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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 9 March 1989

THE ARTS

Induction Loops

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Minister for the Arts what information he has on the number of clients of the Arts Council who have fitted induction loops.

Mr. Luce [holding answer 8 March 1989] : This information is not held centrally. I will ask the chairman of the Arts Council to write to the hon. Member direct on this subject.

Museums (Registration)

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Minister for the Arts whether the Museums and Galleries Commission will be responsible for registering national museums.

Mr. Luce [holding answer 8 March 1989] : I understand that there is no obligation on the national museums and galleries to apply for registration under the Museums and Galleries Commission's registration scheme, which is a voluntary scheme.

I hope, however, that the national institutions will lend their support to a scheme which seeks to set standards for the museums' community.

Chlorofluorocarbons

Ms. Walley : To ask the Minister for the Arts (1) what is his best estimate of the amount of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants under the control of his Department ;

(2) what plans there are to minimise the risk of leaks of chlorofluorocarbons from refrigeration and air conditioning systems under his Department's control.

Mr. Luce [holding answer 6 March 1989] : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) on 6 March.

SCOTLAND

Protein Fractionation Centre

Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to extend Crown immunity to the protein fractionation centre so as to exempt it from the legal requirement for manufacturing or product licences.

Mr. Rifkind : The protein fractionation centre is part of the Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service and as such is entitled to whatever immunities that agency, as a Crown body, has from the application of statute. I have no plans for extension of Crown immunity in this field.


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Building Regulations

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the current regulations governing building standards in Scotland, and the parent legislation from which they derive.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Building standards regulations in Scotland are made under the Building (Scotland) Act 1959. The current regulations are :

The Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 1981

The Building Standards (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1982 The Building Standards (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1984 The Building Standards (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1986 The Building Standards (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1987

Torness Power Station

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information was submitted to the assessor of public undertakings by the South of Scotland electricity board in respect of generating capacity at Torness power station on 1 October 1988.

Mr. Lang : The information submitted by the South of Scotland electricity board to the assessor of public undertakings (Scotland) was that, on 1 October 1988, the installed generating capacity at Torness was nil. The relevant statutory instrument requires the board to certify the generating capacity in each rating area on the basis that all generators which were installed were capable of being fully used at the relevant time. I understand that the No. 1 unit at Torness had not completed its test run on the date in question.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what contribution, in megawatts, has been made to the national grid by Torness power station in each month since generation started at that site.

Mr. Lang : I am advised by the South of Scotland electricity board that the first unit at Torness synchronised on to the national grid on 25 May 1988, following which a gradual build up in power proceeded in accordance with a programme agreed with the nuclear installations inspectorate. By the end of July 1988, an interim rating of 682 MW gross was achieved. Since then the unit has operated for much of the time at this power although occasional interruptions for scheduled testing have continued.

Torness unit No. 2 synchronised on 3 February 1989 and is presently operating at 540 MW gross. It is expected that this unit will achieve its interim rating of 682 MW gross before the end of this month.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will direct the South of Scotland electricity board to review the figure relating to generating capacity at Torness which was submitted to the assessor of public undertakings on 1 October 1988, with a view to ensuring that the board makes an appropriate financial contribution to the budgets of Lothian region and East Lothian district during the current year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang : The apportionment of the South of Scotland electricity board's rateable value among rating areas is


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carried out in accordance with the formula set out in the Scottish Electricity Boards (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1985. Part of the apportionment to East Lothian district council for 1989-90 is based on the board's generating capacity within the district council's area on 1 October 1988 as certified by the board to the assessor of public undertakings (Scotland). The Secretary of State has no powers to direct the South of Scotland electricity board to review its certified figures.

Crops, Plants and Plant Health

Sir Hector Monro : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has yet received the report of the review of the functions of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland in the area of crops, plants and plant health, which commenced in April 1987 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : The report of this internal review has now been received and is being considered. Decisions on the recommendations in the report will be reached as quickly as possible, following appropriate consultation with interested parties.

