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Minicab Offices

Mr. John Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue jointly with the Secretary of State for Transport, guidance on the siting of minicab offices and their effect on traffic flow.      [15692]

Sir Paul Beresford: Traffic flow may be a material consideration in determining an application for planning permission for a minicab office. We have no plans to issue guidance on this.

Public Information Telephone Service

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the public information telephone inquiry lines operated by his Department, in each case indicating the costs of establishing, operating, and publicising these lines and the number of calls made to them up until this point; when they were established; and what assessment his Department has made of their effectiveness.      [17451]


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Sir Paul Beresford: The Department does not keep central records of the information requested on usage of public information telephone lines.

Water companies

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what agreements were entered into with water companies at the time of privatisation regarding charging bills at a scale which would accumulate money for future use; if he will make it his policy to require use of surplus funds to be devoted to reduction of water bills; and if he will make a statement.      [17254]

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 21 March 1995]: No agreements were entered into at the time of privatisation regarding accumulation of funds for future use. Initial price limits were set at a level to ensure water companies were able to finance the proper carrying out of their functions, in accordance with the requirements of legislation. This function is now the responsibility of the Director General of Water Services who, in his recent periodic review of price limits, has set new limits for future increases in charges which assume improved efficiency and lower rates of return by the companies. He has stated that any additional savings should be shared with customers through increased spending on discretionary service improvements or lower charges.

LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

Green Paper on Drugs Misuse

40. Mr. Rathbone: To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will comment on submissions made on the Government Green Paper on drugs misuse.      [15731]

Mr. Newton: Over 400 detailed responses were received from individuals and organisations during the consultation period on the Green Paper "Tackling Drugs Together". The great majority of respondents have very much welcomed the Government's initiative in developing a three-year strategy for tackling drug misuse and supported the main proposals. A number of issues on which clarification has been sought are being addressed in the preparation of a White Paper, which we intend to publish shortly.

Procedural Reform

41. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 20 February, Official Report, columns 19 20, what timetable he envisages for reviewing recent reforms in parliamentary procedure and for considering further reforms; and if he will make a statement.      [15732]

44. Mr. Tyler: To ask the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), of 20 February, Official Report, columns 19-20, what timetable he envisages for reviewing recent reforms in parliamentary procedure and for considering further reforms; and if he will make a statement.      [15736]

Mr. Newton: As I explained in the debate on 19 December, Official Report , columns 1456 65, the reforms which the House has agreed to are in operation as an


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experiment for the remainder of the Session, and will be reviewed towards the end of the Session. If the hon. Member wishes to suggest further reforms, he might like to submit them to the Procedure Committee.

Divisions

42. Mr. Skinner: To ask the Lord President of the Council how many votes there have been in the House since January; and what was the equivalent figure for 1994.      [15733]

Mr. Newton: The number of Divisions in the House for the period from Tuesday 10 January 1995 to Tuesday 21 March 1995 inclusive was 76. This period represented 50 sitting days, with one "constituency Friday" not included in the total. During the first 50 sitting days of 1994, covering the period of Tuesday 11 January 1994 to Monday 21 March 1994 inclusive, there were 116 Divisions.

Standing Committee Membership

43. Dr. Goodson-Wickes: To ask the Lord President of the Council what recent representations he has received on the proprietary of hon. Members with registered interests serving on Standing Committees discussion issues relating to those interests.      [15735]

Mr. Newton: In the course of business questions, I have received oral representations from five hon. Members.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Phone Numbers

Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government current and future policy regarding portability of phone numbers between BT and cable companies.      [17126]

Mr. Ian Taylor: Responsibility for number portability falls to the Director General of Telecommunications. He and I agree that the introduction of portability is essential to the development of effective competition. Oftel has made proposals for a regime to govern portability, and I expect progress to be announced shortly.

Konver Programme

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will list the projects for which assistance under the Konver programme has been sought but for which no decision has been made;      [17757]

(2) if he will list the projects for which assistance under the Konver programme has been refused;      [17755]

(3) what is his assessment of the success of the projects funded by the Konver programme since it began;      [17768]

(4) if he will list the projects which have been funded by the Konver programme since it began, the total value of each such project, and the value of the contribution made in each case by the Konver programme.      [17756]

Mr. Eggar: Lists of both the successful and unsuccessful applications for Konver I were placed in theLibraries of both Houses in December 1993. There are no outstanding decisions on the Konver I projects.


