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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 22 November 1993


EC Education Council

Ms Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EC Education Council on 8 November.

Mr. Boswell : The Ministers first heard a presentation by the Russian Minister of Education, Mr. Tkachenko, on the reform of his country's education system. The Council then discussed issues relating to student mobility and access by students to higher education in the Community, and the Commission's recent Green Paper on the European dimension of education. No formal conclusions were reached in either case.


EC Budget Council

Ms Quin : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EC Budget Council on 15 November.

Sir John Cope : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) on 19 November at columns 4-6 .



Mr. Gale : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the sources for his quotations from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) contained in his speech to the House on 18 November, Official Report, column 34.

The Prime Minister : The quotation from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott),

"do you obey the law or not obey the law? We"--

that is, the Labour party--

"don't have any kind of firm principles in the Party of how we might deal with this problem"

is from the New Socialist, November 1985 ; and the quotation that Labour is

"going to repeal"--

that is, the Government's trade union legislation--

"all of it, there's no little bits you can keep It all has to go"

is from The Independent, 27 December 1989.

Efficiency Unit

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the results of the study on civil service career management and succession planning carried out by the efficiency unit ; and if he will make a statement.

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The Prime Minister : I am placing in the Library today a copy of the efficiency unit's report on career management and succession planning in the civil service. I am pleased to welcome its findings. The civil service is being restructured with departmental headquarters concentrating on policy making and the purchasing of services which increasingly are provided by agencies in government or on contract from the private sector. The systems for recruitment, appointment and career management of civil servants need to be matched to these changing tasks and responsibilities and the skills and qualities needed in the civil service in the future. At the same time, the Government agree with the need to preserve an impartial, non-political civil service recruited and promoted on merit. Within this framework, the Government accept that the systems for career management and succession planning should be made more open. The report finds that the evidence from the private sector is that most senior posts are filled from within. But new arrangements are needed to address in each case the question whether the post should be open to competition from outside.

The report contains detailed recommendations about career management systems in individual departments on which there will now be consultation with those concerned. The report's proposals on how posts are filled and on the possibility of introducing more specific contract terms raise important issues which need further consideration. The Government will also be receiving early next year a report from the senior salaries review body on developing the existing performance pay arrangements which it will wish to take into account in reaching conclusions.

In the light of this further work, the Government intend to announce in the spring their decisions on the recommendations in the report and to publish an implementation plan.


Animal Procedures Committee

Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has appointed a chairman of the Animal Procedures Committee ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : I have appointed Professor Margaret Brazier, who is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at Manchester University, as chairman of the committee in succession to Lord Nathan.

I should like to place on record my appreciation of the service that Lord Nathan has performed as chairman of the committee since 1990 and I am grateful to Professor Brazier for agreeing to take on the duties.


Local Government Review

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce the details of the accelerated programme of reviews of local government structure in England.

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Mr. Curry : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State today directed the Local Government Commission to begin reviews of the remaining shire counties on 13 December and to submit all reports on or before 31 December 1994.

He also directed the commission to have regard to the revised policy guidance published on 2 November, and the revised procedure guidance, published today, in conducting these reviews. A copy of the procedure guidance has been placed in the Library of the House and additional copies are available in the Vote Office.

We are giving the commission the flexibility it needs to achieve the demanding programme of work which we have set for it. We are not changing the nature of the process, which is enshrined in the legislation. But we are no longer setting prescriptive time limits for every stage of a review, so that the commission can proceed in each area on a time scale that meets local circumstances. We are, however, quite clear that the length of time allowed for public consultation must not be reduced below two months, as my right hon. Friend announced at the end of September.

We are keen for the commission to submit a steady flow of reports from mid- 1994. This will mean that within the wider timetable, individual county reviews will be phased. The commission has discussed a programme with the local authority associations, and today announced its intended sequence of county reviews. We endorse this programme. The table shows the dates by which initial proposals from groups of authorities or others should be submitted to the commission, and the dates when the Secretary of State expects to receive the final reports.

Those areas in the first phase include the old second tranche reviews which had been suspended pending publication of revised guidance. They will now be restarted to allow local authorities and interested parties to look again at their initial submissions. The direction and the procedure guidance have been framed so as to allow solutions across shire county boundaries to be examined where these are the most sensible way forward. Some proposals of this kind have already been made, and others may follow. But we expect that in most cases it will not be necessary to look outside county areas to find structures on which local agreement can be reached.

My right hon. Friend has already announced that he intends to direct the commission to look at the boundaries of metropolitan areas after it has completed the shire reviews. We anticipate that any boundary issues between the shire counties and the metropolitan areas will be examined as part of the wider metropolitan review. This will allow the commission to proceed swiftly with its current work programme.

The announcement today means that the commission, local authorities and others can get on with the business of developing structural options which would deliver convenient and effective local government.

Most hon. Members have already shown much interest in the review and will no doubt wish to work with the local authorities to help them reach agreement on the best structure for their area. We expect a local consensus on structure to be a promising starting point for the commission.

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Proposed phasing for initial stage of review                                    

County              |Date initial       |Target Date for                        

                    |representations due|final report                           






Leicestershire      |end February       |end July                               










Suffolk             |end February       |end August                             




Hereford and                                                                    





Wiltshire           |end March          |end September                          





East Sussex                                                                     

West Sussex         |end April          |end October                            




Shropshire          |end May            |end November                           

Waste Disposal

Mr. Spring : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the research commissioned by its Department earlier this year on the external costs and benefits of landfill and incineration of waste.

Mr. Yeo : We will be publishing a report tomorrow on "Externalities from Landfill and Incineration" by the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) and Warren Spring Laboratory. I have arranged for copies of the report to be placed in the Library. The report will be available from HMSO.

Environmental Guidance

Mr. Kynoch : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further guidance he intends to provide on the role of economic instruments to achieve environmental goals.

Mr. Yeo : We will be publishing tomorrow a booklet called "Making Markets Work for the Environment", which was produced by my Department. I have arranged for copies of the report to be placed in the Library. The report will be available from HMSO.



Mr. Stephen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's policy regarding arms exports to Lebanon.

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Mr. Douglas Hogg : Applications for the exports of arms to Lebanon are considered on their merits in the light of prevailing circumstances. During the Lebanese civil war it was not our practice to licence the export of lethal equipment to Lebanon. The Government would at present be prepared to consider, on a case-by-case basis, applications for the sale of arms to the Lebanese Government to help them re-establish their legitimate authority--provided that we were satisfied that the equipment supplied would not affect the regional military balance.


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