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(b) Appointments made by the Privy Council

2 Members of the Council and 5 Members of the Academic Advisory Council of the University of Buckingham

5 Members of the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine 3 Members of the Court of the University of Kent at Canterbury Chairman and 5 other Members of the General Optical Council 4 Members of the Court of the University of Lancaster

3 Members of the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Chairman of the Statutory Committee of the Society One Member of the Council of the University of the South Pacific 4 Members of the Court and 3 Members of the Conference of the University of Stirling

3 Members of the General Convocation of the University of Strathclyde

3 Members of the Court of the University of Sussex

4 Members of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

One Member of the Council of the Royal Veterinary College. Well over 1,000 appointments under these categories have been made since 1979, and details of the individuals concerned could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Hong Kong

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on discussions held and agreements made with China in regard to safety arrangements and precautionary evaluation procedures for the Crown territories of Hong Kong for the Daya bay nuclear plant near Hong Kong.

The Prime Minister : Talks with the Chinese authorities on the co- ordination of contingency arrangements for an emergency at the Guangdong nuclear power station at Daya bay began in June 1992. A memorandum of understanding was signed with the Guangdong authorities on 22 September 1993 on the contingency arrangements for information release and co- operation in the event of an off-site emergency at Daya bay. Discussions on the arrangements for on-site incidents are still in progress.

Lords Lieutenant

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister if he will advertise in the national press vacancies for Lords Lieutenant as and when they become available and give the details of the qualities sought.

The Prime Minister : Lords Lieutenant are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen under the royal prerogative, on my advice.

Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 27January.

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 27January.

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


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Malaysia (Hydro-electric Project)

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister how many files marked, "Not for NAO eyes", relating to the Pergau hydro-electric project in Malaysia are held by his secretariat and the Cabinet Office.

The Prime Minister : None.

One-Parent Families

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Prime Minister if the comments made by the Secretary of State for Wales on 10 January, with regard to one-parent families, reflect Government policy; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 January 1994] : My right hon. Friend was correct in saying that the single parent issue is important to the Government. The growth in single parent families inevitably has an impact on Government policies. For example, rates of pregnancy among 13 to 15-year-old girls have risen substantially in recent years, which is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has adopted a target of a minimum reduction of 50 per cent. on the 1989 rates by 2000. Similarly, the Child Support Agency was established because of concern about absent fathers and support for children in single parent families.

British Legion Medal

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Prime Minister if he will recommend Her Majesty the Queen that her permission be granted for any uniformed members of the public services and armed forces who did national service to wear on their uniforms the medal struck for ex-national service men by the Royal British Legion, or the related ribbon.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 26 January 1994] : The medal struck on behalf of the Royal British Legion is unofficial and produced as a commercial venture to raise funds for their Poppy appeal. It would not therefore be appropriate for me to approach Her Majesty the Queen as requested. People who served on national service were eligible for the various official medals approved by the sovereign at the time.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Agencies (Letters)

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many letters addressed to Ministers in his Department in the last 12 months by (a) hon. Members and (b) others have been forwarded for reply to each agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hague : The number of letters from hon. Members forwarded to each executive agency during 1993 is in the table.



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


Benefits Agency                        |1,820      


Contributions Agency                   |189        


Child Support Agency<1>                |548        


Resettlement Agency                    |2          


Information Technology Services Agency |1          


<1>April-December 1993 after achieving agency      


status.                                            


Information on letters from other people which have been forwarded to agencies is not available.

Heating Equipment

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what supplementary help is to be made available to pensioners and benefit receivers for extra heating equipment necessitated by the reduction in voltage in electricity supplies.

Mr. Burt : The effect on the output of electrical heating equipment in making the change to a nominal voltage of 230 volts in accordance with the time scales and tolerances required for EC voltage harmonisation will be insignificant. Additional supplementary help is not appropriate.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many income support recipients have been subject to a benefit penalty as a result of awards made by the Child Support Agency since April 1993.

Mr. Burt : A reduced benefit direction is issued by a child support officer to the Benefits Agency only where a parent with care has refused to co-operate in pursuing child support maintenance without good cause.

The Child Support Agency issued 81 reduced benefit directions in the period 5 April 1993 to 30 November 1993. These include parents with care on income support, family credit, and disability working allowance. Separate figures for income support are not available.

Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if instructions have been given to officials of the Child Support Agency on requests from community groups for a speaker to address public meetings and answer questions from the audience.

Mr. Burt : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mrs. Maria Fyfe, dated 27 January 1994.

I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security on whether instructions have been given to Child Support Agency staff in respect of the provision of speakers for public meetings.

No general instructions have been issued about the provision of speakers for meetings. Since the formation of the Agency, it has been a function of Agency Customer Services Managers to provide help and information to organisations and groups representing our clients. Liaison with many such organisations is now extensive, and requests for speakers at meetings are considered locally.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford will receive a reply from the chief executive of the Child Support Agency to her letters concerning (a) B. Lawrence, (b) P. Bennett, (c) C. S. Chaplin, (d) A. Hawkins, (e) M. Smith and (f) T. Rickward ; and what is the reason for the delay.

Mr. Burt : Recent press interest has stimulated a great deal of correspondence from constituents and the necessary steps are being taken to ensure that correspondence from


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hon. Members will be answered as promptly as possible. I am sorry that the responses have been slower than usual from this Department. However, I replied to the hon. Member concerning Mr. M. Smith on 25 January, and Mr. B. Lawrence today. The other cases are in an advanced state of preparation, and the chief executive of the Child Support Agency will reply to the hon. Lady shortly.

Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what instructions his Department has given the chief executive of the Child Support Agency to expedite answers to letters from hon. Members about constituents' problems on child maintenance ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt : All letters from hon. Members addressed to the chief executive of the Child Support Agency are acknowledged and she aims to respond within an average of 20 working days. Recent press interest has stimulated a great deal of correspondence from constituents and although that target is not being met at the moment, the necessary steps are being taken to ensure that correspondence from hon. Members will be answered as promptly as possible.

Retirement Pensions

Mr. Wicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures showing what the retirement pension for a single person and a couple would be in April if it had continued to be uprated with earnings or prices, whichever the higher, since this link was broken.

Mr. Hague : It is estimated that the weekly rate of category A retirement pension would be £76.70 from April 1994 and the combined rate of category A pension and category B pension payable to a couple would be £122.75.

Children (Statistics)

Sir David Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 16 December, Official Report, column 836, if he will recalculate the last column of figures to show the number of children in families getting income support as percentages of the number for whom child benefit was being paid.

Mr. Burt : The available information is in the table and is for Great Britain only.



Supplementary Benefit/Income Support Recipients and Dependants                  


Year                |Number of          |As a percentage of                     


                    |dependants of      |children attracting                    


                    |SB/IS recipients   |child benefit                          


                    |(000's)                                                    


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


1979                |955                |7.2                                    


1989                |2,138              |17.9                                   


1992                |2,874              |23.2                                   


Notes:                                                                          


1. Sources: supplementary benefit/income support statistics annual              


inquiries, November 1979, May 1989, May 1992. Social Security                   


Statistics.                                                                     


2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. Percentages are       


correct to one decimal place.                                                   


3. The number of dependant children is expressed as a percentage of the         


number of children for whom child benefit was in payment.                       


4. The figures are for dependant children under the age of 19.                  


Mr. Wicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish the latest figures showing how


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many (a) families with children are living on income support and (b) how many children are living on income support ; and how these figures compare with 1979.

Mr. Burt : The information is in the table.



Income support supplementary benefit cases  


with children                               


                    |1979   |1993           


                    |(000's)|(000's)        


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


Cases with children |477    |1,574          


Number of children  |923    |2,970          


Notes:                                      


1. Source: Supplementary Benefit Statistics 


Annual Enquiry, November                    


1979 and the Income support statistics      


quarterly enquiry, February 1993.           


2. All figures have been rounded to the     


nearest thousand.                           


3. Children are defined as being under 16   


years of age.                               


Photographs

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to buy or borrow photographs ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hague : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no such plans.

Paintings and Photographs

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) paintaings and (b) photographs there are on the walls on his rooms.

Mr. Hague : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has 10 paintings on the walls of his rooms of which four were painted and provided by his wife. He has one photograph.

