HC Deb 19 October 1998 vol 317 cc1015-6W
Mr. Evans

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much money has been spent to date on advertising relating to the millennium bug problem. [46146]

Mrs. Roche

[holding answer 25 June 1998]: The total media spend by Action 2000 from launch of its advertising and publicity campaign in mid July to end of September has been £3.76 million.

Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will take steps to require listed companies to disclose their plans for the millennium compliance of their computer systems and associated contingency plans; and if she will make a statement. [50049]

Mrs. Roche

I have no plans to do so.

In March, the Urgent Issues Task Force, a subcommittee of the Accounting Standards Board, published an abstract on accounting and disclosures in relation to Year 2000. The abstract (UITF abstract 20) explains that entities should disclose (a) the risks and uncertainties associated with the Year 2000 problem; if no such assessment has been made it should be stated, and (b) general plans to address Year 2000 issues relating to business and operations, and if material, their relationships with customers, suppliers, and other relevant parties.

Although no legally binding abstracts issued by the UITF are authoritative. Abstract 20 has been endorsed by the Stock Exchange who have drawn it to the attention of all listed companies.

Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the Software Reliability Unit at City University, London, about computers at nuclear power plants failing to recognise the year 2000. [54682]

Mr. Battle

The Government have received no such representations. I understand, however, that Professor Bev Littlewood of the Software Reliability Unit at City University, London, and a member of the Health and Safety Commission's independent expert advisory body on nuclear safety matters, the Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee (NuSAC), has suggested that NuSAC consider the implications of the century date change for nuclear safety at a forthcoming meeting of the committee. This is, of course, a matter for NuSAC to consider.

All UK nuclear operators have initiated major programmes of work to address the century date change problem. These programmes are being closely monitored by the UK's independent nuclear safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has made it clear that it is satisfied with the actions being taken by operators. Operators anticipate that all essential work to address the problem will be completed by the end of April 1999.

Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the extent and cost of the current Get Your Business Ready for the Bug awareness campaign; if he will include a leaflet in telephone bills to businesses; and if he will make a statement on progress on awareness. [55148]

Mrs. Roche

The cost of the current Action 2000 advertising and publicity campaign to end of September was £3.76 million, made up as follows:

Outdoor posters 720
National press 1,220
Regional press 120
TV 1,700

The reach and frequency achieved were:

  • Outdoor Posters: seen by 51.5% of ABC1 adults on average 27 times.
  • National Press: seen by 96% of businesspeople with responsibility for 10–300 employees on average 13 times.
  • Regional Press: seen by 6.4% of ABC1 adults on average 2.6 times across UK.
  • TV: seen by 84.2% of ABC1 adults on average 4.5 times.

A number of free channels of communication to businesses via key influences have been used by Action 2000 with the following results:

  • Barclays Bank has included Action 2000 leaflets with bank statements to reach over 400,000 business customers.
  • NatWest Bank sent a message on all statements to 300,000 business customers highlighting the Millennium Bug and Action Line number. This was followed by a special letter about Action 2000 and giving Year 2000 advice to 500,000 business customers.
  • BT published an article in its business customer magazine 'Talking Business' with a circulation of 160,000 copies.
  • West of Scotland Water will include an Action 2000 leaflet with the water bills of all 27,000 business customers.
  • Thames Water will send a letter to 170,000 commercial customers signposting Action 2000.
  • Cable and Wireless will include leaflets in a mailing to 170,000 business customers.
  • British Midland are distributing flyers in Business Lounges and check-in desks at UK airports on an on-going basis.

The third phase, its 'state of the nation' survey is presently being completed, and the results will be announced by Action 2000 on 22 October.