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Written Answers

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 24 October 1990

Home Department

Electoral Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for increasing the level of electoral registration; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to his question on 18 October at column 867.

Liquid Gold

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate the content and availability of a chemical sold under the title Liquid Gold with a view to its registration as a controlled substance; and if he will make a statement.

Liquid Gold is the brand name of a type of chemical product sometimes known as a "popper". The active ingredient of these products is amyl nitrite, one of a group of chemicals known as the alkyl nitrites. The misuse of alkyl nitrites was considered by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in 1987. The council found at that time that, although the substances posed a limited health hazard when misused, they were not dependence-producing and did not give rise to any social problems sufficient to justify their control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. We are monitoring the situation closely to see if any change in this policy is necessary.

Special Constables

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which five counties have the most special constables proportionate to the population; which five counties have the fewest; and if he will make a statement.

Proportionate to the population, the City of London, Devon and Cornwall, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire police forces have the most special constables; Greater Manchester, Gwent, Merseyside, the Metropolitan police and South Wales have the fewest.

County Police Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the management and efficiency of county police forces following the Audit Commission report.

The Audit Commission is producing a series of reports on police issues. These are being considered as they appear. In the main, the recommendations will be followed up locally by police authorities and chief constables and in the context of audits carried out by district auditors. They may also be followed up in the course of inspections by Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary.

Deportation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women are currently held in British prisons awaiting deportation; what is the average time spent in prison; and on what grounds the women are being held.

None. Three women are, however, held solely under Immigration Act powers in the immigration detention accommodation at Harmondsworth awaiting deportation. The length of their detention on 19 October averaged 69 days. They are detained on the ground that they would otherwise fail to maintain contact with the Department.

Police Complaints Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any new appointment has been made to the Police Complaints Authority.

Mr. Gerald C. Warner, who retired from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in October 1990, has accepted my invitation to serve as a member of the Police Complaints Authority. He will take up his post on 14 November 1990. The appointment is being made to fill a vacancy created by the departure of one of the members from the authority whose term of appointment has expired.

Wales

Valleys Initiative (Roads)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many road schemes identified in the valleys initiative have been put out to tender; and whether he will list the successful applicants;(2) what assessment he has made of the number of local jobs created by the road schemes identified in the valleys initiative; and which have been completed and which are under construction.

Of the county road schemes shown in "The Valleys": A Programme for the People" the A4067 Glais-Pontardawe improvement, Neath inner urban bypass, A467 Abertillery Brynmawr improvement and A4119 mid-Rhondda access schemes have been completed; the A473 Talbot Green bypass is under construction. Phase I of the A4060 Pentrebach-Dowlais trunk road scheme has also been completed. Tenders have been invited by the Welsh Office for phase II of the A4060 scheme and West Glamorgan county council has invited tenders for the A4067 Pontardawe-Ynysmeudwy scheme. It is too soon to know who the successful applicants might be. No assessment of jobs created has been undertaken.

Toxic Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has received any reports from Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution on the plans by Rechem International in Gwent to import toxic waste from Italy.

No. My right hon. Friend receives notification of hazardous waste imports in accordance with the Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste Regulations 1988.

Bus Journeys

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what correspondence he has received concerning (a) the journey time and (b) pricing policy for bus journeys between north-west and south Wales.

I have received no such correspondence. These are commercial matters for the bus company.

National Finance

Mortgages

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has on the number or percentage of mortgages which are adjusted (a) monthly, (b) annually and (c) other categories.

Only partial information is available. Over 40 per cent. of building society mortgage payments are adjusted annually. No precise information is available on the extent of annual review schemes operated by banks and other mortgage lenders.

Community Charge

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish by valuation office and sub-office the comparable figures for objections to domestic rates and to community charge tribunals.

I have been asked to reply.In the table figures for objections to domestic rating proposals include those for both domestic and non-domestic properties. No separate figures are available for domestic properties alone.

Valuation and Community Charge Tribunal OfficesCommunity charge appeals to 30 September 1990Objections to rating proposals from 1 January 1989 to 31 December 1989
Avon and Gloucestershire944,853
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire1666,647
Berkshire431,779
Birmingham45,532
Buckinghamshire61,929
Cambridgeshire271,457
Cheshire1073,997
Cleveland and Durham3004,187
Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire293,379
Cumbria731,249
Derbyshire571,856
Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly1684,823
Dorset and Somerset1532,833
Essex2013,956
Hampshire North and Wiltshire622,757
Hampshire South and Isle of Wight712,367
Hereford and Worcester361,956
Humberside6773,183
Kent1883,715
Lancashire1693,966
Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire814,699

Valuation and Community Charge Tribunal Offices

Community charge appeals to 30 September 1990

Objections to rating proposals from I January 1989 to 31 December 1989

Lincolnshire901,257
Central London1118,073
London North East546,707
London North West277,453
London South East305,085
London South West645,460
Manchester North1025,379
Manchester South187,227
Merseyside1335,776
Norfolk811,203
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear2488,802
North Yorkshire1952,185
Oxfordshire603,971
South Yorkshire574,041
Staffordshire and Shropshire243,971
Suffolk751,498
Surrey483,711
East Sussex563,312
West Sussex212,096
West Midlands265,318
West Yorkshire984,433
Total4,230178,078

Transport

Port Of London Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement concerning the future organisation and functioning of the Port of London Authority, listing those activities, responsibilities and properties which will remain its public statutory responsibility and those which he envisages will cease to remain in public ownership.

My right hon. Friend has decided to build on the benefits which have already appeared from the abolition of the dock labour scheme by bringing forward legislation as soon as he can to enable the Port of London Authority to sell the docks and commercial undertaking of Tilbury into private ownership. The Port of London Authority would retain its existing conservancy responsibilities. It is too early to be more precise about the eventual division of activities, responsibilities and properties.

Motorway Driving

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will initiate a campaign of "left is right" in relation to motorway driving, along the lines of the German "right is right" campaign.

The Department continues to emphasise the importance of keeping to the left except when overtaking and this will be reflected in future motorway and trunk road safety campaigns.

Road Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road accidents there were, both fatal and non-fatal, in each of the years 1984 to 1989 inclusive; and how many involved drivers aged under 24 years.

The Department collects only information on accidents involving personal injury.

A fatal accident is defined as one in which at least one person was fatally injured.

