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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 10 May 1995

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Daya Bay Nuclear Plant

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has received as to the reason for the indefinite shutdown of the Daya bay nuclear plant close to Hong Kong.      [19320]

Mr. Goodlad: The Daya bay nuclear power station is in China some 50 km away from the urban area of Hong Kong. It is operated by Chinese companies. The Hong Kong Government have no involvement in its day-to-day operation, but are being kept informed of developments.

Iran Murder Trial

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what observers of Her Majesty's Government have arranged to be present at the trial of those accused of murdering the three Christian leaders in Iran; and what assessment the observers have made regarding the trial proceedings.      [23065]

Mr. Douglas Hogg: The European Union has agreed to send a presidency representative to attend the trial as an observer. The trial is in its early stages and it is too early to make an assessment of the proceedings.

Thailand

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action Her Majesty's Government are taking to seek to put an end to Burmese military incursions against Karen refugee camps in Thailand.      [23066]

Mr. Goodlad: Together with our EU partners we have made clear our concerns about the safety of the Karen people to the ruling military regime in Burma, the State Law and Order Restoration Council. We called in the Burmese ambassador on 17 February to reinforce an earlier EU demarche in Rangoon. On 10 March the EU issued a statement condemning the offensive against the Karen people and calling upon the SLORC to find a swift and peaceful solution to the ethnic minority problem in Burma.

We view with concern the recent attacks against refugee camps in Thailand and welcome the continuing commitment of the Thai Government to provide refuge for those seeking safety in their territory. We continue to monitor the evolution of the situation closely and are considering appropriate action in consultation with our EU partners.

Kashmir

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what indications the European Union has received in respect of the date and


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organisation of elections in Kashmir; if the European Union has been invited to send observers to monitor any such elections; what measures the European Union is taking to assess on the ground the prospect of elections in Kashmir; what assessment (a) Her Majesty's Government and (b) the European Union has made of the elections; and if he will make a statement.      [23095]

Mr. Baldry: The Indian Government have yet to make any official announcement of their intentions with respect to the date and organisation of elections in Kashmir. It follows that there has been no invitation to send observers, and we and our European partners are not in a position to assess the elections.

Pakistan

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the Pakistan Government about the detention of Anwar Masih in Faisalabad; and if he will make a statement.      [23098]

Mr. Baldry: We regularly make representations to the Pakistan Government about the treatment of Christians and other minorities. We recently joined our European partners in raising Anwar Masih's case with the Pakistan authorities.

Landmines

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to ban the production, export and stockpiling of landmines; and if he will make a statement.      [23099]

Mr. David Davis: We are actively pursuing through various fora further controls on the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti- personnel landmines. But such measures need to be realistic, and widely applied, if they are to be effective. A complete ban at this stage would not secure broad international support or be properly implemented.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy in respect of preambular paragraph L of the European Parliament's motion on the extension of the nuclear non-profileration treaty, adopted on 5 April.      [22352]

Mr. David Davis [holding answer 4 May 1995]: We agree with the preambular paragraph.

Nuclear Safety

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what position was taken by the British ambassador to the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in regard to the proposals under discussion of the programme 93 + 2 on safeguards, at the board of governors' meeting on 27 to 30 March, that greater access to sites by nuclear inspectors should be implemented.      [22931]


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Mr. Ian Taylor: I have been asked to reply.

The United Kingdom supports the need to strengthen the IAEA's safeguards system. The general outline of the proposals were presented in the March meeting of the board of governors. More specific proposals will be presented and discussed at subsequent meetings.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals in regard to technical, legal and financial implications of a strengthened nuclear safeguards system will be put forward by the United Kingdom at the next board of governors' meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in June.      [22930]

Mr. Ian Taylor: I have been asked to reply.

The IAEA will submit proposals for strengthening the safeguards system at the meeting of its board of governors in June.

SCOTLAND

Wigtown District Council

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultation of tenants has been carried out by Wigtown district council regarding the future tenure of their houses; what options were put to the tenants; what advice was given by the council to tenants; and if he will make a statement.      [22430]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I understand that Wigtown district council has been informally consulting tenants by means of newsletters and public meetings for several months about its proposal to transfer its entire stock of housing to the locally based Wigtown housing association. The statutory consultation procedures began late in April when the council issued a formal consultation document to tenants setting out the details of its proposals and the likely consequences of the transfer. Tenants have also been given access to independent advisers to assist them to reach an informed view on the proposals.

