Mr. Burt : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what basis his Department considers requests by prisoners to serve the remainder of their sentences in another United Kingdom jurisdiction.
Mr. Hurd : My Department, in conjunction with the Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices, has recently reviewed the policy governing requests by prisoners to be transferred to another jurisdiction in the United Kingdom. Any inmate in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland who applies to be transferred to either of the other jurisdictions to serve the rest of his or her sentence will normally be transferred, provided that (1) the inmate would have at least six months left to serve in the receiving jurisdiction before his or her date of release ; (2) the inmate was ordinarily resident in the receiving jurisdiction prior to the current sentence ; or his or her close family currently reside there and there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is the inmate's firm intention to take up residence there on release ; and (3) both Departments concerned are reasonably satisfied that the inmate will not, if transferred, disrupt or attempt to disrupt any prison establishment, or otherwise pose an unacceptable risk to security.
Even if these conditions are met, however, transfer may be refused if it is considered that the inmate's crimes were so serious as to render him or her undeserving of any degree of public sympathy or to make it inappropriate that the inmate should benefit from a substantial reduction in time left to serve, if that would be a consequence of transfer. Similarly, transfers may be refused if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the inmate's primary intention in making the application is to secure a reduction in the time left to serve. On the other hand, an application that does not meet these conditions may nevertheless be granted where there are strong compassionate or other compelling grounds for transfer.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the new immigration rule which prevents visitors switching to student status whilst in the United Kingdom will be applied to visa nationals only ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : Yes. The generous provisions in the current rules have been abused by some who are not students but whose aim is to take work or to remain here permanently. Many of these enter as visitors and subsequently switch to student status, but have no intention whatsoever of pursuing genuine study here. The "no-switching" provision is designed to prevent this abuse and has been confined to visa nationals because the available evidence suggests that passengers from visa countries are the major source of the abuse. Hence, while in recent years visa nationals have made up only about 20 per cent. of those admitted to the country as students, they have constituted 60 per cent. of grants of extensions of stay as a student to those originally admitted as visitors. Further, two exercises conducted by the immigration service and the police against suspect educational establishments revealed that, of some 6,000 alleged students on the books of these establishments, 95 per cent. were visa nationals and 95 per cent. of these had been orginally admitted as ordinary or business visitors. The educational facilities offered were adequate for only a fraction of the number on the books. The change is therefore necessary to ensure the effective operation of the visa system. It would be wasteful of resources and unnecessary to extend it to non-visa nationals ; in particular such an extension would require the needless issue of over 100,000 additional entry clearances worldwide each year. Visa nationals will still be able to come to the United Kingdom for study, even if they have been unable to finalise all the arrangements beforehand, provided that they make their intentions clear and obtain the necessary visa in advance. Genuine visitors will not be affected in any way.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the number of claimants who made application, were awarded and accepted (a) social fund loans, (b) community care grants at each of the social security offices in South Down for the financial year 1988-89.
Budgeting loans Crisis loans Community care grants Social Security Office |Number of applications|Number of awards |Number of applications|Number of awards |Number of applications|Number of awards ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Downpatrick |1,155 |678 |433 |375 |446 |238 Newcastle |465 |309 |169 |143 |202 |134 Kilkeel |164 |146 |33 |32 |165 |133 Ballynahinch |204 |141 |84 |73 |168 |109 Newry |2,011 |1,496 |392 |352 |956 |548 Banbridge |744 |493 |210 |158 |420 |289
Armagh city estate |Number of executive owned|Number of units |Number of units |units |unoccupied |vandalised/boarded up -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Emania Terrace |12 |- |- Banbrook/Brookhill/Railway Street |122 |- |- Callanbridge Park |140 |8 |3 Callan Street/Crescent |40 |4 |3 Cregagh/Mullanstown Primates Cottages 59 - - Culdee/Upper Irish Street |102 |- |- Daires Willows |19 |- |- Dalton |66 |- |- Drumarg |126 |1 |- Drumbreda |112 |- |- Duke's Grove |39 |3 |- Legarhill Park |56 |- |- Longstone |94 |- |- Mullacreevie |187 |- |- Navan Street/Terrace/Niall's Crescent |60 |- |- Windmill |42 |- |- Alexander |60 |- |- Ardmore Drive |75 |- |- Ballinahone |62 |- |- Barrack Street/Gaul Square/Woodford Place |27 |- |- Bridge House |17 |- |- Folly |154 |7 |- Gough Avenue/Barrack Hill |87 |- |- Lisanally Gardens/Villas |54 |- |- Lonsdale Gardens |14 |- |- Newry Road |4 |- |- Orangefield Drumadd |156 |- |- Victoria Park |13 |- |- |--- |--- |--- Total |2,014 |23 |6
The balance of applications in each category were refused, withdrawn by the applicant or were still to be decided at the end of March 1989.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pensioners at each of the social security offices in South Down no longer qualify for housing benefit as a result of the recent pension increase.
