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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 3 July 1990

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Romania

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to aid to Romania.

Mr. Waldegrave : It remains our policy that long-term economic aid, but not humanitarian aid, to Romania is conditional on a genuine commitment to democracy and economic freedom in Romania. The conditions for aid to be released have not yet been met.

Zimbabwe

Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to Zimbabwean authorities regarding the recent murder in Harare of Mr. Brian Angel, a United Kingdom citizen.

Mr. Sainsbury : We have expressed our concern about Mr. Angel's death to the Zimbabwe Government both in Zimbabwe and, most recently, in London on 22 June 1990 when the permament secretary of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We have called for a full investigation and understand that this is under way. We expect to be informed of the outcome.

South Africa

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the South African Government on their responsibility for Namibian debt.

Mr. Waldegrave : The pre-independence debt question is a matter for resolution between the Governments of Namibia and South Africa and discussions have already begun. Both Governments are aware of our hope that early solutions satisfactory to both sides will be found to this and other aspects of their future economic relations.

Soviet Union

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the content of the 28 April letter to him from the Soviet Foreign Minister ; what was his response ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : Mr. Shevardnadze's letter proposed a ban on all nuclear weapons from Baltic waters, airspace and the sea bed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs' reply made clear that, while we agreed on the importance of maintaining stability in northern Europe, we did not believe that a nuclear-free Baltic would contribute to the security of that region.


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Rights of the Child

Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has yet set a timetable for the verification of the UN convention on the rights of the child ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) on 9 May column 176 .

Namibia

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timetable he has been given by the South African Government for their withdrawal from and control of Walvis bay in Namibia in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 432.

Mr. Waldegrave : The future of Walvis bay is a matter for negotiation between the Governments of Namibia and South Africa. We hope that an early solution satisfactory to both sides can be found.

Angola

Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent talks in Portugal between the two sides in the Angolan civil war.

Mr. Waldegrave : We welcome the Portuguese initiative in bringing the MPLA Government of Angola and UNITA together for talks. We are encouraged by the signs that some progress has been made towards resolving differences. We urge the two sides to continue to work for an early ceasefire and a lasting political settlement.

Council of Ministers

Mr. Ian Bruce : 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 Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 16 and 17 July. Ministers will discuss how to carry forward work on institutional reform on the basis of the agenda approved by the Dublin European Council. Ministers will also have a short discussion of economic and monetary union and possibly of presidency plans for the social action plan. They will hold an orientation debate on development co-operation. Ministers will discuss assistance to central and eastern Europe against the background of political and economic reform, and will review Community relations with Romania. The Council will further discuss the Commission's proposals on developing the Community's relations with Yugoslavia. It may also again discuss proposals for strengthening EC relations with the Mediterranean countries in general. Discussion is also expected on EC aid to Chile and Colombia, Namibia's application for accession to the Lome convention and the Communities' position on the forthcoming Paris conference on least- developed countries. The Council will discuss the GATT Uruguay round and will look forward to the Trade Negotiation Committee in Geneva the following week. It is possible that Ministers will discuss EC/EFTA relations, and will


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consider whether or not to call a Youth Council later in the year. The Council will discuss preparations for a meeting of the EC/Malta Association Council which will take place in the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council. It is expected that the Maltese Foreign Minister will present Malta's application for EC membership. The Internal Market Council will meet on 17 July. We expect discussion of a number of measures relevant to the completion of the single market. The "utilities directive" liberalising public procurement in the water, energy, transport and telecommunications sectors is close to adoption, but may not be ready for adoption at the Council. The last IMC of the Irish presidency completed consideration of a number of outstanding items : hence the current agenda is thinner than usual.

The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 23 July. On 8 May 1990, the Commission published its technical proposals for VAT, mutual assistance and intra-trade statistics based on the agreements reached at ECOFIN at the end of 1989. The Council will have an initial discussion of these proposals. There will be a discussion of the state of preparations for the intergovernmental conference on economic and monetary union.