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much has been budgeted by Wigtown district council to conduct a ballot on the disposal of its houses to the Wigtown housing association; whether the council has received section 25 consent for expenditure already incurred; and if he will make a statement.      [22429]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The cost of any ballot of its tenants is a matter for Wigtown district council. The Secretary of State is currently considering an application from the council for consent under section 25 of the Local Government Act 1988 to enable the council to make a loan to assist the newly formed Wigtown housing association with its setting up costs.

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what conditions he has imposed upon Wigtown district council regarding the procedures, majority required and advice to tenants before any ballot result of council tenants regarding transfer of ownership is given his approval.      [22431]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Wigtown district council is aware that it must act in accordance with the provisions contained in schedule 6A of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 in consulting tenants on the disposal of any of its housing stock. The council is also aware that


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the Secretary of State cannot consent to any such transfer if it appears to him that a majority of tenants do not wish the disposal to proceed.

It is for the council to decide how best to determine the extent of tenant's support for its proposals and I understand that it plans to ballot all tenants on the subject. The Secretary of State will have regard to the outcome of that ballot in determining whether to grant his consent to any stock disposal.

Special Protection Areas

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list those sites which (a) have been designated or (b) meet the criteria for designation as (i) special protection areas under the European Community directive on the conservation of wild birds or (ii) Ramsar sites under the convention of wetlands of international importance.      [22369]

Sir Hector Monro: The information is set out in the tables. Sites are designated by my right hon. Friend on the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage. The lists of sites at (b) (i) and (ii) contain those which in the opinion of Scottish Natural Heritage qualify by designation.


(a)(i) Sites Designated under the European Community Directive             

on the Conservation of Wild Birds                                          

Site                           |Location                                   

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

Flannan Isles                  |Western Isles                              

St. Kilda                                                                  

Shiant Isles                                                               

Monarch Island                                                             

Loch Druidibeg/Loch a' Machair                                             

Mingulay and Berneray                                                      

Handa                          |Highland                                   

Priest Island                                                              

Rhum                                                                       

Loch Maree                                                                 

Loch Eye                                                                   

Abernethy Forest                                                           

Loch Vaa                                                                   

Hermaness and Saxa Vord, Unst  |Shetland                                   

Fetlar                                                                     

Fair Isle                                                                  

                                                                           

Marwick Head                   |Orkney                                     

Copinsay                                                                   

Sule Skerry and Stack                                                      

                                                                           

Loch Spynie                    |Grampian                                   

Loch of Skene                                                              

Fowlsheugh                                                                 

Glen Tanar                                                                 

                                                                           

Coll                           |Strathclyde                                

Treshnish Isles                                                            

Gruinart Flats, Islay                                                      

Bridgend Flats, Islay                                                      

Laggan Peninsula Islay                                                     

Eilean na Muice Duibhe, Islay                                              

Glac na Criche, Islay                                                      

Feur Lochain, Islay                                                        

Ailsa Craig                                                                

                                                                           

Loch Ken and Dee Marshes       |Dumfries and Galloway                      

Upper Solway Flats and Marshes                                             

                                                                           

Montrose Basin                 |Tayside                                    

South Tayside Goose Roosths                                                

Loch of Kinnordy                                                           

Loch of Lintrathen                                                         

Cameron Reservoir              |Fife                                       

                                                                           

Forth Islands                  |Lothian                                    

Gladhouse Reservoir                                                        

Fala Flow                                                                  

                                                                           

Hoselaw Loch                   |Borders                                    


(a)(ii) Ramsar sites designated under the convention on wetlands                               

of international importance.                                                                   

Site                                               |Location                                   

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

Loch An Duin                                       |Western Isles                              

Loch Druidibeg, Loch a'Machair and Loch Stilligary                                             

                                                                                               

Claish Moss                                        |Highland                                   

Loch Maree                                                                                     

Loch Eye                                                                                       

                                                                                               

