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Mr. Needham [holding answer 25 January 1994] : Improved trade opportunities for British exporters will come from higher world growth, reductions in industrial tariffs, the inclusion of services and intellectual property in the multilateral trading system for the first time, improved trade rules and a more stable international trading environment. The average cut in bound tariff rates on exports of industrial products from the European Community to the United States is 49 per cent. Tariffs will be eliminated completely on agricultural equipment, beer, construction equipment, furniture, medical equipment, paper, pharmaceuticals, certain spirits, steel and toys. The new agreement on Government procurement will open up purchases worth over £200 billion worldwide per year to United Kingdom suppliers of goods and services.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 25 January 1994] : British industry will benefit from higher world growth and from the reduction of tariffs on imports of components and raw materials into the United Kingdom. British exporters will benefit greatly from the lifting of overseas trade barriers, improved trade rules and a more stable international trading environment.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what commitment has been given by the United States Government as part of the GATT negotiations to reduce (a) direct and (b) indirect subsidies to industries ; and what was the overall percentage reduction in subsidies undertaken.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 25 January 1994] : In common with the other GATT signatories, the United States Government will be bound by the terms of the new subsidies agreement which will impose clearer disciplines on subsidies than the present GATT subsidies code. It is too early to say how this will affect the value of any subsidies paid out by the United States Government.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what will be the total reduction in the sum spent by European Governments in the reduction of subsidies to European industries following the GATT agreement.
Mr. Needham [holding answer 25 January 1994] : Except in the field of agriculture, where specific reductions in domestic support and subsidised exports have been agreed, it is too early to say how the GATT agreement will affect the value of any subsidies paid out by European Governments.
(2) what was the total number of Customs and Excise officers engaged in VAT inspections in the area covered by the Southampton Customs and Excise office in each year since 1983 ;
(3) what was the total number of VAT inspections carried out in the area covered by the Southampton Customs and Excise office in each year since 1983.
Because of the restructuring of local VAT office boundaries and other operational changes, VAT visiting employment figures are not available for the whole period requested. For the years to March 1993 and March 1994, Southampton LVO assigned 43 and 45 officers respectively to such duties.
Using those staff, 3,962 visits were carried out in the period to March 1993 and it is planned to complete some 3,450 visits by March 1994. The number of visits is not, of
Column 253itself, an indicator of the efficacy of the visiting programme as businesses are selected in accordance with their risk profile which may vary from year to year.
Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will halt any further proposals to contract out information-gathering areas of his Department following the report into "Business Attitudes to the Contracting Out of Statistical Inquiry Work".
Mr. Nelson : Any proposals for contracting out statistical work in my Departments will take the report fully into account in assessing value for money. Business concerns about confidentiality and our quality requirements for statistics would obviously be key considerations.
Ms Harman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what rise he expects in the price of a typical house in 1994, 1995 and 1996 ; and if he will provide figures for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions.
Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the revenue forgone in consequence of the introduction of the rent-a-room scheme under which owners of property can receive tax relief on certain income for lodgers.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much charities are currently paying in VAT ; how much benefit they receive from direct tax concessions for giving ; and what plans he has to remedy any imbalance.
Sir John Cope : Direct tax reliefs on charitable giving are worth about £260 million a year to charities. Other direct tax reliefs benefiting charities are worth a further £480 million, business rates relief £390 million and VAT reliefs £150 million--a total of £1.3 billion a year. Charities estimate that they pay £350 million a year in irrecoverable VAT.
Column 254services of EEC Council directive of 17 May 1977 on the harmonisation of the laws of the member states relating to turnover taxes-common system of VAT : uniform system of assessment--"the sixth directive" ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) if he will make a statement about the application of VAT to the provision of medical services which involve no patient care, including the provision of expert evidence in medical legal cases.
Sir John Cope : The professional services of a registered medical practitioner are exempt from VAT in the United Kingdom. This ensures the simple and straightforward application of the exemption and is in accordance with the requirements of the EC sixth VAT directive.
Mr. Mills : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received about the installation of traffic lights at the junction of Oak lane and the A45 near Meriden ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) by whom and in what circumstances a journalist was given access to interview Darius Guppy in prison, for and on behalf of Hello! magazine ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) when the Prison Service learned that Darius Guppy was to be interviewed in prison by a journalist ;
(3) on what date Darius Guppy was interviewed in prison for or on behalf of Hello! magazine ;
(4) when and what action was taken by him or the Prison Service on discovering that payments had been made by Hello! magazine for rights to an interview with Darius Guppy in prison.
Column 255Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Andrew Mackinlay, dated 26 January 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about the article appearing in Hello! magazine on Darius Guppy. We do not know when or by what means Hello! conducted the interview with Mr. Guppy, although it could not have been from a prison cell as suggested in the article. He was not given permission to be interviewed in prison, and was not visited in prison by anyone identified as a journalist. The Prison Service was not aware Mr. Guppy had been interviewed until the article was published in Hello! I understand that the Press Complaints Commission found Hello! to be in breach of its Code of Practice in making payment for the interview. I similarly deplore such practice. However, I understand payment for the interview was not made to Mr. Guppy but to third parties. Consequently, it would not be a matter over which the prison has any jurisdiction.
Mr. Betts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (a) what is the average time currently being taken to process a travel document, (b) how this compares with the target figure in the citizens charter, (c) how many cases have exceeded this target in the last 12 months and (d) what percentage of applications this represents.
