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Coal Imports

Mr. Redmond: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which countries are the main exporters of coal to the United Kingdom; and how much each exported to the United Kingdom in the most recent year for which statistics are available. [5183]

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Mr. Page: Imports of coal into the United Kingdom in 1995 were from the following countries:

Thousand tonnes
United States of America4,858
Australia3,641
Colombia2,687
Canada1,364
Republic of South Africa1,313
Poland1,274
European Union(4)283
Russia160
Vietnam101
People's Republic of China77
Norway2
Other countries136
Total15,896

Note:

(4) Includes extra EU coal routed through the Netherlands.

Source:

HM Customs and Excise figures from the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 1996.


Industrial Tribunals (Race Relations Experts)

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy in respect of industrial tribunals to ensure that at least one member with special knowledge or experience of race relations in the employment field should sit on a tribunal in a case of alleged race discrimination; and on what grounds. [5362]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The selection of members of individual tribunals is a matter for the presidents of the industrial tribunals and their regional chairmen. However in accordance with the declaration of intent given by Lord Jacques in the House of Lords on 15 October 1976, Official Report, columns 725-26, during the passage of the Race Relations Bill the Presidents have made administrative arrangements so that wherever possible a member who has special knowledge or experience of race relations in the employment field will sit on tribunals hearing cases where racial discrimination is alleged by the applicant from the outset.

Liquidators

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps are in place to ensure there is transparency concerning liquidators' fees and expenses. [5457]

Mr. John M. Taylor: In any liquidation of an insolvent company the creditors acting through a liquidation committee or in general meeting may determine the level of remuneration to be paid to the liquidator. In order to be able to make an informed judgment concerning a liquidator's remuneration creditors need information as to the conduct and progress of the proceedings and insolvency practitioners therefore have an obligation to ensure that creditors are provided with such information. In this regard I was pleased to note the issue of statement of insolvency practice No. 9 by the Society of Practitioners of Insolvency which dealt with this issue and urged on the profession the maximum transparency in and about the setting of fees. That guidance has been adopted by the recognised professional bodies and is therefore now a standard against which future professional conduct can be measured.

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the fees and expenses of Deloitte and Touche in the English liquidation of BCCI to date. [5456]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The totals of the UK liquidator's remuneration and expenses in the period to 15 January 1996, the date to which the liquidators last annual report was made up, were respectively US$203.6 million and US$6 million.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the current estimates in terms of timing and percentage amounts of dividend payments for BCCI creditors; what is the current estimate of the aggregate total of dividends to BCCI creditors which will be paid; and by when they are expected to have been paid. [5451]

Mr. Taylor: The liquidators plan to pay a dividend of 24.5 per cent. on 10 December 1996. They hope to pay a further substantial dividend in 1997.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the value of expenditure authorised by him on request from the liquidators of BCCI before the election of the creditors committee. [5297]

Mr. Taylor: In a winding up by the court there is initially no liquidation committee; section 141(5) of the Insolvency Act 1986 provides that the functions of the committee are vested in the Secretary of State. These functions relate principally to the granting of sanction to the liquidators to compromise debts, to bring or defend legal proceedings on behalf of the company and to carry on its business so far as may be necessary for the beneficial winding up of the company's affairs.

In the period prior to the formal establishment of the liquidation committee--that is, between 14 January, the date of the winding-up order made against BCCI (SA), and June 1993--sanction to commence legal proceedings was given in 1,388 cases, including 933 cases in which proceedings were to be issued against credit card debtors. In addition to those sanctions in respect of legal proceedings, numerous compromises of debts due to the company were also sanctioned.

Where the liquidators invited the Secretary of State to grant such sanctions, the matters had previously been referred to and approved by the informal creditors committee which existed at that time unless the amounts involved were lower than the de minimis level set by the informal creditors committee. The extent of the expenditure involved in the bringing of the sanctioned legal proceedings could only be calculated at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the procedure for the proper regulation and monitoring of costs in the English liquidation of BCCI. [5455]

Mr. Taylor: These are matters which the liquidation committee appointed by the creditors consider on a regular basis. Where any person is aggrieved by any act or decision of the liquidator they may apply to the court.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he last met the liquidators of BCCI. [5296]

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Mr. Taylor: My officials last met the UK joint liquidators of BCCI (SA) on 6 September 1996.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are the costs of the English BCCI liquidation to date. [5454]

Mr. Taylor: Payments out of the UK liquidation in the period to 15 January 1996, the date to which the liquidators last annual report was made up, totalled US $491.5 million.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what are the worldwide assets of the BCCI companies, excluding those countries which have ring-fenced their assets; what proportion of the assets is available for distribution to creditors; and what factors have led to the remaining assets being unavailable for distribution. [5450]

Mr. Taylor: These are matters for the liquidators in the various jurisdictions.

Textiles

Mr. Rooney: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which countries are proposing to amend the list of textiles and clothing products currently not integrated into the normal GATT 1994 rules. [5472]

Mr. Nelson: Stage 2 of the agreed four-stage phase-out of the multi-fibre arrangement requires that on 1 January 1998, all members of the World Trade Organisation which maintain restrictions on textile and clothing imports should reintegrate into the rules of GATT 1994 products accounting for not less than 17 per cent. of each member's imports in 1990.

Multi-fibre Agreement

Mr. Rooney: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will list the organisations he has consulted on the proposed stage 2 phase out of the multi-fibre agreement; [5446]

Mr. Nelson: In preparation for assessing the Commission's proposals about how the EU should implement stage 2 of the phase-out of the multi-fibre arrangement on 1 January 1998, my Department consulted the following organisations:

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None of these organisations questioned the obligation to implement stage 2. As to whether stage 2 should include liberalisation of any products under quota, those marked 1 in the list were in favour and those marked 2 were opposed. The remainder expressed no view.


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