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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The Government monitor a range of indicators of the performance of industry in pursuit of their goal of increasing living standards and prosperity for all. It is vital that all sectors of industry, including manufacturing and services, are operating effectively and efficiently. The Government aim to raise the trend rate of growth of the economy by strengthening our wealth-creating base, in particular by nurturing investment in industry, skills infrastructure and new technologies. A dialogue with industry and union leadership will help to establish the benchmarking process that practitioners consider valuable to make measurement a contributory factor to performance improvement.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The inspectors have not yet reported to the Secretary of State. A decision on publication will be taken when the report is received and fully considered.
Lord Clinton-Davis: The press notice which was issued on 8 June 1992 stated that the inspectors were appointed to investigate the affairs and membership of Mirror Group Newspapers plc and in particular to look at the offers for sale of the company's shares in early 1991. It is for the inspectors to determine what matters they should inquire into for the purposes of their investigation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Government have made it clear that they will bring forward legislation to establish a Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly, subject to positive outcomes in the referendums. Parliament will have a full opportunity to scrutinise the legislation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The RDS-TMC service announced on 3 July is conditional on receivers being commercially available. The criteria for its success or otherwise would be its ability (i) to meet the needs of its users and (ii) to continue. The partners currently expect to take an initial view of these considerations about one year after the service commences.
Baroness Hayman: The department consults widely on environmental policy issues and, while there are no specific working arrangements with the Anglers Conservation Association, we shall ensure that it is included in such exercises as regards water pollution. Prosecution and other action in respect of pollution offences is a matter for the relevant regulatory bodies.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The cost of NATO enlargement has not been discussed in the EU. It will fall to current and future NATO members and is a matter for them alone.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO has engaged in political and economic, as well as military, activity since its inception. Since the launch of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced Partnership for Peace, NATO has assumed increasing importance as a forum for political dialogue embracing countries which are not NATO members. This is a welcome reflection of the changed strategic environment in which NATO now operates. NATO's roles may occasionally be referred to in European Union bodies, but are not a matter for discussion and debate in that forum.
Whether they intend to continue to support university museums; and
What criteria the Higher Education Funding Council uses in relation to the allocation of awards to university museums.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Universities themselves are responsible for funding university museums from the block grant they receive from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and decisions about continuing to support these museums are for the parent university. The HEFCE also provides "non-formula funding" in support of a number of university museums and galleries of national importance, on condition that bona fide users from higher education have free access. The HEFCE is funded by a grant from the Department for Education and Employment.
The HEFCE reviewed its non-formula funding of museums in 1993 and 1994 and announced its decisions in March 1995. The criteria for funding were published in HEFCE Circulars 5/93, 46/93 and 9/95, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.
Circular 9/95 also announced the Council's decision that, on the recommendation of its Museums, Galleries and Collections Review Group, the distribution of non-formula funding in respect of university museums would not be reviewed for at least five years.
Baroness Blackstone: Since January of this year the Equal Opportunities Commission has a target to move from the current staff ratio of 80 1 women: 20 1 men to one of 70:30. It will reassess this target after two years. As ethnic minorities represent 5 1 of its staff the Commission has set no target in this regard. Whilst positive discrimination in filling individual vacancies is unlawful, targets are seen by the Government as a useful means of assessing progress towards a more balanced workforce. 1 per cent.
Baroness Blackstone: The conduct and outcome of the research assessment exercise are a matter for the higher education funding bodies. I welcome their current review of the 1996 exercise and their intention to consult on future options in the light of any relevant recommendations from the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, which is expected to report shortly. It will be open to any who feel that clinical medical research has not been given a fair weighting in the recent exercise to raise such concerns then.
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