The Agriculture Council will meet on 23 and 24 July and may discuss the welfare of pigs and calves, reform of the dried grape regime, non-food uses of agricultural products, aromatised wines, organic production, pathogens in feedingstuffs and poultry and hatching eggs.

The Budget Council will meet on 26 or 27 July to consider the 1991 preliminary draft budget submitted by the Commission.

ENERGY

National Power

Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is able to make an announcement about the chairmanship of National Power.

Mr. Wakeham : I am delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Trevor Holdsworth as chairman of National Power. Sir Trevor retired as chairman of GKN plc in 1988 and was president of the CBI from 1988 to 1990. He is chairman of British Satellite Broadcasting and Allied Colloids Group plc and deputy chairman of Prudential Assurance plc.

Nuclear Electric

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what month he expects Nuclear Electric plc to publish its annual accounts.

Mr. Baldry : I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) on 2 July, Official Report , column 432.

Electricity Privatisation

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) whether he will review the appointment of Kleinwort Benson as his merchant banking advisers on the privatisation of the electricity supply industry of England and Wales ;


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(2) what action he proposes to take to extend the range of merchant banking advice he has available to him on the privatisation of the electricity industry of England and Wales.

Mr. Baldry : I am entirely satisfied with the role Kleinwort Benson is performing as merchant banking advisers on the privatisation of the electricity supply industry in England and Wales.

Sizewell B

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he expects to ask the chairman of Nuclear Electric to carry out a further review of the progress on the Sizewell B nuclear power station in 1991.

Mr. Baldry : Nuclear Electric will continue to review regularly progress at Sizewell B.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what assessment he has made of the need for new electricity generating capacity requiring to be completed in England and Wales in the 1990-1998 period (a) assuming the completion of Sizewell B nuclear power station and (b) assuming that it is not completed ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : The need for new capacity by 1998 is uncertain and will depend upon a number of factors including the future demand for electricity and commercial judgments on the economic life of existing plant. These are matters for the industry.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will exempt public electricity suppliers from paying the non-fossil fuel levy in respect of all the costs of Sizewell B nuclear power station incurred after his letter to the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark) of 26 June.

Mr. Baldry : No.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what estimates were made of the level of the non-fossil fuel levy in 1994, 1995 and 1996 in the event of the cancellation of Sizewell B nuclear power station.

Mr. Baldry : The effect on the fossil fuel levy of the cancellation of Sizewell B would depend on the closure dates and performance of Nuclear Electric's other stations.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what independent financial advice he took on the comparison between the economics of combined cycle gas turbine stations and the completion of Sizewell B described in his letter of 26 June to the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark).

Mr. Baldry : My Department undertook the analysis using the best available information.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what comparisons he has made of the costs and benefits of expenditure on (a) Sizewell B nuclear power station and (b) research and development on the UKAEA safe integral reactor and other advanced nuclear power station designs ;

(2) what assessment he has made of the impact on the environment of expenditure of £990 million on (a) Sizewell B nuclear power station and (b) energy efficiency and conservation.


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Mr. Baldry : The assessment of the case for continuing with the construction of Sizewell B concentrated on economic grounds, although it also took into account environmental and other considerations. We perceive a need for new generating capacity in the mid-1990s, taking into account the potential for greater energy efficiency. The case for completing Sizewell B must therefore be assessed against the economics of alternative forms of generation, available for immediate construction. It is not likely that an alternative design of nuclear plant could be brought into operation within the time scale required.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make it his policy to carry out a further review of the economics of the Sizewell B nuclear power station when it is (a) 50 per cent. complete and (b) 66 per cent. complete.

Mr. Baldry : We will continue to monitor closely the costs of Sizewell B through six-monthly progress reports which Nuclear Electric will continue to provide to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Any further economic analysis of Sizewell B will be carried out as necessary.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Brixton Prison

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) prison officers in Brixton prison and (b) prisoners committed suicide in Brixton prison last year.

