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Patent Office

Mr. Waller: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what targets he has set the Patent Office executive agency for 1996-97. [32069]

Mr. Lang: I have set the Patent Office the targets listed for 1996-97.


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Ariane 5

Sir Michael Marshall: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the implications for United Kingdom space policy of the launch failure of Ariane 5; and if he will make a statement. [31872]

Mr. Ian Taylor: The loss of the European Space Agency's first Ariane 5 launch vehicle and the four CLUSTER space science satellites is a great disappointment for everyone involved. The United Kingdom Government contributed £35 million to CLUSTER and invested £12 million in instrumentation. British scientists played a prominent role in the CLUSTER mission and the setback in the research community will be keenly felt. The agency's space science programme will, however, continue to provide important opportunities for British space scientists.

The UK will continue to support competitive European launch capacity to meet commercial and research programme needs. The UK contribution to Ariane, announced in March of this year, totals £2.8 million up to 2000 for the follow on programme for infrastructure. The UK Government also contribute £5 million a year to the operations of the Kourau launch centre. The decision to re-enter the Ariane programme came as a result of discussions with industry about the priorities for British space policy. A further space policy seminar with industry is to be held on 25 June.

The Government's interest in space focuses particularly on our contribution to the science programme and the increasingly important civil activities of earth observation, pollution monitoring, mineral extraction data, global navigation, telecommunications, television and weather forecasting.

Exchange Rates

Mr. Mike O'Brien: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 22 May, Official Report, column 265, how much Britain has gained or lost in pounds sterling as a result of changes in exchange rates in each of the last three years. [31261]

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 4 June 1996]: The structural funds regulations provide for a number of block allocations of grants for multi-annual programmes to be made to each member state. These allocations, like the whole of the EC budget, from which they are drawn, are denominated in ecu. Changes in exchange rates therefore affect the value in national currencies of the structural funds grants received by all member states. There are no losses or gains in sterling terms since the sterling equivalent of the ecu value of the allocations are known only when the programmes are completed.

Accounts (Late Filing Penalties)

Mrs. Roche: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the current tariff of penalties employed at Companies House for late filing of

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accounts, indicating what size businesses the penalties relate to, and including the sliding scale for the length of delay in filing. [30729]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 4 June 1996]: The registrar and chief executive of Companies House executive agency has delegated authority to deal with such matters on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The registrar has been asked to write to the hon. Lady.

Letter from John S. Holden to Mrs. Barbara Roche, dated 6 June 1996:


Research Councils

Mr. Ingram: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will place in the Library the memoranda issued to (a) the chief executives of the research councils, and (b) the director generals of the research councils setting out the conditions of their appointments. [31192]

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 4 June 1996]: The Director General of Research Councils is a senior civil servant serving on a limited period appointment. Apart from his performance bonus arrangements the conditions of his appointment are those of senior civil servants. The

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chief executives of the research councils are employees of the councils. I have placed in the Library of the House the statement issued to those appointed since 1 April 1994 detailing the conditions of their appointments as chief executive and as accounting officer.

Rail Transport Research

Mr. Riddick: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures are being taken to ensure that research into rail transport continues following privatisation. [32168]

Mr. Watts: I have been asked to reply.

I have approved the establishment of a review to consider the best mechanism for directing and co-ordinating research and development in order to meet the needs of the new railway industry. The review will provide advice for the successor bodies, which, following privatisation, will be responsible for determining their own research requirements. It will be chaired by Professor Sir David Davies, chief scientific adviser, Ministry of Defence. Its membership comprises: Professor Brian Mellitt director, engineering and production, Railtrack plc; Mr. Gordon Pettitt, transport management consultant, formerly managing director, regional railways; Professor Tony Ridley, professor of Transport Engineering, University of London centre for transport studies; and Mr. Tony Roche, board member, engineering services and safety, British Railways Board. The review is currently in the process of collecting evidence and will present its findings and recommendations to the permanent secretary, Department of Transport, by late summer.

SOCIAL SECURITY

State Pensions

Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the state pension for (a) a single pension and (b) a couple would have been in April 1995 and April 1996 if the pension in each of these years had been uprated by the higher of the retail prices index or earnings in both of these years; and what estimate he has made of (i) the gross additional costs of such increases in pension and (ii) the net cost after savings in (1) means-tested benefits and (2) increased Treasury receipts from income tax. [30163]

Mr. Heald: The information is in the table:

Retirement pension single rateRetirement pension couple rateCost to national insurance fundSavings in income-related benefitsIncrease in Treasury income tax receipts
£££££
1995-9659.9095.75470 million130 million50 million
1996-9762.2599.50510 million140 million50 million

Sources:

1. National insurance fund estimates provided by Government Actuary department.

2. Income-related benefit effects calculated using the policy simulation model 1996-97, based on the family expenditure surveys 1991, 1992 and 1993.

3. Income tax figures supplied by the Inland Revenue and calculated using provisional figures from a projection of the 1994 family expenditure survey.

Notes:

1. All costs are rounded to the nearest £10 million with the exception of income tax receipts which are rounded to the nearest £50 million.

2. The estimate for 1996-97 is based upon uprating the 1995-96 figures shown in the table.

3. Rates of retirement pension have been calculated on the basis of movement in the retail prices index and the average earnings, whole economy, index as produced by the Office of National Statistics as appropriate.


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