Loch Spynie                                        |Grampian                                   

Cairngorm Lochs                                                                                

Loch of Skene                                                                                  

                                                                                               

Coll                                               |Strathclyde                                

Gruinart Flats, Islay                                                                          

Bridgend Flats, Islay                                                                          

Eilean na Muice Duibhe, Islay                                                                  

Glac na Criche, Islay                                                                          

Feur Lochain, Islay                                                                            

                                                                                               

Loch Ken and Dee Marshes                           |Dumfries and Galloway                      

Upper Solway Flats and Marshes                                                                 

Silver Flowe                                                                                   

                                                                                               

Rannoch Moor                                       |Tayside                                    

Montrose Basin                                                                                 

South Tayside Goose Roosts                                                                     

Loch of Kinnordy                                                                               

Loch of Lintrathen                                                                             

Loch Leven                                                                                     

                                                                                               

Cameron Reservoir                                  |Fife                                       

                                                                                               

Gladhouse Reservoir                                |Lothian                                    

Fala Flow                                                                                      

                                                                                               

Loch Lomond                                        |Central                                    

                                                                                               

Hoselaw Loch                                       |Borders                                    


(b)(i) Sites which in the opinion of Scottish Natural Heritage                              

qualify for designation under the European Community Directive                              

on the Conservation of Wild Birds                                                           

Site                                            |Location                                   

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

North Rona and Sula Sgeir                       |Western Isles                              

West Sound of Harris                                                                        

South Uist Machair and Lochs                                                                

West Sound of Barra                                                                         

Balranald                                                                                   

Baleshare and Kirkibost                                                                     

Loch Scadavay                                                                               

Lewis Peatlands                                                                             

North Harris Mountains                                                                      

                                                                                            

Pentland Firth Islands                          |Highland                                   

The Peatlands                                                                               

Caithness Lochs                                                                             

Caithness Cliffs                                                                            

Cape Wrath                                                                                  

Inverpolly, Loch Urigill and Nearby Lochs                                                   

Loch Ruthven and Nearby Lochs                                                               

Central Highland Hills and Glens                                                            

Assynt Lochs                                                                                

Loch Stack, Loch Nam Brac and Nearby Lochs                                                  

Loch Shin and Nearby Lochs                                                                  

Moray Basin Firths and Bays                                                                 

Beinn Dearg                                                                                 

Ben Wyvis                                                                                   

Glengarry Lochs                                                                             

Loch Tarff and Nearby Lochs                                                                 

North Inverness Lochs                                                                       

River Spey-Insh Marshes                                                                     

Cairngorms                                                                                  

Drumochter Hills                                                                            

Monadhliath                                                                                 

Alvie                                                                                       

Ben Alder                                                                                   

Kinveachy                                                                                   

Creag Meagaidh                                                                              

                                                                                            

Ramna Stacks and Gruney                         |Shetland                                   

North Roe and Tingon, Mainland Shetland                                                     

Papa Stour                                                                                  

Foula                                                                                       

Noss                                                                                        

Sumburgh Head                                                                               

Croussa Field and the Heogs                                                                 

Mousa                                                                                       

Lochs of Spiggie and Brow                                                                   

Blackpark and Gutcher, Yell                                                                 

Moorland Areas, Central Shetland                                                            

West Burrafirth, Shetland                                                                   

Hill of Colvadale and Sobul                                                                 

                                                                                            

West Westray                                    |Orkney                                     

Papa Westray (North Hill and Holm)                                                          

Lochs of Harray and Stenness                                                                

Hoy                                                                                         

West Mainland Moors                                                                         

North Mainland Coast                                                                        

South Westray Coast                                                                         

East Sanday                                                                                 

Rousay                                                                                      

North Ronaldsay Coast                                                                       

Southeastern Stronsay                                                                       

Eday                                                                                        

Mill Dam, Shapinsay                                                                         

Orphir and Stenness Hills                                                                   

Keelylang                                                                                   

Loch of Isbister                                                                            

                                                                                            

Loch of Strathbeg                               |Grampian                                   

Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Lochs                                             

Troup, Pennan and Lion Heads                                                                

St. Cyrus                                                                                   

Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast                                                             

Rosehearty to Fraserburgh Coast                                                             

Loch Oire                                                                                   

Muir of Dinnet                                                                              

An Socach-Carn a Gheoidh                                                                    

                                                                                            