Newbattle Abbey College

Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has yet replied to the letter of 21 December 1988 from the acting chairman of the governors of Newbattle Abbey college ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rifkind : I met the chairman and other representatives of the governors on 24 February and have today written to him. A copy of my letter has been placed in the Library. This confirms my intention, announced in December 1987, to cease grant payments to the college at the end of this academic year.

The future of the college is a matter for the governors and trustees. The Government are committed to increasing the proportion of mature students in higher education in Scotland and our current projections assume that numbers of such entrants will be maintained at more than 6,000 a year. The Scottish wider access programme (SWAP) announced last year is working to that end, and resources released from Newbattle will support collaboration under SWAP between further and higher education institutions and education authorities in regional consortia based on each of the four main cities. Such consortia are already operating in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and plans are far advanced in Dundee and Aberdeen.

Castlehill Site, Aye (Sale)

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he has made with the Ayrshire and Arran health board regarding the use of funds arising from the sale of the Castlehill site in Ayr ; what he expects the proceeds from the sale to be spent on ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 19 January 1989] : If the sale of Castlehill estate is concluded in the financial year 1989-90 as expected, the proceeds will be retained by Ayrshire and Arran health board and used for capital projects designed to improve the retained properties in its area, to reduce running costs and improve health care.


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TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Action for Cities"

Mr. Roger King : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made with "Action for Cities" over its first year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I am today publishing a report "Progress on Cities" which outlines the Government's strategy for inner-city regeneration, illustrates achievements to date region by region and sets out the Government's priorities for future action.

The report shows that the economic regeneration of our inner cities, based on businesses earning commercial returns, is clearly under way. Unemployment is falling rapidly. New shops, offices, factories and homes are under construction. There is growing confidence and co-operation between the private sector, public authorities, voluntary organisations and local communities. The Government will encourage this growing partnership, continue to emphasise the crucial role that business can play and work to ensure that inner-city residents are able to benefit fully from the regeneration of their neighbourhoods.

I am sending copies of the report to hon. Members with constituencies in inner city target areas. Copies will also be placed in the Library and are available in the Vote Office.

Task Forces

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he intends to make any changes to the location of the inner-city task forces ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : The Government's inner-city task forces have proved highly successful in creating jobs, encouraging training opportunities and stimulating enterprise in the areas where they work. They have now been involved in nearly 1,100 projects with total commitments of nearly£33 million.

The task force budget for 1989-90 will be £17 million, representing an increase of over 20 per cent. compared with the present year. I have today given approval for some 50 further task force projects involving funding of over £3 million, together with a number of other inner city projects amounting to about £2 million.

I have decided to establish new task forces in Bradford, in Lewisham (Deptford), and in Liverpool (Granby/Toxteth). My officials will be discussing their precise boundaries with the local authorities and City Action teams, with a view to the task forces starting their work as soon as possible.

These new task forces, like the existing ones, are not intended to be permanent Government agencies in the areas concerned. Their aim is to promote changes and provide opportunities which will have a continuing beneficial effect, and to foster the development of local organisations which can carry forward and build on the task forces' work when the task force itself leaves.

The task force in Birmingham, Handsworth is now nearing the completion of its programme, following my predecessor's announcement in June 1988 that it would come to an end in March 1989 and that the task force effort in Birmingham would be refocussed in east


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Birmingham. A very encouraging evaluation of the Handsworth task force's work, by independent consultants, was published last week. In the light of this experience, and of the significant progress they have made, I have decided that it would be right now to set the end of this year as the date by which the task forces in Leicester (Highfields), Preston and Wolverhampton should complete their programme and withdraw from their areas. During that time they will continue their important task of building up the capacity of local bodies which can take over responsibility for their work in future. They will, therefore, be embarking on discussions locally about future arrangements, including where necessary some continued period of support for particular projects.

