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Mr. Portillo : InterCity services are a commercial matter for British Rail. Any new investment would need to earn a proper return. British Rail introduced improved services on the midland main line, with faster and more frequent trains, on 2 October.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many minutes elapsed between the first reporting of an incident involving a child or children in difficulties in the sea at Ilfracombe on 16 August before the coastguard (a) was dispatched to the scene and (b) arrived at the scene.
Mr. McLoughlin : The first notification to Swansea MRCC of an incident at Ilfracombe on 16 August was by 999 telephone call at 1620 local time. The auxiliary coastguard at Ilfracombe was tasked at 1624, and arrived on scene at 1641. This first notification, from two sources, was of a person "on the rocks, cut off by tide". Swansea MRCC was subsequently advised at 1635 that a person was in the water, the helicopter was tasked, and was on scene within 10 minutes.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement explaining the reasons for any delay on the part of the coastguard in responding to the incident at Ilfracombe on 16 August in which Mark Woodward was drowned.
Mr. McLoughlin : There is a continuing programme of discussions between Her Majesty's coastguard and BTI in South Wales, on the 999 emergency service. Any problems encountered are the subject of an immediate reporting procedure, with follow-up discussion at subsequent meetings between BTI and senior members of the coastguard staff from Swansea coastguard region.
Mr. Atkins : At present the Department has two permanent traffic counters west of Hexham on the A69 trunk road. One of these is east of Haltwhistle where regular counting takes place. The other is close to Greenhead village, and operates on alternate months.
A further two sites are proposed, one is to be located close to the Cumbria border, the other to the east of Haydon Bridge. The intention is to monitor and count these sites every alternate month. The length of the A69 west of Hexham to the Cumbria border is approximately 20 miles and the Department considers that with all these counters in operation sufficient information will be available to keep a close check on the use of this section of the trunk road.
Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many areas of special scientific interest have been declared under the terms of article 24 of the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.
Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland intends to declare the freshwater lagoon within the Belfast harbour estate known as BP1 (or D1) an area of special scientific interest.
Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland issued the written consent for the infilling of the two lagoons known as BP1 and BP2.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Written consent under article 25 of the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 to the infilling of the two lagoons known as BP2 and BP3 (not BP1 and BP2) was issued by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland on 16 March 1988. It was a condition of the consent that such infilling should not commence before 1 March 1993.
Mr. Peter Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland received an application to infill the two lagoons in the Belfast harbour estate known as BP2 and BP3.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many (a) soldiers of the regular Army, (b) members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and (c) members of the Ulster Defence Regiment were deployed to provide security for the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October ; (2) how many man hours were required in respect of (a) the regular Army, (b) the Ulster Defence Regiment and (c) the Royal Ulster Constabulary to provide security for the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October ;
(3) if he will publish a table in the Official Report to show the roads closed off by the security forces in the provision of security cover for the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October, showing the periods for which each such road was closed off.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how may people live in the area covered by the security measures taken during the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October.
Column 138movement of people in the Eglinton area due to the security measures taken during the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October.
Mr. Cope [holding answer 30 October 1989] : There were no restrictions on the movement of people in the Eglinton area ; however, some traffic disruption may have been experienced in the area as a result of the security operation which was mounted.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total cost of the security measures taken on 19 October to cover the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport, broken down as far as is possible, into costs for (a) the regular Army, (b) the Ulster Defence Regiment and (c) the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what was the total cost to (a) the Government of the United Kingdom and (b) the Londonderry council in relation to the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October ; (2) whether any council employees were given advance notice of the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport on 19 October ; (3) whether councillors known to be members of Sinn Fein were given advance notice of the visit of Mr. Charles Haughey to Eglinton airport.
Mr. Cope [holding answer 30 October 1989] : The arrangements for the event were made by the company which funded and organised it. Therefore, apart from the cost of the security operation, no other public moneys were involved.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary on the questioning and holding of Gerard Conlon in Belfast on Tuesday 24 October.
Mr. Luce : I have today presented the 35th report of the reviewing committee on the export of works of art for 1988-89. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House. I am particularly pleased such a prompt publication date has been achieved and I draw the attention of the House to the concise treatment given in the report to the role of the reviewing committee in the issue of export licences.
The Prime Minister : The Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc (Scotland) Act 1987 was amended by the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to provide this additional power for the enforcement of community charge debts. The Community Charges (Deductions from Income Support) (Scotland) Reglations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 507) made under this power enable the social security adjudicating authorities to authorise deductions to be made from income support in Scotland to pay community charge debts. Deductions can only be made at the request of a charging authority which must first obtain a warrant from a court to prove the debt. Parallel regulations will apply in England and Wales from April 1990.
The Prime Minister : None. The public generally and British Telecom's 1.2 million private shareholders have benefited substantially from the 60 per cent. increase in investment, the 2,000 digital exchanges which have been installed and the increase in profitability and efficiency since British Telecom was privatised.