Mr. Needham : Total social fund expenditure in the period 11 April 1988 to 31 March 1989 was £18,485,998. It was not practicable to pursue recovery of funeral payments of £934,665 and loans of £1,952. These figures are provisional.
Column 268Brent, East, on what date the three claims were settled ; and when he expects the eight other claims to be processed by.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 22 June 1989] : One claim was settled on 15 April 1988, the other two on 5 April 1989. It is not possible to give any indication of when the eight other claims will be processed.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many units of accommodation there are in each Housing Executive estate within Armagh city ; how many units are currently unoccupied at each estate ; how many units of each estate are presently vandalised or boarded up ; and how many new units of accommodation does the executive propose to construct in Armagh city in each of the next five years.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 15 June 1989] : This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. I am advised by the chairman that at 1 May 1989 the number of units of accommodation, the number of units unoccupied and the number of units vandalised or boarded up in each estate in Armagh city are as follows :
Column 267The number of units of accommodation planned in Armagh City in each of the next five years are as follows :
Year |Number of units ------------------------------------------------ 1989-90 |21 1990-91 |<1>16 1991-92 |<2>- 1992-93 |<2>- 1993-94 |<2>- <1> Joint scheme with SHSSB. Includes six dwellings to be allocated for mentally handicapped. <2> No schemes as yet programmed.
Mr. Lilley : Q2 figures will be published in the August Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin. Net transactions, including redemptions, for March and April are published in table F of the Bank of England's monthly monetary statistics.
Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the operation of the value added tax cash accounting scheme ; and whether he has any plans (a) to adjust the turnover level of £250,000 to take into account changes to the retail prices index and (b) to review the level of the threshold.
Mr. Lilley : The cash accounting scheme was introduced on 1 October 1987 and is available to businesses with an annual taxable turnover not exceeding £250,000. It is used by about 60,000 businesses. Customs and Excise have recently consulted representative bodies and small businesses to consider all aspects of the scheme with the aim of improving take-up. The views of those who responded are currently being considered and the outcome of the consultation will be announced in due course. The existing turnover limit is significantly higher than that originally proposed and required the formal agreement of the European Commission. Any further increase would also have to be approved by the Commission.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the individual amounts of debt repayments written off in each of the privatisations and sale of Government assets since 1979 and the aggregate of these write-offs.
Mr. Norman Lamont : The normal practice on privatisation of a nationalised industry or company wholly or majority owned by Government is to repay, rather than write off, debt. This repayment may be financed from the company's existing resources, the injection of new equity or new debt finance. In some cases the Government have provided the finance to repay debts, for example, by an equity injection.
National loans fund debt has been written off only in the cases listed in the table, totalling £3,014,662,728. These write-offs had no direct effect on public expenditure since they represented a reconstruction of the balance sheets of the industries concerned. In each case, having had NLF debt written off, the successor company issued new equity or debt securities to be held by the Secretary of State as assets on the consolidated fund pending realisation.