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It is too early in the life of the programme to assess how successful the projects are going to be. Many projects still have a year to run. As is usual with all programmes, an independent evaluation will be undertaken.

For Konver II, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Leeds, Central, (Mr. Fatchett) on 20 March 1995, Official Report , columns 796 97.

Public Relations

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the President of the Board of Trade 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.      [16289]

Mr. Heseltine: There was no expenditure on public relations under the Department's central publicity budget in 1993 94.

Carriage Charges

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has had about the increased level of carriage charges imposed by the Royal Mail for the delivery of newspapers to small shop outlets; and if he will make a statement.      [17488]

Mr. Eggar: None. I understand from the Post Office that the Royal Mail does not currently provide a service for delivery of newspapers to small shop outlets.

Car Imports

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the level of import penetration in the car market in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Germany, (c) France and (d) Italy; and if he will make a statement.      [17125]

Mr. Page: The information is in the table.


F

Import penetration in the car market 1994<1>                          

              |Car                        |Import                     

              |registrations|Imports      |penetration                

              |(000 units)  |(000 units)  |per cent.                  

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

UK            |1,911        |1,090        |57.0                       

Germany       |3,209        |1,161        |36.2                       

France        |1,973        |766          |38.8                       

Italy         |1,647        |886          |53.8                       

Source<1> Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.                 

Export Values

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the percentage change in United Kingdom export unit values relative to those of the EEC Six for each quarter since the fourth quarter of 1986.      [17163]

Mr. Ian Taylor: The information is given in the table:


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Percentage change on previous 

quarter in UK export values   

relative to those of the EEC  

six                           

          |Change on          

          |previous           

          |quarter            

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

1987q1    |0.3                

1987q2    |4.9                

1987q3    |1.3                

1987q4    |1.8                

1988q1    |2.6                

1988q2    |2.0                

1988q3    |-0.5               

1988q4    |-1.7               

1989q1    |-1.5               

1989q2    |-2.5               

1989q3    |-0.6               

1989q4    |-4.3               

1990q1    |-3.1               

1990q2    |1.6                

1990q3    |4.5                

1990q4    |-2.2               

1991q1    |2.3                

1991q2    |1.4                

1991q3    |1.4                

1991q4    |-1.4               

1992q1    |0.2                

1992q2    |0.9                

1992q3    |-3.3               

1992q4    |-7.8               

1993q1    |7.4                

1993q2    |3.0                

1993q3    |6.0                

1993q4    |1.6                

1994q1    |-0.2               

1994q2    |-2.4               

Note:                         

Unit value indices in $US for 

EEC(6) are weighted together  

using total trade weights.    

Limestone

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much United Kingdom quarried limestone was used in the United Kingdom steel industry for each year since 1979.      [17229]

Mr. Page: The information is in the table.


UK consumption of    

limestone in blast   

furnaces and sinter  

plants<1>            

Year   |Tonnes       

       |(000)        

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

1979   |1,206        

1980   |618          

1981   |1,032        

1982   |890          

1983   |1,165        

1984   |1,144        

1985   |1,562        

1986   |1,496        

1987   |1,827        

1988   |1,948        

1989   |2,062        

1990   |1,991        

1991   |2,124        

1992   |2,033        

1993   |2,077        

Source:Iron and      

Steel Statistics     

Bureau.              

Note:                

<1> Steel industry   

as defined by the    

Standard Industrial  

Classification (     

1980), Groups 221,   

222 and 223.         

Sarin

Mr. Redmond: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his time scale for the banning of the manufacture of Sarin in the United Kingdom.      [17166]

Mr. Heseltine: Sarin is one of a number of chemicals, the production of which will be permitted under the chemical weapons convention only for research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes. The legislation to implement the CWC in the UK and to enable the UK to ratify it will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time permits. The CWC will enter into force for participating states 180 days after 65 countries have ratified it. So far, 27 states have done so.

Chernobyl

Mr.Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent communications he has received from the Ukrainian Government in regard to technological assistance required at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.      [17552]

Mr.Page: No such approach has been received.