Accidents and accidents involving drivers aged under 24: 1984–89

All accidents

Accidents involving at least one driver or rider aged under 24 years

Fatal

Non-fatal

Total

Fatal

Non-fatal

Total

19845,138248,045253,1832,094100,034102,128
19854,768240,877245,6451,91593,92995,844
19864,895242,959247,8541,93094,60896,538
19874,694234,369239,0631,81689,79891,614
19884,643242,351246,9941,79692,57294,368
19894,907255,852260,7591,83196,76998,600

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether there has been an analysis carried out of the incidents of specific makes of vehicle in road accidents in relation to their general prevalence in the vehicle population as a whole; and if statistics exist for the seriousness of injuries sustained in those specific makes of vehicle.

The Department of Transport began collecting information about the registration marks of all vehicles involved in injury accidents from 1 January 1989. This will facilitate analyses of the type my hon. Friend seeks. I hope that a report will he published in the form of a statistical bulletin before the end of the year and a copy will be placed in the Library.

A45-B4029 Junction

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when work will commence on the grade separation at the junction of the A45 and the B4029.

Provided the scheme continues to show positive economic benefits, we hope to be in a position to publish orders in June 1991.

M40

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the full length of the M40 will be open to traffic in both directions.

There is still much to be done to complete the M40, with several major contracts still running. The construction industry, with the encouragement of the Government, has set itself exacting targets for the completion of this vital road and is determined to meet them. The project should, therefore, be completed earlier than expected and fully opened early next year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what he anticipates will be the reduction of traffic, both north and south bound, on the M1 when the M40 is opened.

It is currently estimated that there will be a reduction of between 7,500 and 8,500 vehicles per day in each direction on the M1 between London and the M6 junction in the first year after the M40 extension is opened.

Road Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list for the 18 schemes in England and Wales, identified by the National Audit Office as having a negative cost-benefit analysis, in its report of 27 October 1988, "Department of Transport, Scottish Development Department and Welsh Office: Road Planning" (a) location and name of each individual project, (b) length of road, (c) date of decision to build and date of completion, (d) capital cost, both estimated and outturn, (e) number of vehicles per day estimated, each way, (f) number of vehicles per day from recent census data and (g) the details of the negative economic appraisal or net present value.

The schemes concerned in England were as follows:

  • A40 Ross-on-Wye Relief Road
  • A483/A5 Oswestry Bypass and A5 Improvement (3 Schemes)
  • M65 Whitebirk-Hyndburn
  • A61 Chesterfield Relief Road North
  • A61 Chesterfield Relief Road South
  • A6 Chapel-en-le-Firth Bypass
  • A 1079 Beverley Bypass
  • A63 South Docks Road (Easterly) Hull
  • A564 Blythe Bridge—Uttoxeter Bypass
  • A56 Accrington Bypass South
  • A66 Bowes Bypass
The detailed information requested will take some time to collect and I will write to the hon. Gentleman in due course. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is responsible for roads in Wales.

Bridges

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements must be followed by central or local government before a bridge forming part of (a) a trunk road or (b) a local road may be turned into a toll bridge.

Authority to toll any part of a public highway must be obtained by Act of Parliament or by grant from the Crown.

Wheel Clamping

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what persons have authority to clamp vehicles allegedly parked illegally, apart from the police or their express agents.

There are no express powers that enable vehicles to be immobilised by wheelclamps other than those contained in sections 104 and 105 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act, which refers to highways and other roads to which the public has access. In such cases, only the police have power to use clamps or authorise other persons to do so. The position on private land, including car parks, is not expressly provided for at law. Only the courts are in a position to interpret the law and thereby judge the legality of clamping vehicles on private land.

Mobile Canteens

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department has made towards regulating mobile canteen trading in trunk road lay bys under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

Paragraph 2 of schedule 4 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 enables district councils to regulate street trading. That schedule confers no powers on the Secretary of State. The application and operation of the schedule in any district is a matter for the relevant district council.

Continental Rail Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he now expects to receive British Rail's proposals to acquire the trains needed for through passenger services from the north to the Continent; and whether he still expects these trains to be available in time for the services to start from the opening of the channel tunnel.

I am now considering BR's proposals for trains to operate daytime services to the continent from north of London. There are discussions in progress between BR and its suppliers on the detailed technical specifications, the price and the timetable for deliveries. I still await BR's proposals for night services, which it is discussing with its continental partners.

Spanish Lorry Drivers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received concerning the blockade by Spanish lorry drivers at the frontier with France; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 19 October 1990]: We received representations from the trade associations and from individual hauliers.The strike by Spanish road hauliers who were protesting about Government-controlled haulage rates, fuel prices and working conditions ended on the evening of 19 October.The French-Spanish border is now open and lorries are crossing in both directions.

Health

Electric Hand Dryers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking in conjunction with the chief medical officer of health to ascertain the extent of any health dangers associated with the use of warm air electric hand dryers in public conveniences.

The Department of Health has supported research at Papworth hospital into airborne bacteria from hand drying with hot air electric hand dryers compared with paper towels. The results showed that hot air hand dryers produced no more aerosol and sometimes significantly fewer aerosolised bacteria than paper hand towels. These results have been confirmed by studies in Singapore.

Video Screens

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been undertaken into the debilitating effect of video screens on eyesight; and if he will make a statement.

I am advised that home television sets, larger commercial sets, amusement arcade game machines and visual display units are not known to have any debilitating effect on eyesight, although their prolonged use may draw attention to a pre-existing refractory problem. There are no known hazards from radiation from these screens in normal use.

Research into possible health effects from VDU use at work is the responsibility of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.

National Health Service Trusts, Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many expressions of support he has received for the opt-out proposals of St. James and the Leeds general infirmary in Leeds; and from whom.

Neither St. James hospital nor Leeds general infirmary has put forward proposals to opt out of the National Health Service. However, both have applied to become National Health Service trusts and we have received a number of letters from members of the public supporting their applications. These comments have been passed to Yorkshire regional health authority which is responsible for arranging consultation on these applications. At the end of the consultation period, all comments made will be forwarded to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State to consider alongside the applications before my right hon. and learned Friend decides whether to establish the units as National Health Service trusts.

Health Authority Accounts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list in the Official Report those district health authorities which are audited by private accountancy practices and the name of each audit practice concerned.