A number of important new projects by these task forces are among those I have announced today, and they will continue to welcome new proposals until the end of May.

Pharmaceuticals

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will print in the Official Report the surplus of deficit on the United Kingdom's total trade in pharmaceutical products in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988, the total value of exports and imports of pharmaceuticals in 1987 and 1988, the total value of parallel imports of pharmaceuticals from other European Economic Community members for 1986, 1987 and 1988, and the total value of parallel imports from Greece in 1986, 1987 and 1988.

Mr. Alan Clark : Information parallel imports from countries in the European Community is not available. The remaining information requested is given in the following tables :


|c|Table 1|c|                       

|c|United Kingdom trade in          

medicinal and pharmaceutical        

products|c|                         

|c|1984 to 1988|c|                  

Value in £ million                  

Division 54 |Balance                

------------------------------------

1984        |680.1                  

1985        |836.6                  

1986        |853.0                  

1987        |834.4                  

1988        |859.4                  


|c|Table 2|c|                   

|c|Total value of imports and   

exports of medicinal|c|         

|c|and pharmaceutical products  

1987 to 1988|c|                 

Value in £ million              

        |Exports|Imports        

--------------------------------

1987    |1,620.7|786.3          

1988    |1,735.3|875.9          

Notes:                          

(i) 1988 figures are            

provisional.                    

(ii) exports fob; imports cif.  

Source: Overseas Trade          

Statistics.                     

Select Committees (Recommendations)

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many Select Committee recommendations have been made about and how many accepted, by his Department since June 1987.

Mr. Forth : In the two reports by the Trade and Industry Committee completed since June 1987, to which the


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Government have responded, 62 recommendations were made, of which 37 have been accepted in whole or in part by the Government, or noted, where no further action by Government was sought.

Computerised Information (Confidentiality)

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the potential risks of unauthorised entry into the computer systems which calculate the monthly balance of payments figures.

Mr. Forth : The security requirements of the computer system used in my Department for calculating the United Kingdom visible balance of trade were addressed before the system was designed and put into operation. Security safeguards designed to minimise the risks of unauthorised entry were incorporated into the system, taking account of appropriate specialist advice. Security of the system is regularly reviewed.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the possible effects on financial markets in the United Kingdom and abroad of the unauthorised penetration of sensitive information held by his Department.

Mr. Forth : The security of sensitive information is addressed at an early stage in the design of new systems by assessing the impact of unauthorised disclosure or loss of the information to be held. Measures are introduced to reduce the risks of unauthorised penetration to a justifiable minimum.

Chambers of Commerce

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many chambers of commerce have received assistance from his Department ; and if he will list them.

Mr. Forth : My Department provides assistance on a wide range of matters to many chambers throughout the country.

Textiles

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will introduce a scheme under the Industry Act 1972, as amended, to provide grant aid for the textile dyeing industry to invest in machinery which reduces water consumption ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : No. Member states are bound by restrictions on sectoral aid for the textile and clothing industry. However, firms in assisted areas may apply for regional selective assistance under the Industry Act towards investment projects which meet the established criteria. Firms in the industry may also be eligible for assistance under the enterprise initiative.

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received on the Government's proposal to review the Wool Textile Industry (Export Promotion) Levy ; what views have been expressed by the Confederation of British Wool Textiles ; what is his response ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : I have received a number of representations from interested parties, including hon. Members, trade


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associations and trade unions. The Confederation of British Wool Textiles stated that it wished the statutory levy to be retained. All views expressed will be taken fully into account before a decision is taken.

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on quota arrangements for textiles in the European Economic Community by 1992 ; and what consideration has been given as to whether imports will be controlled on a Communitywide basis or quotas for imports allocated to each member state.

