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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 3rd December 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 3rd December 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Visual Handicap

Mr. Pike : To ask the Prime Minister what response he has made to the Royal National Institute for the Blind survey on blind and partially sighted adults in Britain; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I wrote to the director general, Ian Bruce, congratulating the RNIB on the report which I believe will be a useful resource to agencies in the statutory and voluntary sectors in planning and developing services.


Unfair Competition

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister whether he will make it his policy to ensure that there is a level playing field in business and commerce, including the retail sector, and that observance of the law does not lead directly to a commercial penalty for law-abiding companies.

The Prime Minister : Law enforcement authorities required to act in the public interest are themselves responsible--not the Government--for determining what action is most appropriate and effective to uphold the law.

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister whether he will make it his policy to protect small and family businesses in the retail trade from unfair competition.

The Prime Minister : Businesses of all sizes and in all trades are protected from unfair competition by the Fair Trading Act 1973 and the Competition Act 1980. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Director General of Fair Trading, in conjunction with the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, ensure the effective application of the Acts.


Upholding the Law

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it the Government's policy to ensure that the law is upheld consistently by all Departments of state and agencies and organisations responsible to them.

The Prime Minister : All Departments of state and agencies and organisations responsible to them are aware of the need to uphold the law. In the case of law enforcement authorities required to act in the public interest, it is the responsibility of those authorities--not the Government--to determine what action is most appropriate and effective to uphold the law.


Clearance Procedures

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Prime Minister which grades of civil servants require clearance before taking up posts with outside organisations and companies; what are the procedures involved for such a clearance; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : All civil servants at grade 3 or above must obtain approval before taking any form of outside employment within two years of leaving Crown employment, unless it is unpaid employment in a non-commercial organisation.

The circumstances in which other civil servants must seek approval before taking up outside employment and the detailed procedures for dealing with applications, including the role of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, are set out in the rules on the acceptance of appointments by Crown servants. These are included in the 1989 statistical report "Acceptance of Outside Appointments by Crown Servants", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House of Commons.