Mr. Mellor : Three prison officers employed at Brixton prison committed suicide in 1989. Eight inmates died by their own hand in the same year. At the coroners' inquests verdicts of suicide were returned in two cases ; other verdicts were returned in the remaining cases.

Race Relations

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to make a decision about the application from Staffordshire county council for section 11 funding for bilingual assistant posts.

Mr. John Patten : The application was received on 28 March and is currently under consideration. A decision will be taken as soon as possible.

Political Asylum

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for (a) political asylum and (b) variation of leave to remain in the United Kingdom have been received in each quarter since 1 January 1988 ; how many have been (i) granted, (ii) refused and (iii) await decision ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 26 June 1990] : The available information is given in the tables.


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Table B: Decisions made during the period 1 January 1988 to 31                           

March 1990 on applications for refugee status, or for variation of                       

leave                                                                                    

                                      |Refugee         |Variation                        

cases                                 |of leave                                          

                                      |cases                                             

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

Grants                                |<1>12,475       |<2><3><4>420,545                 

Refusals                              |1,615           |<3><4>30,005                     

Cases outstanding as at 31 March 1990 |<5>16,272       |<5><6>27,968                     

<1> Grants of refugee status or of exceptional leave.                                    

<2> Grants of extensions or of settlement.                                               

<3> Includes both general and Eastern European immigration casework.                     

<4> Does not include decisions on referred entry clearance applications, or enquiries    

submitted by letter.                                                                     

<5> This figure is a total of all work outstanding in the Refugee Unit.                  

<6> Includes referred entry clearance applications as well as variation of leave cases.  

The figure comprises 26,359 general immigration cases and 1,609 Eastern Europe.          


Table B: Decisions made during the period 1 January 1988 to 31                           

March 1990 on applications for refugee status, or for variation of                       

leave                                                                                    

                                      |Refugee         |Variation                        

cases                                 |of leave                                          

                                      |cases                                             

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

Grants                                |<1>12,475       |<2><3><4>420,545                 

Refusals                              |1,615           |<3><4>30,005                     

Cases outstanding as at 31 March 1990 |<5>16,272       |<5><6>27,968                     

<1> Grants of refugee status or of exceptional leave.                                    

<2> Grants of extensions or of settlement.                                               

<3> Includes both general and Eastern European immigration casework.                     

<4> Does not include decisions on referred entry clearance applications, or enquiries    

submitted by letter.                                                                     

<5> This figure is a total of all work outstanding in the Refugee Unit.                  

<6> Includes referred entry clearance applications as well as variation of leave cases.  

The figure comprises 26,359 general immigration cases and 1,609 Eastern Europe.          

Multi-faith Education

Mr. Gerald Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money has been spent by the Commission for Racial Equality in the last five years in promoting multi-faith education.

Mr. John Patten [holding answer 19 June 1990] : The quantifiable cost of this work over the last five years is £12,850, being the net cost of three publications designed to convey factual information about different religions.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Higher Education

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the numbers due to enter higher education in October 1990.

Mr. Jackson : Our latest projection indicates that, at over 208,000 the number of home students entering full-time higher education this autumn will be more than 4 per cent. above last year's record level.


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Further Education, Isle of Wight

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will list the capital allocations for further education for the Isle of Wight for the last two years ; and if he will tabulate the projects to which the sums apply ;

(2) if he will list the allocations for the Isle of Wight college of art and technology for (a) a residential block, (b) a short-course teaching block, (c) minor works and (d) equipment.

Mr. Jackson : Annual capital guidelines to the Isle of Wight authority for the college of art and technology for 1990-91 were as follows :


                     |£              

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

a. Residential Block |200,000        

b. Teaching Block    |155,000        

c. Minor Works       |20,000         

d. Equipment         |22,000         

For 1988-89, a total of £40,000 was allocated for further education equipment. There were no capital allocations for further education in 1989- 90.

