|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he approved the statement of Government policy set out in paragraph 5 of the Bank of England press release of the text of the Deputy Governor's speech to the City branch of the Institute of Directors on 13th December 1993. 
The Prime Minister: As stated in the 1995 96 Financial Statement and Budget Report, the role of monetary policy is to deliver low inflation. The Deputy Governor's speech to the City branch of the Institute of Directors was fully consistent with the Government's monetary policy.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister whether the appointment of the Governor or Deputy Governor of the Bank of England requires or receives (a) Cabinet approval and (b) positive security vetting. 
The Prime Minister: Appointments of Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England are made by Her Majesty the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The posts are subject to security vetting procedures.
A |Date appointed|Date left ----------------------------------------------------------------- Lord Poole |May 1992 |July 1994 Sir R. Braithwaite |June 1992 |December 1993 Mr. D. Green |June 1992 |December 1994 Mrs. K. Ramsay |June 1992 |To date Miss A Warburton |January 1994 |To date Mr. N. R. Blackwell |February 1995 |To date Mr. S. M. Williams |March 1995 |To date Ms C. Fairbairn |March 1995 |To date
Mr. Coe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the real change in take-home pay for a married couple on average earnings, with two children, between (a) 1973-74 and 1978 79 and (b) 1978 79 and 1993 94; and what were the figures in other EC countries.
Mr. Oppenheim: Real take-home pay for a married couple on average earnings, with two children, decreased by 2 per cent. between 1973 74 and 1978 79 and increased by 41 per cent. between 1978 79 and 1993 94. Independent research shows that the take-home pay of production workers in the UK is comparable with that in Germany and ahead of that of France, the Netherlands and Denmark, once the cost of living has been taken into account.
Miss Widdecombe: The proposed redundancies in the pools industry are regrettable. However, staffing levels must be a matter for the commercial judgment of companies concerned. Individuals who are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs from any sector can benefit from the Employment Department's extensive range of measures designed to help them find new jobs, re-train or set up in business. There are now more than 10,000 fewer unemployed in Merseyside than there were a year ago.
Mr. Portillo: The review is now complete and I have placed a summary of the review's conclusions in the Library. I have accepted all its recommendations, subject to the following points. The report sets out a compelling case for the agency and demonstrates its importance to the
Column 640labour market. As the evaluation undertaken in support of the review shows, the Employment Service has steadily and substantially improved its performance since it became an agency in 1990. It also confirms the value of integrating job-broking, advisory and benefit services.
The prior options review confirms the importance of the work of the ES in helping employers and unemployed people to operate more effectively in the labour market. The policies the agency has pursued have played a significant role in helping unemployed people, particularly those at a disadvantage, to compete effectively and actively for jobs. That has assisted many employers in filling their vacancies. The ES's operation as an agency has enabled it to meet increasingly stretching performance targets, while achieving better value for money for the taxpayer.
I therefore endorse the recommendation of the review that the agency status of the ES should be confirmed. A new framework document will be drawn up to reflect working arrangements for the operation of the jobseeker's allowance subject to the passage of the necessary legislation. The ES, along with the Benefits Agency, will have a crucial role to play in implementing the JSA and ensuring it is delivered effectively, to a high standard of service to its clients and with increased benefit to the operation to the labour market. I am pleased that the review confirms that the ES is well positioned to carry out these tasks.
The review recommends that, once the JSA is implemented successfully, there will be scope to test the potential for private sector involvement in the delivery of functions, other than adjudication, that are carried out in ES offices. I accept this conclusion in principle. My aim would be to take forward the review's proposal to market test the work of two or three ES districts in 1997 once the JSA has been fully introduced and subject to establishing the feasibility of separating adjudication from other aspects of the work of districts.
I shall also be asking the ES to work up proposals for a market test in, one or two regions of placing, assessment and counselling teams, which provide specialist services for unemployed people with disabilities.
The review also made recommendations about ES fraud work. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security and I are considering how the fraud work currently undertaken by the ES and the BA will be organised under the JSA and will make an announcement shortly.
Sir Paul Beresford: The Department of the Environment currently employs 31.5 information officers, including those employed by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. All deal with the full range of information services; none are exclusively press officers.
Column 641The records for 1979 show that there were 40 professional information officers employed by the Department.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much his Department spent on public relations during the financial year 1993 94; how much contracts with the private sector cost; and if he will list the activities covered by these contracts. 