Weather Stations

Mrs. Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what records he has maintained, or intends to maintain, on the number of weather stations which record temperatures of 0 C or less for three, four, five and six nights in any given week.

Mr. Scott : The administration of cold weather payments is a matter for Mr Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. he will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mrs. Margaret Ewing, dated 26 January 1994.

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recently Parliamentary Question about what records are currently maintained, and what records it is intended will be maintained on the number of weather stations which record temperatures of 0 degrees Centrigade or less for three, four, five and six nights in any given week.

As I stated in my letter to you of 2 December 1993 [OR Vol 233 Cols 811- 812] data provided by the Meteorological office does not include information on those Meteorological stations which have registered an average of 0 degrees Centrigade for three, four, five or six nights. This is because the regulations relating to cold weather payments define a period of cold weather as a consecutive period of seven days during which the average mean temperature is 0 degrees Centigrade or less.

The Agency therefore, has no plans to begin requesting this information from the Meteorological Office, and will not be compiling and maintaining records relating to the information you require.

I hope this reply has been helpful.


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Independent Living Fund

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will modify the regulations relating to the independent living fund in order to enable local authorities to make direct payments ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bowis : I have been asked to reply.

We have currently no plans to enable social services authorities to make direct cash payments.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Export Licences

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information he has in regard to the application for export licences from (a) Heckler and Koch, (b) Royal Ordnance and (c) GEC for exporting military equipment to the former Yugoslavia since July 1992.

Mr. Needham : It has been the practice of successive

administrations not to disclose information about export licence applications from individual companies. A mandatory UN arms embargo was imposed in September 1991 ; export licences have been issued in respect of equipment for UN and EC peacekeeping activities, and for the protection of those undertaking humanitarian and media work.

EC Business Support

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total budget of the European Community's scheme to support business under (a) BC-NET, (b) EUROPARTENARIAT and (c) SPRINT in each year since their establishment ; and what was the total allocation of each to (i) the northern region and (ii) the United Kingdom as a whole.

Mr. McLoughlin :

BC-NET (Business co-operation network) and Europartenariat BC-Net and Europartenariat are part of the Community's action programme for small and medium-sized enterprises. Separate information on budgets for them is not readily available, but the total budget for the action programme since its commencement in 1989 is as follows :



Year      |Mecu     |£ million          


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


1989      |18.0     |12.1               


1990      |21.3     |15.2               


1991      |20.4     |14.2               


1992      |24.7     |18.2               


1993      |24.8     |18.7               


1994      |26.8     |20.2               


Separate figures for expenditure in the northern region and the United Kingdom are not available.

SPRINT (Strategic Programme for Innovation and Technology Transfer)

Prior to 1989, SPRINT was an experimental programme with a comparatively small budget of 18.6 mecu over the period 1983-89. The main phase of the programme started in 1989 and the annual expenditure since then is as follows :


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Year      |Mecu     |£ million          


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


1989      |5.1      |3.4                


1990      |17.5     |12.5               


1991      |22.8     |16.0               


1992      |22.0     |16.2               


1993      |23.0     |17.4               


1994      |19.0     |14.3               


Again separate figures for the northern region and the United Kingdom are not available.

Sterling/Ecu conversion rates are shown at average rates prevailing in each calendar year.

Comite Europe en des Normes

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the composition of the Comite Europe en des Normes by nationality to give the names and backgrounds of the British members.

Mr. McLoughlin : The Comite Europe en de

Normalisation--CEN--consists of the national standards organisations of the 17 countries of the European economic area and Switzerland. The United Kingdom member is the British Standards Institution--BSI--which was founded in 1901 and is an independent body incorporated under royal charter.

The United Kingdom delegation to the CEN General Assembly is led by the director and general manager of BSI Standards and normally comprises appropriate BSI staff, together with representatives of industrial and other economic interests. The BSI divisional director, Standards International represents the organisation on the CEN technical board which is responsible for overall control of the CEN technical programme. The United Kingdom delegation to each of the seven CEN sector technical boards usually comprises two representatives from the sector together with a member of the BSI staff. CEN prepares individual standards in technical committees. The United Kingdom representatives on these committees are usually experts from industry : they are appointed by the relevant BSI committees and are accompanied when appropriate by BSI staff.

