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Ministerial Papers

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what instructions she has given on the information which she wishes to be drawn to her attention (a) in red boxes and (b) otherwise; and if she will indicate when and how these instructions have been modified. [42587]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 18 May 1998]: I expect information to be drawn to my attention by my Private Office, according to its urgency and importance. The only instructions I have given on handling such information are that I prefer to deal with papers as and when possible throughout the day, rather than having them put aside to go in red boxes if this is unnecessary. These instructions are unchanged.

Sierra Leone

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the President of the Board of Trade at what time and on what date she first saw a copy of the letter addressed to the Foreign Secretary from S J Berwin & Co. on behalf of Sandline International dated 24 April. [42130]

Mrs. Beckett: My Department provided advice to Ministers on this letter on Wednesday 6 May 1998, when I was overseas. Following my return I saw the text of the letter on Tuesday 12 May.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) on what dates since 1 May 1997 the Restricted Enforcement Unit has met; and on how many occasions the Unit has invited Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to commence an investigation into illegal arms exports in breach on UN Security Council resolutions; [42693]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 19 May 1998]: I refer the hon. Member to the statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the House during the debate on 18 May 1998, Official Report, columns 606-08, in which he announced the investigation by Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC into allegations about Government involvement with the supply of arms to Sierra Leone by UK citizens and firms, and said that the

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Terms of Reference would be placed in the Library of the House. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary intends to publish the report of the investigation.

Restricted Enforcement Unit

Mr. Blunt: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which departments are represented on the Restricted Enforcement Unit. [42692]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 19 May 1998]: The following Departments are represented at the Restricted Enforcement Unit:

Printing, Packaging and Graphics Industry

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what fiscal steps her Department has taken to encourage entrepreneurial investment in the United Kingdom printing, packaging and graphic communications industry. [43693]

Mr. Battle: The Government have taken a number of steps to encourage long-term investment and enterprise in all our industries. These include measures to promote economic stability, cuts in corporation tax, increased first-year capital allowances for SMEs, and the reform of capital gains tax and the Enterprise Investment Scheme. The Government have also published a document, "Innovating for the Future: Investing in R&D" as the basis for a wide-ranging consultation to see how we can improve our record on investment in research and development. Furthermore, the Chancellor recently announced three new venture capital funds totalling £240 million to support small and medium businesses.

Straw Burning

Mr. Oaten: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to develop straw burning as an alternative form of energy in the United Kingdom. [43551]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 1 June 1998]: A 31 MW straw-powered project at Ely, Cambridgeshire, was contracted under the third non-fossil fuel obligation, NFFO-3, and is now at an advanced stage of development. I shall monitor the progress of this project in order to inform decisions resulting from my review of new and renewable energy policy on the prospects for straw as a fuel, and on the eligibility of this energy source in any future NFFO arrangements.

County Courts

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has for the re-division of county courts between official receivers' officers; if she will list which courts are to be moved to which official receivers' offices; and when these changes will be implemented. [43848]

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Mr. Nigel Griffiths: This is an operational matter for the Inspector General and Chief Executive of the Insolvency Service. I have asked him to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Joyce to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 4 June 1998:

    The Insolvency Service is implementing a new grading and pay system to come into effect on 1 August 1998. As part of that, it is looking at some adjustments to the case loads of some official receivers' offices, which will be achieved by the re-allocation of the work of some county courts between those offices. Consideration of those re-allocations has yet to be concluded, and I am therefore not yet in a position to provide a full list of the changes. I have however given an undertaking to supply the list to the Trade Union Side of the Agency National Whitley Committee by 2 July, and a copy will be made available to relevant staff: that timetable is expected to be met. The changes will take place over a period of time. The timing will be dependent on a number of factors, including current staffing levels in offices, but I do not see them involving any redundancies, compulsory transfers or office closures.

Post Office Review

Mr. Boswell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many contacts she has had with private sector carriers in the context of the Post Office review. [43807]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I met several leading private sector carriers, and a representative organisation (AICES), during the first phase of the review last year. I am also aware of the evidence presented to the Trade and Industry Select Committee last Autumn by certain private sector carriers. Since the announcement of the second phase of the review, my officials have had contact with a number of carriers and have met some of them.

Population Statistics

Ms Atherton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the populations of South Yorkshire, Merseyside, Wales, Northern Ireland, NUTS II regions and Cornwall NUTS III region. [43627]

Mrs. Roche: The latest published regional population estimates for these NUTS areas are for 1995:

South Yorkshire1,303,900
Glwyd, Dyfed, Gwynedd, and Powys1,132,700
Gwent, and Mid, South, and West Glamorgan1,784,100
Northern Ireland1,649,000


The boundaries and names of the two Welsh NUTS level II areas are based on the former counties


Regional Trends

Objective 1 Funding

Ms Atherton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the populations of those regions currently receiving Objective 1 structural funds from the European Union. [43626]

4 Jun 1998 : Column: 320

Mrs. Roche: The population in regions covered by current Objective 1 programmes in each EU Member State is:

United Kingdom3.414


European Commission, Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund 1994-99 Regulations and Commentary


Mr. William Ross: To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Directors of ACPO Ltd. are being considered for prosecution for non-compliance with the Companies Acts in respect of (a) their appointments as directors of ACPO Ltd. and (b) the contents of their Memorandum and Articles of Association. [44104]

Mr. Ian McCartney: No. As far as Companies House is aware, the requirements of the Companies Act in respect of appointment of directors and Memorandum and Articles have now been met. In this situation Companies House would not consider prosecution. This is on the basis of advice applicable to such situations that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute.

Mr. William Ross: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps Companies House have taken to ensure that the directors of ACPO Ltd. comply fully with the disclosure requirements of Companies Act Form 288a. [44103]

Mr. Ian McCartney: Companies House has no information which leads it to the view that the directors of ACPO Ltd. have not now complied fully with the disclosure requirements of Companies Act form 288a. Companies House accepts documents in good faith. If, however, it is brought to notice that information disclosed under section 288 of the Companies Act is in any way inaccurate or incomplete, the directors concerned would be asked to provide corrected information. Failure to do so could lead to consideration of prosecution.

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