Year and Company |Amount £ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1980-81 National Freight Corporation (under Section 45 of the Transport Act 1980) |100,000,000 1982-83 British Transport Docks Board (under Section 6(1) of the Transport Act 1981) |81,293,616 1984-85 British Telecom (BT Extinguishment of Loans Order 1982) |2,789,865,772 1986-87 BAA (under section 3 of the Airports Act 1986) |43,503,340
Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received a letter dated 16 May from the chairman of the West Midlands passenger transport authority seeking a meeting between him and a delegation of members of the authority to discuss the electrification of the Birmingham cross-city railway line ; and if he will meet such a delegation in the near future.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the annual cost of the major research programme designed specifically to help identify further ways of reducing pedestrian casualties to which he refers in his pedestrian safety proposals published in April.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The cost of the research programme referred to in the Department's leaflet on pedestrian safety is roughly £1.6 million in the current year. It is likely to increase next year. Over 40 per cent. of the current figure is being spent on research aimed primarily at pedestrian safety. The remainder will benefit pedestrians along with other road users.
Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish in the Official Report the terms of reference and time scale to which private interests will need to work in order to bring about the construction of British Rail's proposed fast rail link from the Kent coast to London.
Mr. Richard Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list those private companies who have approached his Department in connection with alternative methods of finance for the Birmingham north orbital route ; and the date of their first approach.
Column 271Cumnock and Doon Valley relating to MV Majestic, what futher details he has of the nature of the underwater obstruction referred to.
Mr. Richard Shepherd : To ask the Lord President of the Council if, further to his reply of 16 March, Official Report, column 311, he will list the further occasions on which the Government have introduced the guillotine this Session.
Allocation of time order Bill ------------------------------------------------------------- Self-Governing Schools Etc. (Scotland) |3 May 1989 Dock Work |8 May 1989
Mr. Peter Walker : The number of medical physicists--whole-time equivalents--employed by health authorities in Wales over the past four years is given in the table. The management side of the Scientific and Professional Staffs Council is currently investigating the recruitment and retention of scientists, including medical physicists, within the NHS generally.
In Wales, medical physicists have been included in staff groups designated for detailed scrutiny as part of the 1989 manpower resource planning exercise being undertaken by all district health authorities under the auspices of the manpower steering group, established by my Department, with the intention of examining manpower requirements over the next 10 years. Those plans will also examine wastage and recruitment rates for the purpose of identifying potential staffing difficulties and to enable action to be taken at the local or all-Wales level to forestall problems. Work is also in hand by the manpower steering group on a study of medical physics and bio-engineering in the NHS in Wales, which will address the question of staff retention, particularly in the area of equipment management.
Health Authority WTE as at 30 September |1985|1986|1987|1988 ------------------------------------------ Clwyd |5.0 |4.0 |4.0 |3.0 East Dyfed<1> |- |- |- |- Gwent<1> |- |- |- |- Gwynedd |2.0 |2.0 |4.0 |3.0 Mid Glamorgan<1> |- |- |- |- Pembs<1> |- |- |- |- Powys<1> |- |- |- |- South Glamorgan |37.0|37.0|34.0|32.0 West Glamorgan |11.0|10.8|12.8|15.7 |-- |-- |-- |-- Wales |55.0|53.8|54.8|53.7 <1>Medical physics services for these authorities are provided by the relevant departments in the four authorities which do employ medical physicists.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will list in the Official Report the outstanding capital projects and their estimated cost throughout Wales proposed by the Welsh water authority which plan to alleviate dry weather water shortages ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) if he will list in the Official Report, for each of the years since 1979 and giving their cost, all those capital projects of the Welsh water authority which have been initiated to guard against water shortages as a consequence of dry weather ;
(3) if he will list those areas in Wales where water supply levels give cause for concern ; and if he will make a statement ; (4) if he will make a statement concerning water shortages in Wales consequent upon the current heat wave and the Welsh water authority's banning of water hoses and sprinklers in all areas.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : In a survey conducted during the week commencing 21 April, 60 per cent. of those interviewed, when prompted, were aware of the advertisement. This put it in the top 10 TV advertisements most remembered by the public.
