other member states duly sent their lists; but the Commission, finding them too long, decided to modify the criteria. I wrote to Commissioner Millan complaining about this procedure on 21 November.

Eventually, on 21 December, the Commission drew up a "provisional" list of eligible areas and invited member states to propose additional ones. A revised provisional list is expected to be published in the Official Journal shortly.

Also on 21 December, the Commission announced that the United Kingdom would receive £79 million from Konver II.

Member states' programmes for the use of Konver II, including their proposals for additional areas, are now to be sent to the Commission by 1 March. The first applications cannot be considered until programmes have been agreed with the Commission, probably in the summer of 1995. Allocations and payments will follow thereafter.


Mr. Jack Thompson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the ratio of United Kingdom imports to exports of electricity supply via the electricity supply link between the United Kingdom and France for the four quarters of 1994; and what were the amounts involved expressed in gigajoules.

Mr. Charles Wardle: Imports of electricity from France, expressed in gigawatt hours and gigajoules, for the four quarters of 1994 are as follows:

               |Gigawatt hours|Gigajoules<1>                


Q1             |4,252         |15,307,200                   

Q2             |3,981         |14,331,600                   

Q3             |4,313         |15,526,800                   

Q4             |4,394         |15,818,400                   


Total          |16,940        |60,984,000                   

<1> Assumes 1 gigawatt hour = 3,600 gigajoules.             

There were no exports of electricity to France during 1994.


Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he has yet finalised plans for the British Government's contribution to the February G7 conference on the information society.

Mr. Ian Taylor: I shall be attending the G7 ministerial conference on the Information Society in Brussels on 24

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to 26 February. Ministers will hold discussions on three broad themes: the regulatory framework and competition policy; development of information infrastructure; and social, societal and cultural aspects of the information society. The conference will also launch a number of pilot projects to demonstrate the scope for international collaboration in different areas of the information society. In my discussions I shall in particular be emphasising the importance of liberalisation of infrastructure in reducing prices, in order to encourage a wider range of services to be provided.

N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd.

Mr. Milburn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will provide estimates for the total amount that has been paid to N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd. with respect to any work undertaken by it on privatisation programmes in which his Department, and the Department of Energy, has been engaged since 1979 after taking account of inflation.

Mr. Eggar: The following table lists the sales conducted by my Department, and the former Department of Energy, in which N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd. were appointed and the roles to which they were appointed. The fees paid to firms appointed within the privatisation programme are commercially confidential.

Table of appointments (year of sale in brackets)

Adviser to the Department of Trade and Industry:

Cable and Wireless--feasibility study (1981)

British Coal (1994)

Adviser to the former Department of Energy:

Amersham International Ltd. (1982)

British Gas Corporation (1986)

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