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Arcadia Land plc

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his reply of 22 November, Official Report, columns 181-12, if Arcadia Land has shown any interest in purchasing any of his Department's housing stock under his new housing scheme announced on 30 November, Official Report, columns 810-11. [5404]

Mr. Soames: No.

Attack Helicopters (Orders)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's order for attack helicopters will be made in kit form by McDonnell Douglas in America and assembled in Britain. [5529]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Apart from the first eight aircraft which will be manufactured and assembled by McDonnell Douglas, parts of each of the other airframes will be manufactured in kit form by McDonnell Douglas in the US and assembled in Britain. The UK manufactured content of the aircraft will increase as production progresses.

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 596

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Telesales

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to review the need for controls on cold calling telephone marketing; and what plans the European Commission has on this issue. [4924]

Mr. Ian Taylor: The Government see a legitimate role for telesales calls but want to encourage responsible business practices for companies using this technique. Regulation of telesales calls is partly achieved through conditions in telecommunications licences but there is considerable practical difficulty in developing regulations that can be effectively implemented and enforced. The Office of Telecommunications has encouraged the setting up of the telephone preference service, launched last January. It is a voluntary scheme supported by the industry and provides a welcome means for telecommunications subscribers to let it be known if they do not wish to receive such calls.

A common position on the European Commission proposals for a directive on distance selling was agreed on 29 June 1995 which satisfied United Kingdom concerns. However, this text is currently under scrutiny by the European Parliament, which can recommend changes.

I am concerned about a number of the amendments which the European Parliament is considering, which, if implemented, would mean that telephone sales calls would be subject to a statutory prior consent requirement. Such recommendations would be unwelcome to UK business and we are briefing MEPs accordingly.

Arms Exports, Nigeria

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance his Department has given to British companies exporting arms to Nigeria since 1993. [2878]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 28 November 1995]: The Department has not been involved in the promotion of any defence sales to Nigeria since 1993.

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many export licences for military equipment to Nigeria have been granted in 1995 and into which military category list they fell; in how many cases in which export licences for the export of arms to Nigeria have been granted since 1993, equipment has not yet been delivered to Nigeria; and under which military category list the equipment falls. [5403]

Mr. Oppenheim: Earlier this year detailed statistical analyses of export licences which were granted for military, para-military and security equipment in the calendar years 1993 and 1994 were placed in the Library of the House. These analyses included all countries of destination for which these licences were issued, including Nigeria. Early in 1996, I intend to place in the Library of the House a similar analysis for the full calendar year 1995. I shall write to the hon. Member when this is done. The Department of Trade and Industry, under the export licensing system which it administers, does not require exporters to report to the Department details of shipments of goods which have been so licensed. An export licence is valid for two years from its date of issue.

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Insolvency Service

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade against which private sector organisation the Insolvency Service is being benchmarked in the contracting-out of its work; and if he will set out the basis of the comparisons. [5666]

Mr. Oppenheim: As part of the current contracting-out exercise to determine whether the contracting-out of official receivers case administration functions would offer additional value for money, the service has established its own costs for undertaking such work and these will be used as a benchmark against which the bids received will be compared.

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 to staff transfers under contracting out in the Insolvency Service. [5671]

Mr. Oppenheim: It will not be possible to establish whether TUPE applies to the case administration work which may be contacted-out from official receivers offices until bids have been fully evaluated and legal advice sought. However, on present information it is believed that TUPE will apply to any contracting-out.

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which Insolvency Service offices throughout the country have been earmarked for benchmarking; and what criteria was used in the evaluation process. [5668]

Mr. Oppenheim: The benchmark cost of undertaking the official receivers case administration function has been established for each official receivers' office.

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how benchmarking costs have been formulated for the contracting out of constituent parts of the Insolvency Service; and what is the number of staff involved. [5672]

Mr. Oppenheim: The benchmark cost of each official receiver's office has been taken as the cost of that office undertaking the work offered for tender, to the specified level, in 1996-97. Up to 900 staff would be involved.

Mr. Harvey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the time scale involved in the contracting-out of the Insolvency Service; and if he will make a statement. [5667]

Mr. Oppenheim: It is likely that a decision on the award of contracts will be made at the end of January 1996. If that decision is to proceed with contracting-out it is envisaged that contractors will begin work on 1 May 1996.

Arms Embargo

Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which parts and groups of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 fall within the European Union embargo on arms, munitions and military equipment sales to Nigeria; and if licences already issued are being withdrawn if the equipment has not yet left the United Kingdom. [4750]

Mr. Oppenheim: The arms embargo applies to all equipment listed in schedule 1, part III, group 1 of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994. The embargo does

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 598

not extend to existing contracts for defence equipment for which individual export licences have been issued in accordance with the measures which were agreed and implemented by EU partners in 1993.

Investment

Mr. Macshane: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the total amounts of inward and outward investment by year since 1980. [4785]

Mr. Oppenheim: The information is published by the Central Statistical Office in table 1.4 of the United Kingdom balance of payments "Pink Book" for 1995, which is available in the Library of the House.

Official Receiver

Mrs. Roche: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about his proposals to contract out functions of the official receivers; what functions he proposes to contract-out; how many bids he has received; when contracts will be awarded; how many representations he has received on this subject; and how many of these have been in favour of contracting-out. [5257]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 11 December 1995]: No decision to contract-out the case administration work of official receivers has yet been taken; a decision will only be made once the six bids received have been financially and technically evaluated. Contracting-out will proceed only where to do so would represent additional value for money. It is expected that any contracts will be awarded by the end of January 1996.

Since the Government's intention to test the viability of contracting-out was announced on 10 October last year, my Department has received some 232 representations on this matter, the majority of which were from or on behalf of members of Insolvency Service staff and which generally opposed any contracting-out.

Company Procedure

Mrs. Roche: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to introduce legislation for a 28-day moratorium on credits' actions for small firms. [5259]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 11 December 1995]: As I announced in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) on 27 November 1995, Official Report, columns 429-30, this will be done when parliamentary time allows.

Mrs. Roche: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what safeguards he intends to put into practice with regard to the new company voluntary arrangements. [5260]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 11 December 1995]: As I announced in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby on 27 November 1995, Official Report, columns 429-30, the intended legislation will be broadly as described in the recent company voluntary arrangement consultative document which makes reference to various safeguards.

Mrs. Roche: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to announce his decision on a requirement to give five days' notice of the intention to appoint an administrative receiver. [5258]

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 599

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 11 December 1995]: As I announced in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby on 27 November 1995, Official Report, columns 429-30, not until it is clear whether, in response to the invitation I have issued to the British Bankers Association, the banks can come up with a binding code of practice which obviates the need for such a notice.


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