The advertisements ran from 1 to 14 April and were shown on all commercial TV stations in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that 76 per cent. of all adults had the opportunity to see them at least once and 33 per cent. at least four times. On average the target audience of all motorists responsible for purchasing petrol had four opportunities to see the advertisement.
The unleaded petrol share of the market has increased dramatically from 6.4 per cent. in March to 19.3 per cent. in May.
Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many jobs have been created within the Teesside urban development corporation zone since its inception ; how many jobs were created as a consequence of the direct intervention of the corporation ; and what has been the cost per job.
Mr. Trippier : Comprehensive figures on the total number of jobs created within the Teesside development corporation area since its inception are not readily available. The corporation estimates, however, that up to the end of March 1989, 1,459 permanent jobs had been created within the UDA, in projects assisted by the corporation, at a cost per job of £984. The Government also have two task forces and an action team contributing to the regeneration of inner cities on Teesside, and unemployment in the 15 wards within the Teesside DC zone has fallen by over one third in the two years since May 1987.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to reply to queries about the closure of All Souls burial ground raised by the parochial church council of All Souls Living Church council, Haley hill, Halifax, on 3 May 1988, 23 September 1988, 14 March 1989 and 16 May 1989 ; and why it is still waiting for a reply.
Mr. Terry Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated cost of the minority language versions of the community charge leaflet, "The Community Charge (The So-called Poll Tax) : How It Will Work For You."
Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress on the implementation of poll tax registration by local authorities, with reference to support facilities provided by his Department.
Mr. Gummer : Community charges registration officers (CCROs) have until 1 December 1989 to compile their registers. I believe that most CCROs are making good progress. To assist CCROs and authorities with implementation generally, the Department has issued 18 practice notes, and laid the regulations as soon as was practicable after the enactment of the primary legislation.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he intends to issue any further advice to community charge registration officers on the information which can be properly sought through community charge registration forms ;
(2) if he intends to issue a leaflet to every household in England and Wales informing potential poll tax payers of their precise rights and duties in completing registration forms ;
Column 274(3) if he will make a statement on action that should be taken by individuals who are asked by community charge registration officers to answer non-statutory questions on their community charge registration forms ;
(4) what steps he is taking to monitor the information being requested by community charge registration officers as a part of the registration process in England and Wales.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 19 June 1989] : The Department has given clear and explicit advice to local authorities and community charges registration officers on this matter, and, in conjunction with the local authority associations, issued a model registration form last autumn. It is for registration officers to ensure that their requests for information comply with their statutory powers and the Data Protection Act.
Registration officers may require only such information as is necessary for them to carry out their statutory functions, which are to compile and maintain the register. Advice on the information that needs to be sought from the public in order to compile the register was provided to registration officers in community charge practice note number 3. Advice on the requirements of the Data Protection Act is contained in community charge practice notes numbers 4 and 10 which deal specifically with the data protection aspects of registration, and the need to register as a data user. Practice note number 8 contains the model registration form, and advises registration officers to ensure that any requests for information additional to that needed for registration purposes should be clearly indicated, so that people would know that they did not have to supply it. Practice note number 16, on joint and several liability, specifically points out that joint and several liability is not a registration matter, and advises against including questions on relationships on registration forms.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has made to his counterpart Ministers in the EEC concerning the shooting and trapping of protected bird species during migration ; and if he will seek to persuade them to enforce in full the provisions of the appropriate European legislation.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 22 June 1987] : The EC directive 79/409 EEC on the conservation of wild birds requires all member states to protect migratory and other birds. The Government fully support the directive and its enforcement. It is the responsibility of the EC Commission to ensure that adequate measures are taken.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the effect on recovery by Barlow Clowes investors in the United Kingdom of last Friday's High Court ruling authorising the transfer of funds from the British-based to the Gibraltar-based operation.
Mr. Maude : The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is currently considering the role of my Department in this matter. In addition, there are a number of actions before the courts. It is too soon to say when all these matters will be resolved.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether there are any outstanding requests from the ombudsman to his Department in connection with the cases currently under investigation by him arising out of the Barlow Clowes collapse.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 14 March, Official Report, column 143, what appraisal he has made of the possible effects on the ecology of the Antarctic as a result of the passage of the Antarctic Minerals Bill.
