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5 Jul 2000 : Column WA133

Written Answers

Wednesday, 5th July 2000.

Parliamentary Cost Comparisons

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the annual cost of maintaining the European Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, including:

    (a) salaries, pensions, travelling allowances, secretarial expenses and other expenses for Members;

    (b) salaries, allowances and pensions and other costs of support staff;

    (c) accommodation, including rent, operating costs and security; and

    (d) all other administrative costs such as stationery, office equipment, publications, payments to parliamentary bodies and other relevant outgoings;

    and whether they will indicate the per capita cost per Member as well as the average number of sitting days for each institution for 1999-2000 and the previous four years. [HL2995]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information for the years 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99 was given in my Answer of 22 July 1999 (WA 129-130). The information for 1999-2000 is as follows:

Total Costs 1999-2000£ million
House of Lords45.3
House of Commons(1)263.7
European Parliament(2)610
of which cost to UK is102.7
Per capita cost per member 1999-2000£'000
House of Lords(3)37
House of Commons(4)400
European Parliament(5)974
Number of sitting days 1999-2000
House of Lords158
House of Commons157
European Parliament(6)60


(1) Based on the calendar year and average £/eu exchange rate. The cost to the UK is derived from the UK's financing share after abatement.

(2) Per capita costs based on number of Peers eligible to sit in the House of Lords at the beginning of the year.

(3) The number of European Parliament seats increased from 518 to 567 on June 1994 and has increased since to its present total of 626.

(4) It is not possible to give an exact figure for the number of European Parliament sittings. The European Parliament generally holds a five-day plenary session every month but there have been occasions when these plenary sessions have been over a longer period.

(5) Total cost of the House of Commons includes capital costs in respect of new Parliamentary buildings.

(6) Per capita costs based on 659 Members, increased from 652 at the 1997 General Election.

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Company Acquisitions, UK and France

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cumulative value of acquisitions of British companies by French companies which were announced or consummated between 1 January 2000 and 23 June 2000; and what was the corresponding cumulative value of acquisitions of French companies by British companies during the same period.[HL3032]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Pearson of Rannoch from the National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, Mr Len Cook, dated 5 July 2000.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the value of acquisitions of British companies by French companies and French companies by British companies announced or consummated between 1 January 2000 and 23 June 2000.

The latest available information from the inquiry into acquisitions and mergers is for deals completed during the first quarter of 2000. Figures are not produced for deals announced but not completed in the period covered. Acquisitions of French companies by British companies were valued at £0.2 billion and acquisitions of British companies by French companies were £1.1 billion. The quarterly figure is heavily influenced by variations in small numbers of very large deals.

BSE in France

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Given the increased identification of BSE cases in France, whether they are taking steps to protect the public from exposure to infected material coming from Europe.[HL2890]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government continue to monitor the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in France, as well as in other European Union member states and in third countries. Legislation has been in place for some years to protect British consumers from the risks of BSE infected material from any source.

All beef produced within the EU must be produced in accordance with the relevant European Directive, 64/433/EEC. The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carries out regular inspection visits to all member states to ensure compliance. Furthermore, United Kingdom authorities are entitled to carry out random spot checks on consignments of beef from other member states, at their destinations, to confirm compliance.

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In addition, since 1 January 1998 the UK has had national legislation which prohibits the import of specified risk materials (SRM) (except for technical uses such as bone china) from all countries, including the rest of the EU. This legislation requires imports of certain animal products to be accompanied by official veterinary certification that the products do not contain, and were not derived from, SRM. These controls are enforced each week by inspections of randomly selected consignments of imported meat from other member states. The results of these checks are published monthly in the Government's BSE Enforcement Bulletin, copies of which are available in the Library.

Since 1996, British law has provided a further measure of protection against the risks of BSE infection through the prohibition on the sale of beef from cattle aged over 30 months at slaughter. This prohibition applies to both home produced and imported supplies of beef. The only exceptions to this ban are for specialist grass reared herds in Britain (which can be slaughtered for human consumption at up to 42 months of age), and for meat from 14 non-EU countries which have traditionally supplied the UK, and which have no history of BSE. This legislation is enforced by the Meat Hygiene Service in licensed meat premises, and by local authorities at other points in the supply chain.

