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Theft and Fraud

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is her estimate of the cost of theft and fraud to (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies, in (i) 1995-96, (ii) 1996-97 and (iii)1997-98 to date. [27777]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: The estimated cost of theft and internal fraud to my department and its agencies in 1995-96 was £26,000 and £20,000 respectively and in 1996-97 was £1,000 and £260,000. Without incurring disproportionate cost, the data for 1997-98 will not be available until May 1998. Since 1 April 1996, we no longer hold the relevant data in respect of non-departmental public bodies.

The Department takes fraud very seriously. We take immediate and vigorous action if fraud is detected which also helps to deter other frauds.

We have in place procedures laid down by Treasury and regularly reviewed by Internal Audit and the National Audit Office that are designed to prevent fraud in the first place.

Periodicals

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is her estimate of the expenditure of her Department on newspapers and magazines in (a) 1995-96, (b) 1996-97, (c) 1997-98 to date and (d) 1997-98 full year; and if she will list the newspapers and magazines purchased or subscribed to on a regular basis. [26596]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: Excluding its agencies, the Department's expenditure on newspapers and mass circulation journals for the years requested was as follows:





This includes expenditure on national daily and Sunday newspapers, regional newspapers, and mass circulation magazines and journals. A full list of titles cannot be supplied except at disproportionate cost. The titles taken change to meet the changing requirements of the Department. Changes in procurement procedures mean these figures are not directly comparable with those last provided to the hon. Member in January 1996.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 93

Electricity Companies

Barbara Follett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what statutory provision covers changes to a public electricity supplier's licence in the event of a takeover bid for a regional electricity company. [28160]

Mr. Battle: Modifications to public electricity supply licences are subject to sections 11 to 15 of the Electricity Act 1989.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of bad debts ECGD is assuming on its Asian risks; and what was the corresponding figure in May 1997. [27860]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: Records readily available indicate that the level of ECGD's outstanding Claims Balances on Asian markets fell from £70.2m at 31 March 1997 to £36.1m at 5 February 1998. Equivalent figures of the position at 30 May 1997 are not available.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of total Asian ECGD risk is sovereign risk. [27857]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: 84% of ECGD's exposure on Asian markets is classified as sovereign and other public buyer risk.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the average premium rate for Indonesian ECGD cover (a) before and (b) after the December 1997 risk assessment. [27856]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: The premium rate for a typical medium-term loan guaranteed by ECGD was £3.40% prior to the December 1997 review and £3.76 afterwards. As no business has been signed since the last review it is not possible to compare average rates.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of ECGD's Asian risk is Sovereign risk; and what proportion private sector. [28586]

Mrs. Beckett: 84 per cent. of ECGD's exposure on Asian markets is classified as sovereign or other public sector risk, and the remaining 16 per cent. as private sector risk.

Dounreay

Mr. Savidge: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will assess the desirability of suspending particular categories of operations at Dounreay. [27999]

Mr. Battle: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on 2 February 1998, Official Report, column 484.

Mr. Savidge: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which nuclear waste storage facilities at Dounreay have been assessed to be unsafe; what is the estimated cost of clearing these up; which of these are still having waste added to them; and if she will estimate the effect of this on those costs. [27998]

Mr. Battle: All nuclear waste storage facilities at Dounreay are subject to strict independent regulation to ensure they do not pose an unacceptable risk to public

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 94

health. No nuclear waste storage facilities at Dounreay have been assessed by the regulators as unsafe. Subject to continuing to meet the requirements laid down by the regulators, the operation of storage facilities at Dounreay is a matter for the UKAEA. All storage facilities on the Dounreay site, including the Wet Silo, will be emptied in due course as part of the programme of ultimate waste disposal and site remediation. As it is Government policy to ensure good value for money between a range of companies, the cost estimates for individual facilities are commercially confidential.

Sellafield

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if it is her Department's normal practice to write off the capital cost of construction of a plant when considering its future viability; and what assessment she has made of the adoption of this practice by PA Consulting in its report on the MOX plant at Sellafield. [28279]

Mr. Battle: Responsibility for determining policy of the accounting treatment of fixed assets rests with the Board of British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL). The report by PA Consulting to which the hon. Member refers was commissioned by the Environment Agency as part of its consideration of the business case for the Sellafield MOX plant following BNFL's application to operate the plant. It is for the Agency to decide whether to accept the advice in the PA report.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will call in the plan to operate a MOX plant at Sellafield. [28275]

Mr. Battle: My right hon Friend has no powers to call in the application by BNFL for the commissioning and operation of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Plant at its Sellafield site. The Environment Agency is currently conducting a further public consultation on this application. It is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to decide whether to call it in for his decision.

GDP (Cornwall)

Ms Atherton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the gross domestic product of Cornwall for each year since 1968. [28177]

Mrs. Roche: GDP figures for counties are available only for selected years and from 1977 onwards. The available figures for Cornwall are as follows:

GDP at factor cost: current prices

£ million
YearGDP
1977715
1979926
19811,207
19841,547
19872,105
19892,689
19912,886
19933,212
19953,625


9 Feb 1998 : Column: 95

Lost and Stolen Items

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list those items valued at more than £25 stolen or lost from her Department since 1 May 1997; and if she will make a statement. [27778]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 5 February 1998]: Details are not held centrally. The data of the year ending 31 March 1998 will be compiled from returns from each of my Department's Units and Agencies which will be used to complete the Annual Report to Treasury in May. It is the responsibility of each Head of a Management Unit or Agency to ensure that systems are in place to minimise the risk from theft and to ensure that appropriate action is taken should a theft occur.

Photocopier Industry

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 3 February 1998, Official Report, column 611, what factors led the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs to describe the BEUA as advisers to the right hon. Member for Wokingham. [28125]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 6 February 1998]: I refer the right hon. Gentleman to EDM 437 tabled in November last year.

I note that there is no evidence of the right hon. Gentleman disputing the terms of the EDM which stated he relied on this organisation for his briefings.


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