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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 30 January 1989

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Security and Co-operation in Europe

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will invite Soviet Jews and refuseniks to attend the information forum to be held in London in April following the conclusion of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe meeting in Vienna.

Mr. Waldegrave : In accordance with the Vienna concluding document, access to the open sessions of the London information forum will be assured, upon request, to any private individuals whether national or foreign, as well as to representatives of the media, non-governmental organisations and religious groups.

Vietnamese Refugees

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received in the last year in regard to the problem of Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong.

Mr. Waldegrave : We have received representations on all aspects of this problem, from Members of both Houses of Parliament, the voluntary agencies, members of the public, from a number of individuals in Hong Kong and from representatives of the Vietnamese community in the United Kingdom.

Namibia

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Namibia.

Mrs. Chalker : We look forward to implementation of the United Nations plan for the independence of Namibia, which is due to start on 1 April. This will enable Namibians to take part in free and fair elections to decide their own future.

West Germany

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if there are any plans for an Anglo-West German summit meeting.

Mrs. Chalker : Plans are under consideration, and an announcement will be made soon.

Nigeria

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what special programme will be arranged for the state visit of the President of Nigeria ; and how he will seek to promote a fruitful exchange of ideas and of trade.


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Mrs. Chalker : The details of the programme for the state visit of the President of Nigeria are still under discussion. The visit should provide ample opportunity to strengthen the full range of our bilateral relations.

PRIME MINISTER

Government Departments (Insurance)

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Prime Minister which Departments do not insure (a) their vehicles, (b) their buildings and (c) their employees with an insurance company but instead carry their own risk.

The Prime Minister : Normally, Government Departments do not insure unless it would be more economical for them to do so than to carry the risk themselves. Departments are responsible for reviewing their own arrangements, and there is no central record of all the cases where commercial insurance has been taken out. A number of Departments, including the Ministry of Defence and the Crown Suppliers, insure against third party motor risks ; and the Ministry of Defence insures against employer's liability risks. As a general rule, Departments do not insure their buildings.

War Pensions

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to her reply of 26 January to the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) concerning war heroes, Official Report, column 1178, she will end the means testing of war pensions.

The Prime Minister : War disablement pensions and war widows' pensions are not means-tested, except in the case of an officer's widow who is widowed following remarriage. War pensions paid to dependants other than widows of which there are about 3,000 currently in payment may be means tested, and there are no plans to change this. The provision of such pensions predates the introduction of the present social security scheme, which has generally made the need for them obsolete.

Death on the Rock"

Mr. Buchan : To ask the Prime Minister what briefing her press officer gave to journalists (a) prior and (b) subsequent to the screening of the television programme "Death on the Rock", and if she will name the journalists and newspapers concerned.

The Prime Minister : The practice is not to comment on lobby briefings.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Scottish Affairs Committee

59. Mr. Ernie Ross : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he plans to have any further discussions on the setting up of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

60. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he intends to have any further discussions on the establishment of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs.

Dr. Reid : To ask the Lord President of the Council what further steps he has taken to establish a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs.


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63. Mr. McAvoy : To ask the Lord President of the Council what further efforts he is making to bring about the formation of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs in the current Session.

Mr. Wakeham : I refer the hon. Members to what I said on 19 January at business questions in reply to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), at column 484. I am not very hopeful about this matter--at least not in the immediate future--but I am having a meeting shortly with some of the hon. Member's hon. Friends in order to discuss the position and to see if there is any scope for progress.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Civic Amenities Act 1967

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the total number of successful prosecutions for offences committed under the Civic Amenities Act 1967 for each year of its operation in England and Wales.

Mr. John Patten : It is not possible from the information held centrally to identify prosecutions under this Act.

Neighbourhood Watch

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many neighbourhood watch schemes are now known to his Department ; and how many of these have been established in the last year.

Mr. John Patten : There are now some 64,000 neighbourhood watch schemes in England and Wales, with approximately 20,000 having been established in the last year. The scale of this increase is very encouraging and reflects the public's growing commitment to the cause of crime prevention.