Mr. Maude : It is the Commission's view that individual member states quotas or shares of any ECwide quotas, backed up by derogations from the normal free-circulation rules authorised by the Commission under article 115 of the treaty of Rome, would be inconsistent with the completion of the single market in 1992. How far this might extend to the treatment of textiles and clothing is unclear although the curent EC bilateral textile agreements under the multi-fibre arrangement already allow for automatic transfers between member states' share of EC wide quotas. There has, however, been no detailed Community discussion of future arrangements for EC quotas on textiles and clothing. The current extension of the MFA lapses in 1991 and the future of the arrangement itself is under discussion within the GATT round of multilateral trade negotiations which themselves are due for completion in September 1990.

Tin

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what contribution the United Kingdom is making to the administrative account of the International Tin Council in the current year.


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Mr. Atkins : The Government's contribution to the administrative account for the year ending 30 June 1989 was assessed by the International Tin Council as £15,007.

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what have been the costs to date of defending the various legal actions brought against the Government following the collapse of the international tin agreement in 1985.

Mr. Atkins : Payments in respect of legal costs by the Treasury Solicitor acting for Government Departments concerned in various actions in the courts in England arising out of the cessation of the buffer stock operation of the International Tin Council totalled £375,106 at 31 January 1989.

Defence Exhibition

Mr. Nellist : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information he has as to the countries which will be represented at the defence components and equipment exhibition at the Birmingham national exhibition centre on 9 to 11 May.

Mr. Atkins : I understand that over 250 British companies are exhibiting at the event together with a number of European firms, the majority of whom are currently engaged in collaborative projects with British firms in the defence field. Visitors are expected from many countries.

Shipbuilding

Mr. Clay : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the most recent information he has on the gross tonnage of new shipbuilding orders won by each European Community country, Japan, South Korea and all other countries in 1987 and 1988 quarter by quarter.

Mr. Atkins : The information available is shown in the table :


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|c|New merchant shipbuilding orders|c|                                 

Thousand gross registered tons                                         

                1987                        1988                       

               |Qtr. 1|Qtr. 2|Qtr. 3|Qtr. 4|Qtr. 1|Qtr. 2|Qtr. 3       

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Belgium        |0     |1     |0     |26    |20    |0     |7            

Denmark        |60    |1     |5     |216   |50    |17    |48           

France         |0     |30    |26    |2     |44    |1     |5            

Germany        |176   |67    |168   |154   |40    |307   |158          

Italy          |301   |127   |14    |18    |2     |33    |3            

Netherlands    |9     |7     |11    |9     |36    |26    |21           

Greece         |1     |0     |1     |1     |0     |2     |0            

Portugal       |79    |0     |0     |2     |7     |1     |3            

Spain          |12    |26    |44    |324   |14    |106   |245          

United Kingdom |6     |75    |10    |8     |8     |6     |83           

               |---   |---   |---   |---   |---   |---   |---          

Total EEC      |644   |334   |279   |760   |221   |499   |573          

                                                                       

Japan          |913   |1,307 |1,314 |1,216 |1,168 |1,079 |1,522        

South Korea    |1,023 |1,307 |605   |1,225 |726   |778   |612          

Other          |838   |762   |422   |749   |640   |485   |692          

               |--    |---   |---   |---   |---   |---   |---          

Total          |3,418 |3,710 |2,620 |3,950 |2,755 |2,841 |3,399        

Source: Lloyd's Register of Shipping.                                  

Honey

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much of honey exports is produced from British hives and how much is imported honey packaged or repackaged in Britain.


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Mr. Ryder : I have been asked to reply to this question. There is no information available to distinguish between the honey exports that are produced from British hives and those that are from packaged or repackaged imports.


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NATIONAL FINANCE

National Insurance

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will allow a repayment supplement to individual taxpayers where there has been a mistake in their class 4 national insurance contributions and the Inland Revenue is at fault ;

(2) if he will seek to amend section 824 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 to allow a repayment supplement, as with the case of income tax, on class 4 national insurance contributions, where the individual has been overcharged because of an error on the Inland Revenue's part.

