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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 June 1989

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Exports (Group of Seven)

Mr. Baldry : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will publish a table of the volume of exports per head of population of the Group of Seven countries.

Mr. Alan Clark : The information in both value and volume terms is in the following table.


Exports per head of population, 1988                                        

                            |<1>Volume      |Value                          

                            |1985=100       |United States $                

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

France                      |110            |2,896                          

Federal Republic of Germany |111            |5,273                          

Italy                       |110            |2,247                          

United Kingdom              |109            |2,538                          

Canada                      |117            |4,316                          

United States of America    |129            |1,302                          

Japan                       |103            |2,160                          

<1> Export volume index adjusted for population change between 1985 and     

1988.                                                                       

Source: OECD                                                                

Post Office Monopoly

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals he has for ending the Post Office monopoly.

Mr. Forth : We keep the options under review, but we have no present plans to end the monopoly. We have, however, made it clear that the Post Office's letter monopoly is a privilege, not a right, and that in the event of a cessation or serious disruption of the letter service, we would consider suspending it.

Liquidators

Mr. Aspinwall : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will give the figures for the number of certificates issued for licensed liquidators since the Insolvency Act 1986 came into operation.

Mr. Maude : There are currently 1,737 individuals authorised to act as insolvency practitioners under the Insolvency Act 1986.

Telecommunications (Liberalisation)

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether any decisions have been made as a result of the recommendations from the Director General of Telecommunications about the further liberalisation of telecommunication services ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State has received advice from the Director


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General of Telecommunications following a major consultation exercise which he undertook earlier this year. We are very grateful to the director general and his staff for the thorough and professional way they carried this out.

We have decided to accept the recommendations the director general has made for changes to the current regime for the provision of telecommunications services using the networks of, or circuits provided by, a fixed-link public telecommunications operator (PTO), that is British Telecommunications plc, Mercury Communications Ltd. or Kingston Communications plc.

The first, and most important, of these is that we have decided to liberalise entirely the use made by companies of private circuits domestic to the United Kingdom leased from a PTO. Until now, companies leasing circuits have not been permitted to resell capacity to others or to share it with them. This prohibition arose from the fact that the price of private circuits leased from BT was historically below cost and provided significant opportunities for the use of leased lines to bypass the public network, to the detriment of the ordinary user. For this reason, the operating licences of the PTOs prohibited until 1 July 1989 the use of leased lines to provide simple resale, that is the routing of a call from the public network, over a leased line and back on to the public network. This was intended to allow for the rebalancing of leased line and network charges.

This rebalancing has now largely taken place within the United Kingdom, and we see no need any longer to prevent companies making use of leased lines however they choose, whether for voice or data services. We therefore intend to issue a licence permitting simple resale of United Kingdom domestic private circuits as well as other forms of resale, bypass and shared use. Those networks connected to the public switched network (PSN) will continue to be subject to the rules on technical quality standards.

Although considerable tariff rebalancing has taken place on circuits within the United Kingdom, international tariffs are still out of line with costs. We have therefore decided to retain the current prohibition on international simple resale for the time being. However, we have accepted the director general's recommendation that he should keep the situation under review and advise us as and when further liberalisation is justified. The new licence will therefore be drafted in such a way as to allow us to liberalise international private circuits on a case-by-case basis as opportunities arise.

The director general has also recommended other major changes to the existing licensing regime. In the light of his experience in administering the fair trading rules in the current value-added and data services licence, he has recommended that they be simplified in operation and more clearly targeted on companies likely to abuse a dominant position. Thus, companies which the director general considers dominant, with large businesses in telecommunications services, will continue to be covered by the present rules against cross-subsidisation, showing undue preference or discrimination and other detailed conditions. However, those rules in the current regime which impose heavy cost and which may deter people because of the difficulty of compliance are to be removed. These include the rule on publication of prices which is in abeyance already. Conversely, rules which are of value to


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users, such as those on privacy and confidentiality, metering and numbering are to be applied to all operators, rather than just the largest.

We have also accepted the director general's advice that the new licence should include a condition aimed at alleviating the nuisance to the users of the telephone, fax or other telecommunications systems caused by persistent but unsolicited attempts to sell products and services. Sellers by telephone or fax or those acting as their agents, will be required by the new licence to stop making these direct sales calls to any particular user of a

telecommunication system when he has given them a written instruction to do so.

