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Tax Advice

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13366]

Mr. Ron Davies: My Department does not purchase tax advice.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995-96, (2) 1996-97 and (3) 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. [13373]

Mr. Hain: Neither my Department nor its agency, Cadw, purchases external tax advice. Details of any such expenditure by those non-departmental public bodies sponsored by my Department are not held centrally; it is wholly a matter for them to determine as part of the day-to-day management of their affairs.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Cash and Running Cost Limits

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what changes will be made to the cash and running cost limits for her Department, the Office of Telecommunications, the Office of Gas Supply and the Office of Electricity Regulation for 1997-98 and to the external financing limit of BNFL for 1997-98. [14899]

Mrs. Beckett: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class IV, vote 1--Department of Trade and Industry: programmes and administration--will be increased by £4,656,000 from £1,344,410,000 to £1,349,066,000. This net increase results from:


Within this total, the gross running costs limit for the Department of Trade and Industry will be increased by £5,244,000 from £366,693,000 to £371,937,000. This change comprises the take-up of running costs end-year

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flexibility and includes payment of £25,000 to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in respect of the transfer of responsibility for music sponsorship.

The take up of the Department's running costs and capital end-year flexibility (£5,783,000) will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for Class IV Vote 8--Office of Telecommunications--will be increased by £353,000 from £10,408,000 to £10,761,000 and the running costs limit will be increased by £353,000 from £9,993,000 to £10,346,000. These changes reflect extra resources required for work on numbering administration and give effect to the end-year flexibility carry-forward of £280,000 announced by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report, columns 245-50. The increase will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Also, subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for Class IV Vote 9--Office of Gas Supply--will be increased by £1,053,000 from £10,075,000 to £11,128,000 and the running costs limit will be increased by £950,000 from £11,412,000 to £12,362,000. These changes reflect the extra resources required for the extension of competition in the domestic gas market, and give effect to the end-year flexibility carry-forward of £103,000 on capital announced by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report, columns 245-50. The increase will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Additionally, subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for Class IV Vote 10--Office of Electricity Regulation--will be increased by £2,000,000 from £13,950,000 to £15,950,000 and the running costs limit will be increased by £2,000,000 from £14,635,000 to £16,635,000. An increase in receipts to the consolidated fund of £2,000,000 is expected as a consequence of the increase in running costs. These changes reflect the extra resources required by the Director General of Electricity Supply to fulfil his obligations under the Electricity Act 1989, and to meet the deadlines set for deregulation of the franchised electricity supply market. The increase will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

In addition to these changes, the External Financing Limit of BNFL has been adjusted from -£67,000,000 to -£169,000,000 to reflect an improved trading performance since the External Financing Limit was set in the 1996 budget.

Airfares

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action her Department is taking to ensure that full and inclusive pricing is introduced for airfares. [12984]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: The practices of some operators in quoting prices for airfares may be misleading, in breach of Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

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The Advertising Standards Authority Council are due to meet on 7 November to deliberate on whether certain airfare advertisements are in breach of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion.

I have made clear to the airline and travel industry my concern that consumers must have clear and transparent pricing information.

Arms Sales

Sir Richard Body: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of the value of Export Credits Guarantee Department coverage has been provided for arms sales in each of the last three years; and what was the total coverage provided for arms sales in each of those years. [12724]

Mrs. Beckett: From Information readily available on ECGD's files the details requested are as follows:

Financial yearValue of ECGD cover provided for defence business £ millionValue for cover for defence business as a percentage of total cover
1994-9572521.4
1995-961,01322.9
1996-9738416.3

These figures include all ECGD covered business with defence buyers, including sales of non-lethal equipment.


Bananas

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will place in the Library those parts of the world trade agreement relevant to its recent finding in respect of bananas together with a copy of the full finding or judgment, stating where, when and in what manner it was made and to whom it was addressed in the first instance. [13391]

Mrs. Roche: A copy of "The Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations", which includes the agreements relevant to the recent World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on the European Community banana regime, is currently in the Library of the House. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruling was sent to H.E. Mr. Roderick Abbott, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the European Communities to the WTO on 9 September 1997 and was adopted at the WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting of 25 September 1997. Copies of both Panel and the Appellate Body rulings have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what persons, and from which national or community body, represented United Kingdom interests in the course of proceedings at the World Trade Organisation concerning the arrangements of trade in bananas; what was the nature of the negotiating mandate given to that person and by whom; and to what body, other than Her Majesty's Government were (i) the nature of such a mandate and (ii) its existence communicated. [13389]

Mrs. Roche: A World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel was established in May 1996 to consider a complaint against the European Community's banana regime, following unsuccessful consultations with the complainant countries (the United States, Guatemala,

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Mexico, Ecuador and Honduras). Since the European Community (EC) has competence in external trade matters, United Kingdom interests in the subsequent proceedings at the WTO were represented by officials from the Commission Legal Services. The EC defended its policy and the United Kingdom supported the Commission's defence of this policy. A negotiating mandate was not required in this case. The framework for the conduct of the EC's common commercial policy is set out in Article 113 of the EC Treaty.


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