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Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors

Mrs. Beckett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) when the Government were notified that Hinckley Point B and Hunterston B were to be shut down on 10 July; [37833]

Mr. Lang: I have nothing to add to the statement that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Energy made to the House on 16 July, Official Report, columns 1013-22.

Labour Unit Costs

Sir Irvine Patnick: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of relative labour unit costs for each European Union country, the United States of America and Japan; and if he will make a statement. [38612]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The most comprehensive data which I have available is drawn from the Bank for International Settlements, and is shown on the table.

CountryManufacturing Unit Labour Costs in October 1993
United States of America100.0
United Kingdom126.3


Figures rebased so that USA=100. Figures above 100 show higher unit labour costs than the USA, e.g. Japan's unit labour costs are 65.9 per cent. higher than the US in October 1993.


'Measuring International Price and Cost Competitiveness' Turner and Van 't Dack. Bank for International Settlements, Economic Papers No. 39, November 1993.

The figures show that the UK's unit labour costs are relatively low. It is important that we maintain this good position. Companies and their employees have the crucial role of ensuring that we remain competitive.

Advertising Standards Authority

Mr. Dafis: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to replace the Advertising Standards Authority with a statutory body. [37754]

Mr. John M. Taylor: No. The Advertising Standards Authority was established to supervise the advertising code of practice. Self-regulation backed by the Control of

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 34

Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 works well and is the most effective way to protect consumers against misleading and offensive advertising.

Mr. Dafis: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what procedures are available to people who wish to make complaints about decisions made by the Advertising Standards Authority. [37783]

Mr. Taylor: Anyone who wants to complain about a decision made by the Advertising Standards Authority can apply in the first instance to the independent chairman, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, for a review of that decision. They can also refer their complaint to the Director General of Fair Trading.

Government Policy

Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to promote Government policy in relation to industry. [36808]

Mr. Eggar: DTI Ministers seize every opportunity to further Government policy in relation to industry, to promote the interests of British business and to promote the UK as a location for business investment. Recently, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has set out our policies in relation to industry in a series of keynote speeches, including one in June to the Engineering Employers Federation on the subject of setting enterprise free.

Briefly, the essence of our policy is to promote free enterprises and free trade, with vigourous competition as the driving force.

At home, we adopt a rigorous approach to competition policy, and continue to drive forward the deregulation process. The Department has repealed or amended over 50 pieces of burdensome legislation in the last year alone.

In Europe and beyond, we promote an open trading environment. We have launched a reinvigorated unit--action single market--charged with overcoming illegal barriers and unfair subsidies encountered by British firms in the single market. We are continuing to work with our European partners and in the World Trade Organisation to further the process of multilateral trade liberalisation.

As a result of our commitment to free enterprise, we have seen another record year for inward investment, with over 48,000 new jobs expected to be created as a direct result of investments notified to the Invest in Britain Bureau in 1995-96.

Manufacturing Investment

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what policies the Government have put in place to improve investment in United Kingdom manufacturing. [36797]

Mr. John M. Taylor: We are providing a stable economic environment with low inflation, low corporation tax rates, historically low interst rates and profits are high. The Treasury summer forecast expects that business investment--which includes manufacturing investment--will rise by over 7 per cent. both this year and next.

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 35

Fuel Consumers

Sir Robert Hicks: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy that fuel consumers who use pre-payment meters are not required to pay a surcharge on standing or unit prices. [38043]

Mr. John M. Taylor: Subject to their licence obligations to avoid undue discrimination, this is a matter for the public electricity suppliers and gas suppliers. I understand that they have been able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the regulators, that there are additional costs involved in operating pre-payment meter systems for electricity and gas customers.

Statistical Forms

Mr. Steen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the forms his Department issues annually to businesses to gather statistics, indicating the number of each distributed. [37812]

Mr. John M. Taylor [holding answer 19 July 1996]: A list of regular surveys which gather statistics from business, together with the number of questionnaires distributed, is shown in the following table.

Name of Survey, by PeriodicityNumber of forms per year
Annual and Quarterly
Inquiry into Electricity Generated (8)799
Renewable Energy Statistics (RESTATS)255
Landfill Gas Monitoring49
Census of Hospital-treated Firework Injuries442
Fuels Inquiry (8)1,200
Inquiry into Oil and Natural Gas (8)900
Price of Fuel for PPI672
IT Security Breaches Survey (6)10,125(7)

(6) A mixed survey of both business and local authorities.

(7) Number of forms every other year.

(8) Surveys conducted for DTI by ONS.

The table is based on records of regular statistical surveys going to 25 or more businesses only. Information on surveys with smaller samples is excluded. In addition, 34 ad hoc surveys were conducted during 1995, some of which collected statistical information.

Trade and Human Rights

Mr. MacShane: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his policy towards discussion of the linkage between world trade and human rights in developing countries at the World Trade Organisation. [36784]

Mr. Nelson: The UK Government are firmly opposed to abuses of fundamental human rights such as forced labour and the exploitation of child labour, wherever this occurs. But we believe that these should be tackled within the appropriate UN framework, which is the International Labour Organisation, and not by the World Trade Organisation.

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 36

Terrorist Damage

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackey (Mr. Eastham) of 27 June, Official Report, column 202 , what additional steps he will take to ensure that equivalent assistance in respect of terrorist damage is made available on the British mainland. [38263]

Mr. Nelson: The situation in Northern Ireland is not comparable with that in Great Britain. Compensation schemes operate in the Province because insurance cover against losses arising from terrorist activity is not available. As such cover is fully available on the British mainland in relation to industrial and commercial property, the question of equivalent assistance in respect of terrorist damage does not arise.

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