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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 3 February 1993

NORTHERN IRELAND

School Accommodation

Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the schools in Northern Ireland which have located Portacabin- type accommodation units on their sites, showing in each case the number of such units in use and the number of years that have elapsed since the first such unit was placed on site.

Mr. Hanley : There are over 1,300 schools in Northern Ireland and information in the form requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the latest estimate of schools with temporary classroom units on site is as follows :


Number of schools   |Number of temporary                    

                    |classroom units                        

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

550                 |1-5                                    

80                  |6-10                                   

45                  |11-15                                  

25                  |over 15                                

Care in the Community Fund

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money will be made available through the care in the community fund.

Mr. Hanley : The total amount of funds to be transferred from social security to the community care budget held and managed by health and social services boards will be £24.63 million in 1993-94, rising to £65.28 million in 1994-95 and to £100.33 million in 1995-96. A further sum of £4.822 million, over and above the transfer sum, will be made available to health and social services boards in 1993-94 to help operate the new arrangements.

Independent Living Fund

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have received payments from the independent living fund for each of the last three years.

Mr. Hanley : I understand that the information requested can be provided only in terms of the average numbers--based on quarterly counts-- who received payments, and is as follows :


Year   |Number       

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

1990   |748          

1991   |1,217        

1992   |1,929        

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money in total was paid out to people in Northern Ireland under the independent living fund.

Mr. Hanley : I understand that the amount paid up to December 1992 was £10.787 million.

DEFENCE

AWE Aldermaston

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will order an independent safety investigation into the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : We have no plans to order an independent safety investigation at the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment, which is already subject to independent inspection under the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Safety is, and will remain, of paramount importance at the establishment.

Southern Lebanon (Helicopter Deployment)

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what charge will be raised from the Foreign Office by his Department for the deployment of three RAF Wessex helicopters from Cyprus on 23 January to southern Lebanon.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Final figures are still being collected in Cyprus, but it is anticipated that the charge, based on extra cost, will amount to some £20,000.

Health and Safety

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy relating to the release of official information on health and safety issues at (a) the atomic weapons establishment and (b) the Defence Research Agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : It is my Department's policy to make available all information required in order to comply with health and safety legislation at the atomic weapons establishment and the Defence Research Agency.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to changing his policy relating to the release of official information on health and safety issues at (a) the atomic weapons establishment and (b) the Defence Research Agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : We have no plans to change our policy.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received relating to the release of information concerning health and safety issues at Aldermaston ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : I have received a number of representations from hon. Members and others on this subject.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current health and safety arrangements at Aldermaston.


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Mr. Aitken : The current health and safety arrangements at Aldermaston are designed to ensure that the well-being of the work force, and the safety of the site and the surrounding environment are and will continue to be of paramount importance.

RAF Ground Training

Mr. Temple-Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 6 November 1992, Official Report, columns 536- 537, if a decision has now been taken on the proposal to rationalise Royal Air Force ground training.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My Department has consulted thoroughly with the trade unions on the proposal to concentrate training at RAF Cosford, RAF Halton and, subject to further review, RAF Locking. No issues have been raised which call into doubt the viability of the proposal and I have therefore decided that it should be implemented as I set out on 6 November.

Every effort will be made to find alternative employment for the staff affected by these organisational changes and action will be taken to assist those involved in relocation. The personal preferences of staff will be carefully and sympathetically considered and all possible measures will be taken to minimise civilian redundancies. Where redundancies do occur, all staff will be entitled to the appropriate periods of notice or pay in lieu and to compensation in accordance with the relevant pension scheme. The MOD redundancy and outplacement service and the relocation scheme will be available for staff wishing to make use of these services.

Attack Helicopter

Mr. Richard Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the procurement of an attack helicopter for the British Army.

Mr. Aitken : We have previously advised the House of our intention to order a complete attack helicopter


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weapons system to replace the Lynx in the anti-armour role ; and to procure the aircraft, together with an associated support package "off the shelf" through a prime contractor, following competition. I am pleased to announce that the invitation to tender, which will initiate this competition, is being issued to potential bidders today.