Crime (Greater London)

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress his Department is making against crime in Greater London.

Mr. John Patten : Data for notifiable offences recorded by the police for the 12 months to September 1988 show a fall of 1 per cent. in London (MPD/City). In the two largest categories, theft/handling and burglary, the fall was 4 per cent. and 3 per cent. respectively.

Greater Manchester Police Authority

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the aplication by Greater Manchester police authority for an increase in establishment.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend has announced today that he has approved an increase of 45 police posts in the establishment of the Greater Manchester police.

Police Federation

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met officials of the Police Federation ; and what subjects were discussed.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend last met officials of the Police Federation at a social function on 10 January, when conversation ranged over a number of police matters.

Cambridgeshire Police Department

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has concerning the employment of additional civilian staff by the Cambridgeshire police department to deal with the administration resulting from the implementation of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : None. As I indicated in reply to a question by the hon. Member on 23 January at column 391 , this is a matter for individual chief officers of police in the exercise of their responsibility for the administration of the Firearms Acts.

Guardian Angels

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on the activities in London of the group known as the Guardian Angels.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) on 27 January.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to ascertain how many United States citizens, belonging to the group known as Guardian Angels, have been permitted to visit the United Kingdom in the last year to date.

Mr. Renton : As far as we are aware, three Americans representing the group the Guardian Angels' arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, 16 October 1988 and four at Gatwick on 24 January 1989. Others may, of course, have entered the United Kingdom as United States citizens coming here for visits.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will use his powers to deport those United States citizens belonging to the group known as Guardian Angels on the grounds that their presence in the United Kingdom is not conducive to the public good.

Mr. Renton : No. I am not aware of any justification for the use of the powers.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether any of those United States citizens belonging to the group known as Guardian Angels and recently admitted to the United Kingdom have been convicted of criminal offences (a) in the United Kingdom or (b) elsewhere ; what evidence was presented to show that they were not likely to have recourse to public funds in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) by whom the United States citizens belonging to the group known as the Guardian Angels and recently admitted to the United Kingdom are to be employed ; and whether they have been issued with valid work permits.

Mr. Renton : The persons in question were admitted as visitors with a prohibition of employment. Work permits were not required for the purpose of the visits as stated. I


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am not aware of any reason for excluding these passengers under the immigration rules on the ground that they might become a charge on public funds, or on grounds of criminal record.

Death on the Rock"

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of Lord Windlesham's inquiry report into Thames Television's programme "Death on the Rock."

Mr. Renton : The inquiry into the making of the programme was commissioned by Thames Television and not the Government. We are not in a position, therefore, to place a copy of the report in the Library of the House.

Metropolitan Police (Identikit Pictures)

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis about the use of a photograph of Mr. Nigel Benn, the Commonwealth middleweight boxing champion, by the Metropolitan police in connection with trying to identify someone who had committed a criminal act ;

(2) whether he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis as to whether there was any racist motive involved in the release of an identikit picture of Mr. Nigel Benn ; (3) whether he will set up an immediate inquiry into the release of an identikit photo of Mr. Nigel Benn ; and whether he will make the findings of the inquiry public.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Metropolitan police have accepted that the publication of the photograph was a serious mistake, and have apologised to Mr. Benn. Steps are being taken to ensure that this regrettable incident does not recur. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has already initiated an urgent inquiry into the circumstances of the case, and he has been asked to let my right hon. Friend know the outcome.

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions photographs of white or black persons have been used previously by the Metropolitan police to make up identikit pictures ; on what dates this occurred ; and what was the racial breakdown of the persons involved.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand that it is not normal police practice to use photographs of particular individuals to make up identikit pictures. Standard identikit packs, comprising photographs of specific facial features, are used.

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of printing and distributing identikit pictures of Mr. Nigel Benn.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the Metropolitan police that it was £28.53.

