Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of properties owned by his Department and suitable for residential accommodation have been empty for (i) up to a year and (ii) over a year ; and where these properties are located, by region of the United Kingdom or local authority area.
Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether the Spanish Government informed the British authorities that the Renault car parked at Main street, Gibraltar, on 6 March 1988, was followed by surveillance officers of the Spanish authorities to the frontier of Gibraltar on 6 March ; and if it was then followed by British authorities until it was parked ; (2) whether the Spanish authorities have confirmed to him the statements of Tomaz Rayo Valenzuela and Manuel Gimenez that the Spanish police discovered D. McCann and S. Savage staying at the hotel Escandinavia, Torremolinos, on 5 March 1988 and informed the British authorities ;
(3) why the Spanish police were requested not to follow D. McCann and S. Savage on 6 March 1988.
Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the Inland Revenue charge a higher interest rate on moneys owed to it by taxpayers than the rate that it applies to moneys repaid by it to taxpayers.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has as to (a) the number of employers involved in, and (b) the total annual cost to the Exchequer of, the current take-up of relief available for the establishment of workplace nurseries by employers, under (i) the 4 per cent. per annum relief scheme and (ii) the special provision for enterprise zones.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Employees whose earnings, including the value of benefits, are at a rate of £8,500 or more per year are liable to tax on benefits in kind. All directors are liable regardless of the level of earnings. The earnings threshold--also known as the P11D limit--was set at £8,500 in 1979-80 and, if it had been indexed in line with inflation according to the statutory formula for increasing personal allowances and thresholds, the threshold in 1989-90 would be £18,100.
Mr. Norman Lamont : The Government have at no time sought to increase the threshold at which employees pay tax on benefits in kind, since in principle all employees should pay income tax on the whole of their earnings whether received in cash or in kind.
Mr. Bright : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers currently receive dispensation from the Inland Revenue from completing the P11D form ; and how many employees benefit from such dispensations.
Mr. Norman Lamont : It is estimated that, at December 1988, about 23,000 employers had dispensations from reporting employees' expenses payments on forms P11D, an increase of 29 per cent. on the number at October 1987. When a dispensation exists in relation to expenses payments P11Ds may still need to be completed in relation to benefits in kind.
The number of employees covered by dispensations in 1985-86 is estimated to be about 2.7 million. Figures for later years are not yet available but, as there has been a substantial increase in employers receiving dispensations, it is estimated that over 3 million employees are now covered by them.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he has received, since 15 March 1988, about the withdrawal of tax relief on increases in parental contributions to covenants for students ; whether he plans any changes in these arrangements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Treasury Ministers have received some 200 representations about various aspects of the changes introduced last year to the tax treatment of student covenants. No separate record has been kept of those which relate to increases in parental contributions for students.
Column 233We have no plans to make any further changes in the tax treatment of student covenants. The changes which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor introduced last year greatly simplify an unnecessarily complex part of the tax system.
Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer, 19 April 1989] : In my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recent Budget he proposed both to abolish stamp duty on life policies and to adapt the charge on share transfers to forthcoming developments in methods of share dealing.
Mrs. Roe : To ask the Attorney-General what steps the Lord Chancellor is taking to reduce the risk of mortgage fraud arising from delays in the Land Registry ; what is the current backlog ; what is his target for the interval between receipt and completion of inquiries ; when he expects this to be achieved ; and how long he plans to maintain that performance once achieved.
The Attorney-General : There does not appear to be any evidence that mortgage fraud occurs because of delays in completing applications at the Land Registry. Such frauds occur in areas of the conveyancing process with which the Land Registry is not directly involved.
The Land Registry has target completion times of 14 weeks for first registrations, 12 weeks for dealings with part of the land in a title and four weeks for dealings with the whole title. The present backlog of applications which have not been dealt with within these target completion times is 586,000.
