Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress he is making in the Government's investigations into the export to South Africa via West Germany of multi- sensor platforms containing components supplied by British Aerospace ; and when he expects them to be completed.
Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to Israel about the closure of academic institutions in occupied Palestine for over one year, in particular the universities of Bir-Zeit, Al-Najah, Bethlehem and the Islamic university of Gaza ; and whether he will meet representatives of these institutions.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have made repeated representations to the Israelis about the closure of universities, most recently with our European partners on 23 September. Her Majesty's consul-general in Jerusalem maintains contact with representatives of these institutions.
Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he intends to meet senior figures within the Palestine Liberation Organisation in order to advance the peace process in the light of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's explicit acceptance of the state of Israel ; and whether he will invite the Palestine Liberation Organisation's leader, Chairman Arafat, to London for talks.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the present waiting times to first interview for all categories of applicant in each country in the Indian subcontinent.
Q2 All spouses ; all children under 18 years.
Q3 Fiance(e)s and other first time applicants for settlement. Q4 Re- applicants.
As at 31 October 1988 the waiting times for first interview at posts in the Indian sub-continent were :
Queue Waiting times (months) |actual |estimated ---------------------------------------- New Delhi 1 |0 |0 2 |4 |3 3 |6.5 |5 4 |11 |9 Bombay 1 |2 |2 2 |6 |6 3 |9 |9 4 |10 |10 Dhaka 1 |3 |3 2 |7 |7 3 |7 |7 4 |23 |23 Islamabad 1 |4 |3.5 2 |11 |12 3 |20 |18 4 |20 |29 Karachi 1 |2 |1 2 |5 |3 3 |10 |7 4 |13 |13 Note:There are no waiting times at Calcutta or Madras.
Actual waiting time is the time an applicant interviewed at the end of October had waited. Estimated time is the time an applicant applying at the end of October can expect to wait for interview.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long a person applying for entry clearance on 31 March or the latest convenient date at each post in the Indian subcontinent could expect to wait, in each queue, for (a) first interview, (b) referral of the case to the Home Office and the requested information being received by the post, (c) decision after first interview, and (d) the explanatory statement prepared by the post in the case of appeal against any refusal to be despatched to the immigration appellate authorities in the United Kingdom.
(b) and (c) This information is not available. Processing times vary considerably from case to case.
(d) Average despatch times of explanatory statements from receipt of the appeal are :
Post |Settlement |Non-settlement ------------------------------------------------------------ New Delhi |10-12 weeks |8-10 weeks Bombay |5" months |4" months Calcutta |6 weeks |6 weeks Madras |4 weeks |4 weeks Islamabad |5 months |2-3 months Karachi |1 month |1 month
The information for Dhaka is not yet available. I will write to the hon. Member when it is received.
Column 147for entry clearance for settlement at the British post in (a) Manila, (b) Accra, (c) Lagos, (d) Kingston, (e) Nicosia and (f) Cairo on 31 March or the latest convenient date could expect to wait for (i) interview, (ii) referral of the case to the Home Office and the requested information being received by the post, (iii) decisions and (iv) an explanatory statement prepared by the post in the event of an appeal against a refusal to be dispatched to the immigration appellate authorities in the United Kingdom.
As to (i) and (iv) the position as at 16 December was as follows :
|(i) |(iv) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Manila |10 weeks |within one month Accra |Normally same day |<1>- Lagos |Normally same day |<1>- Kingston |Normally same day |<1>- |Either immediately Nicosia |or within one week |none pending Cairo |same day |maximum three weeks <1> This information is not yet available. I will write to the hon. Member when it is received.
Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with (a) the Soviet and (b) the United States' authorities concerning the provisions for verifying the numbers and locations of that part of the pooled United States Navy, Royal Navy inventory of Trident missiles which is held in Royal Navy custody, as part of a proposed United States-Soviet agreement to reduce strategic weapons.