Mr. Charles Wardle : At present, applications for Home Office travel documents made by people accepted as refugees under the terms of the 1951 United Nations convention are taking up to eight weeks to be considered, and other applications about six months. These periods may be exceeded in cases which necessitate further inquiries or which raise other immigration issues. There is no target for this work in the citizens charter. Action is now in hand to process new applications more quickly and tackle the backlog.
Mr. Betts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applicants are currently awaiting the processing of travel documents ; and what was the application date of the earliest dated application.
Mr. Charles Wardle : At the end of December 1993, there were 5,099 cases outstanding in the travel document section of the immigration and nationality department. The oldest unactioned travel document application from a person accepted as a refugee was made on 18 November 1993, and from a non-refugee on 14 July 1993.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who are the members currently appointed to the Security Service Tribunal.
Mr. Michael Howard : The current members of the Interception of Communications Tribunal are the hon. Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, TD, president, Sir Cecil Clothier KCB QC, vice-president, Sir David Calcutt QC, Mr. Ivor Guild CBE and Mr. Peter Scott QC.
Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on which occasions since 1979 his Department has employed the services of external consultants ; and if he will give details of the purposes for which they were employed and the cost of employing them.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The safer cities project to be set up in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne will encompass the metropolitan district of Newcastle upon Tyne, which is served by four basic command units within the Northumbria police force, namely--Newcastle central, Newcastle east, Newcastle west and Newcastle north.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has received from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers in relation to the Sunday Trading Bill ; and what response he has given.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the European Commission's proposed list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external frontiers of member states will come into force.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement with regard to the effect on Commonwealth countries of the European Commission's proposals to determine the list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external frontiers of member states ; (2) if he will make it his policy, in discussions with the European Commission and in the Council of Ministers about the rights of those Commonwealth countries whose nationals are able to visit the United Kingdom without a visa, to ensure that they may continue to do so ; (3) if he will give undertakings to the Governments of those Commonwealth countries whose nationals are currently able to visit the United Kingdom without a visa that they may continue to do so.
Column 257European Commission on maintaining the rights of those Commonwealth countries whose nationals are able to visit the United Kingdom without a visa, when drawing up the list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external frontiers of member states.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to seek a change in the law to make it possible to identify publicly a juvenile who, having been charged with a criminal offence, is unlawfully at large.
Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many life sentence prisoners there are in the northern region ; how many have been convicted of murder ; and how many have been convicted of serious rape cases.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest information is for 30 June 1992 when there were 156 persons, of whom 149 were convicted of murder and seven were convicted of rape, serving life sentences in Prison Service establishments in the northern region of England and Wales.
Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many motorists involved in an accident with a cyclist were prosecuted for dangerous driving in (a) 1991, (b) 1992 and (c) 1993.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government will now monitor the screening procedures introduced in May 1991 to facilitate the working of the 1980 concession in respect of domestic workers.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 17 December, Official Report, columns 947-48, what factors led the Charity Commission to believe that some of the payments made by Foundation for Business Responsibilities to Marketforce Communications Ltd. were not justified ; what consideration was given to investigating how these payments had been used by Marketforce Communications Ltd.; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : As I explained in my answer of 17 December, it was the trustees of the foundation themselves who, during the course of the commissioners' investigation, formed the view that some of the payments made to Marketforce Communications Ltd. may not have been justified. Subsequently, these and all other payments to the company by the foundation were recovered in full. New procedures were adopted by the foundation to prevent similar concerns arising in the future. It is for the charity commissioners to decide on the extent and nature of inquiries that are appropriate in a particular case. In this case, the commissioners were satisfied that sufficient action had been taken to protect charitable funds, and that it was not necessary to continue with their inquiries.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Lady Olga Maitland, dated 26 January 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the services for drug and alcohol abuse available in each prison. Detailed information about the services provided in individual prisons relating to drug and alcohol abuse is not collected centrally, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
There are, however, a number of services available. Detailed information about caring for drug users is set out in Circular Instruction 12/1991 and the resource manual "Caring for Drug Users", copies of which are in the House of Commons Library.
Provision is made for detoxification of drug users on reception, any necessary medical treatment, and treatment programmes. The latter vary between establishments, but include individual and group counselling work, often run by or in conjunction with voluntary agencies. Arrangements are also made for care after release through probation services and voluntary agencies. Our HIV and AIDS education and training for prisoners include particular mention of the dangers of transmission of the HIV virus for injecting drug users. Drug and alcohol abuse is a very high priority for the Prison Service and we are continuing to develop our programmes for dealing with drug and alcohol abusers.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the refurbishment of the Governor's mansion in Anguilla is proceeding on time and within cost limits ; what is the expected completion date and total cost ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad : The first stage of refurbishment of the governor's residence in Anguilla began in April 1993 and was completed in October 1993. The second stage began in December 1993 and is programmed for completion in July 1994. The project suffered some delay at an early stage, but is now proceeding on schedule and within the total works cost estimate of £310,000.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The establishments division of the Government of Anguilla, acting on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission, is responsible for the appointment and employment of staff at Radio Anguilla.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will issue guidelines to Radio Anguilla to ensure the political impartiality of that radio station in the forthcoming general elections and beyond.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Additional guidelines for Radio Anguilla staff are not required in the period leading up to the general election. The governor is confident that Radio Anguilla will continue to operate free from all political interference.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of the Radio Authority's guidelines regarding political coverage for radio stations in the Caribbean dependent territory of Anguilla.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I consider the guidelines to be appropriate, as they are based on the practice adopted by the BBC. These are kept under review by the Department of Information and Broadcasting and updated where necessary.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the independence of Radio Anguilla from the Government of Anguilla ; and if he will make a statement.