Rhinns of Islay                                 |Strathclyde                                

Islay: the Oa                                                                               

Inner Clyde Estuary                                                                         

Rhunahaorine Point                                                                          

Machrihanish and Tangy Loch                                                                 

North Colonsay and Western Cliffs                                                           

Sanda                                                                                       

                                                                                            

Lochinch and Torrs Warren                       |Dumfries and Galloway                      

Wigtown Bay                                                                                 

Castle Loch, Lochmaben                                                                      

                                                                                            

Caenlochan                                      |Tayside                                    

Tay-Isla Valley                                                                             

Loch Leven                                                                                  

Firth of Tay                                                                                

                                                                                            

Eden Estuary, Tentsmuir Point and Abertay Sands |Fife                                       

                                                                                            

Firth of Forth                                  |Lothian                                    

                                                                                            

Loch Lomond                                     |Central                                    

Flanders Moss and Lake of Menteith                                                          

                                                                                            

Westwater                                       |Borders                                    

St. Abb's Head to Fast Castle                                                               

Greenlaw Moor and Hule Moss                                                                 


(b)(ii) Sites which in the opinion of Scottish Natural Heritage                             

qualify for designation under the Convention on Wetlands of                                 

International Importance                                                                    

Site                                            |Location                                   

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

West Sound of Harris                            |Western Isles                              

South Uist Machair and Lochs                                                                

West Sound of Barra                                                                         

Balranald                                                                                   

Baleshare and Kirkibost                                                                     

Lewis Peatlands                                                                             

                                                                                            

The Peatlands                                   |Highland                                   

Caithness Lochs                                                                             

Durness Lochs and Streams                                                                   

Loch Morar                                                                                  

Kentra Moss                                                                                 

Inverpolly, Loch Urgill and Nearby Lochs                                                    

Assynt Lochs                                                                                

Moray Basin Forths and Bays                                                                 

River Spey-Insh Marshes                                                                     

                                                                                            

Hermaness and Saxa Vord, Unst                   |Shetland                                   

North Roe and Tingon, Mainland Shetland                                                     

Foula                                                                                       

Lochs of Spiggie and Brow                                                                   

                                                                                            

Lochs of Harray and Stenness                    |Orkney                                     

North Mainland Coast                                                                        

South Westray Coast                                                                         

East Sanday                                                                                 

Mill Dam, Shapinsay                                                                         

North Ronaldsay Coast                                                                       

Southeastern Stronsay                                                                       

                                                                                            

Loch of Strathbeg                               |Grampian                                   

Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Lochs                                             

Rosehearty to Fraserburgh Coast                                                             

Muir of Dinnet                                                                              

Rhinns of Islay                                 |Strathclyde                                

Inner Clyde Estuary                                                                         

Machrihanish and Tangy Loch                                                                 

                                                                                            

Lochinch and Torrs Warren                       |Dumfries and Galloway                      

Wigtown Bay                                                                                 

Castle Loch, Lochmaben                                                                      

                                                                                            

Tay-Isla Valley                                 |Tayside                                    

Firth of Tay                                                                                

                                                                                            

Eden Estuary, Tentsmuir Point and Abertay Sands |Fife                                       

                                                                                            

Firth of Forth                                  |Lothian                                    

                                                                                            

Flanders Moss and Lake of Menteith              |Central                                    

                                                                                            

Westwater                                       |Borders                                    

Moorfoot Hills                                                                              

Greenlaw Moor and Hule Moss                                                                 

Note:                                                                                       

Some larger sites are located within more than one local authority area.                    