Q85. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if she will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the use of the general agreement on tariffs and trade as an arbitration in resolving disputes between the EEC and other trading groups.
Column 140agreement on tariffs and trade provides the best route for the resolution of trade disputes. We have pressed for improvements to its dispute settlement procedures in the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations and an initial package of such measures is now in force following the December 1988 ministerial meeting in Montreal. We take all appropriate opportunities for reminding our Community partners of the importance we attach to GATT dispute settlement procedures, and the need to improve them still further.
Q93. Mr. Jessel : To ask the Prime Minister what representations she has received requesting that responsibility for the Metropolitan police be removed from the Home Secretary and placed in the hands of an elected authority.
The Prime Minister : In September 1989 the number of unemployed claimants, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom was 1,695,000. Unemployment has been falling for 38 consecutive months. It is now at its lowest level for nearly nine years, and well below the European Community average.
Q100. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Prime Minister what estimates she has made about the likely consequences for British industry and commerce of a rise or fall in the level of corporate taxation.
The Prime Minister : A change of one percentage point in the full rate of corporation tax from 1 April 1989 is estimated to have a full-year effect on tax payments of £580 million. An equivalent change in the small companies' rate is estimated to have a full-year effect of £50 million.
Column 141Friend the Secretary of State for Health has received some 12,000 representations making suggestions or seeking further information about our proposals.
Q116. Sir Michael Shaw : To ask the Prime Minister what representations she has received in the past year seeking to abolish the assisted places scheme and withdraw charitable status from independent schools.
The Prime Minister : I have received no recent representations on these matters. This year the assisted places scheme will make available up to 33,000 places at 278 independent schools throughout England. The scheme continues to provide an important means by which parents who would not otherwise be able to afford to do so can receive financial help towards sending their children to independent schools.
The Prime Minister : I have received very few requests to impose import controls. It is the Government's policy to promote free and fair trade and it is not generally to the United Kingdom's advantage to impose import restrictions.
The Prime Minister : During the period since 1979 the Government promoted the Phoenix joint ventures involving private sector steel companies and the then nationalised British Steel Corporation and also a private sector steel scheme. These initiatives have now ceased, but they reduced product overlap between the private and public sectors and contributed towards rationalisation within the industry as a whole. British Steel itself was then returned to the private sector in December 1988 and recently announced record profits of £593 million compared with substantial losses while nationalised. Productivity in the United Kingdom steel industry rose by 151 per cent. between 1979 and 1988.
Further mergers and acquisitions have taken place within the industry as it adjusts and responds to the challenge of a competitive market.
The Prime Minister : The Home Secretary and I receive many representations from Members of Parliament and others about the operation of immigration and nationality legislation, including the primary purpose rule. The Government have no plans to remove the primary purpose test which is an important safeguard against abuse of the immigration rules.
The Prime Minister : I receive an enormous number of letters each week from Members of Parliament and others. It is not possible for me to deal with all these letters personally and I must accordingly refer most of them to the Minister and the Department with the responsibility for the policy in question. All correspondence is dealt with as quickly as possible.
The Prime Minister : Following the successful introduction of these arrangements in Scotland, I understand that most local authorities in England and Wales are making excellent progress in preparing for the new community charge and uniform business rating arrangements. Registration for the charge is proceeding smoothly and on time. I have every confidence that all authorities will wish to ensure that bills, with any necessary adjustment for transitional relief and rebates, will be issued to chargepayers on time next April.
The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an Audience of Her Majesty the Queen.
Column 143United Kingdom farmers for losses resulting from radioactive fallout contaminating land and animals after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who were the United Kingdom's representatives at the recent Paris conference on the future of the Antarctic ; what papers were presented by the delegation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The United Kingdom delegation at Paris consisted of Dr. J. A. Heap, Foreign and Commonwealth Office ; Mr. N. Bonner, one time deputy director and head of life sciences division of the British Antarctic Survey ; Mr. R. Cummins, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. P. Hancock, Hydrographic Department, Ministry of Defence, and Mr. I. Hendry, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Of about 89 working papers submitted to the meeting, the United Kingdom delegation was sole or joint author of 26. The papers dealt with aspects of environmental protection, encouragement of scientific research and operational safety in the Antarctic.
Mr. Molyneaux : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those Commonwealth Governments which have not yet acceded to or ratified international covenants on human rights.
Mr. Sainsbury : Thirty Commonwealth countries have not yet acceded to or ratified the international covenant on civil and political rights or the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights : Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Kiribati, Lesotho,
Column 144Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Swaziland, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and Zimbabwe.
The Solomon Islands and Uganda have ratified the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights but not the international covenant on civil and political rights.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance has been provided by Her Majesty's Government to Cambodian resistance groups ; and if he will make a statement.