Sir Paul Beresford: During the 1993 94 financial year my Department part-funded one PR contract to a value of £28,000. The activities carried out included planning, design and strategic work undertaken on behalf of the Lighting Industry Federation, the National Energy Foundation and my Department's "Helping the Earth Begins at Home" domestic energy campaign to encourage the use of energy-saving light bulbs.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received a reasoned opinion from the European Commission concerning the grant of planning permission for a chicken farm at the former airfield at Throckmorton, Worcestershire. 
Mr. Congdon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on sustainable development and the environment over the past year; and when he intends to respond to the recommendations in the first report of the Government's panel on sustainable development. 
Mr. Gummer: We are today publishing "This Common Inheritance: UK Annual Report 1995", which reports progress on commitments in previous environment White Papers and the sustainable development strategy. To complement this, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is today placing in the House Library a copy of the letter which he is today sending to the Government's panel, responding to the recommendations in its first report.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps Her Majesty's Government will take to ensure that important British habitats omitted from the EU habitats directive are given statutory protection at European level. 
Mr. Atkins: The provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for the protection of sites of special scientific interest will continue to apply to sites notified by the nature conservancy councils, including those which contain habitats not listed in the EC habitats directive. The directive is intended to cover only those habitat types and species that are rare or endangered at a European level. We shall play a full part in the consideration of any revision of the habitat types listed in annexe I of the directive if proposals are made by the European Commission.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what measures he proposes to ensure the adequacy of the quality of environmental data provision for the European Environment Agency; 
(2) what provision he will make to ensure that dissonant information is given adequate recognition in EU environmental networks through the United Kingdom focal point. 
Mr. Atkins: My Department has established a network of organisations in the UK which will contribute to the work of the European Environment Agency. These organisations have widely recognised expertise in the fields of environmental monitoring and data collection, in particular at the national and European levels which will be the EEA's primary interest. Co- ordination of the UK network is the responsibility of the UK national focal point based in the environmental protection statistics division of my Department. The NFP will act as a channel of communication between the network and the EEA, to ensure that network members provide reliable and balanced information to the EEA and that network members are not overburdened with requests for unnecessary information.
The EEA will also be open to receiving information form other organisations which are not part of the official network, including, for example, non- governmental organisations. Where any information provided by such organisations does not accord with that from official sources, the agency will investigate discrepancies.
Mr. Hicks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state the terms of reference for private sector participation in the European regional development fund objective 2 and 5b schemes. 
Although ERDF grants have not normally been available to profit-making companies in the past, the Government wish to maximise the private sector contribution to projects attracting ERDF grants, and has put to the European Commission proposals for facilitating this while ensuring that projects are of general economic benefit to the areas concerned, and that ERDF grants do not lead to excessive profits. The Commission's comments are awaited.
Mr. Thomason: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes that English local authorities which are to remain unchanged, following his recent decision on the recommendations of the Local Government Commission, will be required to extend compulsory competitive tendering. 
Mr. Robert B. Jones: I am keen to see the benefits of competition brought to local people as soon as possible. It is now clear that many shire counties and districts will retain their existing two-tier structure, and these authorities are in a position to press ahead with the extension of CCT to further manual and white-collar services as soon as possible.
Column 643On 31 January, my Department sent a consultation paper to English local authority representatives which proposed bringing forward the implementation of CCT by up to one year from the timetable initially proposed in December 1993. I have considered carefully the associations' clear and cogent arguments for not imposing a timetable which may give rise to undue haste in implementing CCT, and decided to strike a balance between the concerns they have expressed and the need to maintain a rigorous timetable for CCT.
I therefore intend to require all authorities which are to remain unchanged in both functions and boundaries following review to advance the timetable for implementing CCT extension by six months. I will bring forward regulations to require these authorities to have achieved their competitive tendering obligations for each of the new services by the following dates:
Security work, management of vehicles and management of parking: 1 April 1997
Legal and construction and property services: 1 October 1997 Finance and personnel services: 1 April 1998
IS/IT services: 1 April 1999
Any other shire authority which is to change either its functions, by becoming a unitary authority, or its boundaries, including minor changes in boundaries but not including the creation of new parishes within their area, will be expected to follow the timetable for each service which applies to reorganised authorities. For legal, construction and property and the further manual services these dates are already provided for in regulations. The detailed regime for the other services is currently subject to consultation and I will announce final decisions shortly.
