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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 24 January 1994

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Property Investment Advisers

Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners who are the current property investment advisers to the Church Commissioners ; and for how long they have been retained in that position.

Mr. Alison : The commissioners' assets committee is advised on property matters by a group comprising Mr. J.H. M. Newsum, BSc., FRICS, Mr. G. E. Richardson, FRICS, and Sir Christopher Wates, FCA, which was set up last year. DTZ Debenham Thorpe were also appointed last year to provide independent valuations of, and strategic advice on, commercial property investments. The committee also receives advice from the following firms of chartered surveyors, to which properties have been entrusted for day-to-day management :


                          |Since:       

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

Chestertons               |1954         

Cluttons                  |1948         

Donaldsons                |1988         

Hillier Parker May and                  

 Rowden                   |1983         

Smith Gore                |1948         

Victor Behrens, Sandhurst               

 and Co                   |1973         

Wardell Armstrong         |1982         

NATIONAL FINANCE

Back to Basics"

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the implications of the Government's "back to basics" policy for his Department during 1994.

Mr. Rendel : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what working definition of "back to basics" is used by his Department ; and what his Department has done in the past three months to implement the policy.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I refer to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 January at column 849.

Ministerial Cars

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will quantify the cost of the factors which led to an increase in the cost of cars for Ministers in his Department since 1990-91.

Mr. Nelson : There are two main factors which have led to an increase in the cost per Government car service car


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for Ministers in my Department. The first is the effect of inflation which, since 1990-91, has added some 12 per cent. to GCS costs, particularly pay, vehicles and fuel. The second factor is that during the period the GCS restructured its charge to reflect the fact that it had been under-recovering its costs by some 15 per cent.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Government Departments have had responsibility for Her Majesty's Customs and Excise Department since 1979.

Sir John Cope : Her Majesty's Customs and Excise is a separate Department of Government managed by commissioners appointed by the Queen. Treasury Ministers have, for the period from 1979--and long before--had responsibility for the Department.

Value Added Tax (Service Charges)

Mr. Steen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent and in what circumstances VAT will be added to service charges in respect of the supply of energy.

Sir John Cope : Certain services associated with the supply of energy, for example maintenance of appliances and pipes on the consumer's side of the meter, are already subject to the standard rate of VAT. Other services which are currently seen as an integral part of the supply of energy, such as meter rental and disconnection and reconnection services, will continue to follow the liability of the fuel and for domestic consumers will therefore be subject to 8 per cent. VAT from 1 April 1994 and the standard rate from 1 April 1995. First-time connection to the gas and electricity mains will, however, continue to be relieved for VAT.

Statutory Sick Pay

Mr. Ingram : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 17 January, Official Report, columns 357-58, what estimate he has made of the additional costs, net of any reduction in employer's national insurance contributions, to his departmental budget for the financial year 1994-95 resulting from the changes in statutory sick pay provision.

Mr. Nelson : I estimate that there will be no net extra cost.

Inland Revenue

Mr. Burns : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the organisation of executive offices in the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Dorrell : The Inland Revenue has today announced further moves towards a smaller number of larger executive offices.

With effect from 1 April 1994 the controller of claims branch will assume responsibility for the office of the inspector of foreign dividends and the two executive offices will be managed as one. Also with effect from 1 April 1994 the controller of the capital taxes offices--England, Wales and Northern Ireland--will assume responsibility for the capital taxes office-- Scotland--and the two offices will be managed as one.


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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Statutory Sick Pay

Mr. Ingram : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate he has made of the additional costs, net of any reduction in employer's national insurance contributions, to his departmental budget for the financial year 1994-95 resulting from the changes in statutory sick pay provision.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The provision for statutory sick pay is included within the Department's existing running costs baseline. The cost to the Department of statutory sick pay is notional. Any additional cost to the Department arising from the need to cover sick absence would be absorbed within the baseline.

Patient S

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department why the case of Patient S which was heard on Friday 14 January was heard in camera ; and why the patient was not named.

