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Scientific Research

Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he proposes any changes in the arrangements for funding scientific research projects.

Mr. MacGregor : The Department has today issued a consultative paper proposing changes in the method of supporting research council-funded projects in universities and other higher education institutions. Copies are being placed in the Library.

Under the current system of dual support, research sponsored by research councils in universities and other higher education institutions is funded partly from grants from the councils and partly by the institutions from their block funding. In recent years, the boundary within this system determining who pays for what has become blurred. As the ABRC has pointed out, the resulting confusion can have harmful effects--giving rise to unproductive arguments about funding responsibility, to some projects being inadequately resourced and so inefficient, and to an inadequate appreciation of the real costs of projects and ill-informed decisions on the deployment of resources.

The consultative paper proposes a new, clearer definition of the boundary. We propose that from the academic year 1991-92, universities and other institutions would continue to pay the salaries of academic staff contributing to research council projects and to provide premises free of charge. All other costs of these projects would be met by the research councils through their grants. The change in responsibility would be reflected in the amount of grant which the research councils and the institutions receive from central Government.


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There would be a small decrease in the block funding provided to the institutions through the Universities Funding Council and, to a much smaller extent, the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council, and a small matching increase in funding of the research councils from the science budget. The Department will discuss with other Education Departments the potential implications for those higher education institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which are not funded by the Universities Funding Council or the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council.

Special Educational Needs

Mr. Gill : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will be producing new guidance for local education authorities on staffing for pupils with special educational needs.

Mr. Alan Howarth : My Department is today issuing for consultation a draft circular containing guidance on staffing for pupils with special educational needs. The document covers both teaching and non-teaching staff in special schools and in ordinary schools. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Civil Service Widows' Pensions

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to extend payment of Civil Service widows' pensions to the widows of post-retirement marriages with civil servants who retired before April 1978 ;

(2) what would be the cost of extending payment of Civil Service widows' pensions to the widows of post-retirement marriages with civil servants who retired before April 1978.

Mr. Ryder : I am afraid that I can hold out no hope of amendment of the Civil Service pension scheme to provide for the payment of pensions to the widows of post-retirement marriages whose husbands retired before 6 April 1978. It is rarely, if ever, possible to make retrospective improvements in pension arrangements and an exception in this particular case could not be justified. The data necessary for a reliable assessment to be made of the cost of an extension in widow's pension cover are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate expenditure of time and resources.

Value Added Tax

Mr. Canavan : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much value added tax was paid per annum by an average family in 1978-79 ; and what is the most recent estimate.

Mr. Ryder : A family consisting of a married man on average male earnings, his wife and two children would have paid approximately £130 in VAT in 1978-79 (some 2.7 per cent. of earnings) and will pay about £730 in 1989-90 (roughly 5 per cent. of earnings).


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Privatisation Advisers

Mr. Morley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials are employed at the Treasury to advise him on estimates of privatisation proceeds.

Mr. Ryder : The Treasury's public enterprises group, responsible for privatisation and nationalised industry policy, employs 29 people. However, estimates of proceeds from individual sales are the responsibility of the Departments concerned.

Commercial Accounting and Auditing

Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why normal commercial accountancy and auditing methods do not apply to the public sector.

Mr. Ryder : Normal commercial accountancy and auditing methods are employed or are being developed in the public sector where it is considered appropriate to use them, for example where Government Departments are engaged in commercial or quasi-commercial activities.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to ensure that the proposed European Community development bank for eastern Europe will provide technical advice on the creation of free markets as well as providing financial aid.

Mr. Ryder : The details of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are yet to be decided. In general, the Government support the encouragement of free enterprise in eastern Europe and will be pressing for the bank to be set up so as best to promote that aim.

Flora and Fauna

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many seizures of endangered species of flora and fauna have been made at ports of entry by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in each of the past three years ;

(2) how many seizures of endangered species of flora and fauna have been made at United Kingdom ports of entry by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in each of the last three years.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 8 January 1980] : The details sought are given in the following table. The figures show the number of live creatures, plants and articles derived from endangered species seized by Customs because their importation or exportation contravened the restrictions imposed by the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976 or Council Regulation No. 3626/82.


Year to 31     |Live creatures|Plants        |Articles                     

    March                                                                  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987           |1,604         |-             |6,304                        

1988           |2,284         |500           |3,000                        

1989           |1,915         |7,900         |9,000                        

NORTHERN IRELAND

Electricity Service

Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list (i) the statutory requirements governing the publication of reports of the Northern Ireland electricity service, (ii) the dates on which such reports have been published in each year since nationalisation, either for existing or predecessor corporations, and (iii) indicate, if appropriate, when the report for 1988-89 will be published.