Other changes which are to be made include provisions allowing greater flexibility for installers, maintainers and users of call-routing apparatus, the reduction of the minimum period for the termination of maintenance contracts to 42 days and the introduction of a requirement to provide inductive couplers in emergency telephones in lifts.

Although the limit of 200 m for the provision of privately provided circuits between buildings will be retained, service providers will be permitted to run these systems on others' premises and the procedure for permitting exceptions to the 200 m rule (where justified) will be simplified.

We believe these changes will add greatly to the freedom and the flexibility of telecommunications operators in the United Kingdom, and will keep the United Kingdom in the vanguard of

telecommunications liberalisation both in Europe and worldwide. We intend to bring these changes about by issuing a new branch systems general licence during July. This will replace both the existing branch systems general licence and that for value-added and data services. My Department and the Office of Telecommunications are currently finalising the details of the new licence, and we shall inform the House when it is to be issued.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Civil Servants (Numbers)

Mr. Amos : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the number of staff in post in central Government Departments at 1 April.

Mr. Major : On 1 April 1989, there were 569,215 staff in post in central Government Departments. Of these 499,821 were non-industrials and 69,394 were industrials.

Trustees

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about the residence status of trustees for income tax purposes in the light of the recent decision of the House of Lords in the case of Dawson v CIR.

Mr. Norman Lamont : We have considered the implications of the House of Lords' recent decision in the case of Dawson v CIR, and have decided that the present law does not deal satisfactorily with the residence status for income tax purposes of trustees in cases where the trustees of a settlement include both a United Kingdom resident and a non-resident. We therefore propose to introduce new rules to determine the residence status of


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such "mixed residence" trustees. Provided that the settlor was not resident, not ordinarily resident and not domiciled in the United Kingdom at the time he made the settlement (and at any later time when he provided funds), the trustees will be treated as not resident in the United Kingdom. Otherwise "mixed residence" trustees will all be treated as United Kingdom resident.

This proposal will not affect trusts where the trustees are all United Kingdom residents, or all non-resident. In those cases, the existing rules will continue to apply.

There will also be similar rules governing the residence status of personal representatives of a deceased person, where they include both a United Kingdom resident and a non-resident.

There will also be provisions, applying to all trustees and personal representatives, to make it clear that income tax assessments may be made on any one or more of them.

Further details of the proposals are set out in an Inland Revenue press release published today. The necessary provisions have been tabled for Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Savings

Mr. Butterfill : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to increase the personal savings ratio.

Mr. Lilley : We expect many of the factors which led to the fall in the personal savings ratio to reverse themselves over the medium term. In addition, the rise in interest rates over the past year will encourage higher savings and lower borrowing.

Orchids

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps Her Majesty's Customs and Excise take to prevent the smuggling of rare orchids into Britain.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 9 June 1989] : Customs and Excise makes every effort to prevent the illegal import of listed orchids and other items covered by the convention on international trade in endangered species.

CIVIL SERVICE

Mr. David Morphet

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service whether any conditions have been attached by the advisory committee on business appointments to the employment by Balfour Beatty of Mr. David Morphet, formerly of the Department of Energy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce : It is not our practice to divulge information about individual applications under the business appointment rules, as to do so would be a breach of confidence and privacy.

ENERGY

AGR Fuel Rods

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many spent AGR fuel rods are expected to be produced in each year from 1989 to 2000 and if advanced gas-cooled reactors produce electricity at their planned output during the 1990s.


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Mr. Michael Spicer This is an operational matter for the Central Electricity Generating Board. I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.

Spent Nuclear Fuel

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is the earliest date by which the proposed Heysham AGR dry storage facility could be ready ; and whether it will be large enough to store all the spent AGR fuel from all of Britain's AGRs for their planned lifetimes.

Mr. Michael Spicer This is an operational matter for the Central Electricity Generating Board. I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.

Nuclear Materials (Safeguards)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will set out the details of safeguards inspection for civil nuclear materials and facilities agreed with the European Commission regulation 3227/76 ; and when such inspections began.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Euratom inspections began in 1973. It is not the custom within Euratom to publish details of the inspection arrangements for any nuclear facility in the Community.