Mr. John M. Taylor : In accordance with rule 36 of the Court of Protection Rules 1984 all patients' cases are heard in chambers to which the public have no access unless the judge otherwise directs. This rule is designed to protect the anonymity of mentally inacapable patients should they ever recover.

Liverpool Legal Aid Board

Mrs. Jane Kennedy : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is his latest estimate for 1993-94 of the percentage of legal aid applications processed by (a) the Merseyside area office and (b) the Liverpool legal aid board within (i) two weeks and (ii) six weeks.

Mr. John M. Taylor : There is only one legal aid area office in Liverpool, which serves the Merseyside area. The targets set by the Legal Aid Board nationally for processing legal aid applications in 1993-94 are 70 per cent. within two weeks and 90 per cent. within six weeks. The performance of the Liverpool area office in the year to date--from 1 April 1993 to November 1993, the most recent month for which figures are available--has been 70.3 per cent. of applications within two weeks and 93.5 per cent. within six weeks. It is estimated that for the year as a whole Liverpool area office will more than meet the national performance targets.

Mrs. Jane Kennedy : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he expects the Liverpool legal aid board will achieve BS5750 accreditation ; what the cost is of gaining accreditation ; and if he will make a statement on the reasons for seeking BS5750 accreditation.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Legal Aid Board as a whole, including the Liverpool area office, received accreditation


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under BS5750 from Lloyd's register quality assurance in November 1993. The cost attributable to accrediting the Liverpool area office was approximately £20,000.

The board's purpose in adopting BS5750 was to become more efficient throughout the organisation by adopting, so far as possible, common, documented, working systems ; to demonstrate a commitment to quality ; and to provide assurance that the improved systems of control it had introduced and would be introducing in the future would be applied throughout the organisation on a consistent and correct basis.

Mrs. Jane Kennedy : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of legal aid applications between 1992-93 were processed by the Liverpool legal aid board within (a) two weeks and (b) six weeks.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The targets set by the Legal Aid Board for processing legal aid applications in 1992-93 were 60 per cent. within two weeks and 85 per cent. within six weeks. The performance of the Liverpool area office was 73 per cent. of applications within two weeks and 92 per cent. within six weeks, both above the national average.

Small Claims Court

Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to reform the small claims court.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Significant changes were made to procedures in this forum in October 1992, including an increased responsibility for the judge to assist unrepresented parties in putting their case and provision for litigants to be assisted by lay representatives. Public consultation has recently taken place on proposals for the automatic reference of unliquidated claims falling below the small claims limit into this forum, and for a new procedure for small personal injury claims. My Department is currently analysing the response to his consultation.

In the light of these changes, the Lord Chancellor does not currently have any intention of "reforming" the small claims arbitration procedure in any more extensive way, although he has been open about his intention to keep the small claims limit under review and to raise it in due course.

Christmas Cards

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many official Christmas cards were sent out in 1993 by (a) Ministers, (b) civil servants and (c) staff of Government agencies working in or to his Department, and how much these cards cost (i) to buy, (ii) to post and (iii) in staff time to sign, address and place in envelopes.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The information requested is as follows :


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                        |Amount sent       |Purchase price    |Postage cost      |Cost in staff time                   

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Lord Chancellor         |201               |Own purchase      |£53               |£72                                  

                                                                                                                       

Parliamentary Secretary |50                |£13               |£6                |£44                                  

                                                                                                                       

Civil Servants          |1,168             |£1,028            |£226              |£155                                 

                                                                                                                       

Agencies                |689               |£423              |£127              |£227                                 

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Iraq

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will now make it his policy to publish the level of Export Credits Guarantee Department claims payments in regard to Iraq for each year since 1979.

Mr. Needham : The amounts paid out by year on ECGD's top claims markets are now detailed in the Department's annual report, copies of which are in the Library of the House. Since 1990-91 Iraq has featured in the list. ECGD's 1992-93 report will be presented to Parliament later this month.

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many Export Credits Guarantee Department loans were outstanding to Iraq at (a) 2 August 1990 and (b) 15 January 1991.