Red Deer

Mr. Gallie: Top ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what conclusions he has reached on the proposals for amendment to deer legislation in Scotland submitted to him by the Red Deer Commission.      [23851]

Sir Hector Monro: We have given careful consideration to the Red Deer Commission's proposals and my Department has consulted organisations with a particular interest in deer matters in Scotland. In the light of the responses to this consultation, we have decided on the following proposals for deer legislation:

a. amendments to the general functions of the Red Deer Commission to include reference to furthering the "sustainable management" of all species of wild deer in Scotland. The title of the Red Deer Commission to change to "Deer Commission for Scotland";

b. the introduction of new arrangements for the appointment of members to the commission by the Secretary of State to provide for greater flexibility together with a permissive power to allow the Secretary of State to pay remuneration to members if, at some time in the future, he should think this appropriate;

c. amendments to the existing powers of the commission to appoint local panels;

d. an extension of the commission's existing powers to provide advice and a new power to support demonstration and experimentation projects;

e. amendments to the powers of the commission to deal with damage caused by deer and, in particular, the introduction of new powers to allow the commission to instigate control schemes when this is necessary to protect the natural heritage of Scotland or to safeguard public safety;

f. a new provision to allow for voluntary control schemes to facilitate co- operative action amongst adjoining landowners to control deer;

g. amendments to the provisions relating to close seasons for the shooting of deer to allow for these to be set by order;

h. an amendment to allow the commission to authorise the use of vehicles or aircraft to drive deer with the intention of carrying out essential culling work;


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i. an updated definition of the types of agricultural land over which agricultural owners and occupiers can shoot deer, if necessary, to protect crops, pastures etc;

j. amendments to the provisions relating to marauding deer and out of season shooting to allow the commission to authorise shooting to prevent damage to the natural heritage and to unenclosed woodlands or to protect public safety;

k. amendments to the provisions relating to night shooting of deer so that all night shooting is subject to authorisation by the commission.

Our intention is to introduce the legislation along these lines when there is a suitable legislative opportunity.

These legislative proposals draw significantly on the ideas put forward by the Red Deer Commission and the Government would like to acknowledge its valuable help and assistance in this matter, together with all the other bodies who responded to the public debate. The proposals represent an important step forward in ensuring the sustainable management of wild deer populations in Scotland.

National Galleries

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the arrangements for the next policy and financial management review of the national galleries of Scotland.      [23852]

Sir Hector Monro: Departments which sponsor non-departmental public bodies carry out regular policy and financial management reviews of individual bodies. The last such review of the national galleries of Scotland was undertaken in 1987 and a further review is now under way, to be completed by the end of July. As with all such reviews, the first stage will take the form of a "prior options" study, to examine the scope for discontinuing or undertaking in some other way some or all of the functions of the national galleries. Subject to the outcome of the first stage, the review will examine comprehensively, with regard to value for money, the main aims and objectives of the body, as well as its resource management and planning systems. The review will be conducted by Mr. Colin Imrie, a principal at the Scottish Office attached to the Scottish Office Education Department for this purpose. Comments from interested parties would be welcome and should be sent to Mr. Imrie at the following address by 30 June 1995:

The Scottish Office Education Department

Room 613

43 Jeffrey Street

Edinburgh

EH1 1DN

Tel: 0131 244 5360

Fax: 0131 244 5526

Area Tourist Boards

Mr. Canavan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will list the names of people who are members of more than one of the existing area tourist boards; and what offices, they hold on these boards;      [22572]

(2) if he will list the names of people who are members of a steering group for one of the new area tourist boards as well as being members of an existing tourist board for an area which is not included in the area covered by the steering group;      [22573]


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(3) if he will ensure that no-one will be a member of more than one area tourist board under the new system to be introduced in April 1996.      [22574]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 9 May 1995]: Membership arrangements and office bearer appointments are the responsibility of area tourist boards themselves. The information requested is not held centrally. I understand that current practice is that bodies or individuals may be members of more than one board. We are at present consulting on the terms of the statutory schemes which will establish the new boards. It is likely, however, that the requirements for membership will follow current practice. Membership of the steering groups which have been established by local interests in advance of the appointment by my right hon. Friend of the first members of the controlling bodies of the new boards is entirely a matter for these interests to determine. My right hon. Friend will make his appointments on the basis of nominations from the existing area tourist boards and from local authorities. Nominations will be sought shortly.

TREASURY

Business Rate Assessment Appeals

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many business rate assessment appeals have been (a) lodged and (b) dealt with in each year since 1989.      [22786]

Mr. Nelson: The number of business rate appeals (a) lodged and (b) dealt with in England and Wales in the years since 1 January 1989 are shown in the table. During this period appeals were lodged and dealt with in respect of both the 1973 valuation lists and the 1990 non-domestic rating lists.


