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Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if in the light of the agreement by the United States of America, Canada and Australia to admit more Vietnamese refugees, he will now confirm the agreement to increase the United Kingdom quota announced on 22 December 1988 ; what the arrangements will be for the increased numbers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : Pursuant to the answer my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State gave to the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) on 21 February at column 539, we announced on 22 December 1988 that we were prepared in principle to contribute to a major international effort to tackle the problem of Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong by taking a further 1, 000 Vietnamese refugees from Hong Kong over two to three years, provided that others were prepared to contribute commensurately. We have conducted a vigorous diplomatic campaign to urge other resettlement countries to match what we intend to do by accepting substantial additional numbers of Vietnamese refugees from Hong Kong. The response to our call has been very good and amounts to a significantly increased international effort.
Accordingly, we have decided to proceed with our new resettlement plans. The refugees will be resettled in ways which minimise the pressure on housing resources in certain urban areas of the country.
|Number ---------------------- 1978-79 |5,134 1979-80 |2,962 1980-81 |2,710 1981-82 |2,342 1982-83 |3,628 1983-84 |3,872 1984-85 |3,386 1985-86 |3,158 1986-87 |2,216 1987-88 |1,810
|Number ---------------------- 1978-79 |485 1979-80 |517 1980-81 |2,039 1981-82 |7,042 1982-83 |5,583 1983-84 |5,471 1984-85 |5,469 1985-86 |4,213 1986-87 |3,261 1987-88 |2,915
|Number ------------------------------ 31 March 1978 |186,388 31 March 1979 |192,000 31 March 1980 |196,787 31 March 1981 |196,435 31 March 1982 |189,640 31 March 1983 |189,257 31 March 1984 |183,761 31 March 1985 |183,439 31 March 1986 |181,717 31 March 1987 |179,910 31 March 1988 |176,832
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how much has been paid out in compensation, and in how many cases, in respect of damage resulting from raids on homes by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army during the last 12 months ;
Column 753(2) how many claims for compensation have been received from people claiming damage in respect of Royal Ulster Constabulary and Army raids on their homes during the last 12 months.
Her Majesty's Government have submitted a request for the return of Hanratty to face charges for firearms offences arising from an incident in Northern Ireland in 1984 once German proceedings have been completed.
Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applicants for income support have not had a final decision made because of delays caused by waiting lists for sight examinations.
Mr. Needham : Decisions on claims for income support are made on the basis of the circumstances at the date the claim is received. Information is not available about the number of claimants awaiting sight examinations.
|Number ------------------------ September |32 October |23 November |19 |--- Total |74
Mr. Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to ensure that the sums allocated for the social fund budget, both grants and loans, will be fully spent in 1988-89.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average waiting time for claimants calling personally at social security offices at Crown Dale, Stockwell road and Camberwell New road in Lambeth.
|Income support (Minutes)|Contributory benefits |(Minutes) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Camberwell New road (Oval office) |55 |5 Crown Dale (Crystal Palace office) |39.5 |11.5
This information was obtained as a result of sampling at the end of 1988.
The information for Stockwell road (Brixton office) will not be available until the beginning of April.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Based on annual upratings in line with earnings since 1979, the current weekly value of basic retirement pension would be £49.10 for a single pensioner, and £78.65 for a pensioner couple.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the speed, height and purpose of the low-level flight by a jet aircraft over East Linton, East Lothian, at 1 pm on Monday 23 January.
Mr. Neubert : Two Tornado aircraft from RAF Cottesmore flying out of RAF Leuchars were authorised to carry out a terrain following low-level training sortie in the area at a height of 700 ft. and under the normal speed restrictions for the aircraft and type of sortie.
Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts or agreements for research and development have currently been placed with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education by the atomic weapons research establishment ; what is their total value ; and with which United Kingdom and other institutions of higher education they were placed.
Mr. Sainsbury : The atomic weapons establishment has currently 39 contracts or agreements placed with United Kingdom universities or institutions of higher education ; their total value is £2.2 million. It is not our policy to give further details of these arrangements.
Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many research contracts or agreements the scientific research and development branch has currently placed with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education ; what is their total value ; and if he will list them.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Ministry of Defence has currently 757 research agreements and 96 contracts with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education ; the total value is £55 million. It is not our policy to give details of these arrangements ; it is for the universities themselves to confirm their involvement.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the opportunities available to members of the armed forces for making additional voluntary contributions in order to enhance the benefits payable under the armed forces pension scheme.