Irradiated Fuel

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Newport, West, June, he will list the countries of origin and dates on which consignments of irradiated fuel have been returned to their countries of origin since 1979.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The country of origin of the shipments referred to in the answer to the hon. Member on 7 June is included in those listed in the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad) on 18 February 1987 at column 635. Details of individual consignments are confidential.

Plutonium

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, (Dr. Thomas) Official Report, 8 May column 289, whether the reports on plutonium production sent by reactor operators to safeguards authorities are detailed routinely to (a) single gramme quantities, (b) tens of grammes quantities, or (c) hundreds of grammes quantities.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Euratom regulation 3227/76 article 21 (a) requires quantities of special nuclear material to be expressed in grammes.

Uranimum (Namibia)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West, Official Report, 19 May, column 314, which was the competent authority in Namibia which gave the N obligation code to the consignment of Namibian uranium imported to the United Kingdom since 1979.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The N obligation code was assigned by the Euratom safeguards authorities.


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Pollution

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will detail all his Department's policies and proposals regarding (a) acid rain and (b) pollution by nuclear waste ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government will ensure that the CEGB and its successor companies contribute to the emission reduction requirements of the European Communities' large combustion plant directive. These are to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide by 60 per cent. on 1980 levels by 2003 and nitrogen oxides by 30 per cent. on 1980 levels by 1998. We shall encourage the development and application of renewable energy sources wherever they have prospects of being economically competitive and environmentally acceptable. Furthermore, the non-fossil fuel obligation which will be placed on the public electricity suppliers in the privatised electricity industry and the continuing work of the energy efficiency office will help to reduce acid rain.

Policy on radioactive waste is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Conservation

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will detail his Department's specific proposals for energy conservation for each year since 1981.

Mr. Peter Morrison : Details of the Government's proposals on energy efficiency have been published annually in the public expenditure White Paper and in response to reports of the Select Committee on Energy.

Safeguards Agreement

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many withdrawals from safeguards, under article 14 of the 1978 tripartite safeguards agreement between United Kingdom--Euratom--International Atomic Energy Authority, have been made since May 1979.

Mr. Michael Spicer [holding answer 11 May 1989] : Some temporary withdrawals have been made for technical operational reasons with the material being returned to safeguards after it has been processed in unsafeguarded facilities. Some permanent withdrawals have also been made. It would not be in the public interest to reveal details of these.

WALES

Careers Teachers

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many schools careers local education authority school teachers there were in Wales in May 1980 and at the latest available date ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : The information is not available in the form requested. However, information from the 1984 secondary school staffing survey indicates that in 1984 there were 473 teachers of careers education. A further staffing survey is currently under way.


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Education Reform

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he has met teachers' organisations to discuss his Department's plans to test children at seven years of age ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if he has met teachers' organisations to discuss his Department's policy of testing pupils at the age of 14 years ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : Welsh Office Ministers and officials have met representatives of teachers' organisations on numerous occasions and the subjects discussed have included assessment and testing of children in accordance with the Education Reform Act.

Dog Registration

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has plans for compulsory dog registration in Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker : I have no plans to introduce dog registration in Wales.

Shotton and Connah's Quay Bypass

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will meet Alyn and Deeside district council, Clwyd county council and the Deeside town and community councils to discuss how his Department might assist in the building of a Shotton and Connah's Quay bypass, including a new river crossing of the River Dee at Connah's Quay ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : It would not be appropriate : this is a matter for Clwyd county council as the responsible highway authority. However I am fully aware of its proposals and expect to receive a bid for transport supplementary support.

Land Development (Shotton)

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will visit Clwyd county council and Alyn and Deeside district council to discuss with them how his Department might assist those local authorities in developing land adjacent to the River Dee which was previously the site of steelmaking activity at Shotton.

Mr. Peter Walker : No. My statutory responsibilities under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 preclude me from discussing with local authorities the proposals for the development of specific sites. If proposals that emerge for the development of the site demonstrate a need for central Government financial support, my Department's officers will be available to discuss this with the local authorities.

Hill Farms

Mr. Livsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give for hill farms in marginal land areas within the less-favoured areas the (a) average size in hectares, (b) farm income, (c) number of farms, (d) number of ewes and (e) number of beef cows for the latest period for which figures are available.