Mr. Needham : The information is as follows :

1. Article 12 of the Electricity Supply (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.

2. Since the establishment of the Northern Ireland Electricity Service by the above Order in 1973 the Annual Reports have been published as follows :


Report for          |Published on                       

--------------------------------------------------------

Year ended 31 March                                     

  1974              |21 March 1975                      

  1975              |10 December 1975                   

  1976              |15 November 1976                   

  1977              |25 October 1977                    

  1978              | 7 September 1978                  

  1979              | 2 October 1979                    

  1980              |28 August 1980                     

  1981              |29 September 1981                  

  1982              |   August 1982<1>                  

  1983              | 8 July 1983                       

  1984              |23 July 1984                       

  1985              |22 July 1985                       

  1986              |22 July 1986                       

  1987              | 6 July 1987                       

  1988              | 5 July 1988                       

<1>Exact date not known.                                

3. The annual report for 1988-89 was published on 11 July 1989.

Traffic Flows

Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many vehicles use Linenhall street, Limavady each day ; and what is the maximum and minimum hourly flow of traffic ; (2) whether he has any estimate into the hourly vehicle capacity of Linenhall street, Limavady.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : It is estimated that 11,200 vehicles use Linenhall street, Limavady, over a 16-hour daily period with maximum and minimum hourly flows of 1,078 and 692 vehicles respectively. The street has an estimated hourly capacity of 1,500 vehicles.

Arts and Design

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what expenditure was made by his Department on (a) the arts and (b) design in the last financial year.

Dr. Mawhinney [holding answer 21 December 1989] : In 1988-89 the Department of Education (NI) made direct grants of some £4.8 million to the Arts Council (NI) and other bodies in the arts field. Expenditure in support of the arts and of design, or design education, is not separately identifiable within the resources allocated to schools, colleges and universities.


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Remand Prisoners

Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prisoners were on remand in the prisons of Northern Ireland on 30 November 1989 ; what was the longest term of remand ; and what were the comparable figures for the last three years.

Mr. Cope [holding answer 21 December 1989] : On 26 October 1989, the lastest date for which figures are available, there were 343 prisoners in remand custody in prisons in Northern Ireland. At that date the longest time spent in remand custody by an individual prisoner was 131 days.

Comparable figures for remand prisoners for the same day in 1986, 1987 and 1988 are 292, 313, 272 respectively. The details of longest time served for those years is not readily available and could not be produced except at disproportionate cost.

Short Bros

Mr. Jim Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if any Department for which he has responsibility retains any financial responsibility or liability for the formerly publicly owned companies of Short Bros.

Mr. Needham [holding answer 21 December 1989] : The Department of Economic Development wholly owns four aircraft financing companies which were formerly subsidiaries of Short Brothers plc and is responsible for meeting their liabilities.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Chemical Weapons

91. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made through the chemical weapons convention in achieving a comprehensive and verifiable global ban on the production and use of chemical weapons.

92. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in regard to the international negotiations concerning chemical weapons.

Mr. Waldegrave : Useful progress has been made in Geneva on a number of the complex issues involved in the negotiations on a chemical weapons convention, but much work remains to be done particularly in the crucial area of verification.

High Commissioner, Kuala Lumpur

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of telegram 597, dated 16 December 1985, from the British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ; and if he will make a statement concerning the contents of the telegram.

Mr. Maude : No. The matter covered by the document in question is currently sub-judice.


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Attorney-General, Hong Kong

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will order an independent inquiry into the performance since 1 January 1988 of the chambers of the Attorney-General of Hong Kong.

Mr. Maude : No.

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the performance since 1 January 1988 of the chambers of the Attorney-General of Hong Kong ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude : I am satisfied with the performance of the Hong Kong Attorney-General's chambers since 1 January 1988.

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what positions have been held in the chambers of the Attorney-General of Hong Kong by Mr. Warwick Reid ; since when and on what grounds Mr. Reid has been suspended ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude : Mr. Reid has held the positions of Crown counsel, senior Crown counsel, deputy principal Crown counsel, and principal Crown counsel. Except for a period of 10 months in the post of assistant to the Attorney- General, his career has been spent in the prosecutions division where, until recently, he held the post of deputy Crown prosecutor. Mr. Reid was suspended from duty on 30 October 1989 following his arrest by officers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption for suspected offences contrary to the prevention of bribery ordinance.

Vietnam

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Vietnamese authorities concerning the continued imprisonment of (a) Nguyen Nan Tuoi and (b) Nguyen Huu Guong ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what representations he has made to the Vietnamese authorities concerning the continued imprisonment of (a) Father Dominic Tran Ninh Thu ; (b) Father Joseph Nguyen Cong Doan and (c) Pastor Ho Hieu Ha ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : We have raised the question of political prisoners with the Vietnamese authorities both with our partners in the European Community and bilaterally. The most recent EC demarche, concerning a number of detainees imprisoned for their political or religious beliefs, was made to the Vietnamese Government on 29 December. The Twelve have also raised at the United Nations continuing reports of abuses of human rights in Vietnam, and have called on Vietnam to release, without delay, those prisoners detained without a fair trial. We shall continue to seek appropriate opportunities to raise specific cases of human rights abuses, including those mentioned by the hon. Member.