Mr. Eggar : We believe that the Antarctic minerals convention provides protection of the Antarctic environment of a very high order. Its entry into force will protect the Antarctic environment against uncontrolled minerals exploitation. We are proceeding with the Antarctic Minerals Bill to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Convention.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 14 March, Official Report, column 143, what steps he is taking to negotiate specific treaty obligations to protect the Antarctic in the event of an oil spill or blowout.
There can be no oil exploration in Antarctica, and therefore no blowouts, until the Antarctic minerals convention comes into force and a liability protocol has been negotiated and has itself entered into force. The convention contains strict safeguards for the protection of the Antarctic environment, and requires that no minerals activity can take place until the capacity exists to respond effectively to accidents.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will detail the moves, in which the United Kingdom is participating being taken to oppose a return of the Khmer Rouge army in Cambodia.
Column 276under which Cambodians can freely elect a Government of their choice. We are actively involved in international efforts to achieve such a settlement, both multilaterally and in bilateral contacts with those most closely concerned.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the projected public expenditure savings arising from the introduction of a central DNA testing scheme for those seeking entry clearance to the United Kingdom ; and if he will identify the savings to his Department.
Mr. Eggar : We need practical experience of the numbers who will be processed under the scheme to judge what, if any, resource savings may be achievable. The scheme will be voluntary and take-up will vary from post to post. The position will be closely monitored.
Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many independent boarding schools are accepted by his Department as suitable to receive grant payment for the education of children employed by the foreign service ; how many children are currently in receipt of this financal assistance ; how often members of his Department visit the schools to satisfy themselves about the education and the welfare provided for young people ; and how often financial assistance has been withdrawn because a school has failed to meet the required criteria, (2) what criteria are used for judging the quality and academic achievements of independent boarding schools before agreeing to provide finance for members of the foreign service wishing to have their children educated at these schools.
Mr. Eggar : As I explained in my written answer of 16 June at column 562, diplomatic service staff may receive an allowance to send their children to any registered independent boarding school in the United Kingdom, provided it offers the full range of subjects normally offered by a state day school and in a form generally available in the state system. Within that broad range parents accept responsibility for choosing a school whose record of accomplishments appears to suit the requirements and capabilities of their children. All such schools will have been approved by the Department of Education and Science and will be inspected periodically by one of Her Majesty's inspectors. We have neither the expertise nor the resources to duplicate the work of that Department.
Allowances are currently paid in respect of 881 children attending a total of 355 schools. There has never been a case of allowances being withdrawn as a result of a school's performance.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when instructions were sent to the British embassy in Islamabad to issue a visa to Mr. Zahood Ahmed to enter the United Kingdom ; when Mr. Ahmed, whose date of birth is 22 July 1967 and whose Home Office reference is A412361, first applied for entry
Column 277clearance ; when Mr. Ahmed's appeal against refusal to grant him a visa was upheld ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar [pursuant to his reply, 12 June 1989 c. 310] : In accordance with the recent guidelines on the handling of representations by Members of Parliament in immigration cases, issued to Members on 14 December 1988, I have referred the question to the correspondence unit of migration and visa department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The hon. Member will receive a reply from the unit in due course.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Mr. Afzal Kahn, whose date of birth is 18 November 1969, and whose reference is IMM 92807, applied for entry clearance to the United Kingdom at Her Majesty's embassy in Islamabad ; when his application was refused ; and when an explanatory statement setting out the detailed grounds of refusal was despatched to Mr. Khan or his representation.
Mr. Eggar [pursuant to his reply, 12 June 1989, c. 310] : Mr. Khan applied for an entry clearance at the embassy in Islamabad on 18 November 1987. His application was refused on 25 September 1988 and the embassy received an appeal from him on 10 November 1988. I regret that due to pressure of work at the embassy the explanatory statement has not yet been despatched. It is, however, nearing completion and will be forwarded to the appellate authority very shortly.