Mr. Waldegrave : The United States-Soviet START negotiations cover United States and Soviet strategic weapons only. The details of the verification provisions have yet to be agreed. We maintained regular contacts with both the United States and Soviet Governments on START as well as on other arms control issues. Our exchanges with the United States are particularly close and regular.
Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Minister for the Arts whether he can now respond to the Carnegie council's proposal for an independently managed trust fund for the adaptation of arts buildings to make them more accessible to disabled people.
Column 148help towards improved access to arts venues for disabled people. I am therefore proposing to make a special contribution of £150,000 towards a fund for this purpose which is to be set up by the Carnegie (United Kingdom) trust. Carnegie has already announced that it is prepared to put in £250,000 subject to matching contributions from business and other sources. The details of the new arrangements will be announced by Carnegie in the new year. I very much welcome a proposal of this kind to improve access to the arts for disabled people.
I am also delighted to acknowledge the Carnegie council's support for the Museums and Galleries Commission towards the appointment of a disablement officer.
Q139. Mr. Speller : To ask the Prime Minister if she will make it her policy on behalf of the Government of the day to send to citizens of the United Kingdom who do good work and good works over many years a simple letter of thanks and recognition of service.
The Prime Minister : The total cost of my official visits to the United States of America since May 1979 is £323,345. (Includes the estimated cost of my visit to the United States of America in November 1988. It excludes the costs of visits to the United States of America which formed part of a more extensive itinerary. These are not readily identifiable.)
Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop : To ask the Prime Minister which Department's vote will carry the cost of the advertisements headed "Eggs : The Facts" inserted by Her Majesty's Government ; and whether a supplementary estimate will be placed before Parliament to cover it.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West of 8 December, Official Report, column 267, what she considers a reasonable length of time to keep open accounts relating to her visits overseas ; and how many accounts remain open after (a) one year, (b) two years and (c) more than two years.
The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will ask list the grants available from his Department and the criteria by which they are awarded for manufacturing companies resident in Nottingham.
Mr. Atkins : Consultancy initiative. Independent firms or groups with a payroll of fewer than 500, can benefit from the enterprise initiative which offers financial support for between five and 15 man-days' specialist consultancy in a number of key management functions such as marketing, design, quality, manufacturing systems, business planning and financial and information systems. In the Nottingham urban programme area DTI will pay two-thirds of the cost of the consultancy projects, whereas outside that area the Department will pay half.
Assistance for exceptional projects. Each year a handful of projects (nationally) benefit from this scheme which is available on a selective basis towards investment or research and development projects with eligible costs of at least £500,000 and which are viable and would not go ahead in the United Kingdom without assistance. Such projects must be likely to lead to exceptional national benefits. Grants of up to half the agreed costs can be made
Column 150available to firms for collaborative research programmes conducted jointly by more than one organisation such as industrial and commercial firms, universities and polytechnics, research and technology organisations and Government research laboratories. All firms in Nottingham are also eligible for assistance under the various export services some of which can provide financial assistance.
Mr. Atkins : My Department is currently reviewing the licensing requirements under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 for virtually all receive-only apparatus, including reception equipment for television broadcasts direct to the home from fixed-service satellites (TVRO equipment). This review will not however affect the licence required for domestic television sets. My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry expects to make a statement shortly.
Dame Peggy Fenner : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in discussions with the insurance industry about the ending of insurance policies against the consequences of disqualification for drink-driving offences.
Mr. Maude : The Association of British Insurers has offered on behalf of members and non-members of the association an agreement whereby the insurers at present writing these policies will cease to offer new contracts after 31 December 1988. The agreement will extend to all policies which cover the policyholder for the consequences of disqualification from driving for alcohol or drug related offences. Existing policies will be phased out after 31 December 1990. The Government welcome this offer, and have accepted it. The Government will, however, be prepared to introduce legislation on this subject if for any reason the agreement is not successful in bringing the issue of these policies to an end.
