Previous Section Index Home Page

Minimum Wage

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on plans for operating the national minimum wage. [101509]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Government asked the independent Low Pay Commission to monitor and evaluate the operation of the national minimum wage, with particular reference to its impact on pay, employment and competitiveness in low paying sectors and small firms. I look forward to reading the Commission's findings, which will be included in their report to the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State later this month, and we will consider carefully the recommendations it makes.

Entertainment Industry

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the Employment Relations Act 1999 on the working of the entertainment industry. [101087]

Mr. Alan Johnson: No regulatory proposal which has an impact on businesses, charities or voluntary bodies is considered by the Government without a thorough assessment of the risks, costs and benefits, a clear analysis of who will be affected and an explanation of why non-regulatory action would be insufficient. These effects are examined in Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs), which are published with legislative proposals.

The RIA which accompanied the Employment Relations Bill calculated a total recurring annual compliance cost to business of £60 million. No figures were prepared for individual sectors such as the entertainment industry. The Act's impact on an individual

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 468W

sector will depend on the scope of existing provision in that sector, whether this provision exceeds the statutory minimum in the Act, and the extent to which individuals take up their rights. However, views were received on the legislation from both management and unions in the entertainment sector.

The compliance costs need to be set against the benefits which the Act is expected to bring, contributing to improvements in employment relations across the economy, stimulating a more co-operative approach and thus contributing to enhanced economic performance, and helping people achieve a better balance between work and family life, with wider long term social benefits.

PLCs (German Takeovers)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many public limited companies in the UK have been taken over by companies based in Germany in each of the last three years. [101360]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from John Kidgell to Mr. Barry Sheerman, dated 7 December 1999:

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 469W

    The ONS extracts information about acquisitions and mergers from detailed scanning of specialist journals and the financial press. We therefore tend to identify only the larger and/or more newsworthy acquisitions. The figures below may therefore understate the scale of German acquisitions of UK companies.

YearNumber of British Companies taken over
1999 first three quarters only4


BBC World TV

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received about the removal of current affairs and analysis from BBC World TV programming. [99965]

Janet Anderson: We have received three representations from hon. Members and their constituents. I am afraid however it is a longstanding principle that the Government do not intervene in the BBC's programming and editorial issues, which are matters for the BBC Board of Governors.

ITV Franchises

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his policy is in respect of the amalgamation of companies holding ITV franchises. [101458]

Janet Anderson: Media mergers are subject to general competition law as well as specific ownership provisions under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. These are matters for the Independent Television Commission and the Office of Fair Trading.

Works of Art (Export Licences)

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many press releases were issued by his Department in relation to the deferral of export licences for works of art (a) from May 1997 to June 1998 and (b) from June 1998 to date. [101853]

Mr. Chris Smith: Between May 1997 and June 1998, 12 news releases were issued by the Department relating to the deferral of 20 export licences for cultural items.

From June 1998 to date, 15 news releases were issued relating to the deferral of 24 such export licences.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he has taken to publicise his Department's publication, "Export of Works of Art 1998-99". [101852]

Mr. Chris Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Heppell) on 26 November 1999, Official Report, column 216W, when I said that the Reviewing Committee's Annual Report for 1998-99 was published

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 470W

on that day, and that copies had been laid before Parliament. I also issued a news release on the same day announcing its publication.

Lottery Terminals

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) who will own the lottery terminals which his Department has decided should become obsolete; and what value has been put on them; [101515]

Kate Hoey: The decision to require the successful applicant for the new National Lottery licence to install new terminals was taken by the National Lottery Commission. The Commission is independent of Government.

The National Lottery terminals are the property of the National Lottery operator, Camelot Group plc, and will remain Camelot's property when the current operating licence expires. My Department does not hold information on the installation costs or the present value of these terminals. The full cost of purchasing and installing the terminals was met by Camelot from its operating costs: no part of the cost of the terminals was met from public funds.

The National Lottery Commission has a statutory responsibility to ensure that the National Lottery is run with all due propriety, to protect the interests of players, and subject to satisfying those two criteria, to maximise the amount the Lottery raises for good causes. The Commission took the view that a competition is the best way to ensure that the amount raised for good causes is maximised, and therefore insisted on new technology for National Lottery terminals to remove an obstacle to competition. The Commission's decision will have no impact on other budgets.

Indemnity Undertakings

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many indemnity undertakings were given by departments under section 16 of the National Heritage Act 1980 for the six month period ended 30 September; and what was the value of (a) any contingent liabilities in respect of such undertakings given at any time under that section which remained outstanding as at 30 September, (b) non-statutory Government indemnities in respect of loans handled by the Government Art Collection which remained outstanding as at 30 September and (c) non-statutory undertakings to Her Majesty in respect of loans from the Royal Collection which remained outstanding at 30 September. [102029]

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 471W

Mr. Chris Smith: The provision for the Government Indemnity Scheme is made by the National Heritage Act 1980. The scheme facilitates public access to loans of works of art and other objects for public display made to museums, galleries and other such institutions by private owners and non national institutions. It does this by indemnifying lenders against loss or damage to their loan. Loans covered by the scheme must be for public benefit. The scheme also covers loans of such objects for study purposes within borrowing institutions where this would contribute materially to the public's understanding or appreciation of the loan. Examples of this are enhancing interpretation or explanation to the public of objects or bringing into the public domain the conclusions of any study.

In the six month period ended 30 September 1999, the following undertakings to indemnify were given under section 16 by the relevant Departments for objects on loan to national and non-national institutions:

Department for Culture, Media and Sport592
Scottish Executive Education Department101
The National Assembly for Wales61
Department of Education for Northern Ireland18

The value of contingent liabilities in respect of undertakings given at any time under section 16 and which remained outstanding is:

Department for Culture, Media and Sport1,625,435,897
Scottish Executive Education Department480,066,111
The National Assembly for Wales66,972,145
Department for Education for Northern Ireland8,523,168

The value of non-statutory Government indemnities to cover loans handled by the Government Art Collection and which remained outstanding as at 30 September 1999 is:

Value: £4,475,000.

The value of non-statutory Undertakings given to Her Majesty in respect of loans from the Royal Collection and which remained outstanding as at 30 September 1999 is:

Value: £274,848,263.

Next Section Index Home Page