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has assessed the consequences for race relations of the sending out of thousands of identikit pictures of Mr. Nigel Benn by the Metropolitan police.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I am confident that this regrettable error will not be seen as undermining the Metropolitan police's firm commitment to good race relations.


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Police Establishments

Mr. Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is able to announce his decisions on increases in police establishments for 1989-90.

Mr. Hurd : I announced to the House on 14 November at columns 397-98 that I was able to approve 800 additional police posts for provincial forces in 1989-90 and that provision had been made for 300 additional police officers and 250 civilian staff for the Metropolitan police, subject to my being satisfied that earlier increases had been used effectively. That would make a total of 1,100 extra police officers for England and Wales. In addition, I can approve up to 130 posts where satisfied that the full cost would be reimbursed by a third party.

Applications from police authorities outside London have exceeded the number available for allocation and I have therefore had to set priorities. With advice from Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary, I have approved increases in police establishments with effect from 1 April 1989 as shown in the following table. The table also shows posts which I would be prepared to approve for stage II probationer training for constables, due for introduction in mid-1989, provided the police authorities apply formally for these posts and guarantee their readiness to meet their share of the costs.


Force                    |Posts approved          |Training posts yet to be                         

                                                  |formally approved                                

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Avon and Somerset        |20                      |-                                                

Bedfordshire             |16                      |-                                                

Cambridgeshire           |15                      |3                                                

Cheshire                 |8                       |-                                                

Cleveland                |9                       |6                                                

Cumbria                  |9                       |3                                                

Devon and Cornwall       |15                      |4                                                

Dorset                   |22                      |-                                                

Durham                   |14                      |4                                                

Essex                    |15                      |8                                                

Greater Manchester       |45                      |-                                                

Gwent                    |5                       |7                                                

Hampshire                |20                      |-                                                

Hertfordshire            |20                      |-                                                

Humberside               |20                      |-                                                

Kent                     |27                      |-                                                

Lancashire               |8                       |7                                                

Leicestershire           |18                      |9                                                

Merseyside               |22                      |-                                                

Norfolk                  |24                      |-                                                

Northamptonshire         |12                      |3                                                

Northumbria              |30                      |-                                                

North Wales              |-                       |4                                                

North Yorkshire          |10                      |5                                                

Nottinghamshire          |16                      |8                                                

South Wales              |18                      |10                                               

South Yorkshire          |16                      |11                                               

Staffordshire            |16                      |6                                                

Surrey                   |6                       |4                                                

Sussex<1>                |17                      |-                                                

Thames Valley            |44                      |-                                                

Warwickshire             |7                       |4                                                

West Mercia              |28                      |-                                                

West Midlands            |62                      |-                                                

West Yorkshire           |20                      |12                                               

Wiltshire                |7                       |4                                                

<1> Includes approval forthree posts at Gatwick airport, where the costs are reimbursed and which   

were previously held supernumerary to establishment.                                                

Seventy per cent. of the posts approved will be deployed on operational duties identified by chief constables, mainly


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at constable level. I have also retained 20 posts for allocation to regional crime squads specifically for their work in connecton with drugs. I await consideration of the results of a review of the manpower needs of the drugs wings of the regional crime squads before I decide on their specific allocation.

In a number of cases, my approval of extra police posts for forces is conditional either on the police authority's confirmation that their share of funding is available or that the posts specifically identified for training will be so deployed by the chief constable. In some cases I require confirmation on both points.

I hope to be able to confirm the Metropolitan police posts before Easter.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Aid

Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what amounts are included within the estimated outturn public expenditure figure for the Overseas Development Administration in 1987-88 in Cm. 288-II for (a) aid by way of grants and (b) aid by way of loans.

Mr. Chris Patten : In terms of the standard economic categories used for the analysis of public expenditure, the estimated outturn of £1,277 million in 1987-88 comprised £1,070 million of grants ; £165 million of net lending and investment abroad and to the Commonwealth Development Corporation (including drawings from United Kingdom contributions to international lending organisations) ; and £42 million of other expenditure (mainly Overseas Development Administration running costs and associated capital items). Nearly all our bilateral aid is provided as grants ; gross expenditure from existing bilateral aid loans in 1987-88 was only £14 million.

