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Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Inglewood: Data in respect of the UK in the table on page 5 of the European Commission's Memorandum are misleading because they exclude women's earnings from the relatively more highly paid service sector, in which 50 per cent. of women in manual work and 85 per cent. of women in non-manual work are employed.

The New Earnings Survey, published by the Employment Department, is the most reliable guide to the pay differential between men and women. In April 1994, the most recent date for which figures are available, women's average hourly earnings, excluding overtime, were 79.5 per cent. of men's. This is the highest ever figure. The pay differential has narrowed in six out of the last seven years. Since 1979, women's earnings have increased faster than men's.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Inglewood: Recent research for the Employment Department suggests that the main cause of the remaining pay differential between men and women is job segregation. Other factors include: levels of skill and experience; job characteristics; family commitments and a residual element of sex discrimination.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Inglewood: The pay differential between men and women is reducing, and has done so for six of the last seven years. It now stands at its lowest ever level. The Government believe that this welcome trend has been helped by policies which have created a sound economic framework in which enterprise is encouraged and individual initiative allowed to flourish.

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In addition, the Government have taken and will continue to take a range of measures which should help women's pay and employment prospects. These include: changes to the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act; adoption of the National Curriculum; reforms to make the Careers Service more effective; a range of programmes run through Training and Enterprise Councils, and acceptance of recommendations of an independent Committee on Women in Science and Technology, which advised on ways in which the potential, skills and expertise of women could best be secured for the national advantage.


Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 23 January.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the UK at this meeting of the Agriculture Council. As he had signalled beforehand, my right honourable friend took the opportunity of this Council to explain the public concern about the transport of farm animals and the conditions in which calves are reared for veal in some member states. My right honourable friend stressed his determination to see that the law requiring freedom of trade is upheld. But my right honourable friend also emphasised the urgent need for the Community as a whole to recognise these concerns, which are being expressed widely, not just in the UK, and to take effective measures as soon as possible to improve the standards for the welfare of farm animals.

I am glad to say that a considerable number of Council members agreed with British concerns. Five Ministers pointed out that, like the UK, they had already banned the use of veal crates. There was wide support for, and no dissent from, our proposal that the review of the directive, planned for 1997, that allows the use of this method should be brought forward. The Agriculture Commissioner, Mr. Fischler, undertook to produce a report as soon as possible. All also agreed to make a determined effort to adopt rules on transport: this will be on the Council's agenda at its next meeting.

The only other substantive debate was on the Commission's proposals for adjusting the support system for sugar. My right honourable friend regretted that the Commission had not seized the opportunity to propose more radical changes. My right honourable friend urged that, in so far as sugar quotas might have to be cut to keep within the GATT limits on subsidised exports, these cuts should be targeted on the surplus-producing member states. My right honourable friend also underlined the need to guarantee adequate supplies of raw sugar for the refining industry. The Council will return to these proposals at its next meeting.

My right honourable friend welcomed the appearance of the Commission's proposal creating a link between

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set-aside and arable land taken out of production for environmental and forestry purposes, and urged its speedy adoption.


Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest estimate of the cost of the Trident programme.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The current estimate of the total project cost of the Trident programme is £11,682 million, if all expenditure, including payments already made, are brought up to current prices and a common exchange rate of £1=$1.48, as assumed in the long-term costing of the defence programme. If payments already made are expressed at the prices and exchange rates actually incurred, the equivalent estimate is now £9,770 million. Expenditure on the Trident programme to 31 October 1994 represented some 78 per cent. of the overall hybrid estimate.

After allowing for the effects of inflation and exchange rate variations, the revised estimate of £11,682 million represents a real cost reduction of £211 million compared to that announced last year. The increase in cash terms is £51 million. The reduction in real terms since the original 1982 Trident II estimate, including the savings resulting from the decision to have UK missiles processed in the United States facility at King's Bay, Georgia, now stands at some £3.7 billion. The proportion of the estimate for work undertaken in the United Kingdom has increased from 70 per cent. to 71 per cent., reflecting the effects of the change in exchange rate, price base and volume changes in the year.

I am pleased to confirm that HMS "Vanguard" entered operational service in December 1994, achieving the in-service date set when the decision to purchase Trident II was taken in 1982, and that the remainder of the Trident programme remains on schedule. As in previous years, we shall be sending to the Chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Select Committee on Defence a more detailed report on the programme. I am also placing a copy of this report in the Library of the House.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the grounds on which they consider it appropriate that the Ministry of Defence should keep no records of where its former employees are now employed (Lord Henley's Answers of 15th December 1994 (HL Deb, col. WA 141).

Lord Henley: There is no requirement, under either the business appointment rules or any other regulation, for my department to keep records of where its former employees are employed following their departure from Crown service.

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Lord Lyell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If the Secretary of State for the Environment intends to take design considerations into account when deciding whether or not to call in planning applications to be decided under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): Our general approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. The Secretary of State for the Environment will therefore be very selective about calling applications to determine and will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Each case must be considered on its individual merits. An application for development which raises significant architectural and urban design issues is one example of the type of case which may be of more than local importance. Other examples include cases which, in the opinion of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, could have wide effects beyond their immediate locality, which give rise to substantial regional or national controversy which may conflict with national policy on important matters, and those where the interests of foreign governments may be involved.

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