HC Deb 29 March 1994 vol 240 cc650-1W
Mr. Riddick

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements are in place to ensure that potential purchasers of British Coal's mining assets are given equal access to relevant information about the five mining businesses being offered for sale by the Government.

Mr. Eggar

The Government attach importance to ensuring that no potential purchasers are given preferential access to the relevant information. I expect in the coming weeks to clarify the basis on which the Government will be making information available.

British Coal has issued instructions which govern the conduct of all corporation employees during the privatisation period. These instructions set out, among other things, the consents which managers are required to obtain before they can participate in any buy-out bid, and the undertakings which they are obliged to give as a condition of such consents. British Coal has equally introduced detailed arrangements which seek to prevent the unauthorised disclosure by corporation employees of information which might impede the privatisation process. These measures are designed to provide effective safeguards against the possibility of conflicts of interest on the part of British Coal staff who may be authorised to participate in management and employee buy-outs. British Coal will also put in place specific additional measures in the case of individual MEBO participants where necessary.

Mr. Tipping

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what budget provision is planned for the financial year 1994–95 to commission consultants to provide advice on the restructuring and privatisation of British Coal.

Mr. Eggar

[holding answer 28 March 1994]: Provision of £11.7 million for consultants costs has been included in the 1994–95 Main Supply Estimates, HC 3.

Mr. Robin Cook

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the value of capital allowances to be transferred to licensed operators under schedule 4 to the Coal Industry Bill.

Mr. Heseltine

[holding answer 28 March 1994]: The Coal Industry Bill provides a mechanism for the transfer of capital allowances from British Coal Corporation to successor companies. No firm estimate of the value of such allowances has yet been made.