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Millennium Compliance

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she notifies potential purchasers of obsolete information technology equipment sold by her Department that such equipment may not be millennium compliant. [25652]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 27 January 1998]: Information technology equipment is only occasionally sold by the DTI. Purchasers are invariably specialist organisation which will be well aware of the potential non-compliant status of older equipment.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when she expects to reply to the question from the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham of 20 January 1998 relating to membership of the Ministerial Group on the year 2000 problem. [27074]

Mrs. Roche: I refer the hon, Member to the answer I gave her on 30 January 1998, Official Report, column 568.

Civil Servants

Mr. Rhodri Morgan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of civil service staff of grade five and above within her Department (a) have spent their entire civil service career within her Department, (b) have had secondments to (i) the private sector and (ii) other departments and (c) have come from other departments. [26036]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 28 January 1998]: Of the Senior Civil Service currently working in the DTI 24 per cent. have spent their entire Civil Service career here; 12 per cent. have had secondment to the private sector; 31 per cent. have worked in other departments and 42 per cent. have come from other departments.

Electricity Companies

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will introduce regulations to reduce delays in obtaining repairs by requiring electricity companies to provide special emergency numbers for nursing homes and old people's homes. [26242]

Mr. Battle: The Office of Electricity Regulation is currently investigating the performance of the Public Electricity Suppliers (PES) in dealing with the aftermath of the recent storms. The investigation includes the problems that occurred with the communication system and why it took so long to reconnect the supply of some nursing homes.

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 483

The current Codes of practice provide that PES keep a list of elderly and disabled customers.

Football World Cup

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she has referred to the Director General of Fair Trading, the ticket allocation system for the 1998 Football World Cup; and if she will make a statement. [26264]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: No. In the first instance the ticket allocation system for the 1998 Football World Cup is a matter for FIFA and the French organising authorities. My hon. Friend, the Minister for Sport, is concerned about the inadequacy of World Cup tickets and I understand he has discussed this with the FA. I also understand that both they and the Scottish Football Association are doing everything they can in making representations to the French World Cup organisers and to FIFA to maximise the number of World Cup tickets available for English and Scottish supporters.


Mr. Corbyn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the current level of ECGD exposure in Algeria for (a) defence-related equipment and (b) non-defence equipment; and if he will make a statement on the Government's policy in relation to trade with Algeria. [26014]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 28 January 1998]: From data readily available exposure under ECGD guarantees for defence business with Algeria was £97.8 million at end of December 1997 with a further £82 million exposure in respect of non-defence business giving total exposure of £179.8 million. Over £160 million of this total exposure has been paid as claims, but these sums have been rescheduled and thus are expected to be recovered. There is currently no medium term ECGD cover available for defence-related goods as ECGD cover for new business is primarily available for sales of equipment to the Oil and Gas sector. The Government maintain trade relations with Algeria within the framework of the EC/Algeria Co-operation Agreement: we support the current negotiations on a new EU/Algeria Association Agreement, providing for reciprocal liberalised trade: we also welcome Algeria's application to accede to the World Trade Organisation.

Export Licences

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to her answer of 22 December 1997, Official Report, column 512, if she will list the equipment covered by the categories (a) MI5, (b) ML9, (c) ML10, and (d) ML11. [24611]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 29 January 1998]: Description of the goods covered in these entries are set out in Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) (Amendment No.2) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/2663). The description of the goods covered by entry ML10 has since been amended by article 7(5) of the Export of Goods (Control) (Amendment No.3) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/2758). These instruments are in the Library of the House.

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 484

Nuclear Reprocessing

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the safety of the United Kingdom's nuclear reprocessing facilities. [26387]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 30 January 1998]: Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel takes place at two sites in the UK: BNFL'S Sellafield site in Cumbria and the UKAEA's Dounreay site in Caithness. Both these sites are subject to the nuclear safety regulatory system enforced by the nuclear industry's independent safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Under the nuclear site licensing regime, continued operation of any civil nuclear installation, including reprocessing facilities, is dependent on the HSE being satisfied about its safety.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if nuclear reprocessing will continue at each of the present sites in the United Kingdom. [26386]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 30 January 1998]: Subject to satisfying the regulatory requirements on safety and discharges, BNFL and UKAEA can be expected to fulfil their contractual commitments to reprocess spent nuclear fuel for their customers.


Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if rates for ECGD cover for the latest Hawk Jet order from Indonesia reflected a revised risk assessment.[26391]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 30 January 1998]: The premium rate charged reflected ECGD's assessment of the risk at the time. ECGD's premium charge for individual transactions is fixed at the time its guarantee is issued and is not subject to review during the life of the guarantee.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is her latest estimate of ECGD losses in 1997-98. [26380]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 30 January 1998]: ECGD does not expect on its current forecast to record a trading loss in 1997-98.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when ECGD last revised its risk assessment of (a) Indonesia, (b) South Korea, (c) Malaysia, (d) Hong Kong and (e) China; and what changes it made. [26384]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 30 January 1998]: Formal risk assessments were last made as follows: (a) for Indonesia in December 1997; (b) for South Korea in September 1997; (c) for Malaysia in May 1997; (d) for Hong Kong in November 1996; (e) for China in November 1996. As a result, premium rates were raised for Indonesia and China and reduced for Malaysia. The precise amount will vary according to the terms of support for individual transactions.

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 485

Rates were last raised for South Korea in February 1996 and for Malaysia and Hong Kong in December 1995. New assessments for South Korea, China and Hong Kong are currently under way and a further assessment of Malaysia is planned. Additionally, since the onset of financial turbulence in South East Asia, ECGD is monitoring the situation continuously.


Mr. Maclean: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list by category, the records which her Department maintains on exports over the last 30 years of British (a) agricultural machinery, (b) motor lorries and (c) motor cars. [27018]

Mr. Battle: Information on UK exports of goods is collected and published by HM Customs and Excise ("Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, HM Customs and Excise"). In 1997 under the combined Nomenclature classification system there were approximately 60 categories of agricultural machinery, 15 categories of motor cars (excluding motor caravans) and 30 categories of lorries. The exact number of categories has varied from year to year as the classification system has been adapted to changes in the range of products. The last major revision to the classification system was 1988. The Department holds copies of the relevant publications for 1976, but the cost of extracting the data for the relevant categories would be disproportionate. However, the 1997 edition of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' publication "World Automotive Statistics" helpfully reproduces Customs and Excise data on car, commercial vehicle, and agricultural tractor exports from 1946 to 1996. A copy of this publication is available in the Library.

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