Mr. Morgan : To ask the Attorney-General if he will now place in the Library a copy of the Jones report into the alleged irregularities surrounding the death of Rudolf Hess in Spandau gaol in August 1987.
The Attorney-General : No. The document which the hon. Member refers to as the Jones report is a report submitted by the Metropolitan police to the Director of Public Prosecutions setting out the result of a police investigation into an alleged criminal offence. Such reports are confidential.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will undertake to set out the Government's proposed reforms of the Shops Act 1950 before the end of 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
(2) whether he has any plans to publish, in broad terms, the reforms he would favour in the Shops Act 1950 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We certainly hope to be able to fulfil before the end of this year our commitment to publishing proposals for reform of the Shops Act 1950 once the legal position is clear. Judgment by the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the current law on Sunday trading in England and Wales with Community law is at present expected in the early autumn.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners and remand prisoners at Durham prison were transferred to the care of hospitals in each month of the last two years ; how many of such prisoners required (a) physical restraint such as handcuffs and (b) constant supervision by local police ; what recompense has been made by the prison authorities as a health care purchaser to the providing hospitals ; and what is the scale of charges that forms the basis of recompense.
1991-92 |Number -------------------------- April |9 May |6 June |10 July |6 August |9 September |9 October |14 November |8 December |6 January |6 February |8 March |6 |--- Total |97
All such prisoners were handcuffed to staff on the journey to hospital except where the medical conditions precluded this. None of thse prisoners required constant supervision by the police. Where patient care is provided to prisoners in national health service facilities, the costs are a matter for the prisoner's district health authority of origin.
(2) if he will describe each separate index of personal data stored on the computer for the national criminal intelligence service ; how many items of data are stored under each index ; what is the number of entries in each index ; and how many accesses to each index are expected over the coming year.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement as to how senior fire officers are being currently trained to deal with an accident involving a nuclear weapons road convoy ; and what future training is being considered.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Training for senior officers of fire brigades in contingency planning and co-ordination of the emergency services' action continues to be provided by the Ministry of Defence and at the Fire Service college, which supplements the training in brigades to deal with incidents involving radioactivity.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to bring forward proposals to strengthen legislation to punish those who attack and injure policemen carrying out their duties.
Column 77the Court of Appeal has made it clear that they should use them. The results of a survey of sentences imposed in the last six months of 1991 for assaults on the police demonstrated that the courts recognise that such assaults are despicable and deserve to be punished severely. Immediate custody was imposed for a significantly higher proportion of the assaults on the police covered in the survey than for assaults on all victims in 1990.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received from Mr. David Yallop concerning a posthumous pardon to Derek Bentley : and what reply he has sent.
Mr. Jack : Mr. Yallop wrote on 14 August 1991 referring to his book "To Encourage The Others" on the case of Derek Bentley and requesting an independent, public inquiry into the case. He was told that the contents of his book would be taken into account and that once inquiries were completed, the Secretary of State would be in a position to decide whether any further action on his part was necessary.
Mr. Yallop wrote on 21 May inquiring when the outcome of our consideration of the case would be announced. He has been informed that, in addition to the contents of his book, careful consideration is being given to a great deal of other material, including a letter and dossier received on 1 June from solicitors acting for Miss Iris Bentley. He has been advised that an announcement will be made as soon as the Secretary of State is in a position to decide whether any action on his part is justified.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received requesting the postponement or cancellation of county council elections due to be held in Wales in May 1993.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : No such representations have been received by me. However, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has been approached by both local authority associations in Wales. Decisions on this matter have not yet been made.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is considering instituting the necessary parliamentary action to postpone or cancel the county council elections due to be held in Wales in May 1993.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the original level of funding indicated to the Northumbria police force for the urban crime fund initiative ; and what was the figure finally approved.
Mr. Charles Wardle : When the urban crime fund initiative was launched on 26 November, it was announced that the three police authorities to benefit would each be eligible for additional funding of up to £3.66 million.
At the request of the three police authorities concerned, it has been agreed that £3.9 million, £1.3 million for each authority, of the total of £11 million revenue provision may be used for capital projects. The total Exchequer contribution remains unchanged at £11 million.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to enable a more flexible transition from temporary immigration permission for the purpose of unpaid child minder for close relatives on compassionate grounds to working holiday visa and vice versa ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Charles Wardle : A person who wishes to come to the United Kingdom for a short period to care for a sick or elderly relative may be admitted as a visitor under the Immigration Rules provided that the immigration officer is satisfied among other things that it will not constitute employment, paid or unpaid, and that the passenger is genuinely seeking entry for the period of the visit as stated. A person who has been admitted as a visitor may qualify to stay on in the United Kingdom as a working holidaymaker if he or she is a young Commonwealth citizen aged 17 to 27 inclusive and meets the other requirements of the rules relating to the working holidaymaker scheme, and vice versa.
Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will raise with his counterparts in other European Community and OECD countries the case for binding international agreements to allow investigation of bank accounts in the course of inquiries into international financial fraud.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 5 June 1992] : We already have arrangements to allow our investigators to pursue financial inquiries overseas. The Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 enables us to provide full mutual legal assistance to other countries, including evidence concerning bank accounts, and to obtain such assistance from overseas. In addition, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the director
Column 79of the Serious Fraud Office have powers of their own to investigate international frauds. And we shall shortly be introducing new legislation to extend the jurisdiction of our courts in relation to fraud committed across national boundaries.
We accept, both in principle and in practice, that bank secrecy should be lifted to allow the investigation of criminal offences. We have argued at the international level, most recently through our membership of the financial action task force on money laundering, against the use of bank secrecy to inhibit action against international criminal activity including money laundering and financial fraud.
Mr. John M. Taylor : To date, over £1.3 million has been paid out of legal aid towards the Crown court costs of the defence in the Guinness trials. However, not all of the expected claims for costs from legal aid or central funds have yet been received by the court and the final amount is yet to be determined.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if a defendant has disposed of the proceeds of the sale of his home, how this affects his eligibility for legal aid.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The legal aid regulations provide that if it appears that an applicant for legal aid has deprived himself of or converted any resources in order to reduce the amount of his disposable capital, whether to reduce his liability to pay a contribution towards legal aid or otherwise, these resources shall be treated as part of his resources. Consequently, the applicant may be found to be ineligible for legal aid on financial grounds or any contribution to be paid will be based on the total resources he is deemed to have.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any proposals for legislation under which all banks operating in the United Kingdom would be required to have (a) independent audit committees and (b) internal audit departments.
Mr. Nelson : The Bank of England's "Banking Act Report 1987-88", laid before the House on 18 May 1988, and the bank's "Statement of Principles" make it clear that the bank is committed to United Kingdom- based banking groups having independent audit committees where this is feasible. The bank also reviews the value of internal audit arrangements when assessing a bank's control and management systems.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the domestic valuations submitted by estate agents for the new council tax have been rejected by the Inland Revenue Valuation Office.
Mr. Dorrell : Private contractors are required to value band domestic properties issued in batches and, as at 29 May 1992, 6.3 per cent. of all batches returned to the Valuation Office agency had been rejected.
Sir John Cope : The Government have maintained, during the single market negotiations, our right to retain the coverage of our current zero rates including domestic passenger transport. The present agreement reached by Finance Ministers covers the period until 1997 without prejudice to what happens thereafter.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will issue a statement on the recoverability of advance corporation tax ; how many companies have sought clearance before the payment of a group dividend with advance corporation tax attaching ; how many are awaiting clearance ; and what is the average waiting time for clearance.
Mr. Dorrell : Advance corporation tax--ACT--paid by a company in respect of a dividend or other qualifying distribution made in an accounting period may, up to a limit, be set against the company's liability to corporation tax for the accounting period. Where a company has paid more ACT than it can set off in an accounting period, it may carry back the surplus to set against its liability to corporation tax in the previous six years, which may give rise to a repayment of corporation tax for those years. Surplus ACT may also be carried forward indefinitely against future liability to corporation tax.
Special rules exist to counteract artificial tax advantages, including payment of a tax credit, or non-paymnent of ACT attaching to a dividend, when certain transactions in securities are involved. Companies can seek a clearance from the Inland Revenue that these rules do not apply. In the year to 31 March 1992, the Inland Revenue received about 3,500 such applications, of which less than 10 per cent. involved dividends paid within a group of companies. The average number of all cases awaiting clearance at any time in the six months to 31 March 1992 was 157, most of which did not involve dividends. All cases are processed within 30 days.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out the reasons for treating the recovery of advance corporation tax by subsidiaries of group companies differently from the treatment of group companies as one taxpayer.