A number of authorities have expressed concern about the implications for the CCT timetable of the further review of individual districts. In announcing his decisions on the review of shire authorities on 2 March at column 1183 and 21 March at column 145, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that he was minded to ask the Local Government Commission to consider further the case for change in a small number of districts. We will consider carefully over the next few weeks which areas might be reviewed further and I anticipate an announcement will be made at the end of June. When that announcement is made I will put forward proposals for further modifying the implementation timetable for CCT extension in the areas to be considered by the Commission. Until then, all shire authorities for which no decision to implement structural change has been announced should plan on the basis of the timetable that I have set out. The additional preparation time now permitted should mitigate any delay caused by individual authorities' uncertainty as to whether they are candidates for a further review.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has decided which non-objective 1 areas in England should be included under the European structural funds Urban initiative; and if he will make a statement. 
Column 644In reducing the 11 areas originally proposed to the European Commission, to meet their overall limits on the size of the initiative, a number of considerations have been taken into account. Urban Regeneration Minister David Curry and Sir Paul Beresford have received presentations from the eleven areas, and on the basis of area need, written proposals, ability to provide jobs and business opportunities and use the funds effectively to deliver lasting results, the following areas have been selected: Birmingham, London (Park Royal), Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and London (Hackney/Tower Hamlets).
This was a difficult decision to make as all the 11 areas had strong cases and I regret that we could only choose 6 areas for inclusion. The quality of work done in all the areas was excellent. I well understand the disappointment of those areas that were not able to have a place on the programme. I am grateful to all those who put so much effort into the selection process for their areas, and I am sure that the experience will be useful in taking advantage of any other suitable initiatives in the future.
We look forward now to making good progress in negotiations with the Commission.
Mr. Heseltine: The external financing limit for British Shipbuilders for 1994 95 has been increased by £15 million from minus £3.8 million to positive £11 million. This increase is attributable to the sale of the McDermott barge, the company's largest and longest-running liability. The increase in the EFL will be met from the reserve and does not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure in 1994 95.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what statutory references to hon. Members have been made in legislation introduced by his Department, or its predecessors, since 1965. 
Mr. Heseltine: An analysis of all legislation introduced by this Department and its predecessors since 1965 for any reference to the type requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. It would be extremely unlikely for reference to be made specifically to an individual hon. Member. Frequent references are made to officers of state, and occasional general references are made to persons who are Members of one or other of the Houses of Parliament.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what facilities in terms of (a) access to telephones, (b) use of equipment, (c) use of offices, (d) access to ministerial meetings, (e) sight of correspondence, (f) attendance at inter-departmental
Column 645meetings and (g) access to civil servants are available to specialist advisers in his Department. 
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 27 March 1995]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 27 March 1995, Official Report , column 435 .
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consultations he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport about reducing noise at Coventry airport; and what assessment he has made of the impact on economic growth in the area of (a) aircraft noise pollution and (b) the increase in night flights. 
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to assist Coventry airport via the European Commission's objective 2 programmes; and what representations he has received from the residents of Willenhall. 
Mr. Page: It is for Coventry city council, as owner of the airport, to make applications for grant activities that can be assisted through the west midlands objective 2 single programming document 1994 96.
All applications received will be considered in accordance with the programme arrangements agreed between the UK Government and the European Commission.
I have not received any representation on this matter from residents of Willenhall.
Mr. Page [holding answer 27 March 1995]: I understand from the Post Office that some 4,000 staff have left on voluntary redundancy terms since 1989 90 as a result of crown post offices being converted to agency status. Many of them are now working in post offices either as agents or employed by agents.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what financial benefits the Post Office has obtained during the last and current financial years through the policy of converting crown post offices to agency status. 
Mr. Page [holding answer 27 March 1995]: I understand from the Post Office that conversions of crown post offices in the financial year 1993 94 yielded net recurring savings of £3.9 million. The figures for the current financial year are not yet available but are expected to be of a similar amount.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the crown post offices converted to agency status in Scotland since January 1994 giving the parliamentary constituency within which they lie. 
Post Office |Parliamentary |Constituency --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Annan |Dumfries Anniesland |Glasgow Garscadden Blantyre |Hamilton Carluke |Lanark Castle Douglas |Dumfries Charing Cross |Glasgow Hillhead Dumbarton |Dumbarton Elgin |Moray Kirkcaldy |Kirkcaldy Livingston |Livingston Partick |Glasgow Hillhead Peterhead |Banff and Buchan Renfrew |Paisley North Stranraer |Galloway and Upper Nithsdale Thurso |Caithness and Sutherland Milngavie |Clydebank and Milngavie Newington |Edinburgh South Wick |Caithness and Sutherland
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many crown post offices have been converted to agency status in (a) Scotland and (b) throughout the United Kingdom for each financial year since 1989 90. 
