News in brief

Steelmakers suffer

The UK Steel Association is proposing that the Government tax house buyers and personal borrowers instead of relying on interest rate rises to slow the economy. Britain’s steelmakers continue to suffer the effects of the strong pound and pressure has increased since this month’s interest rate rise.

Nuclear angst

Western nuclear experts have expressed concern at the Russian atomic energy ministry’s reported decision to wait until 2000 to address any millennium bug problems at nuclear plants.

GEC takes GTP

GEC has acquired the remaining 40% stake of telecoms equipment manufacturer GTP with operations in Coventry, Nottingham and Liverpool from Siemens of Germany. The business will be combined with GEC’s defence and telecoms subsidiary Marconi to form Marconi Communications.

Asbestos clamour

The Health and Safety Commission has extended the consultation period for its proposals to amend the asbestos regulations until 31 July. The unprecedented demand for copies of the consultative document used up supplies.

Volvo in bus switch

Volvo is to close two bus manufacturing plants, in Austria and Germany, and is expanding operations in Poland. Production at its Scottish bus plant, in Irvine, Ayrshire, is reported to be in line to be wound down over the next two years, which will affect about 250 jobs.

Halma ahead

Halma, the security equipment and fire and gas detection group, reported pre-tax profits down 1% to £36.6m on turnover of £213m. But excluding costs for the closure of three British businesses, underlying profits for the company were up 14%.