From 1 October 1990, responsibility for the external audit of health authorities moved from the Department of Health to the Audit Commission. The commission has appointed auditors for each authority, who may be their own staff or private firms, and will be happy to supply details if required.

Nhs Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will outline the timetable to be used for units in the second wave of national health service trust applications, giving the date by which (a) units should apply and (b) decisions on suitability will be made at regional level; and if he will outline the consultation procedure which will be used by regions for second wave applicants.

A unit can apply at any time to be an NHS trust. The NHS management executive has produced an indicative timetable for units wishing to become trusts in April 1992. Under this timetable, units would submit applications in late April 1991. Regions may comment on proposals and on applications, but decisions on suitability are for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. Regions will determine the arrangements for consultation on applications subject to the requirements of the NHS and Community Care Act.

Education And Science

Truancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the rates of truancy (a) currently, (b) five years ago and (c) 10 years ago.

This information is not collected centrally.My right hon. Friend is considering what scope there might be for reviewing the collection and presentation of such statistics at local level.

Telford Ctc

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many people applied for the post of head and deputy head of Telford city technology college; and whether he will give details of their present positions and previous career experience.

There were 43 applications for the post of head at the Telford city technology college, and a total of 120 for the three posts of deputy head which were advertised. All of the applicants were suitably qualified being at present in posts at least equivalent to head of department. For the position of head, approximately one third of those applying were at present either deputy heads or heads.

School Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average time taken between the first submission to his Department of an application by a local education authority relating to a school closure or reorganisation and final decision by Ministers, for the latest available period, and for such of the years from and including 1980 for which information is available.

Data are available only for the average time taken between the publication—as opposed to submission to the Department—of statutory proposals under sections 12, 13 and 15 of the Education Act 1980 and a final decision by the Secretary of State in each of the calendar years from 1986 to 1989, as follows:

YearAverage time taken (months)
19867·30
19877·35
19887·97
19896·64
These figures exclude proposals which fell to be determined by a local education authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will update the table relating to school closures in the answer to the hon. Member for Blackburn, Official Report, 12 July, column 314, to give the latest available information in respect of 1990.

Calendar Year

Number of proposals decided

Number of places to be taken out of use by proposals in column 2

Number of proposals in column 2 approved

Number of surplus places to be taken out of use as a result of approved proposals

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

1983366104,17433085,606
198429285,86227077,590
1985205101,09718588,218
198617281,66314762,828
198715955,11613445,326
198814564,25611627,170
198914059,52711441,831

11990

10728,5589428,043

1 1 January to 30 September 1990.

Assisted Places

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what records of the name, address and other details of pupils in receipt of awards made under the assisted places scheme, or their parents, are held by his Department or are otherwise available to it.

Details of individual pupils in receipt of awards under the assisted places scheme are not held by my Department. Such records as there are, including addresses of parents, and so on, are held by the schools which participate in the scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what measures he has taken to ensure that records of personal details of award holders and their parents under the assisted places scheme are used only for the purposes for which the information was originally given.

The participating schools are wholly responsible for the records they keep of individual pupils in receipt of awards under the assisted places scheme.

Energy

Overseas Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the overseas visits made by Ministers in his Department during July, and the nature of any agreements concluded.

I visited France on 16 and 17 July this year. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) visited Bonn on 6 July and attended the informal Energy Council in Rome on 16 July. No agreements were concluded.

Overseas Development

Eastern Europe

59.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much of the know-how funds for eastern European countries has now been spent or committed.

The know-how fund—KHF—for eastern Europe commenced in July 1989. A total of £2·3 million was spent on the KHF for Poland in 1989–90. In this financial year £15 million will be disbursed. The allocation of resources for next financial year and beyond has not yet been finalised.

Malaysian Minister For Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs whether representatives of the Overseas Development Administration met the Malaysian Minister for Energy, Mr. Samy Vellu, during his visit to London earlier in the current year; and if he will make a statement.

No representatives of the Overseas Development Administration met the Malaysian Minister for Energy during his visit to London earlier this year.

Aid And Trade Provision

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications for aid and trade provision funds to support contracts between developing countries and General Electric Company, Plessey, Northern Engineering Industries, BICC and Trafalgar House have been refused since 1979.

Since aid and trade provision funds first became available in 1977, a total of 169 applications have been formally considered from the five companies named. These have led to 133 offers of aid; six applications are still under consideration. Of the 30 remaining cases, our records do not distinguish between those which were refused, and those which fell away for other reasons.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in how many aid and trade provision supported projects since 1979, the minimum test of developmental soundness was not carried out by the Overseas Development Administration.

Since 1979 all aid and trade provision supported projects have been assessed to provide a reasonable assurance of the soundness of the investment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many internal, confidential, Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects contain references to excess profit margins, above departmental profit margin guidelines;(2) how many published Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects contain references to excess profit margins, above departmental profit margin guidelines;(3) in how many internal, confidential, Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects profit margins are considered;(4) in how many published Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects profit margins are considered.

For negotiated contracts, value-for-money checks, which are undertaken before the provision of ATP funds is agreed, include consideration of anticipated profit margins. Two of the ATP projects that have been evaluated involved contracts awarded in 1978 and 1982 prior to the introduction of value-for-money checks; the evaluations considered anticipated profit margins in these cases and concluded that these were not excessive.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many internal, confidential Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects include references to corrupt practices;(2) how many published Overseas Development Administration evaluations of aid and trade provision projects include references to corrupt practices.

In one evaluation report of an ATP-financed project there is a reference to allegations of undue influence in relation to the arrangements made for the consideration of competing bids by a tender committee. The contract was awarded to the firm making the lowest-priced bid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will give details of Overseas Development Administration guidelines on profit margins used in evaluating applications for aid and trade provision funding;(2) whether applicants for aid and trade provision grants must state the profit margins expected by British contractors when applying for funds;(3) whether consideration is given to the level of profit margins when a contract between a British company and a developing country Government is considered for a grant from the aid and trade provision.

There are no general guidelines on profit margins for assessing applications by companies for ATP assistance made available to developing country Governments to help them finance overseas projects. Companies are not required to state their expected profit margin when applying for ATP assistance. In general, value for money in all aid-funded projects is sought by means of competitive tendering for contracts. In the case of a negotiated contract, in the absence of competition, we undertake a detailed value-for-money check of the proposed contract price, including an assessment of the anticipated profit margin.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether allocations of aid and trade provision funds include contributions towards commission payments.