Alzheimer's Disease

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research is being undertaken at his instigation by the Medical Research Council to establish any possible connections between Alzheimer's disease and human spongiform encephalopathies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson : Under the terms of its royal charter, it is for the council itself to decide what research to undertake. The council is not currently undertaking research into a possible connection between Alzheimer's disease and human spongiform encephalopathies. Until now there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that there is any possible link between these two diseases which show separate and distinct neuropathologies. The council is always willing to consider soundly based proposals for research.

Correspondence

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report the text of the reply to the letter of 21 June from the head teacher at Beaufort Street county primary, junior mixed and infants school, Liverpool.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The following is the text of the Department's reply :

Dear Mrs. Redmond

Thank you for your letter of 21 June 1990 to the Secretary of State.

You have in your letter raised some very important issues. I understand that after nineteen years at Beaufort County Primary School you will be retiring with mixed feelings.

The Secretary of State wrote recently to all head teachers stressing his appreciation for the hard work teachers are undertaking in our schools. He has made clear on many other occasions that the teaching profession deserves gratitude, recognition and respect for its professionalism and the commitment shown to pupils. Ministers value that commitment very highly indeed.

I hardly need to tell you that teaching remains a very attractive career for many people. You may know that about


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25,000 people enter or re-enter the profession each year. Despite what we are sometimes led to believe, wastage is generally low. The latest data indicate that less than 1 of teachers leave for other paid employment.

The Government's proposals for local authority current spending in 1990/91 allow for almost £15 billion to be spent on education. That is 9.6 higher than the comparable total for this year. Within the £15 billion total, specific grants of over £180 million will be available under the Education Support Grants programme and the LEA Training Grant Scheme to help implement the education reforms. Given effective management, the total should be sufficient to allow good progress to be made in getting the reforms into place. It allows for LEAs and schools to give more priority to spending on key areas of books and equipment, repairs and maintenance compared with the levels of spending assumed for this year.

The vast majority of teachers support the aims of the National Curriculum, which is founded on current best practice. Its introduction together with other education reforms does place extra demands on teachers, and the Government has responded to pleas that further reforms might overstrain teachers' goodwill and commitment. The intention is to ensure that the reforms are implemented at a reasonable pace, while retaining the momentum already gained. You express particular concern about children with special educational needs (SEN) in relation to the National Curriculum. The Government believes that all children, including those with SEN should follow the National Curriculum to the maximum extent possible. The levels of attainment within the National Curriculum are being flexibly designed so that almost all pupils, including those with special educational needs, will be able to show what they have achieved and, more importantly, what progress they have made over time. Up until now too many pupils have had limited educational opportunities, and that includes children with SEN. Their curricula have often lacked breadth and balance and they have not been challenged into achieving their full potential. The Government firmly believes that the National Curriculum will lever up standards in education and benefit children including those with special educational needs.

Maintained schools are under a duty to offer the National Curriculum to all their pupils unless exceptions are made in accordance with the relevant Sections of the Education Reform Act (ERA). Some children with SEN, such as those referred to at the end of your letter, may have a statement of their special educational needs drawn up in accordance with the Education Act 1981. That Act rejects the concept of labelling pupils and concentrates instead on identifying individual pupils' needs and ensuring that those needs are met. In future each statement will be able to specify how the National Curriculum is to apply to the individual pupil. A statement can modify or disapply the National Curriculum requirements, and where appropriate offer an individual programme of study. However, where exceptions are made, maintained schools are still under duty to ensure that the curricula they offer pupils are balanced and broadly based, in accordance with the requirements of Section 1 of the ERA. The quality of your own commitment to teaching and the development of your pupils is very clear from your letter. We too are dedicated to the well being of education and to giving the best support we can to teachers. Important changes are taking place, particularly with the introduction of the National Curriculum and Local Management of Schools, and I would ask you to have faith that those who will be working in and on behalf of education after you have retired will carry forward the best values and build upon the best practices of teachers in your generation.