From 1 October 2000, EU-wide requirements for the removal of SRM will apply in all member states, following adoption by the European Commission on 29 June 2000 of a Decision on SRM controls.

Gas and Electricity Industries: Consumer Representation

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in developing the future regulatory and consumer representation arrangements for the gas and electricity industries.[HL3181]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Utilities Bill currently before Parliament will result in substantial benefits to consumers. In order to provide a sound basis for the implementation of those aspects of the new legislation for which it will have responsibility, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets plans to undertake preparatory work right away. The Department of Trade and Industry also needs to undertake some preparatory work on appointments to the new Gas and Electricity Markets Authority and Gas and Electricity Consumer Council, which will be established once the Utilities Bill gets Royal Assent. However, whilst candidates designate will be identified by the recruitment process, no appointments will be made until the Utilities Bill has received Royal Assent.

Parliamentary approval to these activities will be sought in Estimates for the OFGEM Vote (Class IX, Vote 10) and DTI Vote (Class IX, Vote 1). Pending

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that approval, urgent preparatory expenditure estimated at £1 million for OFGEM and £0.3 million for DTI will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.

Bevin Boys

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to the presentation of the National Service Medal to those Bevin Boys who were conscripted to serve in the coal mines during the 1939-45 war.[HL2989]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville : A public memorial to all those who served during the 1939-1945 war on the Home Front, including those who were conscripted to serve in the coal mines, was unveiled by the Queen in a service of commemoration at Coventry Cathedral on 3 March 2000.

The National Service Medal is not an official award. It is produced for sale by a commercial company.

Electricity Generators: Licence Exemptions

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reached conclusions following the consultation on proposals to amend the Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 1997.[HL3208]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville : In order to reduce the regulatory burden on generators which are not subject to central despatch at present, the Government are proposing to make changes to the de minimis level above which a generation licence is required. Subject to final comments, it is proposed to lay an order to exempt for a period of one year all generators which are not capable of exporting more than 100 MW to the total system and which have energised connections on the date of the order coming into force. Additionally a small number of stations which exceed this limit but are not presently subject to central despatch will be included within this exempt class.

The change will allow generators which are currently connected to public network and do not presently have to submit to central despatch the freedom to aggregate their output with suppliers when the New Electricity Trading Arrangements come into effect. This will be of particular help to those plants which do not have predictable or flexible output including renewables and CHP operators.

The Government propose to lay the order in August. It will come into force before the commencement of NETA trading in the autumn.

This order will be an interim arrangement pending the coming into force of new legislation and will apply in England and Wales. During this interim period, generators who wish to connect new plant capable of exporting between 50-100 MW or who plan to increase

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the size of their plant so that it comes within this category may apply to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for an individual exemption. In deciding whether or not to grant and in determining the date of the granting of such exemptions, the department will take into account the views of interested parties, including those of OFGEM and the relevant transmission and distribution network operators.

It is the Government's intention within the coming year to lay a further, final order replacing this interim order. Further orders will cover the de minimis rules to govern exemptions from the need for licences to generate, supply and distribute electricity.

The generation exemptions covering plant of this size will be subject to periodic review. It is the Government's present intention that they will be reviewed approximately every three years.

The Government intend to consult further on possible changes to the rules governing supply exemptions. These changes, which I would propose to bring into effect within the coming year, would help small and industrial on-site generators, including renewable and CHP operators to serve their customers more effectively.

The Government are therefore seeking views on a proposal to allow suppliers who generate electricity themselves to supply an aggregate of up to 5MW of power, of which 2.5MW may be supplied to domestic customers. The class would be required to supply at prices not exceeding those set out in the order, and would be required to alert customers being recruited as to their status as exempt suppliers.

The Government also wishes to hear views on a proposal to allow generators which supply a qualifying group of customers on the same site as the generator to supply the same group of customers at remote sites. This latter class would be required to demonstrate that at least one-third of the electricity supplied to the qualifying group went to on-site premises.

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