Nicaragua

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much official aid has been given to Nicaragua via non-governmental organisations in each of the last five years.

Mr. Chris Patten : Precise details are not available on a year-by- year basis before 1986-87. Amounts provided to

non-governmental organisations through the joint funding scheme are as follows :


Year  |£'000      

------------------

1985  |100        

1986  |83         

1987  |Nil        

1988  |180        

We have also provided some emergency aid to Nicaragua through non- governmental organisations. Total amounts provided for this purpose are :


Year  |£'000      

------------------

1985  |100        

1986  |83         

1987  |Nil        

1988  |180        


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Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing in ranked order the per capita contributions made by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries to Nicaragua for the latest year for which figures are available including the total aid given by each Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country for that year.

Mr. Chris Patten : I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on 19 May 1988 at column 516 . Figures for later years are not yet available.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much bilateral development aid and how much emergency aid has been given to Nicaragua in each of the past five years.

Mr. Chris Patten : The information is as follows :


£'000s                                                                                      

                       |Bilateral Aid         |of which Emergency Aid                       

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1983                   |64                    |34                                           

1984                   |9                     |Nil                                          

1985                   |116                   |100                                          

1986                   |86                    |83                                           

1987                   |Nil                   |Nil                                          

Official figures are not yet available for 1988, but Her Majesty's Government committed £260,000 in emergency aid to Nicaragua following hurricane Joan.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much development aid and how much emergency aid has been given to Nicaragua by the European Community in each of the last five years ; and what the United Kingdom contribution to the aid has been.

Mr. Chris Patten : Net official development assistance to Nicaragua, as reported by the European Community to the development assistance committee of the OECD in the last five years for which figures are available, is as follows :


          |£ million          

------------------------------

1983      |4.52               

1984      |10.99              

1985      |9.76               

1986      |6.19               

1987      |8.72               

Expenditure on emergency aid is included in the preceding figures and is not available separately. However, the European Community has indicated that commitments made were as follows :


          |£ million          

------------------------------

1983      |Nil                

1984      |0.089              

1985      |Nil                

1986      |0.268              

1987      |Nil                

1988      |0.78               

In each case, the United Kingdom contribution was around 20 per cent.


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NATIONAL FINANCE

Taxation Reform

Mr. Redwood : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost to the Exchequer in (a) 1989-90 and (b) a full year if (i) the starting point for national insurance were raised from £43 a week to £55 a week, (ii) the starting point for the 7 per cent. rate of national insurance were raised from £75 a week to £85 a week, (iii) income tax thresholds were raised by 10 per cent., (iv) the standard rate of income tax were reduced to 24 per cent., (v) each individual's capital gains tax free allowance were doubled, (vi) the threshold for inheritance tax were raised to £300,000, (vii) stamp duty on securities were halved but extended to gilt-edged securities, and (viii) any adult were allowed to save £1,000 free of tax each year.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Estimates are as follows :


Direct revenue effect, at 1989-90 levels of income                                                                                                              

£ million                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                |1989-90                                                                        

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(i)                                     |Lower earnings limit for                                                                                               

