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Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the West German Foreign Minister ; what subjects were discussed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State last met Herr Genscher on 14 and 15 April at an informal weekend meeting of European Community Foreign Ministers in Granada, where a range of European Community and other international issues were discussed.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international measures are in force to interdict supplies of chemical materials necessary for the manufacture of narcotics ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances contains provisions designed to prevent diversion of substances for illicit drugs manufacture. A total of 64 countries, including the United Kingdom, have signed the convention. We intend to ratify it as soon as Parliament approves enabling legislation.
Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of Austria, West Germany, Holland and Turkey regarding drug trafficking through those countries into western Europe.
Mr. Eggar : Discussions on drugs with all four countries take place periodically within the Council of Europe Pompidou group. A ministerial meeting of this group will be held in London next week. In addition, we are discussing with the Federal Republic of Germany the possibility of a bilateral asset seizure agreement, and bilateral talks with the Dutch on a similar agreement are planned for later this month.
Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visa applications from Polish residents to visit relations in the United Kingdom remain outstanding at the latest available date.
Mr. Eggar : It is not possible to determine how many of the 1,991 short-term visit applications currently--28 April--under consideration at the British embassy, Warsaw originate from Polish nationals seeking to visit relations in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's policy for granting visas to Argentine nationals ; how long applications take to be considered ; and how many applications have been turned down in each of the last three years.
Mr. Eggar : Visas are normally granted to Argentine nationals, other than serving military officers, who can satisfy an entry clearance officer that they meet the requirements of the immigration rules. Straightforward applications lodged with the British interests section of the Swiss embassy in Buenos Aires are processed within three days. Figures for refusals are readily available only for visa applications lodged in Buenos Aires. These are :
1986 -- five
1987 -- three
1988 -- two
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost to public funds of publishing the pamphlet "Britain's Voice in South Africa".
Mrs. Chalker : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) on 2 May.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government in conjunction with their EEC partners are pressing to obtain Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have consistently called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, in order that the country's national unity, integrity, full sovereignty and independence may be restored.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he intends to take any action (a) unilaterally, and (b) with his European colleagues, to halt the escalation of arms sales to the middle east in order to reduce the possibility of arms falling into unauthorised hands.
Mr. Waldegrave : All exports of British defence-related equipment are considered on a strict case-by-case basis taking account of the United Kingdom's political, strategic and security interests. Each transaction is subject to stringent export licensing procedures, including where appropriate an end-user undertaking and a no transfer clause.
Column 306These strict procedures are applied uniformly to all defence equipment exports worldwide, including the middle east. In addition, special restrictions are applied to exports to certain middle eastern countries, reflecting our wish not to fuel or prolong conflicts in the region, and our determination to take a firm line on state -sponsored terrorism.
We believe that restraint can be brought about only by wider international agreement on ways to control the escalation of arms sales and to reduce tension. In that spirit we co-sponsored a resolution adopted in the UN first committee in November 1988 calling inter alia for reinforcement of national systems of control.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he would expect a Vietnamese refugee arriving in Hong Kong today to have completed the screening procedure at the present rate of disposal ; how much longer he would expect the appeal procedure to take if screened out ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : At the present rate of screening, Vietnamese boat people arriving in Hong Kong today would have to wait for about four and a half years before they could be screened. Those screened out who appeal against the decision could expect to wait another year before the appeal is determined. The Hong Kong Government are aware that the present screening and appeal procedures take too long to complete : these procedures are under urgent review.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the nationality status of Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong ; what provision is made under the British Nationality Act concerning the status of children born to refugees residing in the territory of Hong Kong ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The nationality of Vietnamese refugees and boat people in Hong Kong will be governed by the nationality laws of Vietnam, or of any other state whose nationality they might claim.
Persons born in Hong Kong before 1 January 1983, including those born to Vietnamese refugees, were born "British subjects : citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies" under the British Nationality Act 1948. On 1 January 1983, such persons became British Dependent Territories Citizens under the British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on that date. After that date, persons born to Vietnamese refugees or boat people in Hong Kong do not have British nationality by virtue of their birth there.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice is given to Vietnamese refugees during the screening procedure in Hong Kong, including advice as to legal representation ; whether such refugees are entitled to legal representation during the procedure ; if he will place in the Library copies of the forms of all notices and documents served upon such refugees ; what proportion of the refugees is represented by lawyers during the screening procedure ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : Asylum seekers are informed of the nature and purpose of the screening procedure before the screening interview. Those asylum seekers who, after the screening interview, are refused refugee status are informed in writing of their right of appeal, how to lodge an appeal, and the availability of legal assistance from the UNHCR in preparing their statements of appeal. Notices and documents served to asylum seekers will be obained from the Hong Kong authorities and placed in the Library.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any proposals to extend to Hong Kong the treaty obligations applicable to the United Kingdom as a result of United Kingdom ratification of the United Nations convention on refugees (1951) and the protocol (1967) ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : No. The procedures currently being used in Hong Kong to determine whether newly arrived boat people meet the criteria for refugee status are fully in accordance with the terms of the 1951 convention and the 1967 protocol.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all the European Community meetings on matters concerning his Department held in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988.
