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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 9 December 1991


Government Legal Services

34. Mr. Carrington : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement about recruitment to the Government legal services.

The Attorney-General : I am pleased to say that recruitment to the Government legal service is very satisfactory. Whenever we advertise, we attract a large number of high calibre applicants.

Solicitors (Disclosure of Information)

35. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Attorney-General under what guidelines the Crown prosecution service may decline to disclose relevant information to solicitors acting for persons accused of murder.

The Attorney-General : None. The guidelines issued by my predecessor in 1981 require that relevant information be disclosed.


36. Mr. Fraser : To ask the Attorney-General when he last met the Charity Commissioners to discuss the political activities of charities.

The Attorney-General : I have not met them for this purpose.


37. Mr. Hind : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the number of prosecutions brought in 1991 and the number of staff currently employed by the Crown prosecution service to pursue them.

The Attorney General : Between January and September 1991 the Crown prosecution service completed 1,320,463 cases and on 31 October employed 5,821 members of staff of whom 1,904.5 were lawyers.

Immigration Appeals

38. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Attorney-General if he has any plans to shorten waiting times for a hearing for immigration appeals.

The Attorney-General : The Lord Chancellor's Department has recruited additional staff and part-time adjudicators for the immigration appellate authorities (IAA) to cope with the large number of appeals. Streamlined procedures have been introduced for the initial collation of case papers with the aim of dispatching them to the parties' representatives in this country within two weeks of their receipt. This is a significant improvement on the previous position of eight to 12 weeks and has helped to reduce the time taken for cases to be determined.

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A multi-terminal case-tracking computer system will also be operational by January 1992. This will enable the IAA to monitor more accurately and frequently the progress of appeals.


Mr. Nellist : To ask the Attorney-General if he will list the statutory provisions that govern the hours of working of bailiffs engaged in (a) debt recovery in general and (b) poll tax enforcement.

The Attorney-General : Order 7, rule 3 of the County Court Rules 1981 provides that county court bailiffs are not permitted to serve or execute process on Sunday, Good Friday or Christmas day without leave of the court.

There are no statutory provisions which govern the hours of working of bailiffs engaged in community charge enforcement.

Maxwell Communication Corporation

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Attorney-General what is the remit of the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into the Maxwell Communication Corporation.

The Attorney-General : The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding a £55 million loan from Swiss Bank Corporation to Adviser 188 Ltd., a company owned by Headington Investments Ltd., which is itself associated with the late Mr. Robert Maxwell. Subsequently the director of the Serious Fraud Office decided to investigate allegations concerning the management of the assets of the pension funds of various companies also associated with Mr. Maxwell.

The investigations are being carried out in conjunction with the City of London police.

Paintball Guns

Mr. William Ross : To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions are a waiting trial at Crown courts involving the use or possession of paintball guns.

The Attorney-General : The use and possession of paintball guns are not covered by any specific legislation, but may contravene a number of enactments depending on the characteristics of the item and the circumstances and purpose of the possession. The CPS does not maintain records which in respect of any category of offence enables those involving paintball guns to be identified from those which do not.



Mr. Janner : To ask the Prime Minister (1) whether he has now held discussions with the United States of America on how best to achieve the repeal of United Nations resolution 3379 ;

(2) what discussions have been held with Britain's European partners on how best to achieve the repeal of United Nations resolution 3379 on Zionism, to which he referred in his letter of 14 October 1991 ; at what level they were conducted ; and what was the outcome ;

(3) with which countries he intends to discuss the issue of repealing United Nations resolution 3379 in his forthcoming bilateral contacts.

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The Prime Minister : As I told the hon. and learned Member in my letter to him of 14 October, we support the United States proposal to secure the repeal of this resolution. We have discussed how to achieve repeal with the Unites States administration and have said we shall co-sponsor a draft resolution which revokes it. Our discussions with our European partners, primarily through our missions in New York, continue. We expect to raise the matter with other countries before a repealing resolution is put to the vote.