Off-shore Fabrication Yards

Mrs. Ewing : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many full-time employees were registered at each offshore fabrication yard in the United Kingdom for each of the past five financial years.

Mr. Eggar : I regret that this information is not held centrally.

Mrs. Ewing : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many fabrication orders relating to the United Kingdom continental shelf gas and oil industry have been allocated per company to United Kingdom-based fabrication yards in each of the past five financial years ; and how many orders from operators in the United Kingdom continental shelf area have been allocated to (a) EU countries and (b) Korea.

Mr. Eggar : Information on major orders for the calendar years 1988- 1993 is contained in the table :


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Yard                   |1988|1989|1990|1991|1992|1993     


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


Amec                   |2   |3   |1   |4   |3   |1        


Consafe                |-   |-   |-   |2   |-   |1        


Hi-Fab                 |2   |4   |2   |5   |1   |1        


McDermott              |-   |5   |2   |-   |-   |-        


SLP (L)                |-   |2   |2   |-   |1   |1        


SLP (M)                |-   |3   |1   |2   |1   |2        


THC                    |-   |-   |2   |1   |-   |1        


THOF (Methll)          |1   |1   |4   |2   |1   |1        


THOF (Teeside)         |1   |1   |3   |2   |-   |1        


UIE                    |1   |-   |-   |1   |2   |-        


                                                          


United Kingdom Total 7 |19  |17  |19  |9   |9             


                                                          


Other EU Yards         |-   |1   |5   |5   |3   |2        


Korea                  |-   |-   |-   |1   |-   |1        


Jewellery Industry

Mr. Jenkin : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what cost- benefit assessments have been made of the impact of the proposed EC directive 76/769/EEC : Restrictions on the marketing and use of dangerous substances and preparations ; and what assessment he has of the effect of consequential job losses in the jewellery industry.

Mr. McLoughlin : Information on the possible costs to affected United Kingdom industries--in particular the suppliers of costume jewellery, certain suppliers of items to the clothing industry, such as buttons, and the makers of spectacle frames--as well as potential cost savings in treatment of nickel dermatitis arising from this proposal were set out in the Department's supplementary explanatory memorandum dated 9 December 1993 reference 5916/93. It should be noted that when political agreement on a common position was reached at the subsequent Internal Market Council meeting of 16 December it was decided to delete spectacle frames and ordinary buttons from the text of the proposal.

Post Offices

Mr. Hain : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish figures which show the level of balancing losses for (a) franchised post offices and (b) Crown post offices ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : This is an operational matter for the Post Office.

Deregulation

Ms Quin : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the proposals in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill with existing obligations under European Community legislation currently in force.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : I am satisfied that the proposals in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill, if enacted, would be consistent with the United Kingdom's European Community obligations.

Regional Development Funds

Mr. Hicks : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the outcome of the negotiations between the European Commission and United Kingdom Government


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over the designations of Saltash and Torpoint for eligibility for European regional development funds ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : The European Commission eventually agreed to my request to include these areas among the United Kingdom's objective 5(b) areas.

As a result the whole of Cornwall is eligible under objective 5(b). Together with the coverage of much of Devon and part of Somerset, this is an excellent result for the south-west.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

Mr. Cryer : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the current state of negotiations in the GATT, listing the tariffs concessions so far agreed.

Mr. Needham : The GATT Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations was substantively concluded on 15 December. Tariff concessions tabled at that date cannot be withdrawn but may be improved up to 15 February, the deadline for the submission to the GATT secretariat of final schedules of tariff reductions. The European Community is seeking improvements where possible in the concessions offered by other countries and in particular from India, Pakistan and Indonesia on textiles and clothing.

Eighty-seven participants in the round, including the European Community, have so far lodged draft schedules of tariff concessions with the GATT secretariat in Geneva where comprehensive details, which are too extensive to list, are held. My Department's international trade policy division has received some schedules. Inquiries about particular concessions may be addressed to it.

Christmas Cards

Mr. Bayley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 25 January concerning Christmas cards sent out in 1993 by the Minister for Trade, how many Christmas cards were sent at public expense in 1993 by himself and by each of the other Ministers in his Department ; and for each Minister, how much this cost.

Mr. Eggar : Other DTI Ministers did not send out Christmas cards at public expense last year.


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