St. Anne's Head and RAF Brawdy (Winds)

Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what was the annual percentage of winds of at least (a) 5 knots, (b) 10 knots, (c) 15 knots, (d) 20 knots, (e) 25 knots, (f) 30 knots, (g) 35 knots and (h) 40 knots recorded at St. Anne's head and RAF Brawdy during each of the last six years ;

(2) what was the annual percentage of winds coming from each point of the compass recorded at St. Anne's head and RAF Brawdy during each of the last six years ;

(3) what was the annual percentage of winds coming from each point of the compass at speeds of at least (a) 5 knots, (b) 10 knots, (c) 15 knots, (d) 20 knots, (e) 25 knots, (f) 30 knots, (g) 35 knots and (h) 40 knots recorded at St. Anne's head and RAF Brawdy during each of the last six years.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : These matters are delegated to the Meteorological Office under its framework document. I have therefore asked the chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member. Letter from J. C. R. Hunt to Mr. Nick Ainger, dated 2 February 1993.

I am responding to your three written Parliamentary Questions concerning the wind at St. Anne's Head and RAF Brawdy for each of the last six years.

The figures that follow all refer to RAF Brawdy as information from St. Anne's Head is not available for the period requested. Wind directions are given in 30 degree sectors, e.g. east' will be for winds from directions between 075 and 105 . Wind speeds are in knots. The information is based on hourly mean winds (i.e. winds averaged over an hour).


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Z

Q1  Percentage of winds above specified wind speed                                        

          Wind speed                                                                      

Year     |5 knots |10 knots|15 knots|20 knots|25 knots|30 knots|35 knots|40 knots         

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

1987     |88.9    |57.1    |27.4    |9.0     |2.3     |0.7     |0.1     |0.0              

1988     |90.4    |61.7    |32.1    |12.8    |3.9     |1.0     |0.3     |0.0              

1989     |90.5    |59.1    |32.2    |12.8    |4.1     |1.0     |0.2     |0.1              

1990     |92.5    |63.9    |36.3    |14.6    |5.2     |1.6     |0.4     |0.1              

1991     |90.5    |58.7    |29.9    |12.7    |4.8     |1.3     |0.3     |0.0              

1992     |89.4    |59.9    |32.0    |12.1    |3.4     |0.8     |0.2     |0.0              


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Q13  Percentage of winds in each 30 degree sector                                                                                                                                                                 

               |Wind direction                                                                                                                                                                                    

Year           |North         |030           |060           |East          |120           |150           |South         |210           |240           |West          |300           |330                          

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

1987           |10.2          |7.0           |5.5           |7.9           |10.2          |8.6           |6.0           |10.7          |11.5          |7.9           |5.7           |7.9                          

1988           |10.1          |8.0           |3.2           |4.6           |6.6           |7.7           |6.3           |11.4          |15.1          |12.4          |7.8           |6.9                          

1989           |9.3           |10.8          |4.2           |5.5           |7.1           |6.0           |5.7           |14.1          |13.8          |9.0           |7.4           |7.0                          

1990           |7.2           |8.8           |4.1           |3.6           |6.1           |6.4           |6.5           |14.2          |16.2          |11.5          |9.2           |6.3                          

1991           |9.0           |9.7           |5.0           |6.4           |10.6          |7.3           |5.9           |12.1          |14.6          |8.1           |5.6           |5.7                          

1992           |9.8           |9.4           |3.3           |4.6           |5.5           |5.7           |7.4           |16.5          |15.9          |10.1          |6.5           |5.5                          

Q 14 Information is available giving percentages for winds exceeding the same thresholds as in Q 12, but for each wind direction separately. These are considered too bulky for publication but are being sent to you directly.


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Rosyth and Devonport Dockyards

Mr. Gallie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will commission independent financial advisers to carry out costings comparisons of the bids of Rosyth and Devonport dockyard managements with respect to the future maintenance requirements of Trident submarines.

Mr. Aitken : My Department's work on future refitting arrangements, including assessments of the various proposals put forward by the dockyard contractors, has, for some considerable time, been informed by the use of independent consultants. They will continue to advise on all appropriate aspects of proposals under consideration.

LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

Finance and Services Committee

Mr. Peter Atkinson : To ask the Lord President of the Council what arrangements will be made in respect of answering hon. Members' questions relating to the work of the Finance and Services Committee.

