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Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the number of living post-1973 war widows.

Mr. Arbuthnot: At 1 March 1995 war widows pensions were in payment to 3,151 widows of men whose


Column 474

service in the armed forces ended on or after 31 March 1973.

Retirement Pensions

Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the additional cost of a flexible decade of retirement between the ages of 60 and 70, compared with the Government's proposals to equalise state pension age at 65.

Mr. Lilley: The Government's plans already allow for indefinite flexibility after state pension age. From 2010, people will receive a 10 per cent. increase in their state pension for every year that they defer drawing it. To allow people to claim their full state pension from age 60, even if the flexibility were limited to a decade, would cost £13 billion a year more by 2030 than age 65.

Pensioners' Incomes

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total income of (a) pensioners and (b) others aged 55 years and over in 1992 from(i) retirement pension, (ii) invalidity benefit, (iii) disability benefits, (iv) widows' and widowers' benefits, (v) income support, (vi) occupational pensions and (vii) personal pensions and annuities.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Information is not available in the form requested. The table shows average net weekly incomes from all state benefits and from occupational pensions for people receiving those incomes aged over state pension age and between 55 and state pension age.


Column 473


Average weekly income from state benefit and occupational pensions<1>     

               Benefit income          Occupational                       

                           pension<2>                                     

              |Over state |55 to state|Over state |55 to state            

              |pension age|pension age|pension age|pension age            

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

Couples<3>    |107.40     |74.00      |92.00      |129.20                 

Single people |71.40      |69.40      |52.90      |63.20                  

Notes:                                                                    

<1> £ per week at July 1992 prices.                                       

<2> No separate information available on receipt of personal pensions and 

annuities.                                                                

<3> Where the husband is aged over state pension age or between 55 and    

state pension age.                                                        

Source:                                                                   

1992 family expenditure survey.                                           

Family Credit

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he (a) expects the regulations restoring entitlement to part-time school workers for family credit to come into effect; if they will be retrospective; and if he will consider making ex gratia payments to those who do not qualify for income support.

Mr. Roger Evans: The Income-related Benefits Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1995--SI 1995 No. 516--were laid before Parliament on 10 March 1995. Regulation 11 of these regulations provides for the hours of school workers and others with a similar pattern of employment to be averaged over termtime only for the purpose of determining whether or not they satisfy the condition of entitlement to family credit that they be working an average of 16 or more hours a week. This will restore the position to that which existed before the commissioner's decision in October 1993. The new provision will apply to awards of family


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credit commencing on or after 11 April 1995. It will not be retrospective. As all families have been able to claim their legal entitlement, we have no plans to make ex gratia payments.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Apple Orchards

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many acres of apple orchards were grubbed up in each of the past three years; what is the present level of application for the EU's grubbing-up grant; and if he will make a statement on the prospects for the Ulster apple industry.

Mr. Ancram: No apple orchards were grubbed up in Northern Ireland in the last three years.

The current apple orchard grubbing-up scheme has attracted three applicants with a total entry of 45.15 acres,


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or 18.28 hectares. I am hopeful that the industry will continue to make a valuable contribution to the Northern Ireland horticultural sector and to the food processing industry.

Hospitals Review

Ms Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the terms of reference of the McKenna review into closer working relations between the Royal and City hospitals, Belfast.

Mr. Moss: The terms of reference for the acute services reorganisation project chaired by Dr. McKenna are as follows: "To develop and oversee the implementation of a coherent strategy for the reorganisation of services at the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust and the Belfast City Hospital Trust to provide a sound basis for their future development, having regard to services presently located at other hospitals in the Greater Belfast area where relevant".

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Angola

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what humanitarian aid and development assistance is currently being given or is planned by the European Union for Angola.

Mr. Baldry: Angola has a national indicative programme of 115 mecu, or (£93 million, under EDF VII--1991 to 1995--for long-term development assistance. In addition, a special six months humanitarian plan for 6 mecu, or £4.9 million, was agreed for Angola on 30 November 1994.

European Development Fund

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what were the obstacles to agreement at the special Foreign Affairs Council in February on the size of the eighth European development fund for 1995 to 2000; and what are the time scale and approach that are going to be used to settle these disagreements.

Mr. Baldry: The size of EDF VIII was not settled in February since the contributions offered by member states did not reach the target figure tabled by the presidency. Further discussions are envisaged at the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers on 18 and 19 March and at the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 April.