Patent Office

Mr. Touhig: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how long it has been the policy to offer staff recruited to work at the Patent Office in Newport two-year contracts; what benefits the Patent Office has derived from this policy; and if people employed on two-year contracts are afforded the same rights as Patent Office staff not on fixed-term contracts.      [17414]

Mr. Ian Taylor: The Patent Office does not have a policy of recruiting staff on two-year contracts and currently has no such employees. However, the office does employ staff on renewable six-month contracts and has done so since March 1991 when it became clear that there has been a considerable reduction in demand for trade marks. A number of staff were therefore recruited on short-term contracts in order to retain the flexibility to reduce staff numbers quickly if market pressures so required. Although those pressures remain significant, reductions required to reflect efficiency improvements and changes in demand have so far been accommodated by normal staff turnover.

Staff on fixed-term contracts do not have all the rights of established civil servants. As well as terms of employment, there are differences between conditions of service, including amounts of sick leave entitlement.

Copyright Offences

Ms Walley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to introduce regulations to give effect to enforcement procedures under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.      [17687]

Mr. Ian Taylor: Enforcement of copyright offences already falls within the responsibilities of the police. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts 1988 contains provisions facilitating both civil and criminal proceedings under that Act. These provisions which re-enacted and improved upon earlier legislation have been in force since 1 August 1989. Section 165 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 additionally makes it a duty of local weights and measures authorities to enforce copyright offences. However, when agreeing to introduce


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that provision, the Government made it clear that it would not be brought into effect until there had been an opportunity to carry out full consultations with local authority associations on the possible resource implications. Those consultations are not yet complete.

Companies House

Mr. Wigley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what has been the cost to date of the report by SRU Ltd. into the future of Companies House; and what estimate he has made of the final cost of all consultancy work on the subject of contracting out Companies House.      [17228]

Mr. Jonathan Evans: The cost of consultancy advice from SRU Ltd. on the future of Companies House was £283,000, exclusive of VAT. At this stage it is not possible to say what the final cost of all consultancy work on contracting out companies House services will be.

Land Rover

Mr. Wray: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what Government regulations apply in respect of the licencing for manufacture in other countries of Land Rover vehicles; and to what extent human rights are taken into account in respect of the licencing arrangements.      [17787]

Mr. Ian Taylor: It is a matter for manufacturers' commercial judgment as to whether they wish to have their products manufactured overseas under licence. Vehicles and related equipment specially designed or modified for military use and components therefore specially designed or modified for military use are controlled under schedule 1, part 1, group 1 of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 (category ML 6). Exports of equipment and technology for the production of all goods specified in group 1 of the Export of Goods (Control) Order are also controlled under category ML18. Any application for a licence to export such vehicles, equipment or technology would be considered against internationally agreed criteria governing the control of exports of military equipment. These criteria include consideration of the human rights record of the country to which the goods would be exported. There are military equipment embargoes imposed by the European Union against Burma and China which were put in place as a result of those countries' record on human rights.

TREASURY

Civil Service (Privatisation)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil service functions are currently being considered for privatisation; and who the consultants are in each case.      [16972]

Sir George Young: An activity is identified as a possible candidate for privatisation either in the Department's annual efficiency plan, or as part of a prior options review process under which activities are reviewed to see whether they should be abolished,


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privatised, strategically contracted-out, market tested or given agency status. Prior options reviews are announced in the monthly "Market Testing Bulletin". Decisions on possible candidates for privatisation are announced by departmental Ministers as and when appropriate.

Information on the consultants used by departments and agencies in cases currently being considered is not held centrally.

Income Tax (Welsh Authorities)

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which tax offices in Wales are responsible for processing the income tax of the employees of (a) the Welsh local authorities and (b) the Welsh health authorities; how many staff at each office are engaged in this work; what proposals he has to alter these arrangements; and if he will make a statement.      [17545]

Sir George Young: Details of the tax offices in Wales which are responsible for processing the income tax of the employees of the Welsh local authorities and Welsh health authorities together with the approximate number of staff engaged on this work are as follows:


                   |Approximate staff |Approximate staff                    

                   |deployed on local |deployed on health                   

Tax office         |authority work    |authority work                       

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

Aberystwyth        |0.2               |-                                    

Bangor             |5.5               |1.5                                  

Brecon             |2.5               |0.8                                  

Bridgend           |0.4               |-                                    

Carmarthen         |7.0               |4.25                                 

Colwyn Bay         |7.4               |-                                    

Llanelli           |0.25              |-                                    

Merthyr Tydfil     |1.0               |-                                    

Neath              |2.3               |-                                    

Newport 1          |7.5               |3.0                                  

Newport 2          |0.6               |-                                    

Pontypridd         |0.8               |3.0                                  

Wrexham 2          |0.9               |-                                    

Cardiff 1          |12.5              |-                                    

Swansea            |12.0              |3.4                                  

The current reorganisation of local authorities in Wales will necessitate some changes to the organisation of the employee's tax records. Full details of the local authority changes and the resulting impact on each tax office are not yet clear.