Answer (a)                                                     

                         Number lodged                         

Period                  |1973 Appeals|1990 Appeals             

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

1.1.89 to 31.3.89       |51,063      |n/a                      

1.4.89 to 31.3.90       |127,508     |n/a                      

1.4.90 to 31.3.91       |n/a         |611,593                  

1.4.91 to 31.3.92       |n/a         |188,439                  

1.4.92 to 31.3.93       |n/a         |195,214                  

1.4.93 to 31.3.94       |n/a         |154,409                  

1.4.94 to 31.3.95       |n/a         |219,070                  

                        |--------    |--------                 

Total                   |178,571     |1,368,725                

                                     |--------                 

Grand total all appeals              |1,547,296                


Answer (b)                                                     

                         Number dealt with                     

Period                  |1973 Appeals|1990 Appeals             

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

1.1.89 to 31.3.89       |49,250      |n/a                      

1.4.89 to 31.3.90       |190,207     |n/a                      

1.4.90 to 31.3.91       |181,600     |28,660                   

1.4.91 to 31.3.92       |28,246      |232,349                  

1.4.92 to 31.3.93       |2,479       |348,891                  

1.4.93 to 31.3.94       |448         |312,195                  

1.4.94 to 31.3.95       |511         |269,017                  

                        |--------    |--------                 

Total                   |452,741     |1,191,112                

                                     |--------                 

Grand total all appeals              |1,643,853                

Mr. Nelson: Because of the way in which the statistics were obtained, it is not possible to identify the number of outstanding 1973 valuation list business rate appeals in England and Wales which were lodged in the period 1 January 1989 to 31 March 1990. Of the 1990 rating list business rate appeals received since 1 April 1990, a total of 283,096 were outstanding at 31 March 1995.

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average length of time that a business has to wait in order for the business rate assessment appeal to be heard.      [22784]

Mr. Nelson: Statistics are not kept of the average time between the making of an appeal by a business ratepayer and a hearing. Valuation tribunals are, however, conscious of the need to deal with cases as quickly as is consistent with a full consideration of the merits of each case.

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in Inland Revenue staff on the rate at which business rate assessment appeals are heard.      [22787]

Mr. Nelson: Business rate appeals are dealt with by valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency, an executive agency of the Inland Revenue. In the year 1994 95, a total of 269,528 appeals were settled. The target for 1995 96 published in the agency's business plan is to settle 330,000 appeals and sufficient resources will be made available to meet this target.

Manufacturing Trade

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what was the deficit on trade in manufactures with the EEC countries for each year since 1992 and the annual rate in the three months from January 1995; and what has been the effect on output and employment to date;      [23310]

(2) what was the change in the last 12 months in the volume of imports of manufactures from the EEC and the effect on output and employment to date in the United Kingdom;      [23311]

(3) what has been (a) the change in volume of imports of manufactures from the EEC in the three months to January 1995 and (b) the effect on output and employment to date;      [23307] (4) what was the deficit on trade in manufactures with the non-EEC countries for each year since 1992 and the annual rate for the three months from January 1995; and what has been the effect on output and employment to date.      [23309]

Mr. Nelson: Figures for EC and non-EC trade in manufactures and domestic output are available on the Central Statistical Office database, which can be accessed through the Library of the House. From these figures the direct contribution of changes in EC and non-EC trade volumes to GDP growth can be calculated. It is not possible to isolate the overall effects of trade performance on output and employment growth.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the volume of (a) imports of finished manufactures from the EEC and (b) exports of finished manufactures to the EEC since 1992.      [23308]


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Mr. Nelson: The information is available from the CSO database which may be accessed by the House of Commons Library.