The targets referred to will be achieved within the next year if activity levels in the property and financial markets do not increase. Once they are achieved the chief land registrar will look to improve the service further.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Attorney-General on what criteria the Lord Chancellor chose 1992 as the date by which local advisory committees on appointing magistrates should make their membership publicly known.
The Attorney-General : Advisory committees are reconstituted every three years. By the end of 1992 any serving members who do not wish their names to be disclosed will have had an opportunity to retire.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make it his policy not to consider future applications for power stations until after negotiations with affected local authorities have taken place.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Present legislation provides for the relevant planning authorities to be consulted about such applications when they are made. Similar provision is made in the Electricity Bill currently before Parliament.
Furthermore, I understand that it is normal practice for an applicant to discuss a proposed development informally with the planning authorities before submitting his application to my right hon. Friend.
Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of properties owned by his Department and suitable for residential accommodation have been empty for (i) up to a year and (ii) over a year ; and where these properties are located, by region of the United Kingdom or local authority area.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill of 9 December, Official Report, column 373, he will state the error limits allowed in calculating the amount of plutonium produced by British civil nuclear power stations in the year ended 31 March 1988 ;
(2) what criteria his Department uses in allowing error limits to be set for the calculations of the amount of plutonium generated by British civil nuclear power stations.
12. Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the number of representations he has received for and against the Government's students loan plan.
Dr. Mawhinney : Representations expressing a variety of views have been received from four Members of Parliament, two district councils, the Fair Employment Agency, local representatives of the National Union of Students and other student bodies.
13. Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he had received any representations from banking institutions in the last month with regard to the proposed introduction of student loans ; and if he will make a statement.
14. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is taking action to secure devolved government in Northern Ireland, either within or outside the framework of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Mr. Tom King : We are exploring the possibilities for political movement. I would not at this stage try to draw any conclusions from these exploratory discussions, which are still in progress, though all the main political parties have said they support devolution. I hope that responsible political leaders and interested groups will take this opportunity to convey their views on these important matters and they can do it either within or outside the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Mr. Tom King : Since 9 March, 10 people have died in incidents arising from the security situation. These deaths included two senior police officers, one UDR soldier and seven civilians. They also included the murder of a young girl killed by a bomb planted by the Provisional IRA without warning in Warrenpoint on 12 April. Thirty people were also injured in this appalling attack. The Provisional IRA claimed responsibility for five of these murders, whilst Loyalist paramilitary organisations are believed to have been responsible for the other five.
The resolute efforts of the security forces have resulted in 74 people being charged with serious offences, including 12 with murder and 13 with attempted murder since the
Column 236beginning of the year. A total of 123 weapons, over 14,500 rounds of ammunition and 215 lb of explosives have been recovered in Northern Ireland. I understand that the Garda Siochana has recovered 39 weapons, 11,500 rounds of ammunition, and 230 lb of explosives.
Dr. Mawhinney : I met a deputation from the Association of Education and Library Boards on 21 March 1989 when resolutions adopted at the association's 1988 annual meeting were presented and discussed.
Mr. Tom King : Work is continuing on the review under article 11 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of the working of the intergovernmental conference. It is intended that the review be concluded, and the results made public, at the next meeting of the conference to be held in a few weeks.
18. Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to encourage the exchange of touring arts companies between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Dr. Mawhinney : There has been, and continues to be, a healthy exchange of touring arts companies between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The Government, however, are not directly involved in these arrangements. In Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, the support of artistic ventures is the responsibility of the Arts Council and the council and the arts organisations themselves encourage and arrange tours by individual artists and companies to and from Northern Ireland.
20. Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next proposes to have discussions with Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Ireland ; and what matters he will discuss.
Mr. Tom King : I last met the Taoiseach in Dublin on 13 September prior to the intergovernmental conference on that day. The subjects discussed are confidential. I meet the deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Lenihan, regularly in the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
24. Mr. Kilfedder : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will provide more funds to the Royal Ulster Constabulary to enable community policing in the North Down area to be fully restored.