Mr. Page [holding answer 27 March 1995]: I understand from the Post Office that numbers of crown post offices converted to agency status in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom in each financial year since 1989 90 are as follows:
|Scotland |United Kingdom ------------------------------------------------------------ 1989-90 |32 |153 1990-91 |29 |164 1991-92 |40 |147 1992-93 |11 |108 1993-94 |13 |117
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many crown post offices within (a) Scotland and (b) throughout the United Kingdom the Post Office views as appropriate for agency status. 
the customer service benefit of changing, e.g. longer opening hours, better location;
ability to redeploy any surplus staff;
availability of a suitable partner to become agent.
Since some of these factors have a degree of uncertainty attaching to them, the Post Office does not have a fixed view about the number of crown post offices appropriate for agency status. The Post Office continues to convert crown post offices to agency status where the right circumstances prevail.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the number of corporate insolvencies in Scotland for each of the years 1993 and 1994, and in respect of each year (a) the number of reports submitted by practitioners, (b) the number of court proceedings commenced and (c) the number of disqualification orders made under the Companies (Disqualification of Directors) Act 1985; and if he will express the last figure as a percentage of the total number of corporate insolvencies in each year. 
|1993 |1994 ------------------------------------------------------------- Corporate Insolvencies |941 |695 (a) Conduct reports submitted by Insolvency Practitioners |241 |215 (b) Disqualification Proceedings Commenced |75 |114 (c) Disqualification Orders Made |54 |72 Disqualification Orders as a Percentage of Corporate Insolvencies |5.74 |10.36 Note: 1. The figures for corporate insolvencies are for the numbers of companies and include a few members voluntary liquidation cases (which are not insolvent) which cannot be separated in the total figures provided by Companies House. 2. The number of proceedings refer to individuals. Proceedings and results are not necessarily finalised in the year of issue, and conduct reports may relate to companies which failed in preceding two years.
Mr. Henderson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many press officers there are in his Department currently; and what the figures were for (a) his Department and (b) the Department of Energy in 1979. 
Mr. McNamara: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) in what circumstances he will allow in-house bids at Companies House and the Patent Office, following his recent statements on the futures of these two organisations; 
(2) what method will be used at Companies House and the Patent Office to determine whether or not it will provide value for money to contract out services in comparison to continuing with the current in-house provision. 
The basis for assessing bids will be overall value for money, including both cost and quality of service. On cost, bids will be assessed against the benchmark of forecast costs to carry out the function within the public sector, taking into account any planned efficiencies.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The full costs of the reviews into the futures of (a) Companies House and (b) the Patent Office are not available, although internal and external costs are taken into account in the DTI efficiency plan. The costs of consultancy advice to the reviews since 1991 are £283,000 and £135,000 respectively, both figures being exclusive of VAT.
Mr. Morgan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what assurances he gave the member of the European Commission responsible for regional development concerning the application of the additionality principles agreed with her predecessors that would apply to the reduced grant in aid to the Welsh Development Agency and increased dependence of the agency on the European regional development fund; 
(2) if he will list the principal points raised in his meeting with the European Commission member responsible for regional development on Thursday 23 March; what representations were made in relation to the additionality issue; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 28 March 1995]: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Energy and I both met Dr. Wulf-Mathies on 23 March. We discussed means of improving the European structural funds value for money throughout the EU; the importance of combating fraud and mismanagement; EU grants in Northern Ireland; regional challenge; and the importance of private sector financial contributions to structural funds programmes. The Commissioner raised points about the composition of United Kingdom structural funds monitoring committees, and the resources available for the administration of programmes. These are matters for the United Kingdom.
Dr. Wulf-Mathies mentioned that the Commission had received representations from Merseyside and from Wales described as concerning "additionality". It appeared, however, that these representations did not relate to the regulatory provision, which requires additionality only at the level of each objective, not separately for individual areas, measures, projects or beneficiaries. The Welsh Development Agency was not mentioned.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his Department refused any applications for temporary export licences for companies to exhibit at the IDEX 95 defence exhibition held in the United Arab Emirates in March.