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The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): These sales have all now been completed. Chessington Computer Centre was sold on 31st July to a consortium made up of a management and employee buyout team, Integris UK (the outsourcing division of Bull Information Systems Ltd.) and financial backers, Close Brothers. The consideration was £12.5 million, of which £1.25 million is deferred until 31st December 1999.
The Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OHSA) was sold on 18th September to BMI Health Services, which is part of General Healthcare Group plc. The consideration was £350,000. In addition, BMI are acting as agents for the Government to collect trade debts owed to OHSA which were estimated to be about £1.4 million when the sale was completed.
HMSO was sold on 30th September to National Publishing Group (NPG), a consortium led by Electra Fleming, to trade under the name The Stationery Office. The consideration was £54 million. In addition, NPG has raised £71 million to fund investment, restructuring and working capital for The Stationery Office. In a separate transaction in September, the Government sold an HMSO site near Manchester for £1.4 million.
Earl Howe: Crown servants are required to apply for official permission to accept appointments with defence contractors, whether in the UK or foreign-based, within two years of leaving Crown service if they have had official dealings with the prospective employer. The presence of ex-Crown servants in the employ of defence contractors is not, of itself, considered relevant to procurement decisions.
The selection of the eventual purchaser of the married quarters estate, as with all departments' estates where they are being sold will be made on the basis of a careful evaluation of all the final bids received, taking into account all relevant considerations. We do not regard the political affiliations of individual members of bidding groups as relevant considerations; it would be quite improper for us to discriminate between bidders on such a basis.
Earl Howe: Decisions have yet to be taken on the overall size and shape of the future NATO military command structure, and on the place within it of the facilities at Gibraltar. The Government recognise the value of these facilities, and will ensure that they continue to be available for national and NATO benefit.
Earl Howe: The Government do not regard it as necessary to make an amendment to Questions of Procedure for Ministers for this purpose. Ministers putting proposals to Cabinet or a Ministerial Committee are already required by Questions of Procedure for Ministers to cover, where appropriate, the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, where a department is considering legislation, it is required to ensure that its plans are compatible with the
Earl Howe: I refer the noble and learned Lord to the reply given to him on 9th January 1995, Official Report, WA 1. All Ministers have the duty to which the Civil Service Code refers to comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Mr. Cohen visited Rangoon in conjunction with a visit he needed to make to Thailand. The total cost of the visit was £5,191.87; the additional costs incurred in visiting Rangoon amounted to £114.58. The purpose of the visit was to gather information about the current market situation in Burma and the activities of our international competitors. The DTI has a responsibility to provide interested British companies with accurate information about the political and economic considerations of trading with Burma.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: The United Kingdom expects to sign the convention, subject to ratification, shortly, with ratification following when the corresponding EC Directive 93/83 has been implemented. Our signing will demonstrate the Government's continuing commitment to a high level of protection for holders of copyright and related rights.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): All Northern Ireland departments work with each other and continually seek to improve co-ordination with both the public and voluntary sectors on a wide range of issues including unemployment, job creation, community development and targeting social need. Examples of such co-ordination include Making Belfast Work; the Londonderry Initiative; Voluntary Activity Unit; Rural Development Programme; Strategy & Policy Co-ordination Group (vocational education and training); Inter-Departmental Group dealing with social marginalisation among young people, and Tourism Taskforce.
In the criminal justice field there is already machinery in place to ensure co-ordination between departments on a wide range of issues, which include crime prevention; tackling drugs; marginalised youth; and domestic violence. The views of the voluntary sector are sought frequently.
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