Mr. Neubert : The armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) provides an excellent range of benefits which are already mainly at the limits allowed by the Inland Revenue for occupational pension schemes. Nevertheless where scope does exist for additional voluntary contributions (AVCs), in-scheme facilities have been introduced so that service men can, so far as is possible, bring their benefits up to Inland Revenue limits. Under these arrangements all service men can enhance the widow's/widower's pension and the death in service lump sum ; service men with military salaries in excess of those upon which pension rates are based can enhance all their AFPS benefits ; and late entrants to the services can buy added years. MOD is prepared to issue certificates where appropriate to those wishing to make free standing AVCs (FSAVCs) for the same range of benefits. I am pleased to say that it is now also possible for some service men to make FSAVCs in respect of additional pay which they might be receiving.
Additional pay in the armed forces does not readily lend itself to AVC purposes because most of it is unpredictable in incidence and discontinuous or short term. There are also wide variations in the amount of money involved. Provided certain criteria are fulfilled, however, some service men could benefit and in these circumstances MOD is now prepared to certify applications for FSAVCs.
I believe that these facilities provide opportunities for members of the AFPS which are as far as possible in line with those envisaged for other occupational pension schemes in keeping with the spirit of this Government's recent legislation.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when was the last time that service personnel fired shots on the British mainland in the course of their duty when they were not involved in training exercises.
Mr. Sainsbury : Like all other forms of MOD manpower, the requirements for MOD police are reviewed regularly, in the light of current policing and security requirements. It is not MOD policy to reveal details of future manning levels in the force.
Mr. Sainsbury : The use of private security firms in guarding establishments is an option open to MOD in those cases where their use can satisfy certain security criteria. Any change in the present scale of such arrangements will result from the assessment of the level of security protection required at specific establishments and an appraisal of the performance of those private security firms currently employed.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes to security arrangements for his Department's establishments on the British mainland have been initiated in the light of evidence of terrorist access to Semtex and similar explosives.
Column 757Swansea, West have a full reply about the low-flying incidents which he reported to his Department a month ago ; and why the reply has taken so long to prepare.
Mr. Neubert : As I explained in my letter of 1 February to the right hon. Member, investigations by the RAF police into low-flying incidents are always very thorough and may take some months to complete. I shall, however, write to the right hon. Member with a full response as soon as possible.
Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will extend the very low-flying prohibition zone further from the built-up areas of the city of Swansea ; if he will include upper Trillay within that area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : As the right hon. Member is aware, pilots are already instructed to avoid overflying the centres of major conurbations and built- up areas such as Swansea at low level, although we cannot guarantee to avoid overflying the outskirts of major towns and smaller communities. Pilots will however make every effort to avoid populated areas wherever possible.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the explosives used in the attack on Tern hill barracks on Monday 20 February were planted ; and when the challenge was issued by security personnel to two suspected intruders.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The soldiers challenged the terrorists on seeing them inside the barrack area at just after 0300 hrs. When the explosives were planted is a matter for the police investigation to establish.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the exact period of time between the issuing of a challenge to the intruders at the Tern hill barracks on Monday 20 February and the detonation of explosives inside the barracks.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The first explosion occurred some 20 minutes after the soldiers first challenged the terrorists on seeing them inside the barrack area. There were two subsequent explosions. The precise timing and sequence of events is a matter for the police investigation.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when were security personnel at Tern hill barracks informed about the theft of the car suspected of being used in connection with the attack.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Austin Montego car hijacked from the Simpsons. Information was received at Clive barracks that the terrorists had made off in a hijacked car at about 0415 hrs on Monday, 20 February.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints have been received from local residents near the Tern hill barracks about unauthorised access to the site of the barracks in each of the last three years.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Within the United Kingdom land forces command, all units are required to carry out regular security exercises. A co- ordinated test and evaluation of security at Tern hill barracks was last carried out on 18 December 1988.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Tern hill barracks was rebuilt in 1981 as an open-plan barracks. During the past year, a number of improvements to the fencing at the barracks have been carried out. However, the cost of these improvements is not readily identifiable.
Mr. Graham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of raw materials for use by Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region ;
(2) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of general administrative goods and services for use by Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region ; (3) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of the services of contractors and sub-contractors for use by Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region ;
(4) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of plant for use by Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region ;
(5) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of goods and services for the purpose of maintenance and general upkeep of plant and premises at Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region ;
(6) if he will provide details of expenditure incurred by his Department in the procurement of non-product raw materials for use by Royal Ordnance, Bishopton for the financial year 1986-87 expended in (a) Scotland and (b) Strathclyde region.
