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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday, 20 July 1993

NORTHERN IRELAND

Driver and Vehicle Licensing

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in establishing the executive agency within the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland to carry out the work of driver and vehicle licensing in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Atkins : I am pleased to announce that the agency, which will be called Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland, will be established on 2 August 1993. It will assume responsibility for the registration and licensing of vehicles and the collection and enforcement of vehicle excise duty in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport and for licensing of drivers in Northern Ireland.

I am confident that the new status as a next steps agency will produce significant improvements in the provision of this important service. I am delegating full managerial authority for the agency's day-to-day operations to the chief executive. The policy and resource framework for the agency is set out in the framework document, copies of which are being placed in the Library of the House. For 1993-94, the following targets have been set out for the agency :

1. Turnaround Times

(a) Vehicle Licensing

(1) Registration Books for new vehicles : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of books dispatched within 16 working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding 17 working days in any one month.

(2) Refunds of vehicle excise duty : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of refunds dispatched within 11 working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding 12 working days in any one month.

(3) Postal Licensing : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of licences dispatched within six working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding eight working days in any one month. (4) Duplicate Registration Books : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of books dispatched within six working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding seven working days in any one month.

(5) Changes to Registration Books : to achieve a yearly average of 95 per cent. of amended books dispatched within eight working days of receipts of the application and not exceeding 10 working days in any one month.

(b) Driver Licencing

Turnaround targets exclude cases requiring referral for medical or conduct recommendations.

(1) Ordinary Driving Licences : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of licences dispatched within 11 working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding 12 working days in any one month. (2) Vocational Driving Licences : to achieve a yearly average of 95 per cent. of licences dispatched within 11 working days of receipt of the application and not exceeding 13 working days in any one month.

(3) Provisional Driving Licences : to achieve a yearly average of 90 per cent. of licences dispatched within 10 working days and not exceeding 12 working days in any one month.


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(c) Written Enquiries

90 per cent. to be dispatched within five working days of receipt. 2. Waiting Time at Local Vehicle Licensing Offices


                                                  |Maximum waiting time                     

                                                  |(minutes)                                

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

Peak Period                                                                                 

  (First 8 and last 2 working days of each month) |25                                       

Other working days                                |10                                       

3. Error Rates

Reduction of error rate (errors on any item sent out by the Agency) to 0.6 per cent. of total Agency output.

4. Unit cost of Vehicle Excise Enforcement Cases

Achievement of a unit cost of £22.12 (at 1992-93 prices) per vehicle excise enforcement case completed.

5. Aggregate Unit Cost and Efficiency Indicator

(1) Achievement of an aggregate unit cost calculated on the basis of cost per standard hour of work of £26.37 (at 1992-93 prices). (2) Achievement of an efficiency saving of at least 4.29 per cent.

NATIONAL FINANCE

UN Expenditure

Mr. Elletson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what additional United Kingdom expenditure will result from the UN Security Council resolution 816 ; how this expenditure will be met ; and what effect this expenditure will have on Government spending totals.

Mr. Portillo : The additional annual operating costs of RAF aircraft engaged under UN Security Council resolution 816, which are charged to the defence budget, is currently estimated by MOD to be £20 million. The costs will not add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Income Tax

Mr. Illsley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what figures he has for aggregate income tax payments in Yorkshire and Humberside listed by tax office and for each constituent local authority area during the most recent financial year for which figures are available.

Mr. Dorrell : I regret that the information requested is not available. Estimates of tax liabilities for residents of counties and regions are given in table 3.11 of the Inland Revenue Statistics 1993.

Tax Returns

Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many completed 12FR tax returns were received by the Inland Revenue in 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Mr. Dorrell : The specialised offices dealing with these tax returns recieved approximately 43,000 completed forms 12FR in each of the years 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many completed 11K tax returns were received by the Inland Revenue in 1991-92 and 1992-93.


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Mr. Dorrell : Separate records are not kept of the numbers of these tax returns received in tax districts which deal with them.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Asbestos-related Diseases

Mr. Watson : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much has been paid out in civil compensation in respect of asbestos-related diseases in each year from 1988 in England and Wales ; and what was the average payment in each of those years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : This information is not available and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

BBC

Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will meet the chairman of the board of governors and the director general of the BBC ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke : I met the chairman and other governors of the BBC, and the senior managers, on 16 June and I have no plans for a further meeting in the next few weeks.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Japanese Diplomatic Wireless Traffic

Mr. Allason : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to declassify and release to the Public Record Office Government code and cypher school decrypts of intercepted pre-war and wartime Japanese diplomatic wireless traffic.

Mr. Hurd : The decrypts shown to Sir Winston Churchill when Prime Minister, referred to in the Open Government White Paper at chapter 2 and annex D, include selected translations of wartime Japanese diplomatic messages. The papers are being reviewed and it should be possible to make them available in the next nine months.

Other wartime and earlier records of the Government code and cypher school will be reviewed thereafter. These records also include translations of pre -war Japanese diplomatic messages ; I cannot at this time say exactly when these records will reach the Public Record Office.

Iran

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Iranian Government on the new wave of persecution of the Baha'i community in Iran.

Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking in respect of current human rights violations against members of the Baha'i faith in Iran.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We regularly raise our concerns about human rights in Iran, including the treatment of the


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Baha'i community, with the Iranian authorities. Together with our EC partners, we sponsored a resolution adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 10 March which highlighted the position of the Baha'i community. We and our EC partners underlined our concerns during recent discussions between the EC and Iran.

Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking following the publication on 22 February of the final report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the special representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Together with our EC partners we co-sponsored a resolution tabled at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in the light of the February report of the United Nations Special Representative on Human Rights in Iran. The resolution was adopted on 10 March by a sizeable majority. We regularly raise our concerns about human rights in Iran with the Iranian authorities.

NATO Summit

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what subjects will be discussed at the NATO summit in December.

Mr. Goodlad : This is still under discussion, but we would expect the agenda to include the further development of NATO's relations with the countries of central and eastern Europe : the adaptation of the alliance in its new roles, including peacekeeping under United Nations and CSCE auspices : the European identity within the alliance : and non- proliferation.

Ukraine

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to persuade the Ukraine to ratify START I.

Mr. Goodlad : We have repeatedly urged Ukraine to fulfil its commitment to ratify START I and accede to the non-proliferation treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state. We have made clear our view that this will facilitate Ukraine's development of full and positive relations with the international community. We have acknowledged the security and economic concerns which Ukraine has raised in this context. We have made clear that we are prepared to offer security assurances to Ukraine once it has acceded to the NPT, and that we support efforts to meet its economic concerns in a way which is compatible with the non-nuclear commitments it has given.

Kosovo

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests the Atlantic Council have made to the appropriate bodies within NATO to prepare contingency plans for an appropriate military response in the event of a deterioration of the political and humanitarian situation in Kosovo.

Mr. Goodlad : NATO military authorities have assessed measures which might be taken in support of the United


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Nations to prevent spillover of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia beyond present confines, including to Kosovo. This assessment has been passed to the United Nations in confidence.

Serbia

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice has been given to the Atlantic Council by the NATO military committee on the feasibility and advisability of air strikes against Serbia.

Mr. Goodlad : The NATO military committee has examined a wide range of options for the use of air power in relation to the crisis in former Yugoslavia. Airstrikes against Serbia would, however, require a fresh United Nations Security Council resolution ; no consideration has been given to such a resolution.

Tibet

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the oral answer of 14 July, Official Report, column 972, if he will make a statement on the position of Her Majesty's Government as regards Tibet that was communicated to the Chinese Government.

Mr. Goodlad : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs raised human rights issues in his meeting with Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on 8 July and specifically expressed concern about the situation in Tibet. He also handed over a copy of the report by Lord Howe's delegation on human rights in China and an updated list of cases of concern, including two Tibetans recently detained in Lhasa.

Russia

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action Her Majesty's Government are taking with regard to proposed legal amendments in Russia which would restrict the activity of foreign religious organisations in that country.

Mr. Goodlad : We raised with the Russian authorities on 15 July our concern at the passing by the Russian Supreme Soviet the previous day of an amendment of the 1990 law on freedom of religion. We have drawn attention to Russia's international commitments under the CSCE documents in relation to religious freedom and the free passage of information and urged that the new legislation, which has not yet received the president's signature, should not be brought into force.

PRIME MINISTER

Stone, Kent

Q7. Mr. Dunn : To ask the Prime Minister whether he has any plans to pay an official visit to Stone, Kent.

The Prime Minister : I have no immediate plans to do so.


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Council of Europe and WEU

Mr. Ward : To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the information bulletin on the activities of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union which has been sent to him.

The Prime Minister : I have done so today.

Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 20 July.

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 20 July.

The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Central Office of Information

Mrs. Angela Knight : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make an announcement about when the Central Office of Information's annual report and accounts for the year just ended will be published.

Mr. David Davis : I have pleasure in informing the hon. Member that I have today arranged for copies of the annual report and accounts to be placed in the Library of the House.

Citizens Charters

Mr. Pike : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list in the Official Report all the current citizens charters, indicating those which do not have specific reference to the needs of people with disabilities ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Davis : There are 32 charters, 27 of which have specific reference to the needs of people with disabilities. The full list is as follows :

Charter

Benefits Agency Customer Charter

Child Support Agency Charter

Courts Charter

Jobseeker's Charter

London Underground Customer's Charter

Parent's Charter

Passenger's Charter

Patient's Charter

Tenant's Charter

Traveller's Charter

Contributor's Charter

Employer's Charter

Redundancy Payments Service Charter

Taxpayer's Charter (HM Customs and Excise)

Taxpayer's Charter (Inland Revenue)

Northern Ireland

Bus Passenger's Charter

Charter for Patients and Clients

Charter for Social Security Agency Clients

Child Support Agency Charter

Northern Ireland Charter


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Northern Ireland Tenant's Charter

Parent's Charter

Railway Passenger's Charter

RUC Charter

Training and Employment Agency Customer's Charter

Scotland

Justice Charter for Scotland

Parent's Charter for Scotland

Patient's Charter for Scotland

Tenant's Charter for Scotland

Wales

Parent's Charter for Wales

Patient's Charter for Wales

Tenant's Charter for Wales

Charters that do not make specific reference to the needs of people with disabilities.


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