An ATP grant helps finance a proportion of the total contract price for the purpose of providing only the eligible goods and services specified in the contract. Payments are made in accordance with the terms of the ATP aid agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the recipient Government and of the contract.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether consideration is given to the amount of commission payments when a contract between a British company and a developing country is considered for a grant from the aid and trade provision.

In the case of a negotiated contract between a British firm and a developing-country Government, where competitive bidding has not taken place, the detailed value-for-money check scrutinises all components of the contract price, including any agents' fees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in the allocation of aid and trade provision funds to contracts between British companies and developing countries, consideration is given to contributions made by British companies to British political parties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date aid and trade provision funds were offered for the Pergau hydro-electric project in Malaysia; what is the value of the grant offered; what is the value of the total contract; and when the first instalment of aid is likely to be released.

I refer the hon. Lady to the reply I gave her on 22 October, at column 25.

Pergau Hydro-Electric Project

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) which companies, other than Balfour Beatty, General Electric Company and Trafalgar House have sought contracts for the Pergau hydro-electric project in Malaysia;(2) whether the Government have sought bids from companies other than Balfour Beatty, General Electric Company and Trafalgar House for the Pergau hydroelectric project in Malaysia;(3) whether Balfour Beatty, General Electric Company and Trafalgar House tendered for the contract for the Pergau hydro-electric project in Malaysia.

The client for the Pergau hydro-electric project is Tengah Nasional Berhad—TNB—the Malaysian power utility; it is for TNB to decide from whom it should invite proposals. It would not therefore be appropriate for Her Majesty's Government to provide such information.

Trade And Industry

Spirits (Australia)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to persuade the Australian Government to amend their import duty/excise structure so as to put imported and locally produced spirits on an even footing.

Following representations by United Kingdom industry, the Government have, through the European Community, alerted the Australian Government to their concern at certain practices that discriminate against imported spirits, and have sought to secure their elimination. We are addressing this issue in the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations.

Name of companyDale of publication of reportFirm of accountants
Gilgate Holdings Ltd. and others8 September 1981Thornton Baker and Co. (now Grant Thornton)
Norwest Hoist Ltd.23 June 1982Price Waterhouse
Ramor Investments Ltd.23 March 1983Price Waterhouse
Milbury plc27 October 1988Arthur Young (now Ernst and Young)
Minet Holdings plc and WMD Underwriting Agencies29 August 1989Arthur Young (now Ernst and Young)
Alexander Howden Holdings Ltd.29 August 1989Arthur Young (now Ernst and Young) and Peat Marwick and Mitchell of Bermuda (now Peat Marwick McLintock)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any accountancy firms criticised by the joint disciplinary scheme act as auditors to public bodies sponsored by his Department.

Name of companyDale of reportFirm of accountants
Gilgate Holdings Ltd and others22 December 1982Thornton Baker (now Grant Thornton)
Orbit Holdings Ltd28 March 1983Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co (Peat Marwick Mclintock)
Ramor Investments Ltd27 January 1986Price Waterhouse

Accountancy Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what matters he intends to discuss with the presidents of the accountancy bodies during his next meeting.

I expect that, as usual when I meet leading representatives of the accountancy profession, we shall discuss matters of current mutual interest.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the current president of any of the bodies listed in section 389 of the Companies Act 1985 is or has been a partner in a firm criticised by his Department's inspectors.

Thornton Baker, now part of Grant Thornton, Chartered Accountants, was criticised in the inspectors' report on Gilgate Holdings Ltd. and others, which was published in 1981. Mr. M. Lickiss FCA, currently president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and Professor J. Percy CA, currently president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, are partners in Grant Thornton.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will be meeting the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in the near future.

I met him on 8 October and have no plans for a further meeting in the near future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any accountancy firms criticised by his Department's inspectors act as auditors to public bodies sponsored by his Department.

Six reports, issued since June 1979 by inspectors appointed under the Companies Act have contained criticisms of accountants who act as auditors to public bodies sponsored by my Department. They are as follows:

Three reports issued since 1980 by the committee of inquiry appointed under the joint disciplinary scheme, have contained criticisms of firms of accountants who act as auditors to public bodies sponsored by my Department. They are as follows:

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he intends to take any criminal or civil action against auditors criticised by the inspectors in the Minet Holdings report.

No. A copy of the Minet report has been passed to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will invite the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the accountancy bodies' control of the accountancy press.

I have no plans to do so. The hon. Member is of course free to put his concerns on this subject to the Director General of Fair Trading, who will look into any competition issues which arise.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will seek to legislate to ban the call-off stocks accounting method used by companies.

It would be helpful if the hon. Member would explain the nature of the problem he has in mind, as "call-off stocks" is an imprecise phrase.

Audit Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will publish the recommendations which his Department has made on the review of the Auditing Practices Committee's review of operations.

The Government attach great importance to the role of the Auditing Practices Committee in setting auditing standards and in developing auditing guidance. 1, therefore, welcome the decision of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies to review the constitution, procedures and resources of the Auditing Practices Committee and look forward to the outcome.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the law firm criticised in the House of Fraser report acts as an adviser to any audit policy-making organisation.

If the hon. Member is referring to the firm of solicitors which acted for the Fayed brothers, I understand that a partner in that firm is a non-voting member of the Auditing Practices Committee.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on how many occasions he has taken any civil or criminal action against any auditing firm criticised in the Department of Trade and Industry inspectors' reports.

None. Copies of critical reports are passed to the auditors' professional body for consideration.

Inspectors (Business Connections)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will provide a list showing the business connections of inspectors appointed by his Department since 1985.