United Nations

Sir Gerard Vaughan : To ask the Prime Minister if he will raise at the next meeting of the United Nations the question of late payment of subscriptions by (a) the United States of America and (b) other member countries.

The Prime Minister : We repeatedly make clear our concern at the failure on the part of a large number of member states to pay their assessed contributions in full and on time.

Non-proliferation Policies

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what extra resources he proposes to commit in support of the agreement at the G7 summit to combat the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and to foster non-proliferation policies among additional nations ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Together with our G7 and other partners we are addressing the question of how we can best strengthen the various regimes designed to combat nuclear, biological and chemical proliferation.

Arms Sales

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what are the implications to the United Kingdom of the principle of transparency in international transfers of conventional weapons and associated military technology as agreed at the G7 summit in London ; and if he will press the United Nations to publish a register of arms sales.

The Prime Minister : As an important step towards openness in conventional arms transfers, the declaration at the London economic summit called for the early adoption of a United Nations register of arms transfers. This followed our initiative to establish such a register. The Twelve and Japan tabled a resolution at this year's United Nations General Assembly with this aim in mind. The resolution was approved by a large majority in the First Committee of the General Assembly on 15 November and will shortly be adopted at the plenary stage of the General Assembly. It will allow the international community to monitor the scale of arms build- up by any one country. Information will be provided on an annual basis and the register will be established and maintained at the United Nations headquarters in New York by the Secretary General.

United Nations

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister whether he intends to commit additional resources to the proposed extension of the capacity of the United Nations to respond to emergencies and appeals for aid ; and if he will make a statement.

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The Prime Minister : The proposals to which the hon. Member refers are the result of an initiative by this Government together with the German Government which was subsequently taken up by the G7 summit and the European Council. They are currently under consideration by the United Nations. We are pressing for their early adoption. We fully intend to contribute our share of the required funds.

Non-proliferation Treaty

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what response he has made to the proposal of the Secretary General of the International Atomic Energy Agency at its 35th conference concerning (a) the need to strengthen International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safeguards by increasing the number of special inspections under the provisions of the nuclear non- proliferation treaty and (b) the need for the International Atomic Energy Agency to be given additional information on nuclear programmes by the security services of non-proliferation treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency member states.

The Prime Minister : The director-general in his statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency called for a strengthening of the safeguards system to provide, through special inspections, confidence that no undeclared nuclear installations or material exist in states which have accepted full-scope safeguards. The United Kingdom fully endorses this policy and has made this support clear.

To enable the agency to exercise its right to make special inspections of undeclared activities, it requires access to information pointing to their existence. It is the intention of the Government to assist the agency in this context as far as possible by providing relevant information as appropriate.

Disabled People

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 11 November, Official Report, column 355, if he will list the proposals relating to disabled people which are under consideration.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1991] : The proposals relating to disabled people, published by the European Commission and presently under consideration are :

Proposals for a Council directive on minimum requirements to improve the mobility and safe transport to work of workers with reduced mobility (published February 1991).

Proposals for a Council decision establishing a third Community action programme to assist disabled people--HELIOS II (published October 1991).

In addition we are participating in two recent Community initiatives specifically for disabled people : TIDE--Technology for the socio-economic integration of disabled and elderly people ; and HORIZON--a programme within the European social fund which aims at improving the conditions of access to the employment market for disabled and disadvantaged people.


Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Prime Minister whether he will submit a resolution to the EC summit at Maastricht condemning the growth of racist sentiment and attacks in Europe.

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The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1991] : The Government view with concern the recent manifestations of racism across Europe. I understand that the EC presidency has it in mind to propose a resolution on these matters at the forthcoming meeting of the European Council.


Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has had on the similarity of design between the £5 note and the £20 note ; if he will withdraw the £20 note ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1991] : I have received a number of letters on the new £5 and £20 notes. However, the design of banknotes is the responsibility of the Bank of England and not the Government. The bank believes that its new notes achieve an appropriate blend of security features and distinguishing characteristics. It will, however, take account of the reactions to the notes already issued in designing future issues.