Warsaw Pact

Mr. Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials specifically designated to deal with trade relations there were at each


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embassy or consulate in each Warsaw pact country in April 1989 ; and how many he expects to be in post in April 1990.

Mr. Maude : As of April 1989 there were 46 staff specifically dealing with commercial and economic affairs in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe countries which are members of the Warsaw pact, in addition to the ambassadors and their deputies in each post who of course have commercial roles. The distribution was as follows :


               |Number       

-----------------------------

USSR           |13           

Poland         |7            

Hungary        |6            

Czechoslovakia |6            

GDR            |5            

Bulgaria       |4            

Romania        |5            

There are no plans at present to increase commercial staff in these countries. The situation in each is however kept under review, in consultation with the British Overseas Trade Board and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Economic Aid

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the level of direct economic aid which Her Majesty's Government has provided (a) bilaterally and (b) through the European Community to (i) Poland, (ii) Hungary, (iii) Bulgaria, (iv) Czechoslovakia and (v) East Germany since the beginning of 1989 ; and whether any such assistance will be used to construct free markets.

Mr. Waldegrave : We have so far committed funds only for Poland and Hungary. Details are as follows. A great deal of our total aid is being used to encourage the development of market economies. We do not yet have programmes for the other countries of eastern Europe but stand ready to respond to their needs at the time they put into place the necessary economic and political reforms.

United Kingdom Assistance for Poland

Bilateral

Know-How Fund (50 million over 5 years)

Agricultural project (£15 million)

Short-term ECGD cover

Investment insurance through ECGD (war and expropriations risk only)

EC

Free food supplies (UK share : £4-5 million)

EC budget allocation (UK share : £9-14 million, depending on size of abatements)

Trade measures (QRs and GSP)

European Investment Bank (EIB) lending (1 billion ecu over a number of years for both Poland and Hungary)

Other international

Stabilization Fund (UK contribution : $100 million)

Prospective

Debt rescheduling in Paris Club ($4 billion in 1990, of which UK would account for about 18 per cent.)

IMF drawing (about $700 million over 18 months)

World Bank/IFC loans (up to $1 billion over a number of years) United Kingdom Assistance for Hungary

Bilateral


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Know-How Fund (£25 million over 5 years)

EC

EC budget allocation (UK share : £9-14 million, depending on size of abatements)

Trade measures (QRs and GSP)

European Investment Bank (EIB) lending (1 billion ecu over a number of years for both Poland and Hungary)

Other international

IMF drawings under last SBA (July 1988-June 1989) :

(Total loan 265 million SDRs ($350 million) of which 215.35 SDRs (about $275 million) were drawn)

World Bank : loans outstanding : $1,165 million (30 June 1989) IFC : commitments : $36 million

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans Her Majesty's Government have to provide economic assistance to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are assisting Poland and Hungary through the know-how funds and other bilateral aid efforts, as well as our contribution to EC programmes. We, together with other OECD countries, have declared our willingness to respond positively to other countries in eastern Europe at the time they put into place necessary political and economic reforms.

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make it his policy to ensure that bilateral and European Community assistance to the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe emphasises the mechanisms needed to create free markets in those countries.

Mr. Waldegrave : The know-how funds for Poland and Hungary set up by the Government aim to provide the skills needed to run free market economies and democratic societies. A great deal of EC project aid for these countries will be directed at vocational and management training.

Foreign Visits

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is the practice for his office to be informed of visits to foreign countries by close relatives of Ministers.

Mr. Sainsbury : No.

Panama

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations took place with EEC Governments before British endorsement of the United States invasion of Panama was given.

Mr. Sainsbury : Consultations with EC Governments began on 20 December as soon as we had information about the US action. A statement by the Twelve was issued on 22 December.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further information he has about injuries suffered by British subjects and damage of British-owned property in Panama as a result of the invasion by the United States of America ; and what efforts he has made to establish the level of death and injuries among Panamanian civilians.


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Mr. Sainsbury : So far as we have been able to establish, the only British national to suffer injury was a Reuters journalist who received medical treatment for a bullet wound in the thigh. I understand that he is now fully recovered. The British embassy residence suffered some damage to windows and walls which has now been repaired. There have been varying estimates of deaths and injuries among Panamanian civilians, which are hard to verify. The Panamanian authorities have not yet issued any official figures.

Council of Ministers

Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement of forthcoming business in the European Community Council of Ministers.

Mr. Maude : The following ministerial meeting is scheduled : 22-23 January--Agriculture Council.

The following subjects are likely to be discussed :

(possibly) Presentation of 1990 agricultural price proposals. (possibly) Bovine Semen (9729/89).

(possibly) Compound feedingstuffs (6904/88).

The Agriculture Council will meet on 22 and 23 January 1990. It may discuss health requirements applicable to bovine semen, and the marketing of compound feedingstuffs. The Commission is also expected to introduce its 1990 price fixing proposals.


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