1985

  • J. R. Sendall of the Department of Trade and Industry
  • H. B. H. Carlisle QC
  • M. G. Lickiss of Grant Thornton, Chartered Accountants
  • Bohm, solicitor, of Norton Rose
  • A. Ridler of Pannell Kerr Forster, Chartered Accountants

1986

  • Sir Michael Kerry QC
  • K. S. Carmichael of Longcrofts, Chartered Accountants
  • D. T. Donaldson QC
  • I. G. Watt of KPMG Peat Marwick McLintock, Chartered Accountants
  • R. G. A. Youard, solicitor, of Slaughter and May
  • D. Anton of Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, Chartered Accountants

1987

  • M. McIver, solicitor, of Bird Semple Fyfe Ireland WS
  • D. J. McLeod of Ernst & Young, Chartered Accountants
  • H. Brooke QC
  • H. G. C. Aldous of Robson Rhodes, Chartered Accountants
  • J. F. Eden, solicitor, of Bevan Ashford
  • C. H. C. Chudley of Bromhead & Co., Chartered Accountants

1988

  • L. D. Ziman of Nabarro Nathanson, Solicitors
  • W. M. Hoffman of Baker Tilly, Chartered Accountants
  • D. A. Evans QC
  • B. L. Worth of Clark Whitehill, Chartered Accountants Miss M. H. Arden QC
  • G. N. Lane of Chantrey Vallacott, Chartered Accountants
  • G. W. Staple of Clifford Chance, Solicitors
  • T. G. J. Tress of Hays Allen, Chartered Accountants P. L. Heslop QC
  • R. P. G. Lewis of Kidsons Impey, Chartered Accountants
  • M. Crystal QC
  • D. L. Spence of Grant Thornton, Chartered Accountants

1989

  • E. J. Lawson QC
  • D. Anton of Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, Chartered Accountants
  • D. A. Evans QC
  • B. L. Worth of Clark Whitehill, Chartered Accountants Miss H. Heilbron QC
  • M. D. Boohan of Grant Thornton, Chartered Accountants
  • G. S. Moss QC
  • J. R. Venning of Robson Rhodes, Chartered Accountants
  • R. M. Owen QC
  • P. D. Powell of Moore Stephens, Chartered Accountants

1990

  • C. J. Brougham QC
  • R. T. Turner of Neville Russell, Chartered Accountants
  • E. W. Hamilton QC
  • J. A. Scott of BDO Binder Hamlyn, Chartered Accountants
  • C. P. F. Rimer QC
  • J. White of KPMG Peat Marwick McLintock, Chartered Accountants

Company Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will seek to introduce legislation to require companies to show market value of their stocks.

No. There is already a similar legislative requirement. Paragraph 27 of schedule 4 to the Companies Act 1985 requires companies to disclose in their annual accounts the amount of any material difference between the amount at which stock is stated in the balance sheet and its replacement cost, or its most recent actual purchase price if more appropriate.

Vietnam

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the rules regarding trade with Vietnam were last reviewed by the Co-ordinating Committee on Multilateral Exports; and when they will next be reviewed.

Vietnam is one of the proscribed destinations listed in schedule 2 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1989, as amended. Equipment and technology, the export of which is controlled to the proscribed destinations, is subject to a regular rolling review undertaken with our COCOM partners, with one quarter of the items being examined each year. All the industrial dual-use items on the control list are under review at the present time as part of a special exercise being undertaken by COCOM partners to reduce controls to a core list of the most strategically sensitive items.

British Telecom (Vietnam)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations Her Majesty's Government made to the Co-ordinating Committee on Multilateral Exports prior to the consultative committee decision to refuse an export licence to British Telecom for work in Vietnam.

It has been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on individual licensing decisions, or on consultations with our partners in COCOM on such matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what basis the Co-ordinating Committee on Multilateral Exports refused an export licence for a British Telecom contract in Vietnam.

[holding answer 19 October 1990]: It has been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on individual licensing decisions, or on consultations with our partners in COCOM on such matters.

Aid And Trade Funds

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many contracts supported by aid and trade provision funds, since 1979, were open to tender; and how many companies were nominated.

Tendering arrangements are the responsibility of the overseas Government concerned. Of the 207 projects listed in the answer the Minister for Overseas Development gave to the hon. Lady on 11 July 1990, Official Report, columns 224–30, a total of 42 are classified in our records as negotiated contracts and the remainder as competitive contracts.

Multi-Fibre Arrangement

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement indicating the precise policy which is being pursued by those representing the United Kingdom in discussions affecting the future of the multi-fibre arrangement.

The policy pursued by the EC and the UK in discussions on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement continues to be one of seeking to phase out the MFA over a transitional period after the present extension expires next year in conjunction with a general strengthening of GATT rules and disciplines.

Strategic Mineral Stockpile

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he plans any further disposals from the strategic mineral stockpile.

Yes. It has been decided to sell the contents of the stockpile over a two to three-year period. Disposals will take place in a manner which seeks to avoid undue disruption of the market.

British Aerospace

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what export licence requests have been made by British Aerospace in regard to plans to set up any joint ventures with Brazil.

[holding answer 22 October 1990]: It has been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on individual licence applications.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department has received any information from Her Majesty's customs authorities in Liverpool in regard to the investigation into the sale to Iraq in 1988 of monitoring equipment by Microwave Modules of Aintree Ltd; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 22 October 1990]: It would be inappropriate to comment on export control matters under investigation by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

Al Yamamah Agreement

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, pursuant to the reply given to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central on 19 July, Official Report, column 677, he will give dates of any meetings about the Al Yamamah contract which officials of his Department or the Export Credits Guarantee Department were involved in during June and July 1988.

[holding answer 23 October 1990]: I have nothing to add to the reply given on 19 July by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood).

Retail Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many company liquidations there were in each of the years 1979 to 1989, and in 1990 to date; how many of these were in the retail sector of business; and if he will make a statement.

Insolvencies—England and Wales
Companies
Compulsory liquidationsCreditors' voluntary liquidationsTotalRetailing
19792,0642,4734,537501
19802,9353,9556,890675
19812,7715,8258,596928
19823,7458,32212,0671,385
19834,8078,59913,4062,214
19845,2608,46113,7212,096
19855,7619,13714,8982,159
19865,2049,20114,4051,970
19874,1167,32311,4391,436
19883,6675,7609,4271,086
19894,0206,43610,4561,039
1990 1st half2,5534,1306,683n/a
Insolvencies—Scotland Companies
Compulsory LiquidationsCreditors' Voluntary LiquidationsTotalRetailing
19795618223840
198013524437954
198115828043850
198217732650351
198326325852197
198427225152387
198530623153799
198629921251196
198725320345692
198822816839678
198922919942882
1990 1st half11610121726

[holding answer 22 October 1990]: The available figures are in the tables. The industry analysis of insolvencies in England and Wales for the first half of 1990 is expected to be available early in November.