Mr. Needham : At the 2 August 1990 there were 28 ECGD-backed loans outstanding on Iraq. This total remained unchanged as at 15 January 1991.

Allivane Group

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information his Department holds regarding the trading activities of (a) Allivane International Group and (b) Allivane International Ltd., respectively, with (i) Saudi Arabia, (ii) Jordan, (iii) Yugoslavia, (iv) Portugal, (v) Iran and (vi) Iraq since 1983.

Mr. Needham : It has been the practice of successive

Administrations not to disclose information supplied in confidence by or about applicants for export licences.

Export Licence Applications

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade under what conditions he is prepared to reveal details of particular export licensing applications.

Mr. Needham : It has been the practice of successive

Administrations not to disclose information supplied in confidence by or about applicants for export licences. However, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is prepared to disclose information in circumstances where he considers that the public interest overrides considerations of confidentiality. One such consideration is the need to avoid helping those who seek to evade export controls.

Electric Cars

Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance his Department has given to the PSA (Peugeot)/City of Coventry Electric car project research into the viability of a pay-as-you- drive electric car hire scheme.


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Mr. Sainsbury : None.

Instruments of Torture (Export)

Mr. Chisholm : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the Government's policy on the export of instruments of torture.

Mr. Needham : As I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham) on 12 January, Official Report, column 168, the Government deeply deprecate the export of any equipment knowingly to be used as an instrument of torture. The difficulty in this area lies in the fact that many perfectly innocuous goods may be misused for such purposes overseas and it is not practical to control the export of such items. However, if any such cases are brought to the Government's attention we shall make the strongest possible representations to those involved ; if they are ignored, we will examine what steps could be taken to prevent export taking place. When realistic, enforceable controls are possible we can act urgently to impose them.

Public Bodies

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the President of the Board of Trade who are the members currently appointed to the Renewable Energy Advisory Committee.

Mr. Eggar : The renewable Energy Advisory Committee consists of DTI and other Government officials and independent members. The independent members are as follows :


{

Member                                                                                                                     

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

Mr. Gerald Leach                         |Consultant to the Stockholm                                                      

                                         | Environment Institute                                                           

Mr. Richard Morris                       |Portlea Ltd.                                                                     

Mr. Alan Tweedale                        |Energy Supplies Ltd.                                                             

Dr. Gordon Walker                        |SERC, Rutherford Appleton laboratory                                             

Dr. Ann Wheldon                          |Department of Engineering, university of                                         

                                         | Reading                                                                         

Mr. J. Paul White                        |Norweb plc                                                                       

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the President of the Board of Trade who are the members currently appointed to the Overseas Projects Board.

Mr. Needham : The members currently appointed to the Overseas Projects Board are :

Overseas Projects Board

Members

Sir Alan Cockshaw

Chairman

AMEC plc

Mr. C. H. Brown

Chief Executive, British Gas plc

Mr. B. P. Dewe Mathews

Director, J. Henry Schroder Wagg and Co. Ltd.

Professor G. Fleming BSc PhD

Department of Civil Engineering

University of Strathclyde


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Mr. R. T. Fox CBE

Vice Chairman, Kleinwort Benson Group plc

Mr. S. Gillibrand CBE

Vice Chairman, British Aerospace plc

Mr. D. O. Lloyd

Director, Sir William Halcrow and Partners Ltd.

Mr. I. W. Reeves

Chairman, High Point plc

Mr. A. White CBE

Chairman, Biwater Ltd.

Mr. P. Hills

Executive Director

Samuel Montagu

Mr. F. Kennedy

Executive Board Director

George Wimpey plc

Sir Wilfrid Newton

Chairman

London Regional Transport

Mr. D. Jefferies

Chairman, National Grid Company

Sir Desmond Pitcher

Chairman

North West Water Group

Mr. P. L. Lockton CBE

Managing Director

Rolls-Royce India Ltd.

Mr. K. A. Bray

Managing Director

GEC Asthom

Mr. R. Beresford

Managing Director

Mott McDonald


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