Iraq

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent relief agencies providing humanitarian aid for the Kurds have been endangered by Iraqi Government shelling of Arbil in contravention of the safe haven policy instituted after the Gulf war.

Mr. Baldry: We are concerned that relief workers may be endangered by indiscriminate Iraqi Government shelling of northern Iraq. We continue to press Iraq to abide by Security Council resolution 688, which calls on the Iraqi regime to cease repression of its own people.


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Arun III Project, Nepal

Mr. Denham To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the German Federal Audit Office's investigation into the value for money represented by the planned Arun III hydropower project in Nepal; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what assessment he has made of the independent reports comparing the relative value for money of the Arun III hydropower project and the various possible alternative investments in Nepal's energy sector proposed by the Alliance for Energy and the Arun Concerned Group.

Mr. Baldry: We have not seen the reports referred to.

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the board of the World bank to consult as widely as possible to identify the most appropriate and effective power scheme for the sustainable development of Nepal before taking any final decision on funding for the Arun III hydropower project.

Mr. Baldry: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 30 January, Official Report, columns 480 81.

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will instruct the United Kingdom executive director of the World bank to vote to allow the inspection panel to complete necessary field work for their investigation into the Arun III hydropower project before the Government of Nepal reach a final decision on funding.

Mr. Baldry: The board has already decided that field work should commence only after the bank has received a decision from the Government of Nepal as to whether they wish to request IDA funding for the Arun III project.

Palestinians

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what plans he has to provide further aid to the Palestinians.

Mr. Baldry: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today announced a new £7 million bilateral aid package for the Palestinians. Some £2 million of this will be provided for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's peace implementation programme. Some £5 million will be allocated to a know-how programme covering assistance for management training for the ministries of the Palestinian Authority, small-scale water and sewage treatment plants and water leak detection, health management and education, including English language teaching. We are also hoping to promote joint projects with UK private sector companies to help generate exports and employment in the west bank and Gaza strip. Basic training for the civil police will also be considered. In addition, $1 million will be given towards the costs of UNRWA's moving offices to Gaza. This will bring our total aid to the Palestinians in support of the peace process to £82 million.

SCOTLAND

Health Care International

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) by what method the contract for orthopaedic


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out-patients was awarded to Health Care International by Forth Valley health board; and on what terms NHS providers were allowed to compete for the contract;

(2) if he was consulted by Forth Valley health board before it provided Health Care International with the names and addresses of NHS orthopaedic out-patients awaiting appointments; and if he consented to this information being given to HCI without the knowledge of the patients concerned.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: This is a matter for Forth Valley health board. It is appropriate for health boards to buy services from independent hospitals in order to reduce waiting times. I understand that in order to meet patients charter waiting time guarantees for orthopaedic out-patient appointments, the board carried out a tendering exercise, including NHS and independent providers, which was won by Health Care International.

Individual patients, were then offered the choice of orthopaedic out- patient treatment at HCI. There is no requirement for the board to consult the Secretary of State before providing HCI with the names and addresses of those patients awaiting appointments.

National Continence Day

Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has concerning the promoting and publicising of National Continence Day on Wednesday 21 March; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The Scottish Office is providing funding for the staffing of a telephone helpline at the continence resource centre, Southern General Hospital NHS trust, Glasgow from 6 March for a four-week period, including National Continence Day. Leaflets advertising the helpline and encouraging sufferers to seek help will be distributed to a range of outlets within and outwith the health sector. Advertisements are being placed in some Scottish newspapers and a press release will be issued on 20 March. The press release will include details of local continence adviser contact numbers and ethnic minority helpline numbers. A number of events are also being organised across the country by local health service professionals. The Scottish Office is happy to promote the campaign to increase awareness of this distressing condition and to encourage sufferers to seek advice and treatment.

Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will present to the Select Committee on National Security the information from the Crown Office which caused Sheriff John Mowat QC to uphold the objection of Mr. Colin McEachran from the Department of Transport to any evidence in the Lockerbie case relating to the operation of intelligence agencies into the United Kingdom, as being contrary to the national interest, as stated on page 14 of the determination in the fatal accident inquiry relating to Lockerbie.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: No such information was placed before Sheriff Principal Mowat QC by the Crown Office. The objection to evidence relating to the operation of the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom was made by counsel appearing on behalf of the Home Office and the Department of Transport. The fatal


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accident inquiry relating to Lockerbie was heard entirely in public and all information and evidence presented to the inquiry was heard in public.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether it was with the agreement of the Crown Office that ex-Chief Constable George Esson gave an interview to the Glasgow Herald on Lockerbie published on Monday 20 February.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Mr. George Esson, formerly chief constable, Dumfries and Gallowayconstabulary, did not seek the agreement of Crown Office in giving the interview to the Glasgow Herald published on 20 February 1995.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what study the Crown Office have made of Mr. Alan Francovitie's response to ex-Chief Constable Esson, a copy of which has been sent to the Lord Advocate.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: This article, like all items in the media relating to Lockerbie which come to their attention, has been considered by the prosecuting and investigating authorities.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of probabilities, referred to in charge 10, page 15 of the report of the fatal accident investigation into the Lockerbie air disaster, of a suitcase with explosives arriving at Frankfurt on a flight or an airline, other than Pan American.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The assessment of probabilities by my noble and learned Friend the then Lord Advocate was reflected in the instruction to the procurator fiscal at Dumfries to request petition warrants for the two named accused on charges which alleged that the suitcase containing an improvised explosive device was placed on board Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt am Main airport at Luqa airport, Malta and was at Frankfurt am Main airport placed on board Pan American World Airways flight 103A to London Heathrow airport.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what record the Crown Office has of any onward confirmed ticket to New York from Luqa airport, Malta, in December 1988 via Frankfurt and Heathrow; and what estimate he has made of the evidence of Miss Milne on page 41 of the determination by Sheriff Mowatt QC in relation to Lockerbie and whether a bag could enter the inter-line system unless an onward confirmed ticket had been issued.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: It is not the position of the Crown Office as reflected in the criminal petition against the two Libyan accused that the suitcase which contained the improvised explosive device was loaded at Luqa airport as luggage relating to a passenger travelling on such a route. The evidence of Miss Milne was considered along with all other evidence which was available to the Crown prior to the commencement of criminal proceedings.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what official apologies have been given by the Scottish Office and the Crown Office to Dr. David Fieldhouse, police surgeon of Bradford, in relation to Lockerbie.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: None. Counsel appearing on behalf of the chief constable for Dumfries and Galloway constabulary withdrew the suggestion the Dr. Fieldhouse had been unaccompanied during his searches at Lockerbie at the conclusion of his cross-examination of Dr. Fieldhouse on day 47 of the fatal accident inquiry.


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Forestry

Mr. Lord: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many hectares the Forestry Commission has planted during the last 10 years for which figures are available.

Sir Hector Monro: In the 10 years to 31 March 1994, the Forestry Commission planted 116,201 hectares of woodland.

Planning Application Fees

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his policy on the devolution of planning application fees to local authorities, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kynoch: In December 1993, my right hon. Friend announced that he would consider the issue of a consultation paper on the devolution of planning fees to local authorities. The policy initiative is still under consideration and further discussions will take place with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and other interested parties before a decision is taken on the most appropriate way forward. In the meantime, fees will continue to be set centrally.

Shipping Subsidiaries

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his decision following the shipping subsidies review in relation to shipping services on the west coast of Scotland.

Mr. Lang: After very careful and detailed consideration, I have concluded that tariff rebate subsidies on bulk freight to and from the west coast of Scotland should be progressively withdrawn. In order to avoid the possibility of immediate freight rate increases affecting commodities of significance for island residents, I intend to phase out the payment of TRS on some commodities over a period of three years. The TRS rate is currently 40 per cent. for imports to the Western Isles and 30 per cent. for exports from the Western Isles. As from 1 May 1995, I intend to set both rates at 30 per cent. followed by annual reductions to 20 per cent., 10 per cent. and zero from the beginning of each subsequent financial year. The tapering of subsidy over three years should provide existing companies with the opportunity to consolidate their market position, and make efficiency improvements, while at the same time enabling other companies to become increasingly competitive with those companies whose subsidy is reducing. I would expect to see a competitive market develop which would act as a constraint on freight rate increases.

I have, however, concluded that there is scope for the exclusion of certain commodities from being eligible for TRS in a shorter period. As from 1 September 1995 the transport of raw timber, quarry products and road salt will no longer be eligible to receive TRS.