Mr. Peter Walker : Figures relating to holdings in the disadvantaged areas of the less-favoured areas in respect of June 1988 are given in the following table :


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                                                          |Figures                                                  

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

(a)                          |Average size in hectares    |41.5                                                     

(c)                          |Number of holdings          |6,082                                                    

(d)                          |Number of breeding ewes     |582,024                                                  

(e)                          |Number of breeding beef cows|23,859                                                   

A figure for (b) farm income is not published separately for marginal area farms. However, for all LFA livestock farms net farm income in 1987-88 was £9,453.

Minibus Licensing

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the impact of proposed European Economic Community regulations on minibus licensing on voluntary organisations in Wales ; and whether he will oppose the proposed regulations.

Mr. Peter Walker : The proposed EC regulation, which would require new minibus drivers to take a second driving test and to meet higher health standards, would have significant social and cost consequences for voluntary and community transport organisations which rely heavily on volunteer drivers. The Government consider there are no road safety reasons for the proposed change, and the European Commission is being pressed to avoid introducing unnecessary restrictions.

Mandatory Repairs Grant

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on what date Welsh local authorities were first informed of changes in the amount of mandatory repairs grant from 75 per cent. to 25 per cent. for landlords under sections 130 and 131 of the Housing Act 1988.

Mr. Grist : Local authorities were consulted about proposals for changes to the rate of repair grant for landlords during the course of 1987 and 1988, and were notified of the change in rate (to 20 per cent.) in advance correspondence which was issued on 10 January this year.

Sewage

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Bridgend on 12 June, Official Report, columns 306-308, concerning the applications from the Welsh water authority for variations of existing discharge consents for sewage treatment works, if he will indicate for which of the works listed requests were made for the discharge standards to be (a) relaxed and (b) tightened up.

Mr. Grist : I shall write to the hon. Gentleman with full details of the applications as soon as possible and I will place a copy of my reply in the Library of the House.

Local Authority Services

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent by central and local government in Wales, for the last year for which figures are available, on (a) local authority services, including the police, (b) health services and (c) economic development.

Mr. Peter Walker [holding answer 12 June 1989] : Details of expenditure within my responsibility are given in "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1989-90 to


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1991-92" (Cm. 617) and in the Welsh Office commentary. The last year for which firm outturn figures are available for local authorities is 1986-87. The net public expenditure figures requested are as follows :


£ million                                                               

                                        |1986-87 outturn                

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

Local authority expenditure in Wales<1> |2,015                          

National Health Services                |989                            

Industry and Employment                 |178                            

<1> Including police and other non-Welsh Office services.               

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Heroin (Crop Substitution)

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funds he is currently providing to promote crops substitution in Pakistan to control heroin traffic : how the funds are to be administered and monitored ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Chris Patten : We have committed £3.4 million to the United Nations fund for drugs abuse control crops substitution and special rural development programme in the Dir district of the North-West Frontier province. The programme is part of the special development and enforcement plan for poppy growing areas. £2.4 million of the grants has been spent so far.

Administrative and monitoring arrangements are to be strengthened by the recruitment of a three-man technical support unit to assist provincial government officials and the UNFDAC field officer.

PRIME MINISTER

European Commission

Q15. Mr. Bowis : To ask the Prime Minister if she has received representations regarding the European Commission.

The Prime Minister : I receive a number of such representations.

Rain Forest

Q104. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Prime Minister what communication she has received from the Government of Brazil concerning assistance with preservation of the tropical rain forest.

The Prime Minister : Following discussions with senior representatives of the Brazilian Government, the Secretary-General of the Brazilian Ministry of the Interior has written to my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development inviting Her Majesty's Government to agree on a programme of technical co-operation in the environmental field. A team of British professional experts has this week returned from Brazil where they discussed how we might help ; my hon. Friend will take this further when he visits Brazil in July.


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European Directives

Q170. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if she will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the scale and pattern of directives emerging from the Commission ; and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I expect the European Council to discuss a number of current Community issues. I also refer my hon. Friend to my reply to him on 6 June at column 129.

Engagements

Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. McGrady : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Stern : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Pike : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Hind : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 June.


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