Insolvencies—Northern Ireland companies
Compulsory liquidationsCreditors' voluntary liquidationsTotalRetailing
197972734n/a
198086674n/a
1981168399n/a
198210111121n/a
19831596111n/a
1984196483n/a
19853675111n/a
198656108164n/a
19875991150n/a
19886063123n/a
19896955124n/a
11990133245n/a
1 January to May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many individuals were declared bankrupt in each of the years 1979 to 1989, and in 1990 to date; how many of these were engaged in the retail sector of business; and if he will make a statement.

Insolvencies—England and Wales
Individuals
Bankruptcy ordersIndividual voluntary arrangementsDeeds of arrangementTotalRetailing
19793,456443,500472
19803,986524,038578
19815,075765,151790
19825,654465,700874
19836,981517,0321,058
19848,178518,2291,512
19856,730486,7781,288
19867,093627,1551,348
19876,994404297,4271,226
19887,717779118,5071,069
19898,1381,22439,3651,023
1990 (1st half)5,31885026,170n/a
Insolvencies—Scotland
Individuals
Sequestration
1979106
1980150
1981181
1982213
1983282
1984292
1985298
1986437
1987808
19881,401
19892,301
1990 1st half1860
Insolvencies—Northern Ireland
Individuals
Orders made
197937
198041
198170
198278
1983103
1984114
1985150
1986193
1987134
1988164
1989237
1990 1st half122

Pelagic Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure pelagic exports are maintained following the ending of exports credit guarantees for trade with Soviet Klondykers.

[holding answer 19 October 1990]: ECGD cover has not been withdrawn for pelagic exports to the Soviet Union.

[holding answer 22 October 1990]: The available figures are in the tables. The industry analysis of bankruptcies in England and Wales for the first half of 1990 is expected to be available early in November.

European Single Market

60.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next expects to meet the President of the European Commission to discuss the consequences of the single market for the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to meet the President of the European Commission.

Malaysian Minister For Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether representatives of his Department met the Malaysian Minister for Energy, Mr. Samy Vellu, during his visit to London earlier in the current year; and if he will make a statement.

Senior officials from my Department met the Malaysian Minister of Energy in London during his visit in April and May this year to discuss progress on a number of power projects in peninsular Malaysia.

Single Market

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps remain to complete the single market.

My Department keeps a checklist of progress on the Commission's White Paper, which is updated every two months. A copy is deposited in the Library of the House. The latest copy reveals that 95 of the 282 single market measures have not yet been agreed.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Animals And Birds (Export)

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps the Government have taken to review the policy of exporting live animals and birds; and whether it remains Government policy to allow continued export under the existing regulations unchanged.

The exercise of our statutory duties is constantly under review in the light of prevailing circumstances. It is not known to what extent existing controls will be affected by forthcoming negotiations on Commission proposals for a Community regulation on the protection of animals during transport.

Milk Powder

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what representations he has made to Jordan about the sales of milk powder of United Kingdom origin; whether Jordan has accepted that there is no risk to human health from United Kingdom milk products; what are the prospects for sales of milk powder in Jordan; and if he will make a statement;(2) what representations he has made to Turkey about sales of milk powder of United Kingdom origin; whether Turkey has accepted that there is no risk to human health from United Kingdom milk products; what are the prospects for sales of milk powder in Turkey; and if he will make a statement;(3) what representations he has made to Egypt about sales of milk powder of United Kingdom origin; whether Egypt has accepted that there is no risk to human health from United Kingdom milk products; what are the prospects for sales of milk powder in Egypt; and if he will make a statement;(4) what representations he has made to Tunisia about sales of milk powder of United Kingdom origin; whether Tunisia has accepted that there is no risk to human health from United Kingdom milk products; what are the prospects for sales of milk powder in Tunisia; and if he will make a statement.

We have been in frequent contact with all those countries that have imposed restrictions on our exports of cattle and cattle products including milk. We have also been working closely with the Commission of the European Communities and the Organisation International des Epizooties—OIE—to reassure countries that there is no public or animal health risk in importing cattle products including milk powder from the United Kingdom.At the moment Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Turkey are maintaining restrictions on our milk products despite the clear statements from the Commission and the OIE that milk products present no risk from BSE. We shall continue to make every effort to have these unwarranted restrictions lifted in order that United Kingdom exporters may resume their trade in the middle eastern countries.

Tobacco

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether the United Kingdom Government intend to support in the European Council the transfer of an additional £200 million European currency units to the tobacco sector of the EAGGF;(2) whether the United Kingdom Government supported the 1989 Council decision to transfer an additional £165 million European currency units to the tobacco sector of the EAGGF.

In 1989 the costs of the tobacco regime were higher than originally estimated partly because of agrimonetary movements but mainly because production levels and intervention stocks were greater than forecast when the budget was fixed in 1988. As the expenditure was legitimately incurred within the rules for that sector, the budgetary authority—the Council and the European Parliament—agreed to regularise the situation in this and other sectors by transferring funds from sectors which had underspent. Overall, the 1989 FEOGA budget was underspent, after these adjustments, by some 2·4 billion ecu. Similar transfers from underspending sectors within the 1990 FEOGA budget to cover legitimate expenditure in other sectors, including tobacco, have recently been agreed.The United Kingdom has long been critical of the EC tobacco regime and the expenditure which it incurs and has consistently pressed for improvements. The Commission is currently conducting a review of the regime and we shall be arguing for substantive change.

Defence

Polish Resettlement Act 1947

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, further to his replies of 11 May, Official Report, column 212, and 9 July, column 38, when he now expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Isle of Wight of 3 April, on the Polish Resettlement Act 1947.

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces has today written to my hon. Friend.

British Forces (Gulf)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under whose ultimate control are the British forces in the Gulf.

British forces in the Gulf will remain at all times under ultimate United Kingdom command.

Scotland

Greater Glasgow Health Board (Contracts)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the list of private contractors approved by Greater Glasgow health board for the purpose of competitive tendering.

The board has no formal list of approved contractors. Each contract involves an open invitation to companies to indicate expressions of interest. A technical and financial evaluation is carried out on those companies which respond to determine whether they shall be invited to tender.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will ensure that the director of the Scottish Information Office replies without further delay to the letters of 18 December 1989 and 8 June 1990 from the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.