Faith in the Countryside"

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister what response he intends to make to the archbishop's commission on rural areas report "Faith in the Countryside".

The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1991] : The report "Faith in the Countryside" was debated in the House of Lords on 15 November 1990.



45. Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his proposals for aid to Yugoslavia.

Mrs. Chalker : British aid for Yugoslavia during the current civil strife will depend upon the specific needs of the emergency, taking account of how the international community responds to them. We have already provided blankets and cash to the international committee of the Red Cross, valued at £1.75 million.

Finance Ministers

46. Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to hold discussions with Finance Ministers from developing countries in London over the coming month.

Mrs. Chalker : I met Ghana's Prime Minister and Finance Minister last Thursday and Friday ; I discussed the Botswanan economy this morning with His Excellency President Masire.

In early January I hope to meet the Finance Minister of Nepal. In addition I hope to see the ANC president tomorrow, when I will discuss the investment needs of South Africa.

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Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aid is currently being paid to Mauritius ; what future aid to Mauritius is planned ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker : British bilateral aid to Mauritius totalled nearly £5 million in 1990, including £3.2 million of investment by the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Expenditure this year will be of a similar order. Future aid would be for discussion in bilateral talks in due course.

EC Aid

Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Minister for Overseas Development last met her French counterpart to discuss EC aid programmes.

Mrs. Chalker : I visited Paris on 29 November for discussions with Madame Avice on EC aid and other development issues of mutual interest.

EC Development Council

Dr. Twinn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the discussions at the EC Development Council meeting on 28 November.

Mrs. Chalker : This was a very constructive Development Council, at which we discussed a number of issues. We reached agreement on new regulations governing EC aid to Asia and Latin America and the EC investment partners' scheme. We approved resolutions on human rights and democracy in developing countries, on emergency aid, and on the EC approach to UNCED.

Contract Legal Personnel

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all the names of contract legal personnel overseas funded under the British aid programme, the countries in which they work and the total cost of their salaries to the taxpayer.

Mrs. Chalker : There are currently 21 contract legal personnel working overseas under the British aid programme :

Countries                |Legal personnel                              


Barbados                 |Regional legal adviser                       


Gibraltar                |Chief Justice                                


Kenya                    |Chief Justice                                

                         |2 Puisne judges                              


Kiribati                 |Chief Justice                                


Lesotho                  |Chief Justice                                


St. Helena               |Attorney General                             


Solomon Islands                                                        

Chief Magistrate                                                       


Swaziland                |High Court Judge                             


Turks and Caicos Islands |Attorney General                             

                         |Chief Magistrate                             


Tonga                    |Puisne Judge                                 

                         |Senior Crown Counsel/                        

                         |  Acting Chief Justice                       


Uganda                   |Supreme Court Judge                          


Vanuatu                  |Puisne Judge/                                


                         |Public Prosecutor                            

                         |Regional Legal Adviser                       


Zimbabwe                 |Chief Law Officer                            

                         |Training Officer                             

We do not publish the names of individual officers. The total salary cost is currently about £750,000 per annum.

British Virgin Islands

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the outstanding debt on the Wickams Cay and Anegada loans to the British Virgin Islands was remitted, as recorded in the appropriation accounts 1990-91, vol. 1, class I, page 18 ; what was the nature of the projects funded by the loans ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker : Loans were made to the BVI Government in 1971 to repurchase lands sold to developers. That Government's intention was to use the lands to generate revenue from tourism. It has never proved possible to generate the income from which the Government of BVI could have been expected to service the loans and it was not regarded as appropriate to press for repayment from general revenues.

South Africa

Sir Gerard Vaughan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to move for the Republic of South Africa, as a member of the

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United Nations organisation, to be re- admitted to participation in the General Assembly ; and if he will represent to the South African Government the advantages in it thereafter bringing up to date its subscriptions to the United Nations organisation.