Mrs. Chalker : The European Council met on three occasions in both 1985 and 1988 and twice in both 1986 and 1987. The Foreign Affairs Council met on 13 occasions in 1985, 11 in 1986 and 1987 and 12 in 1988 ; there were also occasional informal meetings of Foreign Ministers. In addition, there were numerous meetings of officials. Information on the number of such meetings could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many full-time Foreign Office personnel are employed in the commercial department of British embassies in (a) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, (b) China, (c) Japan, (d) France and (e) West Germany.
Mrs. Chalker : The total numbers of staff working in the commercial sections of our overseas posts (embassies and consulates general) by country are :
|United Kingdom based|Locally engaged ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ USSR |9 |5 China |19 |9 Japan |12 |31 France |12 |27 West Germany |18 |54
This includes the heads of each post and other staff who have more than just commercial work responsibilities.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what road markings exist at the junction of the Buchill Park avenue with Buchill road ; whether the sight lines at this junction comply with present road design standards ; when the hedges at this junction were last cut back ; when a footway will be provided at this location ; and what other proposals he has to improve this road junction.
Mr. Needham : I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's question refers to Beechill Park avenue and Beechill road.
As is customary with junctions of this type, road markings do not exist at the junction of Beechill Park avenue Beechill road. The sight line to the left at this junction complies with the normal standard, the sight line to the right does not. The roads service has no record of when the hedges at this junction were last cut back but can confirm that they are regularly faced by the owner. At the present time they do not overhang the road.
There are no plans to provide a footway or to carry out any improvements at this location.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the total costs incurred by the siting of the Anglo- Irish secretariat at Maryfield ; of this sum how much relates to wages and salaries of the staff involved, how much to security measures taken ; how the rest of the sum was expended, and how much of the total under each heading was borne by the United Kingdom.
Mr. Tom King : The Secretariat is operated on a basis of shared costs for shared facilities, the Irish Government contributing to the operating expenses in varying proportions, reflecting the use made of each facility. The costs to the Irish Government of their staff, transport etc. is a matter for them. Salaries and wages for the British staff over the total period from the start in December 1985 to 30 April 1989 amounted to £405,000. Security costs fall exclusively to the British Government. Manpower costs for security were £1,666,000. Other costs, totalling three-quarters of a million pounds, comprised alterations to the building and site, and operating expenses.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether any representations have been made to him by the Government of the Irish Republic about any processions or marches which (a) have taken place, or (b) were banned by him in Northern Ireland in each year since 1984, or (c) about any scheduled to take place in the current year.
Mr. Tom King : The Irish Government have made representations from time to time about particular marches and processions in Northern Ireland, the details of which are confidential. These representations, like any others, are passed on to the Chief Constable of the RUC who has operational responsibility for this matter. Any decision by me to ban or reroute a march or procession would be made on the basis of his recommendation.
Mr. Hume : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration has been given to the respective numbers of premium recipients at each social security office in determining the 1989-90 social fund budget.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 26 April 1989] : The characteristics of the income support caseload of each social security office were taken into account in determining its social fund budget for 1989-90--that is, the number of pensioners, people with disability premiums, unemployed and others. Details of the basis of the calculations were placed in the Library on 23 March.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated number of 16 and 17-year-olds who since the September 1988 changes to general income support entitlement have continued to be entitled to income support in their own right.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 28 April 1989] : The information requested is not available.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated number of school leavers affected by the September 1988 changes removing general income support entitlement and guaranteeing a YTS place and training allowance.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 28 April 1989] : The only available information about summer school leavers affected is the number who were receiving extended child benefit. The highest figure between September and December 1988 was 621.