Barings

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the activities of Mr. Christopher Heath in future markets were first drawn to the attention of the Bank of England.

Mr. Nelson: Mr. Heath joined the Barings group in June 1984 and left in March 1993. Prior to leaving he was the managing director of Barings Securities Ltd. and a director of Baring Brothers and Co. Ltd. His role in the activities of Baring Securities, particularly in the far east and in the Japanese equity warrant market, were known to the Bank of England. As for his involvement, if any, in futures markets and the Bank of England's knowledge of such activities, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor told the House on 27 February, he has asked the Board of Banking Supervision to investigate fully and urgently all aspects of the Barings episode and to report


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back to him. He expects to publish the full report subject only to the need to protect the legitimate confidentiality of innocent third parties and any other legal constraints.

Public Relations

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer 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.      [16291]

Mr. Nelson: Total expenditure was £1.6 million of which just over £1 million was for contracts with the private sector including the cost of press handling and marketing advice on the BT2 final instalment and BT3 share offer.

Exchange Rates

Sir Ralph Howell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will state the £/Irish Punt exchange rate in (a) 1965, (b) 1975, (c) 1985, and (d) currently;      [16711]

(2) if he will state the £/deutschmark exchange rate in (a) 1965, (b) 1975, (c) 1985 and (d) currently.      [16710]

Mr. Nelson: The exchange rates requested are:


               |DM/£     |Irish £/£          

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

1965 (average) |11.17    |1.00               

1975 (average) |5.45     |1.00               

1985 (average) |3.78     |1.22               

30 March 1995  |2.25     |1.00               

Manufacturing Output

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list by rank order of import penetration for the manufacturing industries listed in table 15.10 of the April 1991 "Monthly Digest of Statistics" the percentage increase in output in the fourth quarter of 1994 compared to (a) 1973 and (b) 1979; and if he will make a statement.      [17113]

Mr. Nelson: Comparative output data for 1973, 1979 and the fourth quarter of 1994 are not available at the requested level of disaggregation.

Imports and Exports

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the change in the value and volume of imports and exports of (a) manufactures, (b) North sea oil and gas, (c) food, drink and tobacco, (d) other goods, (e) travel and tourism, (f) financial services and (g) other services between 1990 and 1994.      [17188]

Mr. Nelson: Information relating to changes in the value and volume of imports and exports between 1990 and 1994 can be derived from data available on the Central Statistical Office database, which can be accessed by the House of Commons Library. The CSO is unable separately to identify North sea oil and gas.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what account his Department's definition of export-led growth takes of imports; and if he will list the change in the value and volume of imports and exports of (a) manufactures, (b) North sea oil and gas, (c) food, drink


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and tobacco, (d) other goods, (e) travel and tourism, (f) financial services and (g) other services between 1992 and 1994.      [17164]

Mr. Nelson: Changes in both gross and net exports are considered when assessing the sources of GDP growth. Figures for export and import value and volumes are available on the Central Statistical Office database, which can be accessed through the Library of the House.

Exchange Rates

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for each quarter since the fourth quarter of 1986 the percentage increase or reduction in the rate of exchange between sterling and the ecu currencies other than the deutschmark.      [17115]

Mr. Nelson: Information on sterling's exchange rate against the ecu currencies other than the deutschmark can be found in table 7.1 of "Financial Statistics" published by the Central Statistical Office.

Investments

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list United Kingdom earnings from (i) overseas investment and (ii) investments by United Kingdom manufacturers overseas for each quarter since 1989.      [17123]

Mr. Nelson: The information available is given in the table. Figures are available only on an annual basis. The information is classified according to the activity in which the investment is made rather than the activity of the investor.