Mrs. Chalker : We understand that the South African Government are considering how best to move forward to full participation in United Nations bodies. We shall keep in touch with them and monitor developments closely. As and when South Africa does regain membership of United Nations bodies, we would expect them to pay their subscriptions fully and on time.

Aid Review

Sir David Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost to public funds of publishing the 1991 British overseas aid annual review ; and how many copies were printed.

Mrs. Chalker : Fifteen thousand copies of "British Overseas Aid 1991" were produced at a cost of £98,100.


EC (Visits)

Mr. Forman : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list for himself, and for each of the Ministers at his Department, details of (i) the number of visits made during the past month to destinations outside the United Kingdom but within the European Community on official business related to the European Community, (ii) the number of visits made to Brussels within the past month on official business related to the European Community and (iii) the number of nights spent over the past month away from the United Kingdom on official European Community business.

Mr. Lilley : The following is the information :

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                                       |Visits made to                        |Of which visits                       |Nights spent                                                                                                        

                                       |other member                          |to Brussels                           |away                                                                                                                

                                       |states on official                                                                                                                                                                                

                                       |EC business                                                                                                                                                                                       

Secretary of State                     |2                                     |1                                     |1                                                                                                                   

Minister for Trade                     |2                                     |1                                     |2                                                                                                                   

Minister for Corporate Affairs         |2                                     |2                                     |0                                                                                                                   

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  for Industry and Consumer Affairs    |1                                     |0                                     |1                                                                                                                   

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  for Industry and Technology          |2                                     |0                                     |1                                                                                                                   

Ozone-depleting Substances

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the import and exports figures for the latest available year for the United Kingdom for (a) chlorofluorocarbons, (b) carbon tetrachloride, (c) halons, (d) HCFCs and (c) methyl chloroform ; and what is the monetary value.

Mr. Leigh : Information about trade in carbon tetrachloride is published under standard international trade code 511.36 (commodity code 290314000) in "Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom", which

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is available in the Library of the House. The other products identified in the question are also mostly grouped under SITC code 511.3--"halogenated derivatives of hydrocarbons". However, trade figures for some of them are not published for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Director General of Telecommunications

Mr. Hain : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations he has held with the Council of Tribunals regarding the powers of the Director General of Telecommunications to settle disputes.

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Mr. Redwood : The Council of Tribunals has expressed a potential interest in dispute procedures of all four utilities covered by the Competition Service (Utilities) Bill. This is being considered, in conjunction with other Departments, and a response to the Council will be made shortly.

Operation Scotcheck

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about his Department's involvement in Operation Scotcheck carried out on 13 November in Scotland.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 5 December 1991] : This is an operational matter for the Radiocommunications Agency and I have asked the chief executive to reply.



Mr. Hardy : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which pesticides are classified as poisonous or toxic ; and if he will list those substances which are available for use as pesticides but which are not harmful to humans or animals.

Mr. Maclean : The detailed information requested cannot be provided except at disporportionate cost. All pesticides are subject to rigorous scrutiny by the independent advisory committee on pesticides and must be approved by Ministers in six Government Departments before they can be used. Approval would not be given if there was evidence of adverse health effects in humans or animals.

It is a requirement that the label of each pesticide produce--of which there are over 3,000--must display a hazard classification symbol, if appropriate, in addition to the relevant precautions and statutory conditions.

Dumping at Sea

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when his Department last undertook a prosecution for breach of a dumping at sea licence.

Mr. Gummer : In November this Department successfully prosecuted a marina and a skipper of a dumping vessel for breach of conditions set in a licence issued under part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. The marina was fined £1,000 on each of three charges and £500 costs. The skipper was fined £300 on each of the three charges and £100 costs.

We shall not hesitate to take firm action, including prosecution when appropriate, to enforce licence conditions set to protect the marine environment and to avoid interference with other uses of the sea, including fishing.

Wind Energy

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), Official Report, 28 November, column 651, he will set out (a) the nature of his departmental representation and (b) what new

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information his Department gained from attendance at the seminar on wind energy and agriculture held on 20 November.