Ms. Harman : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will give details of expenditure by the north Peckham task force, occurring outside its defined boundary, in terms of both the amount of expenditure, and the project funded.
Column 151All projects supported by the north Peckham task force are designed to benefit directly or indirectly the inhabitants of the north Peckham task force area. However, many projects result in some expenditure being made outside the task force area because of the need to provide services, equipment or materials which are not available from within the area.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 19 December 1988] : As our recent White Paper "Broadcasting in the '90s : Competition, Choice and Quality" makes clear, the Government have not reached a decision on which frequency band or bands should be made available for the local delivery of programme services by multipoint video distribution systems (MVDS). The White Paper sets out some of the perceived advantages and disadvantages attaching to various possible bands, and invites comments on this and other aspects by February 1989. The Government are committed to making their intentions clear by, at the latest, the end of April 1989.
Mr. Blair : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, further to his answer of 11 November, Official Report, column 139, there has been any conclusion to the discussions between his Department and the EEC Commissioner on the compatibility of the 15 per cent. limit on foreign shareholdings with the treaty of Rome.
Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in fitting smoke detectors to new caravans as foreshadowed in the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State on 29 June.
Mr. Forth [holding answer 19 December 1988] : I have been informed that the technical committee of the National Caravan Council has established a specification for a smoke detector suitable for operation in the restricted environment of a caravan, and that the manufacturer members, trade members and para members of the council have accepted the undertaking that all new and used caravans sold after 1 May 1989 will be fitted with smoke detectors. This is welcome confirmation of the statement of intent which my predecessor reported to the House on 29 June, and I am happy that the caravan industry is making this important contribution to safety.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if copra exports from Christmas Island have been monitored for radioactivity ; to which countries copra has been exported ; and how such consignments have been checked for contamination.
Exports of copra from Christmas Island have not been monitored for radioactivity by the British Government. Extensive environmental monitoring showed that no indigenous products were likely to have been affected to any significant extent by surface radioactivity.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has investigated, or is currently studying, the usefulness of a national identity card to his departmental responsibilities ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to the reply by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) on 15 December at columns 1080-82.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department's northern regional office has a number of options under consideration for the improvement of the A1 trunk road near to the English-Scottish border. It is possible that the preferred scheme may extend into Scotland. There are discussions with the Scottish Development Department and further meetings are planned. On current planning a preferred scheme should be announced by early summer 1989.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications for passenger safety on the London underground of unintelligible or inaudible announcements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : The statutory responsibility for underground safety rests with London Regional Transport. However, I understand that it has accepted and is pursuing recommendation 110 of the Fennell report that the quality and scope of public address equipment should be improved and cover a wider area of stations.
Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action is being taken by Her Majesty's Government in the period leading up to 1992 to ensure that Britain's ports can compete on a fair and equal basis with their European rivals.
Mr. Trotter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which cities on the continent in European Economic Community countries are served by direct air services from Newcastle ; and what was the level of provision when Britain joined the European Economic Community.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There are currently direct air services from Newcastle to three cities within the EEC--Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris. When Britain joined the EEC, there were direct services to Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Dublin.
Mr. Portillo : I am advised that the presence of foxhounds on railway track is most unlikely to involve any danger to trains or their passengers. It is for huntsmen to ensure that horses do not stray onto railways and to exercise control over hounds.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list incidents reported by British Rail under accident reporting procedures of trains (a) delayed or (b) forced to halt as a result of hunts trespassing on to railway lines over the last two years.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from (a) the New Forest Foxhounds, (b) the Bicester and Whaddon Chase Foxhounds and (c) the Cattistock
Column 154Foxhounds regarding the killing of hounds by British Rail trains ; what compensation is payable in such cases ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received no such representations. The question of compensation payable to persons involved in rail incidents is a matter for the railways board.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents were reported on the stretch of four lane motorway on the south bound carriageway of the M1 north of junction four for the periods when the road markings were showing the additional lane as an offside lane for fast moving vehicles.