I am sorry that the hon. Member has not had a reply. My private secretary has written to him today.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people have been exempted from paying the poll tax by way of each category of exemption in (a) Greenock and Port Glasgow, (b) Strathclyde and (c) Scotland as a whole.

Information held by community charge registration officers on people who are exempt from the

Known Exemptions from Community Charge
InverclydeStrathclydeScotland
Persons aged 18 or over in receipt of Child Benefit2484,7507,776
Prisoners2765,3066,425
Foreign armed forces391,7373,138
Dependants of foreign armed forces5247247
Persons aged 18 or over who are severely mentally handicapped3307,60914,794
Other89815,45821,139
Total1,79635,10753,519

Note: "Other' includes patients in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals, members of religious communities, residents in Crown property, persons of no fixed abode etc.

Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current cost per inmate per week in each of Her Majesty's prisons.

The latest available figures, which are for 1989–90, are set out in the table.

EstablishmentApproximate gross weekly cost per inmate
£
Aberdeen350
Barlinnie264
Castle Huntly281
Cornton Vale611
Dumfries398
Dungavel314
Edinburgh310
Friarton376
Glenochil392
Greenock405
Inverness430
Longriggend292
Low Moss184
Noranside305
Penninghame278
Perth336
Peterhead1,008
Polmont289
Shotts318
The figures include the transfer value of supplies drawn by establishments from central stores and prison industries as well as the direct revenue costs of each establishment.

Earnings Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will publish separate statistics for average earnings for the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands and Islands;(2) if he will publish in the

Official Report statistics for average earnings in the Scottish Borders, using samples taken in the Borders.

personal community charge is not comprehensive. The figures, which relate to 1 July 1990 and are available only for local authority areas, are as follows:

The only information on average earnings for these areas comes from the new earnings survey, which is a sample survey based on 1 per cent. of all employees in PAYE schemes in Great Britain.The latest available information, from the 1989 new earnings survey, is given in the following table. It is not possible to provide average earnings estimates for the Borders region, nor for women in Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands and Islands, because the new earnings survey sample in these areas does not give sufficiently reliable estimates.

Average gross weekly earnings in April 1989
MalesFemalesMales and females
£££
Bordersn/an/an/a
Dumfries and Galloway232·0n/a207·6
Highlands and Islands246·4n/a219·7

Notes:

n/a—Not available.

Earnings of full time employees on adult rates, not affected by absence.

A7

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to be able to announce road improvement schemes to be carried out on the A7 trunk road south of Hawick; and if he will make a statement.

The Scottish Development Department together with Borders and Dumfries and Galloway regional councils are preparing a route action plan to identify and bring forward a series of improvement schemes on the A7 in Hawick and on the Scottish section of the A7 trunk road to the south.The final report on a route strategy by the regional councils is due to be submitted in December 1992. Interim reports have been requested during 1991 on an initial series of road safety and overtaking opportunity schemes. Once these reports are available and have been studied by the Department, I will then be in a position to decide which schemes are to be constructed.

Storm Damage Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which local authorities will benefit from the Bellwin scheme invoked after the severe storms in February of the current year; and by how much.

Claims for special financial assistance under the Bellwin scheme have now been assessed and I can announce that £62,000 in grant will be made available to three authorities which suffered an undue financial burden in responding to the storms and floods of February under the terms of the scheme which I announced on 8 February.The details of grant are:

£
Highland Regional Council30,761
Inverness District Council13,542
Perth and Kinross District Council18,132
62,435
Payments will be issued to these authorities as soon as possible.

Giant Hogweed

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what money has been allocated in the past five years by his Department to research into the spread, control and eradication of heracleum mantegazzianum;(2) what money has been allocated in the past five years by his Department into educating the public of the dangers of contact with heracleum mantegazzianum.

[holding answer 22 October 1990]: I understand that the basic facts about the plant and methods for controlling it are well understood without further research. In February 1989 Scottish agricultural colleges published a leaflet "Giant Hogweed: The Problem and its Control" which gives clear advice on the biology of the plant, its dangers and methods of control. If particular local authorities consider that the scale of the problem in their area justifies action they have statutory powers available to them to undertake this.The plant is listed in part II of schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as a plant that must not be deliberately established in the wild. Under section 25 of the Act local authorities are required to publicise that fact.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Romania

2.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit Romania to discuss economic co-operation.

Neither I nor my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs plan to visit Romania at present. However, I hope that Ministers will be able to discuss economic matters with the Romanian Deputy Prime Minister in the United Kingdom next month. My right hon. Friend discussed Romania's troubled progress towards democracy with his Romanian counterpart in New York on 2 October.

52.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Foreign Affairs Council is next due to meet to review the postponement of trade and economic and commercial co-operation agreements with Romania; and what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards such agreements being dependent upon progress towards democratic reforms.

The EC's trade and co-operation agreement with Romania was signed in the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 October. The Council had earlier agreed that Romania's progress towards political and economic reform justified this positive step. We strongly support the Community's policy of treating individual countries according to their progress and commitment towards political and economic reform. The EC has, therefore, yet to decide to extend economic aid to Romania.

Ec-Usa Relations

3.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met with the United States Secretary of State to discuss relations between the European Community countries and the United States of America.

I have no firm plans for my next visit to the United States. I am in frequent touch with Mr. Baker and last met him in New York on 2 October during the meeting of CSCE Ministers.

Cambodia

6.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans to visit Cambodia to discuss progress towards peace in that country.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no plans to visit Cambodia, but we regularly discuss developments there with our European colleagues and others among our friends and partners.

38.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had in respect of Her Majesty's Government's policy towards Cambodia; and if any change in that policy is projected.

Our policy on Cambodia is kept under constant review. We remain committed to helping to create conditions in which the Cambodian people can elect a Government of their choice, free from the fear of Khmer Rouge atrocities, civil war and foreign invasion.

53.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of other permanent member countries on the United Nations Security Council, regarding the future of Cambodia.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discusses Cambodia regularly with his colleagues among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and did so most recently during his visit to the UN General Assembly from 24 to 28 September.

Germany

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to meet the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany to discuss the Federal Republic's membership of NATO.

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit the Federal Republic of Germany to discuss Germany's membership of NATO.

My right hon. Friend expects to meet Herr Genscher in the next few days. It has been a key objective of our policy this year that a united Germany should remain a full member of NATO. We achieved this in the agreement signed in Moscow last month. The outcome is a tribute to Chancellor Kohl and his colleagues in the German Government.