Direct investment by UK companies overseas: net earnings<1> (£m)                    

                     |Manufacturing                                                 

                     |industry<2>         |Total all industries                     

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

1989                 |7,477               |16,608                                   

1990                 |7,130               |15,526                                   

1991                 |6,532               |12,688                                   

1992                 |6,368               |13,285                                   

1993                 |6,983               |16,367                                   

Notes:                                                                              

<1> Earnings from branches, subsidiaries and associate companies. Earnings are      

defined as profits net of losses, plus interest receipts net of claims.             

<2> Classified by main industrial activity of overseas affiliate.                   

Source:                                                                             

Central Statistical Office.                                                         

Pig Producers

Mr. Morley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to (a) give 100 per cent. first-year allowance to pig producers for any costs associated with the replacement of sow stalls and tethers, (b) change capital allowances to allow buildings with a short life span to be written off for tax over their useful life and (c) allow losses for the pig industry to be carried back for three years for income tax.      [17065]

Sir George Young: (a) I have no such plans;

(b) The net cost--less any receipts on disposal--of agricultural buildings can already be written off for tax


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over their actual life, however short, under the capital allowances code as it now stands;

(c) I have no such plans.

Statistics

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will resume publication in the "Monthly Digest of Statistics" of the four ratios in table 15.10 of the April 1991 issue on an annual or quarterly basis.      [17114]

Mr. Nelson: Ratios for divisions 17, 18 and 24 of the standard industrial classification 1992 will be published on a quarterly basis in the "Monthly Digest of Statistics". The remaining divisions will be published on an annual basis.

Manufactures

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the reasons for the state of the balance of trade in manufactured goods in 1994; and what this balance was (a) in 1994 prices and (b) as a percentage of gross domestic product relative to that in (i) 1970, (ii) 1977 and (iii) 1979.      [17118]

Mr. Nelson: A recent assessment of factors affecting the balance of trade in manufactures was published in the November 1994 "Financial Statement and Budget Report", based on data available at that time. Estimates for the balance of trade in manufactures up to and including 1994, both in 1994 prices and as a percentage of gross domestic product, can be calculated from series on the Central Statistical Office database. This can be accessed through the Library of the House.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the reason for the change in the deficit in the balance of trade with the EC Twelve in manufactured goods between 1992 and 1994; and what was the contribution to that change of monetary and exchange rate policies.      [17162]

Mr. Nelson: The balance of trade with the EU in manufactures depends on a variety of factors, including competitiveness, domestic demand and mainland European demand. By keeping inflation low, monetary policy has contributed to British industry's ability to compete in both overseas and domestic markets.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list by rank order of import penetration for the manufacturing industries listed in table 15.10 of the April 1991 "Monthly Digest of Statistics" the percentage change in the volume of output, exports and imports in (i) 1994 and (ii) the fourth quarter of 1994 since the 12 months ended in 1989 and the implied increase in import penetration.      [17116]

Mr. Nelson: Comparative data for 1994 and 1989 are not available.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on the balance of trade with the EC Twelve in manufactures between 1992 and 1994 of the increase in United Kingdom export unit values for manufactures relative to


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those of the EC Six between the third quarter of 1992 and the first half of 1994.      [17124]

Mr. Nelson: The balance of trade with the EU in manufactures depends on a variety of factors, including competitiveness, domestic demand, and mainland European demand.

Council Tax Appeals

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what timetable guidance he has given to local valuation officers in respect of setting council tax appeals.      [17681]

(2) if he will take measures to accelerate the processing and settlement of council tax appeals.      [17669]

Mr. Nelson: Targets for settling council tax appeals in England were announced by the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration on 31 January 1995, Official Report, column 580.

Referring to initial appeals, he said that it was hoped that all but a handful would be settled by the summer. By 28 February, the last date for which statistics are available, 88 per cent. had been cleared. When the bulk of initial appeals have been settled it is expected that any further new appeals will generally be settled within 12 months of their being received.

Local valuation offices are expected to deal with appeals within these targets, having regard to when the appeal was made and giving priority to cases where hardship is identified.

Given these arrangements, I do not intend to take any further measures to accelerate the processing and settlement of council tax appeals but will continue to keep the matter under review.

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many council tax appeals submitted from the borough of Basingstoke and Deane in (a) 1993 94 and (b) 1994 95 are outstanding.      [17668] (2) how many council tax appeals were submitted from the borough of Basingstoke and Deane in (a) 1993 94 (b) 1994 95; and what percentage has been settled.      [17682]


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