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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 20 January 1999


Credit Unions

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department is taking to support the development of credit unions; and if she will make a statement. [66617]

Clare Short: We are currently involved in a number of projects setting up and strengthening credit unions and self-help groups which provide financial and other services to their members and share the co-operative principles of user-management and mutual-ownership. These range from comparatively small organisations aiming to build the financial asset base of disadvantaged communities in a specific location to self-help group federations and co-operative banks serving large parts of the countries they operate in.

Some examples of current and planned activities include:

    In India we are helping to set up the Andhra Pradesh Women's Fund (APWF) which will be owned by member clusters of self-help groups throughout the state of Andhra Pradesh. APWF will provide loans to these member clusters as well as help to mobilise and maintain the quality of clusters joining the APWF.

    Through our active involvement with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), we are providing support for the establishment of an independent rating agency to supervise select Guatemalan credit unions.

    Finally, we are sponsoring practitioners from developing countries to participate in the postgraduate certificate in co-operative management and organisational development of a credit union being offered by Leicester University.

We will continue to look at new ways to support credit unions and self-help groups which aim to offer the poor improved access to financial services.


Animated Films

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many animated films were produced in the UK in each year for the past five years; and what was the total level of grants provided for UK-produced animations in each of those years. [65990]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 18 January 1999]: Figures on the numbers of animation films produced in the UK are not available.

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Last year's Government/industry Film Policy Review identified the need to improve the coverage and availability of statistical information on the British film industry. My Department is currently exploring the feasibility of establishing a new and more comprehensive survey of film businesses.

National Lottery film production awards have been available since 1995. Awards to animated films were as follows:


In addition, the Arts Council of England contributes £50,000 per annum to a scheme for experimental animation, which it runs in conjunction with Channel 4. The British Film Institute also provides support to regional film and media bodies whose activities in some cases include support for animation.

Hotels (Quality Rating)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions his Department has held on the establishment of a new quality rating system for hotels. [65987]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 18 January 1999]: With the support of this Department, a new harmonised accommodation rating scheme for hotels and guest accommodation was launched by the English Tourist Board, the AA and the RAC last year. Hotels are given a rating of 1 to 5 stars covering the whole visitor experience and Guest Accommodation is rated entirely on quality, using 1 to 5 diamonds. Inspections against the new standards began in January 1998 and the scheme will be launched to customers later this year. It will be included in Guide Books for 2000. The scheme is available through the AA and the RAC throughout the United Kingdom.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he has taken to ensure political balance on the Board of S4C. [66062]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 18 January 1999]: All public appointments for which my right hon. Friend is responsible are made on the basis of aptitude and merit, and not on the basis of political affiliation. Under the Broadcasting Act 1990, S4C is required to ensure that due impartiality is preserved in respect of matters of political controversy or relating to current public policy.

Television Licence (Pensioners)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to review the TV licence scheme in respect of the different rates paid by different pensioners; and if he will make a statement. [66253]

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Janet Anderson: The current review of BBC funding will include a detailed consideration of the structure of the concessionary television licence scheme and whether a suitable alternative structure could be available. The review panel will report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State by the end of July, after which we shall consult publicly on its findings.


Mr. Nick Mullen

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Attorney-General what were the main points of his submission made to the High Court concerning the seizure and arrest of Mr. Nick Mullen in Zimbabwe in 1989; and if he will place a copy of the submission in the Library. [65996]

The Attorney-General: Nicholas Mullen was convicted at the Central Criminal Court on 9 June 1990 of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He did not appeal against his conviction at that stage but, on 29 January 1998, obtained leave from the Court of Appeal to appeal against his conviction out of time. Although the consent of the then Attorney-General was required for the institution of the proceedings against Mullen, neither I nor my predecessors have been a party to the criminal proceedings which have been conducted by the Director of Public Prosecutions. There have been no proceedings in the High Court. The appeal is at present the subject of consideration by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) which has heard argument and reserved judgment. The transcripts of the trial may be obtained, in accordance with usual procedures, from the official shorthand writers. It would not be appropriate for me to make any further observations in relation to a case currently under consideration by the court.

Commercial Lobbyists

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Attorney-General what rules or guidance his Department has to govern the (a) formal and (b) informal interaction between his civil servants and commercial lobbyists. [66210]

The Attorney-General: Any contact between officials in my Department and people outside Government, including lobbyists, would be governed by the principles set out in the guidance issued by the Prime Minister in July 1998, as set out in the answer given by him on 27 July 1998, Official Report, column 4, in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice).


Clyde Naval Base

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total annual cost of providing harbour craft services, including those sub-contracted, at HM Naval Base Clyde. [66598]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 19 January 1999]: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Naval Bases and Supply Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

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Letter from John Trewby to Mrs. Margaret Ewing, dated 20 January 1999:

    The provision of all the Marine Services at HM Naval Base Clyde is undertaken by a commercial contractor, Serco Denholm Ltd. I regret that I am unable to disclose the cost of these services as it is commercially sensitive.

Export Licences

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military or dual use goods have been exported since 1 May 1997 under Government-to-Government deals without export licence. [66241]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 19 January 1999]: Since May 1997, the UK has exported the following equipment under the terms of government-to-government agreements with the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait:

Additionally, for disposals of surplus MOD equipment, the MOD Disposal Sales Agency requires overseas governments which purchase surplus MOD equipment to obtain a UK export licence before collection of equipment from the UK. There has been one exception to this practice since May 1997. This was in relation to the supply of three ex Royal Navy Peacock Class patrol craft, which were delivered to the Philippine Government from their base in Hong Kong.

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