43.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had recently with representatives of the German Governments about political reunification; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made during discussions in the most recent two-plus-four meetings on German unification.

On 12 September in Moscow, together with his German, French, American and Russian colleagues, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs signed the treaty on the final settlement with respect to Germany. On 1 October in New York, they signed a declaration suspending four-power rights and responsibilities with effect from German unification on 3 October.We welcome the unification of Germany in peace and freedom. We will be working with the united Germany as a friend, ally and partner for the peace and prosperity of Europe and the wider world.

China

20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to visit China to discuss Anglo-Chinese relations.

My right hon. Friend has no plans to visit China at present. He had a useful discussion with the Chinese Foreign Minister at the United Nations General Assembly.

Kenya

22.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the protection of civil rights in Kenya.

Kenya's record in this respect has been generally good since independence. The Kenyan Government are aware of the importance we attach to their maintaining this record.

Albania

23.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held with his European Community counterparts about the situation in Albania.

The situation in Albania is discussed regularly under European political co-operation.

Political Co-Operation

24.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his counterparts in European Economic Community countries to discuss political co-operation.

49.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to attend a meeting of the European Community Council of Ministers to discuss closer political co-operation.

The United Kingdom strongly supports the developments of closer political co-operation among our Community partners. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will be meeting his EC colleagues in Brussels on 12 November when he will discuss various political co-operation issues. There is likely to be a discussion of political co-operation at the special European Council in Rome on 27 October, which will be attended by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Baltic Republics

25.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about Her Majesty's Government's policy towards the Baltic republics; and if he will make a statement.

We have received a number of representations about the Baltic republics from individuals and interested groups in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Our views on this question are clearly on record.

India

26.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement regarding Britain's relations with India.

Our relations with India are excellent. We continue to look for ways of developing them still further.

35.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet representatives at Amnesty International to discuss human rights violations in India.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no plans to discuss this particular subject with Amnesty International, but we are in regular contact with it to discuss human rights in general.

Mauritius

27.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Mauritius on the future of Ilois persons displaced from the British Indian Ocean territory resident in Mauritius.

None. Those concerned were given considerable financial assistance to resettle and their future now lies in Mauritius.

Korea

28.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to expedite the peaceful reunification of Korea.

We shall continue our consistent support for efforts to achieve the peaceful reunification of Korea. We welcome the recent high-level meetings between North and South Korea as a contribution to this process.

Economic And Monetary Union

29.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to attend a meeting of the European Community Council of Ministers to discuss economic and monetary union.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will accompany my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when she attends the special meeting of the European Council in Rome on 27 and 28 October, at which, among other topics, economic and monetary union is likely to be discussed.

Ec Intergovernmental Conference

30.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to meet the President of the European Commission to discuss the agenda of the next intergovernmental conference.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs expects to meet Mr. Delors, President of the European Commission, at the special European Council in Rome on 27 and 28 October which will discuss the preparations for the intergovernmental conference on political union.

Iraq

31.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he intends to meet the Foreign Minister of Iraq to discuss the report of Amnesty International on human rights in that country.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no plans to meet the Iraqi Foreign Minister. Amnesty International's report further documents the terrible crimes against human rights perpetrated by the Iraqis in Kuwait as well as in their own country.

Cyprus

32.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest position on international co-operation on the future of Cyprus.

The United Nations Secretary-General's mission of good offices continues. The Secretary-General's special representative is currently pursuing a round of separate talks with representatives of the two communities with a view to the resumption of direct talks. We continue to give our active support to the Secretary-General's initiative.

Foreign Affairs Council

33.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Community have taken place since 1 August; and if he will make a statement concerning their contents and conclusions.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell) on 15 October about the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 September.The Foreign Affairs Council also met in Luxembourg on 22 October. I represented the United Kingdom. Ministers discussed a report prepared by their special representatives on preparations for the intergovernmental conference on institutional reform. They also discussed a report by the chairman of the ECOFIN Council on preparations for the IGC on economic and monetary union. They agreed that both reports should be submitted to the informal European Council in Rome on 27 and 28 October.Ministers had a preliminary discussion of the economic problems facing the countries of eastern and central Europe and the Soviet Union. The Council agreed draft declarations on relations between the European Community and the United States, and the European Community and Canada. The presidency will finalise the texts with the Americans and Canadians, in preparation for endorsement by the informal European Council on 27 and 28 October and signature at the CSCE summit in November.Ministers agreed in principle the Commission's proposals for the integration of the former GDR into the Community. The House debated this in full on 19 October. The Council's formal position will be adopted after examination of the European Parliament's opinion on the Commission's proposals.The Council had a further discussion of the Community's relations with Turkey. It also considered a Commission report on the opening round of negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Co-operation Council. The issues were referred to the Council of Permanent Representatives for further study. The Council discussed progress in the negotiations between the Community and the EFTA countries for the creation of a European economic area. I underlined the importance we attached to early progress in all areas of the negotiation.The Council approved an amendment to the Commission's regulation imposing surveillance licensing on imports of footwear from Korea and Taiwan.Ministers discussed the Community's offer on agriculture in the GATT Uruguay round. The issue will now go to a further meeting of the Agriculture Council, with Trade Ministers attending, on 26 October. I stressed the importance of early agreement between the Community member states if the EC wished to be taken seriously during the final stages of the Uruguay round negotiations.Ministers also discussed EC relations with third countries, including Syria, China, Iran, Vietnam and South Africa. The trade and co-operation agreement between the EC and Romania was signed by the Romanian Prime Minister, the Commission and by the presidency, on behalf of the Twelve.

Hong Kong

34.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in discussions with the Chinese Government on the adoption of a number of confidence-building measures in respect to the future of Hong Kong.

There is a continuing dialogue with the Chinese Government on the future of Hong Kong. The Sino-British joint liaison group met in London on 25 to 28 September. The Chinese Government have reiterated their commitment to the joint declaration and its implementation.

Middle East

36.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Government of Israel to discuss the middle east peace process.

41.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to meet the Foreign Minister of Israel; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met the Israeli Foreign Minister on 16 October. They had a thorough discussion of middle east issues. He has no firm plans to meet Mr. Levy again. But they agreed to stay in closer contact in future.

39.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent action he has taken towards assisting progress in the middle east peace process.

51.