Yours sincerely

G. A. HOLLEY

Schools 2 Branch

City Technology Colleges

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) in respect of each city technology college, what amount of annual per capita


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grant he has agreed to pay for the financial year beginning in September ; what unit of cost per pupil has been used in calculating the amount of annual per capita grant ; how this cost has been determined ; and what enhancement of annual per capita grant has been allowed under the terms of paragraph 11 of the model funding agreement ;

(2) in respect of each city technology college, what amount of earmarked annual grant he has agreed to pay in the financial year beginning in September ; and for what purpose each element of earmarked annual grant has been approved.

Mrs. Rumbold : The level of recurrent expenditure for city technology colleges for the academic year beginning this September has not yet been agreed.

Birmingham City Action Team

Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what actions he has undertaken in the past six months in support of the Birmingham city action team and the east Birmingham task force.

Mr. Alan Howarth : As a member of a team of Ministers with responsibility for oversight of city action teams and inner-city task forces in various parts of England, I became sponsor Minister for the Birmingham city action team and the east Birmingham task force late last year. I have sought to encourage co-operation between business, local authorities, the voluntary sector and local people. In this capacity, since the beginning of this year I have visited Birmingham seven times, meeting a variety of local groups and visiting local projects.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

India

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether United Kingdom Government aid will be given to support any development of the Rihard II power generation project in northern India.

Mrs. Chalker : At the request of the Government of India, the Department of Trade and Industry has nominated a main contractor for the second stage of the power station. An offer of aid has been made subject to appraisal of the project.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Company Reports

Mr. Hunter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reports other than reports prepared under the Companies Acts may be required under clause 78(2) of the Finance Bill 1990.

Mr. Lilley : The proposed tax return for companies under pay and file, which has been developed in consultation with bodies representing businesses and the legal and accountancy professions, requires companies to provide a copy of their full accounts prepared under the Companies Act, which will include the directors' and auditor's reports, with the return. Insurance companies will also be required to provide a copy of the report made to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under part II of the Insurance Companies Act 1982.


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House Purchase

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to amend the provisions of subsection (6) of section 354 of the Taxes Act 1988 in order to provide that interest eligible for relief on bridging finance for house purchases is extended beyond the initial 12- month period of relief as of right and not discretion.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 2 July 1990] : None. I am not aware of any need for a change in the present rules.

Documents

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of and how many documents in 1989 he estimates were (a) passed on to the Public Record Office intact, (b) passed on to the Public Record Office in censored form, (c) retained by his Department in full (d) retained by his Department in part, (e) destroyed, (f) otherwise disposed of and (g) otherwise unaccounted for.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 2 July 1990] : No document falls due for selection and transfer to the Public Record Office until it is at least 30 years old. A document's suitability for permanent preservation under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958 will be reviewed during that period. The Act does not require statistics to be kept in the form requested and to do so would inevitably incur disproportionate cost. However, in order to comply with their duties under the Act, Departments are obliged to ensure that all documentary records are properly preserved with a view to possible transfer to the Public Record Office and eventual release to the public. The general criteria under which Departments may retain documents over 30 years old are set out in section 3(4) of the Public Records Act.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria he uses when deciding which documents to pass on to the Public Record Office.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 2 July 1990] : My right hon. Friend's Departments comply with the guidelines issued by the Public Record Office on the selection of documents for permanent preservation. Decisions on which documents are transferred to the Public Record Office for this purpose are taken in consultation with PRO inspecting officers.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what systems he employs to classify, log and otherwise record each document generated by his Department ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 2 July 1990] : The Treasury does not record each document generated. Papers are collected on to files which are given specific titles. These files are then registered on to a records management computer system. These practices are in accordance with the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967. Each file bears the classification of the highest classified document enclosed in each file.

Pensions

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the effects of the level of inflation on pensions.


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Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have been asked to reply.

The Government have maintained their commitment to increase the state retirement pension fully in line with prices, as measured by the retail prices index.

WALES

NHS Trusts

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest figure for the number of national health service hospitals in Wales seeking self-governing trust status.


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