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Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy towards the Office of Telecommunications being required to obtain figures for houses cabled by old franchises in the same way as is the practice of the Independent Television Commission for new franchises; and if he will make a statement.
Telecommunications Act 1984 licences for those cable franchises awarded under the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984. The ITC has enforcement responsibility for the build timetables of local delivery franchises awarded under the Broadcasting Act 1990.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The Government aim to secure early agreement at European level to the necessary technical standards for the development and introduction of digital television. A common position on a directive on standards for the transmission of television signals, reached at the November Telecommunications Council, includes provisions for digital conditional access systems for pay television services, and is now being considered by the European Parliament. The Government are also following industry discussions on commercial arrangements to underpin the introduction of digital television, including digital conditional access systems. In 1994, discussions in the European digital video broadcasting group led to limited agreement on a voluntary code of conduct to govern access to conditional access systems by broadcasters. Not all broadcasters support the code. Further discussions are taking place. The Government consider that the principal means of regulation for the emerging digital conditional access television market lies in the proper application of the relevant competition law rules at both European and National level.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if Ministers in his Department have on any occasion in the last seven days met representatives of (a) Messrs C. S. M. Parliamentary Consultants Ltd., (b) Dewe Rogerson Ltd., (c) Decision Makers Ltd., (d) G.J.W. Government Relations Ltd., (e) G.P.C., (f) G.J.W., (g) Ian Greer Associates Ltd., (h) Market Access Group, (i) Politics International (j) Westminster Communications Group, (k) Westminster Strategy, (l) Good Relations, (m) Rowland Sallingbury Casy, (n) Lowe Bell, (o) People Corporate and Political Relations and (p) Shandwick Consultants Ltd. and discussed issues relating to the clients of these companies.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what inquiries have been made at Davy Morris Cranes or Amersham International arising out of information from the United Nations special commission; and what was the result.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The names of many companies have been brought to notice by UNSCOM, many of which were engaged in legitimate trade with Iraq before the imposition of UN sanctions. All cases have been thoroughly investigated. It is, however, the policy of this and previous Administrations not to comment on individual cases unless public interest outweighs the need for confidentiality.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many investigations of wrongdoing have been carried out by the UN special investigators commission; and what subsequent action has been taken arising out of
Column 716the provision of technology to Iraq discovered by UNSCOM.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The UN special commission and the International Atomic Energy Authority were tasked by the Security Council in 1991 to destroy, remove or render harmless all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, and all ballistic missiles with a range of more than 150 km. Over 110 missions have been carried out in Iraq covering hundreds of sites, at some of which British-made equipment has been found. But it is not our practice to comment in detail on information given to us by UNSCOM and the IAEA on companies which have traded with Iraq; particularly since many of them would have done so quite legitimately before the introduction of sanctions. Any evidence of wrongdoing will be investigated and, if substantiated, will be a matter for the courts.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The Department has offered £932,500 to the Chester, Ellesmere Port and Wirral training and enterprise council to assist Business Link Wirral, Chester and Ellesmere Port over their first three years. In addition, the Department is also providing funding totalling £604,250 to the TEC for a number of business support services delivered through the business links. No separate offers of assistance have been made to Business Link Wirral alone.
Mr. Needham: I am continuing to take every opportunity to ensure even and effective enforcement of the single market. This includes the work of the single market compliance unit in my Department, which defends the interests of British business where single market rules are believed to have been broken, as well as support for European Community efforts to step up contacts between enforcement officials and to promote mutual recognition of national arrangements. I am pressing for further progress towards securing a full single market in telecommunications and energy.
Mr. Page: A range of inquiries were undertaken by the Department and others into the background of ROM Data, including checks on the directors of the company through the Companies House and insolvency service databases.
Mr. Page: The Coal Authority's financial provision for 1994 95 takes full account of current work to prevent or control water pollution from mine workings, including the cost of pumping operation transferred from British Coal. The provision for 1995 96 is under discussion.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to introduce legislation to provide for the environmental clean up of commonly owned land and water resources following an accident at a nuclear power plant involving radioactivity contamination.
There are no such plans. The introduction of further legislation to provide for environmental clean-up in the unlikely event of an accident at a nuclear power plant is unnecessary.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the President of Board of Trade if he will list the United Kingdom-based companies whose size and operations in Europe will render them liable to set up European works councils when the European works council directive comes into force.
The Government have no information other than published research, for example, by the university of Warwick, about which United Kingdom-based companies have employees above the threshold levels in the states to which the European works councils directive applies.