                                        |   National Insurance Class                                                                                            

                                        |   1 contributions raised                                                                                              

                                        |   from £43 per week to £55 per week<1>|+80                                                                            

(ii)                                    |Starting point for 7 per                                                                                               

                                        |   cent. rate of National                                                                                              

                                        |   Insurance Class 1                                                                                                   

                                        |   contributions raised                                                                                                

                                        |   from £75 per week to                                                                                                

                                        |   £85 per week                        |-70                                                                            

(iii)                                   |Income tax thresholds<2><3>                                                                                            

                                        |   raised by 10 per cent.              |-1,970                                                                         

(iv)                                    |Basic rate of income<3> tax                                                                                            

                                        |   reduced to 24 per cent.             |-1,400                                                                         

(v)                                     |Capital Gains Tax exempt                                                                                               

                                        |   amount doubled for                                                                                                  

                                        |   single people and                                                                                                   

                                        |   married couples                     |0                                                                              

(vi)                                    |Inheritance tax threshold                                                                                              

                                        |   raised to £300,000                  |-350                                                                           

(vii)                                   |Stamp duty on securities                                                                                               

                                        |   halved but extended to                                                                                              

                                        |   gilt edged securities               |<4>+200                                                                        

(viii)                                  |Every adult allowed to save                                                                                            

                                        |   £1,000 free of tax each                                                                                             

1   year                                |<5>-                                   |<5>-                                                                           

<1> Produces revenue yield because savings on contracted out rebates (which are paid on earnings between the lower earnings limit and the upper earnings limit) 

are greater than the cost of contributions forgone from those earning between £43 per week and £55 per week.                                                    

<2> Main personal allowances and the basic rate limit.                                                                                                          

<3> Estimates are partly based on a projection of the 1986-87 Survey of Personal Incomes. They are provisional and include the consequential effect on capital  

gains tax.                                                                                                                                                      

<4> Highly uncertain.                                                                                                                                           

<5> Cost would depend on take-up.                                                                                                                               

Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money has been lost to the Exchequer each year since 1979 because of tax avoidance and evasion ; and how many prosecutions have resulted (a) nationally and (b) in the tax area covering Nottingham.

Mr. Norman Lamont : It is not possible to say how much revenue is lost through tax avoidance and evasion.

The numbers of criminal prosecutions nationally for tax fraud in each year since 1979 are as follows.


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Year                   |Number of prosecutions                       

---------------------------------------------------------------------

1979-80                |150                                          

1980-81                |188                                          

1981-82                |175                                          

1982-83                |142                                          

1983-84                |159                                          

1984-85                |238                                          

1985-86                |320                                          

1986-87                |325                                          

1987-88                |213                                          

The Inland Revenue does not keep records of tax prosecutions by locality and separate figures are not available for the Nottingham tax area.

Departmental Staff (Child Care)

Ms. Richardson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what child care provision his Department provides for pre-school children of employees ; what child care provision, for school holiday or after-school care, is provided for employees' children aged five and over ; what plans there are for increasing provision in the next five years ; and how these are to be funded.

Mr. Brooke : My Department is taking part in a holiday play scheme for a number of Whitehall departments organised by the Westminster play association for children between 5 and 12. The scheme will run in the Treasury building in Parliament street.

Apart from small departmental contributions to start-up costs, the scheme currently in operation is self financing. Consideration is also being given to a similar scheme being operated at the Chessington computer centre.

Tobacco Tax

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was raised from taxes on tobacco and tobacco products in 1987-88.

Mr. Lilley : It is estimated that £5,766 million revenue was raised from taxes (excise duty and VAT) on tobacco products. Of this, £1,000 million is estimated to have come from VAT (based on consumers' expenditure on tobacco) and the rest from excise duty.

Bingo Duty

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what figures the threshold for small-scale bingo duty would need to be increased to take full account of the rate of inflation since the tax was introduced.

Mr. Lilley : The small-scale bingo exemption limits would need to be increased to around £420 (daily) and £1,400 (weekly) to take full account of inflation since the exemptions were introduced.

Duties and Taxes (Yield)

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate for the tax yield for 1988-89 of (a) vehicle excise duty, (b) fuel duty, (c) new car tax, (d) value-added tax on new vehicles and (e) value-added tax on petrol and derv sales.

Mr. Lilley : Following is the available information :


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£ billion                        

---------------------------------

(a) Vehicle excise duty  |2.8    

(b) Hydrocarbon oil duty |8.6    

(c) Car tax              |1.3    

Estimates of the VAT yield from (d) value added tax on new vehicles, and (e) value added tax on petrol and derv sales are not available.


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