Mr. Norman Lamont : My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Social Security has no plans to amend Social Security legislation to reflect the provisions of section 824 Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 to class 4 national insurance contributions.

Shipping (Investment)

Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a brief summary of the main differences between the Norwegian K/S investment scheme and the business expansion scheme in so far as they affect investment in shipping.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Norwegian K/S partnerships and the business expansion scheme are entirely different. K/S partnerships, which are usually involved in shipping, are in principle similar to United Kingdom limited partnerships. A K/S partnership is not itself chargeable to tax ; instead, the individual partners are taxed on their share of the partnership's profits and are entitled to the tax allowances associated with the partnership's business. This carries certain tax advantages for investors. The Norwegian Government have recently made proposals to limit the use of such partnerships. The business expansion scheme offers tax relief on investments made by outside investors in new full-risk equity of small United Kingdom unquoted companies, including companies which operate or let ships. The Government welcome the fact that more shipping companies are using the BES to raise finance this year.

Computers (Unauthorised Entry)

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any contingency measures to deal with the possibility of unauthorised tampering with computerised systems in the money markets.

Mr. Lilley : It is the responsibility of individual participants in the money markets to ensure the integrity of their respective computerised systems.

Shipping

Sir David Price : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the contribution of British shipping to the United Kingdom balance of payments in 1988 and what it was in 1978, expressed both in current value and constant value terms.

Mr. Major : The latest annual information relates to 1987, when the direct overseas earnings of ships operated


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by United Kingdom companies, net of their overseas expenditure, was £500 million. The equivalent figure in 1978 was £662 million, or about £1 billion at 1987 prices.

Tax System

Mr. Trotter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what considerations he has given to the codification of the United Kingdom tax system, along the lines of that in the United States of America ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 2 March 1989] : Any such change to the present system would need to be considered in the wider context of statute law as a whole. I refer my hon. Friend to the report of the Renton committee (Cmnd. 6053, presented to Parliament on 7 May 1975) for the arguments which led ito recommend against continuous codification of statutue law. It also looked specifically at fiscal legislation but was not persuaded that it deserved special treatment and I see no reason to depart from that view. When drafting legislation, parliamentary counsel do use the textual amendment approach where practicable. This is a convenient and well-understood drafting technique which helps to reduce difficulties for practitioners. In particular it allows related tax legislation in different Finance Acts to be brought together in the Taxes Acts which the Inland Revenue updates and publishes annually.

ENERGY

Windpower Farm (Isle of Wight)

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what consideration has been given to the benefits of siting a windpower farm at Tennyson downs on the Isle of Wight.

Mr. Michael Spicer : No consideration has been given by my Department to siting a wind farm at Tennyson downs on the Isle of Wight.

Domestic Energy Resources

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what current estimate he has of the number of households in England and Wales which are unable to obtain a gas supply.

Mr. Peter Morrison : As my hon. Friend will appreciate this is now a matter for British Gas plc, since it has been privatised.

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what current estimate he has of the number of householders in England and Wales who are unable to burn coal or wood fires.

Mr. Parkinson : A recent market survey by Audit Great Britain (AGB) estimated that the number of households in England and Wales who did not have the potential to burn coal or wood fires in the winter of 1987-89 was 12.843 million.

Select Committee Recommendations

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many Select Committee recommendations have been made about, and how many accepted by, his Department since June 1987.


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Mr. Parkinson : The Government have responded to recommendations made in three reports of the Energy Select Committee published since June 1987. The responses are contained in the following reports, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. The Effect of Oil and Gas Prices on Activity in the North Sea : Energy Committee : First Special Report Session 1987/88 House of Commons 205

The Department of Energy's Spending Plans 1988-89 :

Energy Committee : Second Special Report Session 1987/88 House of Commons 693

The Structure, Regulation and Economic Consequences of Electricity Supply in the Private Sector :

Energy Committee : Third Special Report Session 1987/88 House of Commons 701


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