Mr. Sainsbury : None. Royal Ordnance was an incorporated company in 1986-87, which was the financial year immediately preceding privatisation. The Department made no purchases on behalf of Royal Ordnance, Bishopton, and the purchasing of raw materials and plant, and the cost of sub- contractors, maintenance, administration and services in order to carry out its operations, were all matters for the company. A90
Column 759overcome ; and what assessment has been made of whether the ventilation and ducting system will fully meet the health and saftey requirements of the contract.
Mr. Sainsbury : The contract in question is the responsibility of the Property Services Agency which, I understand is currently investigating the claims made in the programme. Assessments of the installation of certain elements of the A90 ducting system against contractual requirements and in relation to safety are being conducted.
Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the A90 complex at AWE Aldermaston is on schedule to meet the heads of the Trident programme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the report on Trident produced for the Select Committee on Defence, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House on 17 January. The Trident project remains on programme to enter service as planned in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the findings of the board of inquiry into the fire at Central Ordnance depot, Donnington, on 25 April 1988 and the action which he is taking on them.
Mr. Neubert : I have now considered the findings of the Army board of inquiry which was set up to investigate the major fire at the central ordanance depot, Donnington on 25 April 1988 and to make recommendations on the action to be taken to prevent a recurrence. I have placed in the Library of the House a summary of the board of inquiry's report, with its findings and recommendations set out in full.
The board of inquiry concluded that the fire must have been caused deliberately, but was unable to establish who was responsible. The fire destroyed two-thirds of one large storage building (B1) and its contents. Those stocks were due to be transferred in September 1988 to a new fully fire-protected building at Donnington which it was decided to build following the fire at the depot in 1983. The board found that the recommendations of the board of inquiry into that fire had, with minor exceptions, been implemented. It observed, however, that stocks in the B1 building lacked effective fire-protection during the period when the new building to which they were to be transferred was being built.
The board found no evidence of a significant pollution hazard during or after the fire, although the contents and fabric of the B1 building represented a potential hazard. It took the view that insufficient information was given to the public to allay concern about possible health hazards. It also found some weaknesses in emergency procedures and occupational health arrangements for those employed at the depot and considered that, while the arrangements for ensuring its security were generally satisfactory, they did not cater sufficiently for the high risk of building B1.
Subject to two qualifications, the Ministry of Defence accepts the board's findings. The Ministry considers that the board's observation on the lack of protection for the stocks in building B1, pending their transfer to the new building, does not take sufficient account of the steps which were taken after the 1983 fire to reduce the level of stocks in the building and to improve the fire protection
Column 760arrangements. The Ministry also considers that the board's view that insufficient information was given to allay public concern about possible health hazards disregards both the assurances given in public statements at the time of the fire and its aftermath and the steps taken to keep the local authorities informed.
The board of inquiry made 25 recommendations to deal with these aspects. They cover changes in policy and practice for the control of hazardous stores, handling of emergencies, public information, health and safety responsibilities, security and training. Its main recommendation is that funds should be made available as a matter of urgency to provide storage buildings with the proper level of fire-protection appropriate to the risk and that there should be an examination of the most practical way of protecting stocks while this work is being carried out.
In general the Ministry of Defence accepts the board's recommendations and is taking the necessary follow-up action. Some of the recommendations have already been or are being put into effect. Others require further consideration before final conclusions can be reached about how they should be implemented and this is proceeding as quickly as possible. As regards the board's main recommendation, all storage buildings need to be surveyed in order to assess what fire-protection measures are needed and to determine priorities. In view of the large number of buildings and the scale of work involved, the whole programme will need to be phased over several years, but the aim will be to complete it as soon as practical. Ways of providing protection against fire during this period are being considered.
Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many research contracts or agreements the forensic science service has currently placed with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education ; what is their total worth ; and if he will list them.
Research Organisation |Nature of Research |Contract (£) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Loughborough |High performance liquid |23,300 University |chromatography Hull University |High sensitivity detection of drugs|10,710 |by chemiluminescence Manchester |ABO grouping of bloodstains by |19,785 University |an automated process Aston University |Expert systems to assess forensic |14,025 |evidence Swansea |Flake powders for fingerprint |74,650 University |applications Scottish College of |Colour coding of individual textile|20,122 Textiles |fibres Keele University |Motor vehicle paint sample |13,986 |collections Queen's University |Improved reagents for detecting |45,522 Belfast |fingerprints St. George's |Tablet and capsule identification |12,000 Hospital Medical |system School |---- |234,100
(2) how long it will take to process the naturalisation applications which have been outstanding for more than one year.
Mr. Renton : Applications for naturalisation currently being processed span a wide spread of dates but the average time taken to complete such applications in January 1989 was 21 months. It is not possible to give a reliable forecast of how long naturalisation applications which have been outstanding for more than one year will take to complete.