I do not consider that the export of primary commodities requires continued subsidy. There are currently very substantial amounts of timber being extracted from the west coast of Scotland and forestry extraction is expected to more than double over the next


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15 years. The shipping market needs to adjust to the scale of these operations; and I believe that continuation of TRS on timber is unnecessary and would distort the market. Quarry products and road salt currently receive a lower rate of subsidy than generally available. Given the low amount of subsidy currently payable on these commodities, I would expect efficiency savings to restrain any price increase.

After consideration of representations received, I have been persuaded by the evidence put to me, that in relation to movements of fishmeal and fish oil from Shetland, complete withdrawal of subsidy on 1 May would be likely to have significant adverse effects on the industry; and that a period of adjustment is required. I have concluded that subsidy should be retained; and set, with effect from 1 May, at a rate of 30 per cent., followed by reductions to 20 per cent., 10 per cent. and zero from the beginning of each subsequent financial year.

Mr. Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for shipping subsidies for sea transport services in the highlands and islands other than those provided by Caledonian MacBrayne; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang: Subject to parliamentary approval of the estimates, I propose to make available in 1995 96 total subsidy provision under the tariff rebate subsidy scheme of £9.1 million. For services to Orkney and Shetland, tariff rebate subsidies of up to £8.3 million will be made available, and up to £800,000 will be available for bulk shippers operating on the west coast of Scotland and to and from the Northern Isles.

The provision includes subsidy of up to £7.6 million to P and O Scottish Ferries Ltd. for the operation of passenger and accompanied car services for the year to 31 March 1996 and for freight services to 30 April 1995. As previously announced, I intend subject to the approval of Parliament and of the European Commission, to change the method of subsidy for passenger and accompanied car services to a block grant payable over a period of years in accordance with a contract to operate a specified level of service. I propose in due course to put the service out to competitive tender.

Abattoirs

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland for an assessment of hygiene standards in Scottish abattoirs.

Sir Hector Monro: The hygiene assessment carried out on behalf of my Department covers five specific aspects of abattoir operations. These are ante-mortem inspection, slaughter and dressing, personnel and practices, maintenance and hygiene of premises and general condition and management.

Hygiene standards in Scottish abattoirs are generally good, although my Department is making specific efforts to encourage those with lower scores to improve their standards. The table shows the results recorded at the latest inspection visit to each slaughterhouse in Scotland for the period ending November 1994.


                                     Numbers by                                                             

                                     category of                                                            

                                     slaughterhouses                                                        

                  |All Scottish                                         |Temporary                          

Scores band       |abattoirs        |Full EC approval |Low-throughput<1>|derogated<2>                       

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

21-30             |0                |0                |0                |0                                  

31-40             |0                |0                |0                |0                                  

41-50             |0                |0                |0                |0                                  

51-60             |10               |4                |1                |5                                  

61-70             |16               |11               |4                |1                                  

71-80             |16               |12               |1                |3                                  

81-90             |5                |4                |1                |0                                  

91-100            |1                |0                |0                |1                                  

<1> Throughput = 20 livestock units, or less, per week.<2> Abattoirs operating under workplan to upgrade to 

the structural standards laid down in the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992. Completion  

of work is required by 31 December 1995.                                                                    

Sickness Absenteeism

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he is taking to combat sickness absenteeism in (a) Registers of Scotland, (b) the Scottish Prison Service, (c) the Scottish Record Office (d) the Lord Advocate's Department and (e) the Scottish Office.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 7 March 1995]: Sickness absence is taken seriously by management and a number of local initiatives have been introduced with a view to reducing it to a minimum. In the Scottish Office, for example, managers are provided with regular information which enables them to monitor absences in their area. As well as taking steps to ensure greater control and management of sick absence, a number of health initiatives have been introduced, including the introduction of an alcohol policy, health screening for staff, the promotion of the benefits of exercise, a healthy life style and eating, the creation of a smoke-free environment and training in stress management.

Correspondence

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many letters were received in the Department from hon. Members last month.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 22 February 1995]: A total of 474 letters were received from hon. Members in January 1995.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many letters were sent to hon. Members last month by each Minister in the Department.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 22 February 1995]: The information requested for January 1995 is as follows:


                            |Number of letters                  

                            |sent to hon.                       