Mr. Curry : The following is the information :

(a) Two officers of the Ministry's Agricultural Development and Advisory Service attended the seminar one of whom presented a paper. (

(b) The aim of the seminar was to heighten the awareness of farmers regarding the uses of wind energy and the types of equipment available. Information was obtained on the growing interest of farmers in renewable sources of energy including wind power.

Set-aside Scheme

Mr. Burns : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he has taken to detect fraudulent applications for a five-year set-aside scheme ; and if he will make a statement. Mr. Gummer [pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1991, Official Report, col. 166] : Yesterday's Sunday Times (8December) claims that I misled the House in my earlier reply. This is a most serious allegation and quite untrue.

The points raised by The Sunday Times in defence of its story were rebutted in a letter from me to the paper's deputy editor on Friday evening. The newspaper chose not to publish this.

In elaborating yesterday on its misleading claims of the previous week, The Sunday Times has introduced no new evidence of substance. It has placed great stress on the existence of one taped telephone conversation between a MAFF inspector and the Insight team journalist who posed as a landowner. In its selective use of events the newspaper has chosen not to disclose other telephone conversations as a result of which the journalist was left in no doubt as to the true position.

The Sunday Times knows and knew at the time that there could have been no justification for it to claim that Dr. Rufford's application had been approved. The central point remains that no formal approval letter was issued or would have been issued until a satisfactory site inspection had been carried out. It also remains true that its journalist signed false declarations, and that the Insight team fabricated a MAFF letterhead in order to give credence to what they knew was not a final letter of approval.



Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish the latest available figures showing how much was spent by (a) each executive body, (b) each advisory body, (c) each health authority and (d) each tribunal on (i) legal services, (ii) accounting advice, (iii) auditing, (iv) advice on business plans, (v) market research, (vi) management advice, (vii) public relations communications advice, (viii) time and motion studies and (ix) opinion polls, respectively ; and how much was spent in each case exclusively within Wales.

Mr. David Hunt : This information is not held centrally for non- departmental public bodies. The information available for health authorities is shown in the following table. This shows total spending in each category and

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therefore includes both the costs of in- house services and contracts placed outside each authority. It is not possible to identify separately how much was spent in Wales.

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1990-91 Expenditure by Health Authorities (provisional)                                                                                                           

                   |Clwyd     |East      |Gwent     |Gwy-      |Mid       |Pem-      |Powys     |South     |West      |WHCSA     |WHPA      |Wales                

                              |Dyfed                |nedd      |Glamor-   |broke-    |Gla-      |Gla-                                                             

                                                               |gan       |shire                |morgan    |morgan                                                


Legal services     |18,376    |0         |27,772    |0         |0         |0         |0         |142,532   |0         |0         |2,170     |190,850              


Accounting advice  |1,568,741 |941,834   |1,436,364 |913,980   |1,545,074 |440,678   |404,726   |1,754,622 |1,064,134 |504,389   |55,586    |10,630,128           


Advice on business |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  


Market research<1> |202,620   |315,333   |231,937   |70,292    |167,061   |58,626    |85,745    |423,048   |321,528   |0         |158,647   |2,034,837            


Management advice n/a          n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a                  


Public relations   |0         |0         |0         |0         |0         |0         |0         |34,340    |0         |0         |108,771   |143,111              


Communications advice n/a      n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a                  


Time and motion    |22,426    |32,770    |0         |55,417    |130,904   |0         |46,365    |199,698   |27,791    |0         |0         |515,371              


Opinion polls      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

Source: Summarised accounts of health authorities for the year ended 31 March 1991.                                                                               

<1> Includes the provision of statistical and epidemiological information and planning activies.                                                                  

Training and Enterprise Councils

Mr. Rowlands : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has of the number of young people in each area to whom the training and enterprise councils have not been able to fulfil a guarantee of a training place.

Mr. David Hunt : Reliable estimates are not available.

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