Column 81it must account for ACT. The parent may either set that ACT against its own liability to corporation tax, or may surrender it to a subsidiary, to be set off against the subsidiary's liability. This may lead to a repayment of corporation tax. Companies within groups may also be entitled to a credit for ACT suffered on the dividend income they receive.
Within a group, these provisions enable ACT to be paid only by the parent company and for that ACT to be set off against corporation tax within the group.
Mr. Nelson : The general level of interest rates has fallen substantially over the last 18 months. Against that background, I have no plans to increase the rate of interest used for the premium bond prize fund.
The concerns expressed related to compliance costs and burdens on businesses, and the potential for abuse of commercially sensitive information. These were taken fully into account in EC negotiations, where some significant simplifications were achieved ; and in the measures to implement these arrangements in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the 22 Departments and non-departmental agencies that use the Government data network interchange personal data between themselves via the GDN ; and how many of these interchanges are a consequence of using the GDN.
Mr. Nelson : Sixteen arrangements for interdepartmental transfer of personal data have been authorised. All are exchanges of staff pay and personnel information between Chessington computer centre and customer departments and use GDN as a means of meeting established requirements. Twenty-nine departments or non-departmental bodies now have access agreements with Racal Data Networks Limited to use GDN.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what publicity he is arranging on the effect of the Cheques Act 1992 (a) generally, (b) in cattle auctions, (c) in furniture and art auctions and (d) in motor trade auctions.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the responsibilities and duties of his Department and the Crown Estate, in relation to inshore waters, intertidal areas and maritime land ; and if he will make a statement.
Where the Crown Estate is the owner of the sea-bed or foreshore in inshore waters, intertidal areas and maritime land, it fulfils its responsibilities and duties set out in the Crown Estate Act 1961. It also has certain regulatory functions in respect of marine aggregate extraction and fish farming.
Mr. Nelson : Lord Justice Bingham has not yet completed his report into the inquiry. Her Majesty's Treasury has received from the inquiry, in accordance with its stated procedures, draft factual passages which are relevant to the responsibilities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's arrangements for consulting the Data Protection Registrar during the planning stage of any initiative involving the collection, use or disclosure of personal data ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nelson : My Department has a data protection co-ordinator responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1984. That officer maintains appropriate contact with the office of the Data Protection Registrar in all matters relating to the Act.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax was rebated last year to self-employed people claiming against their use of the Mersey tunnel ; and what plans there are to extend rebates to all people in employment.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much to date has been paid by Peter Clowes and Pamela Clowes on account of damages payable to his Department ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir John Cope : The impact of a carbon tax on employment prospects is highly uncertain and would depend on a range of factors. These include the precise nature of the tax and the use made of the additional revenues. However the net impact may well be small, with job losses in some energy- intensive industries offset by gains in other industries which use less energy.
Non-domestic rates : to clear 302,000 appeals against the 1990 List of rating valuations and to deal with 222,000 reassessment cases arising because properties have undergone physical changes. Council Tax : to complete the valuation banding of domestic properties. The Agency will undertake 4.3 million valuations directly and supervise private sector contractors in the valuation of a further 4.8 million properties.
Direct Taxes : to undertake 120,000 valuation cases for the Inland Revenue concerning Inheritance and Capital Gains Taxes and Stamp Duty.
Other : to undertake 135,000 property and land valuations for other Government Departments, public bodies and local authorities. Financial Performance and Cost Efficiency
to limit the Agency's net expenditure to its Main Estimates figure of £1.365 million ; to achieve efficiency savings of approximately 2.5 per cent. on its gross expenditure ; and to rationalise the number of its local offices from 121 to 113.
to reply to 90 per cent. of all correspondence within 28 days of receipt ; to publish a supplement to the Taxpayers' Charter to cover all Valuation Office work ; and by June 1992 to complete a trial extension of local office opening hours.
Further details of the performance measures and targets are set out in the agency's business plan for 1992-93, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House on publication.
Mr. Dorrell : At present civil servants moving home in the public interest are entitled to a wide range of financial assistance. This package will be improved for those small number of staff who find, as a result of their move, that the proceeds of the sale of their old property are not sufficient to repay their mortgage. Departments and agencies will have the freedom to offer such staff loans, at commercial rates of interest, repayable on the same terms as the existing scheme for making advances of salary for house purchases. Departments and agencies will also, in particularly difficult cases, be free to offer advances of salary to meet mortgage shortfalls, on the same terms as the advances of salary offered to meet bridging loan shortfalls.