Mr. Tony Newton : I intend to amend the question rota shortly to take account of the establishment of the Finance and Services Committee. After consultation with the House of Commons Commission, I have agreed that oral questions to the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee should be included in the same "slot" as questions to the Member answering for the House of Commons Commission. The Chairman, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), will respond in particular to

"questions concerning the estimates for House of Commons expenditure (which will be prepared under his Committee's supervision), the financial performance of Departments of the House, and the financial implications of any new or expanded services which may be proposed by the committees appointed under Standing Order No. 125 (Domestic Committees)" (Official Report, 11 February 1992 column 452 ).

The oral questions to the Commission and the Finance and Services Committee will be printed in one combined order created by the random selection process. They will be taken every sixth Monday, at 3.15 pm. In order to reflect the changes in direct responsibility for House services, ten minutes will be allocated to the new combined slot, and questions to the Lord President of the Council will follow at 3.25 pm.

In addition, questions for written answers may also be tabled to the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee concerning the exercise of the responsibilities of the Committee.

NATIONAL FINANCE

VAT

Mr. Mudie : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what VAT treatment has been agreed between the British Bankers Association and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise with regard to the VAT treatment of supplies of non-executive directors' services made by investing institutions to investee companies.

Sir John Cope : There has been no specific agreement concerning non- executive directors' fees. These fall to be treated in the same way as management fees which are


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included in the list of guidelines agreed between Customs and the British Bankers Association. Where a director is appointed to the board of the United Kingdom investee company as a condition of a loan, any charges for the director's services are part of the consideration for the loan, an exempt supply. Alternatively, where the investor acquires shares and exercises the right to appoint a director, Customs take the view that there is no supply for VAT purposes, as any shares are supplied to the investing institution by the investee company. In either case, any associated VAT incurred by the investing institution would not be recoverable.

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the net revenues raised by the increase in VAT from 8 per cent. to 15 per cent. in June 1979 in the first full year thereafter, in cash and current prices.

Sir John Cope [holding answer 2 February 1993] : As shown on page 31 of the "Financial Statement and Budget Report" 1979-80 £430 million was expected to be raised from unifying the rates of VAT at 15 per cent. in 1980-81.

Bank Fees

Mr. Mudie : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what VAT liability is applied to arrangement fees charged by a bank to its customers in connection with a debt for equity exchange by that bank.

Sir John Cope : The VAT liability of arrangement fees charged by banks depends strictly on the terms of the contracts between the parties. Without further details, it is difficult to be precise about the liability. Arrangement fees charged by the banks in respect of loans or other forms of credit form part of the consideration for the loan, an exempt supply. Moreover, where a borrower issues shares in return for loan capital, any arrangement fee would also be exempt from VAT. In either case, any associated VAT incurred by the bank would not be recoverable.

Charities

Mr. Hutton : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total value of VAT receipts to Her Majesty's Treasury from charities in the United Kingdom in each year since 1979.

Sir John Cope : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) on 28 January 1993 at column 791.

Commuters (Tax Relief)

Mr. Adley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will tabulate such information as he has available about tax relief for people commuting to and from work by rail, for OECD countries.

Mr. Dorrell : No OECD country allows tax relief specifically for rail travel to and from work. But the following countries allow various levels of tax relief for journeys to and from work by public transport :

Germany

Netherlands

The following countries allow various levels of tax relief for home-to-work travel by any type of transport :

Austria

Belgium


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Denmark

France

Japan

Luxembourg

Norway

Sweden

Remaining OECD countries either do not allow any tax relief for travel to and from work, or the information is not available.

Regulatory Bodies

Mr. Darling : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Securities and Investments Board concerning the future of LAUTRO and FIMBRA and their proposed successor bodies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nelson : Recognition of a self-regulatory organisation is a matter for the Securities and Investments Board. It would be inappropriate for the Treasury to be involved in drawing up detailed plans for the Personal Investment Authority. Nevertheless, I welcome the progress made so far and see imporant advantages for investor protection if the PIA were established to regulate private investor business with the support of firms who do business in that sector.

Financial Services Act

Mr. Darling : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to seek to reform the Financial Services Act 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nelson : My right hon. Friend has asked the chairman of the Securities and Investments Board to review how SIB carries out its regulatory responsibilities.

Departmental Budget

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the percentage change in (a) real terms and (b) cash terms of his Department's budget from 1992-93 to 1993-94.

Sir John Cope : The Treasury's budget includes expenditure on certain Bank of England services, United Kingdom coinage, Parliament and Privy Council in addition to the running costs of the central Treasury. The percentage change between 1992-93 and 1993-94 based on the latest 1992-93 forecast outturn is :

(a) 4.1 per cent. in real terms ; and

(b) 1.4 per cent. in cash terms.