Minister                    |Members                            

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

Secretary of State          |54                                 

Minister of State           |119                                

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton |62                                 

Sir Hector Monro            |47                                 

Mr. Allan Stewart           |51                                 

Special Advisers

Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the role of his special advisers employed to serve his Department.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 7 March 1995]: My special advisers assist my colleagues and me with that part of their work which is partly governmental and partly political. Their duties vary.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

European Regional Development Fund

Mr. Alton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to prevent delays in the Government office on Merseyside in processing objective 1 applications for ERDF funding.

Mr. Eggar: One hundred and six applications have been approved in principle. Two have since been withdrawn. Forty-three grant offer letters have been issued. On 26 applications, further information is awaited from applicants. Thirty-five applications are currently with the Government office, where further information provided recently is being urgently assessed. These will be cleared as quickly as possible. Partners have been asked to ensure early provision of outstanding information, so that processing of all applications can be completed as soon as possible.

Assisted Areas

Mrs. Lait: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many grants have been offered under assisted area status; how many have been accepted; what estimate he has made of the number of jobs which should be created; and what was the total of public money spent and the total of the projects costs for (a) Dover/Deal, (b) Sittingbourne/Sheerness, (c) Folkestone, (d) Thanet and (e) the Isle of Wight.

Mr. Eggar: The information requested, as at the end of January 1995, is as follows:


Column 481


                            |Number of      |Number of grant                |Value of grants|Total Project                  

                            |grant offers   |offers accepted|Jobs created   |£000           |costs £000                     

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

Dover and Deal              |4              |2              |35             |140            |1,248                          

Sittingbourne and Sheerness |21             |16             |304            |844            |8,784                          

Folkestone                  |6              |4              |115            |460            |4,288                          

Thanet                      |14             |12             |187            |1,545          |8,350                          

Isle of Wight               |10             |9              |142            |738            |5,688                          

Iraqi-British Interests Group

Mr. Worthington: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on what dates he or his representatives (a) met and (b) plan to meet members of the Iraqi-British Interests Group after its visit to Baghdad.

Mr. Ian Taylor: My officials met members of the Iraqi-British Interests Group on 7 and 9 March; there are no further meetings currently planned.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what were the terms of the communications licences issued by him to the Iraqi- British Interests Group before its recent visit to Baghdad; who were the members of the group; and which firms they represented.

Mr. Ian Taylor: It has been the policy of successive Administrations not to comment on individual licencing cases unless the public interest outweighs the need for confidentiality.

Arms Exports to Indonesia

Mr. Worthington: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what requests for export licences for the export of arms to Indonesia have been refused in the past 10 years.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The table shows the total number of export licence applications for goods on the military list of the Export of Goods (Control) Orders variously in force at the time.

Information for earlier years is available only at disproportionate cost.


Year    |Refused        

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

1991    |2              

1992    |1              

1993    |0              

1994    |5              

1995    |0              

Angola

Mr. Worthington: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the purpose and outcome of the recent Department of Trade and Industry supported delegation to Angola.

Mr. Ian Taylor: The recent mission to Angola was the first foreign delegation to visit the country since the peace agreement was signed and the first UK mission since 1992. The mission was led by one of the Department's export promoters, David Chambers, on secondment from Hull Blythe--Angola.

The purpose of the mission was to explore opportunities in the Angolan oil sector, a sector which has remained unaffected by the civil war and Angola's economic difficulties and which has been an area of considerable success for UK companies in the past. Our decision to mount the mission was prompted by increased interest in the area among UK companies, including recent new investment by BP and a joint venture success involving AMEC, and it proved to be a success. Mission members identified at least $1.5 billion worth of new business in the oil sector and the trip is expected to give rise to further business in due course.


Column 484

Menwith Hill Station

Mr. Madden: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has made to the US authorities since 1992 about concerns from British industry and commerce that Menwith Hill station, in north Yorkshire, is engaged in communications monitoring to the disadvantage of United Kingdom commercial interests.

Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 9 March 1995]: My Department is investigating a report of interference from a radio station at Menwith Hill to a nearby radio station. The latter forms part of a network which provides a radio telephone service to airline passengers. No representations have been made to the US authorities.

Commercial Espionage

Mr. Madden: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent representations he has received from United Kingdom industry and commerce about commercial espionage; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 9 March 1995]: None.

Unpaid Telephone Bills

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the percentage of unpaid telephone bills, in arrears, at the end of the last financial year.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 13 March 1995]: This is a matter for the telecommunications operators.


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