Mr. Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish a table showing the numbers of lower-paid families with and without children whose marginal tax rates including benefit withdrawal will be (a) 90 to 100 per cent., (b) 80 to 90 per cent., (c) 70 to 80 per cent., (d) 60 to 70 per cent., (e) 50 to 60 per cent. and (f) 40 to 50 per cent., taking into account the tax changes for 1989-90.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest available information requested is as follows :
Combined marginal income tax and benefit withdrawal rates 1989-90 Working heads of tax units (000) Great Britain numbers facing combined rates of over 40 per cent.-in bands |Families with children |Couples and single people|Total -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 100 per cent. and over |- |- |- 90 per cent. to 99 per cent. |40 |5 |45 80 per cent. to 89 per cent. |155 |10 |165 70 per cent. to 79 per cent. |170 |35 |205 60 per cent. to 69 per cent. |<1> |5 |5 50 per cent. to 59 per cent. |<1> |5 |5 40 per cent. to 49 per cent. |10 |25 |35 Notes: (i) Marginal deduction rates shown are for heads of tax units in receipt of Family Credit/Housing benefit where at least one partner works 24 hours or more a week. (ii) All estimates are for 1989-90 and are based on combined 1985 and 1986 Family Expenditure Survey data and are consistent with this year's Government Expenditure White Paper. (iii) <1> denotes an estimate of fewer than 2,500. (iv) The total number of working heads of tax units with more than 24 weekly remunerative hours is approximately 17 million. Those shown in the table therefore represent under 3 per cent. of the total.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the cause of the low rate of claims for family credit in Wales ; and what statistics he has collected on this matter.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : An assessment of the reasons why people failed to claim family credit can be found in "Family Credit : The Strategic Development of the Spring 1989 Publicity Campaign : Research Summary" which has been placed in the Library by the Central Office of Information.
Separate estimates of the eligible population, or the level of take up, are not available for Wales. At the beginning of April 1989 around 17,000 families in Wales were actually receiving family credit, but this does not include those who were still awaiting a decision on a claim and eventually received payment covering that date.
Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average total cost to his Department of the administrative procedures which occur between a refusal of benefit by an adjudication officer and the implementation of a decision by the Social Security appeal tribunal.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : A typical case where, for example, income support is refused by an adjudication officer and subsequently allowed by the Social Security appeal tribunal, will incur local office administrative costs of about £90. This figure excludes administrative costs incurred by the office of the president of Social Security appeal tribunals which are the responsibility of the President, His Honour Judge Byrt QC. The hon. Member may care to contact him direct for these details.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all the European Community meetings on matters concerning his Department held in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I shall let the hon. Member have such information as can be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost as soon as possible.
Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will publish in the Official Report the numbers of staff employed in his Department's benefit fraud investigations for each year from 1979 to the latest available year ;
Column 311(2) if he will publish in the Official Report the total number of prosecutions for social security benefit fraud for each of the years from 1979 to the most recent year for which figures are available ;
(3) if he will publish in the Official Report an estimate of the total amount of money lost through benefit fraud in 1988.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Precise figures are not available, but it is possible to estimate the numbers of full-time equivalent posts on the basis of records of staff time expended on fraud-related work. The numbers of full-time equivalent posts each year since 1979 have been as follows :
Year |Number ---------------------- 1979-80 |2,311 1980-81 |2,336 1981-82 |2,346 1982-83 |2,185 1983-84 |2,211 1984-85 |2,204 1985-86 |2,285 1986-87 |2,390 1987-88 |2,724 1988-89 |2,940
Additional information requested is contained in my reply to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) on 31 January at column 192.
Mr. Hoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether a person who is in receipt of disability provision would lose their entitlement on completion of an employment training scheme.
Mr. Nicholas Scott : Subject to satisfaction of the relevant eligibility criteria, attendance allowance, mobility allowance and the disability premium with income support can be paid during and after a period of employment training. Trainees who were receiving sickness benefit, invalidity benefit or severe disablement allowance immediately before employment training can have their benefit reinstated as a linked claim if they are incapable of work and make the fresh claim within eight weeks of the end of training.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether, pursuant to his statement on 24 April, Official Report, column 725, that £9 of every £10 of means-tested benefit reaches those to whom it is intended, he will list the total sum in public expenditure allocated to each of the main means-tested benefits administered by his Department ; and if he will also list the sums paid out to claimants in the last relevant financial year.
Mr. Scott : The total sums allocated to each of the main income- related benefits for forward years and the latest estimates of the sums paid out to claimants in repect of these benefits in 1988-89, the last relevant financial year, are set out in table 15.1 of Cm 615.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library his
Column 312calculations showing that the living standards of lone parents have risen by 10 per cent., couples with children by 9 per cent. and couples without children and single people by 6 per cent. over the period 1979 to 1985, as cited by him on 24 April, Official Report, column 725.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The figures refer to the incomes of households in the non-pensioner population. They are based on the total net incomes of individuals in households derived from all sources less income tax and national insurance. Incomes were adjusted for the differing sizes and compositions of households in order to make direct comparisions between the improvements in living standards of people with and without children. The esimates are based on the family expenditure survey and cover Great Britain as a whole.
Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much the Aberdare Department of Social Security offices were given for the social fund (a) in 1988-89 and (b) in 1989-90 ; whether this has increased in line with inflation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The details of the social fund allocations are as follows :
|Loans |Grants |£ |£ -------------------------------- 1988-89 |275,645|117,197 1989-90 |281,323|123,789
A note explaining the basis on which the social fund allocations for 1989- 90 were calculated is in the Library.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of how many pensioners have (a) an occupational pension, (b) investment income and (c) both ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 2 May 1989] : In 1986 approximately 3.4 million (50 per cent.) pensioner tax units had an occupational pension, 4.7 million (70 per cent.) had investment income, and 2.8 million (40 per cent.) had both.
Note : A pensioner tax unit is a single person of state pension age or over, or a couple where the man is of state pension age or over.
Source : Family Expenditure Survey 1986.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total amount of value added tax paid on dental inputs by general dental practitioners in England and Wales during the last three financial years.
Mr. Lilley : I regret that this information is not available.
Sir John Farr : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will earmark annually £100 million of the sum paid to
Column 313the Government in tax on football pools to a fund for the purpose of bringing about all-seater stadia at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Lilley : In line with an established principle of the tax system, followed by successive Governments, and in the interests of efficient management of public expenditure, receipts from taxation are not hypothecated for particular purposes.
Mr. Squire : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the savings would be of taxing child benefit for taxpayers at the 40 per cent. tax rate in 1989-90.
Mr. Norman Lamont : The direct revenue yield in 1989-90 from taxing child benefit at 40 per cent. for those married couples and single parents facing a marginal tax rate of 40 per cent. for that year is estimated to be about £140 million.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when it was decided that those required to supply information to the commissioners of Inland Revenue using OHMS envelopes must affix postage stamps ; when the use of reply paid envelopes was discontinued ; and what publicity was given to this change.
Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 2 May 1989] : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) on 29 January 1988 at column 420 and to the Inland Revenue press release of that date.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the savings in a full year at 1989-90 rates of restricting all allowances and reliefs to the standard rate of tax ; and if he will provide a breakdown by category of allowance and relief.
Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 2 May 1989] : Estimates of the direct revenue yield in a full year at 1989-90 levels of income from restricting the main income tax reliefs and allowances to the basic rate are as follows :
|£ million ----------------------------------------------------------------------- (a) Personal allowances |1,320 (b) Mortgage interest relief |430 (c) Employees' superannuation and personal pension contributions |200 (d) Retirement annuity relief<1> |100 <1> Including relief for retirement annuity payments made by employees.
It is not possible to provide reliable estimates for the effects of restricting other smaller reliefs to the basic rate.
The direct revenue yield from restricting all reliefs and allowances simultaneously to the basic rate is likely to be in the order of £2 billion, somewhat more than the sum of the yields from restricting the reliefs and allowances separately ; this is due to the cumulative effect of bringing more people into higher rate tax. About two thirds of those who would pay more tax as a result of this change are currently liable only at the basic rate. Estimates are
Column 314based on a projection of the 1986-87 survey of personal income and are provisional. No account is taken of possible behavioural changes or the effect on receipts of capital gains tax.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when tax-free employer grants to employees moving to higher cost housing areas were introduced ; what the largest allowable size of grant to qualify for tax exemption was in each tax year of operation ; and if he will provide an estimate of the number of such tax-free grants made.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Subject to certain conditions, payments of this kind have never been regarded as taxable. To be tax-free payments must be spread over a number of years and not exceed, in total, a prescribed amount. Since 1 April 1987, the maximum amount payable tax-free has varied in line with the maximum amount payable under the Civil Service additional housing costs allowance. The relevant amounts are given in the table. I regret that estimates of the number of tax-exempt payments is not available.
Moves on or after: |Total payable tax-free £ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 April 1987 |18,270 1 June 1987 |17,220 30 March 1988 |15,750 1 October 1988 |20,160 1 February 1989 |21,210
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what was the level of personal sector bank borrowings, gross and net, in each year since 1983 in current and standard prices ;
(2) what was the personal sector consumer credit outstanding in each year since 1983 in current and standard prices.
Mr. Lilley : Figures for personal sector consumer credit outstanding and bank borrowing in current prices are available in Financial Statistics (tables 9.3 and 14.4). Figures for such debt measured in standard (ie. constant) prices are not published, and there is no unique, correct method of calculating them. But Economic Trends includes a number of price indices which could be combined with the current price data to provide estimates.