Tax (1981 Budget)

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the net revenues raised by the tax changes introduced in the 1981 Budget in the first full year thereafter, in cash and current prices.

Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 2 February 1993] : An estimate of revenues in cash terms is contained in table 2 of the 1981-82 "Financial Statement and Budget Report". An estimate in current prices can be obtained using the series for the GDP deflator published in the 1993 "Economic Trends" annual supplement. Both are available in the Library.


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PRIME MINISTER

Seat Belts

Ms. Walley : To ask the Prime Minister what steps have been taken to ensure co-ordination between the Home Department and the Department of Transport regarding the campaign on the wearing of seat belts scheduled for February.

The Prime Minister : The campaign is a matter for the Department of Transport. It has consulted the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, who support the campaign.

Needle Exchange Schemes

Mr. Pike : To ask the Prime Minister if he will co-ordinate ministerial consideration of a centrally funded approach for needle exchange schemes to work towards the elimination of illegal needle and syringe disposal.

The Prime Minister : There are about 300 needle exchange schemes. In 1988, general guidance on such schemes was issued to health authorities including advice on the disposal of used equipment. The Department of Health issued further guidance when it made £1.4 million central funding available to health authorities in 1992-93 to expand the number of such schemes based in pharmacies. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, managers of such schemes must take all resonable steps to ensure that the waste is handled and disposed of safely and legally.

India

Mr. Cox : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his discussions with the Indian Prime Minister on the status of Kashmir and the human rights of Kashmiri people during his recent visit to India.

The Prime Minister : I discussed the situation in Kashmir with the Indian Prime Minister. I restated our view that the best way forward is through dialogue between India and Pakistan ; improvement in human rights and a genuine political process in Kashmir ; and an end to all external support for violence in Kashmir. Mr. Narasimha Rao assured me of his determination to hold elections in Kashmir as soon as possible and of his commitment to respect for human rights.

Scotch Whisky

Mr. Donald Anderson : To ask the Prime Minister what were the full terms of the agreement reached with the Indian Government during his visit on the importation of Scotch whisky.

The Prime Minister : During my visit to India, I took the opportunity to urge the Government of India to accelerate the liberalisation of its import regulations, which would include such products as Scotch whisky. We are continuing to press for an early resolution of this matter.

Secretaries of State (Powers)

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to ensure the Secretaries of State for Wales and Scotland have equal delegation of powers.


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The Prime Minister : The powers of the Secretaries of State for Wales and for Scotland reflect the different constitutional positions of Wales and Scotland.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the principal responsibilities of (a) the Secretary of State for Wales, (b) the Secretary of State for Scotland and (c) the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the principal differences of those responsibilities ; and what changes he is planning to make to the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Prime Minister : The principal responsibilities of the Secretaries of State are set out in the list of ministerial responsibilities, a copy of which is in the Library. A review of a wide range of aspects of governance of Scotland, including the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland, is under way. The Government will make an announcement to the House about the results of the review once it is complete.

Cabinet Office Budget

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Prime Minister what is the percentage change in (a) real terms and (b) cash terms of the Cabinet Office budget from 1992-93 to 1993-94.

The Prime Minister : The percentage reduction in spending plans for the Cabinet Office, excluding the Office of Public Service and Science, between 1992-93 and 1993-94 is expected to be (a) 23.9 per cent. in real terms, and (b) 21.8 per cent. in cash terms. The reduction is due mainly to the fact that capital expenditure is expected to be less in 1993-94 than in 1992-93.

Council of Ministers

Mr. Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will bring forward proposals for procedures for the House to scrutinise the way in which its decisions on proposed European Community directives and regulations are reflected in voting in the Council of Ministers when the proceedings of the Council become public ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what arrangements are being made within the European Community for the implementation of the decision by the Edinburgh conference that votes cast in the Council of Ministers will be published ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : As agreed at Edinburgh, the Council secretariat will make arrangements to publish the record of the vote, including explanations of the vote where delegations request these, whenever a formal vote is taken in Council. This information will be provided to the House.

Royal Family

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister which members of the royal family have carried out engagements overseas on behalf of the Government in each year since 1989.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 February 1993] : The information is as follows :

1989

The Queen

The Duke of Edinburgh


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