Interest Rates

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 27 April, Official Report , column 646 , concerning the effect of the three increases in interest rates between 12 September 1994 and 2 February 1995 (1) what definition he attaches to the words (i) inflation and (ii) low;      [23325] (2) if the Government's objective of permanently low inflation excludes the possibility of a non- low rate of inflation generated by a high rate of growth in the leading sectors of the economy.      [23324]

Mr. Nelson: The Government's objective is permanently low inflation. The aim is to keep underlying inflation as measured by the retail prices index, excluding mortgage interest payments--in the range 1 to 4 per cent. and bring it down in to the lower half of this range by the end of the present Parliament. Providing a stable macroeconomic environment with low inflation is the best way to ensure sustainable growth in all sectors of the economy.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 27 April, Official Report, column 646, concerning the effect of the increases in interest rates between 12 September 1994 and 2 February 1995, what has been the effect of each on the exchange rate.      [23326]

Mr. Nelson: The exchange rate is determined by many factors. It is not possible to isolate the effect of changes in UK interest rates.

Hotels (VAT)

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his response to representations of the British tourist industry to bring VAT on hotel accommodation in line with European Union levels; and if he will make a statement.      [22579]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: There is no uniformity in the rate of VAT applied to hotel accommodation by the other EU member states. The Government have no plans to alter the standard rate of VAT applicable to hotel accommodation in the United Kingdom.

Training

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what special training is given to persons who have responsibility for assessing the historical significant of documents held by his Department.      [23276]

Mr. Nelson: Training in assessing the historical significance of departmental records is carried out under the guidance of the keeper of public records. It is provided in a number of different ways, including courses on the appraisal of records and conferences and seminars arranged by the Public Records Office.

Staff who deal with departmental records have experience of the work of the Treasury and receive on the job desk training together with guidance from of the public Records Office.


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National Vocational Qualifications

Mr. Barron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of vacancies advertised by his Department, and by each of his Department's agencies, in the last three years have listed the attainment of NVQs as an acceptable entry requirement; and, of those how many have required (a) level 1 NVQs, (b) level 2 NVQs, (c) level 3 NVQs, and (d) other level NVQs. [222971]

Mr. Nelson: HM Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's agencies are happy to consider national vocational qualifications at the appropriate level as alternatives to traditional educational qualifications of recruitment. None of the recruitment schemes over the past three years has specifically referred in advertisements to the acceptability of NVQs.

Tobacco

Mr. Barron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to stop overseas mail order arrangements for selling through a personal agent operated by certain tobacco companies to avoid the payment of United Kingdom tax and duty.      [22962]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: A case of this kind is currently the subject of a judicial review application before the High Court. Customs and Excise consider that this scheme is a distance selling operation which should give rise to a charge of UK excise duty and VAT. The court is expected to give judgment later this month.

Official Statistics

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he proposes to ensure the success of the recently published Government official statistics code of practice regarding public access to official statistics through libraries and other public archives.      [22610]

Mr. Nelson: Statisticians in all Government Departments act on the guidelines contained within the official statistics code of practice. A series of inter-departmental committees help to co-ordinate these activities and to share best practices. The Government statistical service dissemination committee covers public access issues and to this end has links with the committee of librarians and statisticians.

The central statistical office is strongly committed to increasing the availability of its statistics to schools, libraries and the academic world. Through its library extension and education programme it has a valuable


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programme of assistance including provision of information, advice and assistance. The CSO will also be co-operating with the British Library for the improved provision of archival material. The CSO also plans a public access library for its new Drummond Gate site in London.

Single European Currency

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects on the United Kingdom's foreign, gold and other reserves, with particular reference to assignment and ownership in whole or in part of a decision on the part of the United Kingdom to join a single European currency.      [21788]

Mr. Nelson: Article 105, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the treaty on European union and articles 30 and 31 of the statute of the European system of central banks and of the European central bank relate to the holding and management of foreign exchange reserves in stage 3 of economic and monetary union.

Under the United Kingdom's protocol to the treaty, these provisions will not apply to the United Kingdom if the United Kingdom does not move to stage 3.

EU Funding

Mr. Marlow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent it is possible for a project to receive funds from both the EU social fund and the cohesion fund; and if he will make a statement.      [22772]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 9 May 1995]: It is possible for a project to receive funds from both the EU social fund and the cohesion fund, although no individual item of expenditure under the project may benefit from both. The combined assistance of the cohesion fund and other EU aid for a project must not exceed 90 per cent. of the total project expenditure. Only Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece are eligible for funding from the cohesion fund.

Mortgage Protection

Mr. Darling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out his proposals to amend the law with regard to the taxation of payments made under mortgage protection policies; and if he will make a statement.      [23158]


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