Mr. Ian Stewart : The Police Authority grant for 1989-90 is £415 million. This represents an increase of some £30 million over the previous year. It is primarily the responsibility of the Chief Constable and the Police Authority to determine priorities and allocate resources.
Mr. McCusker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he intends to introduce legislation to bring Northern Ireland into line with Great Britain regarding illegal slaughtering and unfit meat trading.
Mr. Needham : Northern Ireland legislation on the slaughter of animals is already in line with Great Britain. Legislation governing trade in unfit meat is in line with England and Wales, but differs from Scotland. The Department of Health and Social Services is currently considering whether the Northern Ireland law on unfit meat should be improved by including some provisions equivalent to those applying in Scotland.
Mr. Viggers : The movement of live fish, ova and fry requires a permit issued under section 14 of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966. Permits may be obtained by making application to fisheries division, Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, Castle buildings, Stormont, Belfast.
Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were arrested, detained and subsequently released without charge under section 12 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in each of the years from 1984 to 1988.
|c|Persons detained under Section 12 of the Prevention of Terrorism|c| |c|(Temporary Provisions) Act 1984|c| |1984 |1985 |1986 |1987 |1988 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Persons Arrested/ Detained |908 |938 |1,309 |1,459 |1,717 Persons released without charge |650 |691 |951 |<1>1,116|<1>1,344 <1>Includes one person not charged with an offence but excluded under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984. Medical and Nursing Profession
Mr. Needham : I have discussed "Working for Patients" with a variety of interests including representatives of the medical, nursing and management professions and members of health and social services boards and I will be meeting several more delegations shortly.
Mr. Ian Stewart : Plastic baton rounds are used by the security forces in Northern Ireland only when their use is judged to be the minimum and reasonable amount of force necessary to protect life, property and to prevent serious crime. In certain circumstances, particularly during vicious and widespread rioting when lives are put seriously at risk, the use of plastic baton rounds is the most effective way of restoring order. This method of riot control is designed to ensure that the risk of injury or death is kept to a minimum.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next expects to discuss the question of state subsidies with representatives of Harland and Wolff ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Viggers : I have no plans to discuss the question of state subsidies with representatives of Harland and Wolff. I can confirm, however, that following the signing of the heads of agreement discussions between my officials and the MEBO/Olsen team are continuing.
Mr. Tom King : Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved the appointment of Dr. W. H. Jack CB, former permanent secretary at the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, to this office in succession to L.V.D. Calvert CB who is retiring.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider reintroducing income support to 16 and 17-year-olds who do not receive an offer of a YTS place at the termination of their period of bridging allowance or extended child benefit.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 19 April 1989] : In line with the policy of maintaining parity in social security provision, the rules for paying income support to 16 and 17-year-olds in Northern Ireland are kept in line with those for the rest of the United Kingdom. At present income support is payable under the normal rules to a number of 16 and 17-year- olds, for example, if they are incapable of work or have a child. Claims for income support under the "severe hardship" provision will be considered from any 16 or 17-year-old who is actively pursuing a place in the youth training programme.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many 16 and 17-year-olds who remain unemployed after the ending of the bridging allowance payments or extended child benefit (1) applied for severe hardship grants from the social fund or (2) received severe hardship grants from the social fund for each month, October 1988 to March 1989, inclusive.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 19 April 1989] : Severe hardship payments are made under the income support scheme rather than the social fund and the available information is set out in the table below :
|c|Income support severe hardship applications|c| |Applications received|Admitted for payment ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- October 1988 |2 |2 November 1988 |3 |2 December 1988 |7 |5 January 1989 |5 |5 February 1989 |7 |6 March 1989 |13 |11
Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will assess the likely implications of the transmission by Channel 4 of public service broadcasts emanating from his Department of the White Paper "Broadcasting in the 90s : Competition, Choice and Quality".