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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 22 February 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Privity of Contract

Dame Peggy Fenner : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to meet the British Retail Consortium to discuss its concerns regarding privity of contract.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Arrangements are being made for a meeting at the earliest convenient date.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Correspondence

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North which was transferred to him by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland concerning the seizure of arms from MV Inowroclaw.

Sir John Cope : I replied to this letter on Tuesday 22 February 1994.

Regina v. Charrington

Mr. John Morris : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by whom an application for public interest immunity was made in the case of Regina v. Charrington and others ; and for what reason.

Sir John Cope : No public immunity certificates were signed by Ministers in this case.

Money Laundering

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action his Department is taking to prevent money laundering, particularly with regard to profits from drug trafficking.

Mr. Nelson : Domestically, the Treasury has introduced the Money Laundering Regulations 1993, which come into force on 1 April. This legislation requires all financial institutions to identify all customers opening business relations with them or conducting large transactions, to keep records of identification evidence and of transactions for at least five years to assist any subsequent money laundering investigations, to train staff in anti-money laundering policies and practices, to report suspicions of money laundering to the authorities and to co-operate with those authorities on request. Together with the Criminal Justice Act 1993, these regulations implement the EC money laundering directive in the United Kingdom. Internationally, Treasury officials have been actively involved in the work of the financial action task force on money

laundering--FATF--established by the 1989


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economic summit. The FATF has developed a set of 40 recommendations designed to tackle all aspects of money laundering, and in particular the laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking. The task force, to which 26 Governments now belong, is in the process of evaluating its own members to assess the effectiveness of their money laundering counter-measures. It has also developed a programme of international seminars and conferences with the aim of achieving the widest possible dissemination in all countries of its recommendations. The United Kingdom currently holds the presidency of the task force. The Treasury is also working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to improve the money laundering legislation in the United Kingdom's dependent territories.

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Ministers, and on what occasion and for what reasons, have signed public interest immunity certificates since 1979.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 18 February 1994] : There is no central record containing the information requested.

European Funds (Wales)

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amounts, expressed in pounds sterling, were received by Wales for each year between 1989 and 1993 from (a) the European regional development fund, (b) the European social fund, (c) the European agricultural diversification fund, (d) all other EU initiatives, including SPRINT, STRIDE and INTERREG and (e) in total.

Mr. Redwood : I have been asked to reply.

I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my reply in the Library of the House.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Omasase Lumumba

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service in respect of prosecution in the case of the death of Omasase Lumumba.

The Attorney-General : The Crown Prosecution Service received a report from the Metropolitan police relating to the circumstances of the death of Omasase Lumumba and a transcript of evidence given at the inquest into the death and came to the conclusion that the evidence was not sufficient to justify the institution of proceedings against any person.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Bosnia

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken by the Bosnian Muslim forces to demilitarise Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde ; and what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on these issues.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : United Nations Security Council resolutions 824 and 836, which set up the safe areas of


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Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde, call for an end to attacks on and demilitarisation of these areas. We continue to urge all parties to comply fully with these resolutions. United Nations efforts also continue towards securing compliance.

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last communicated with the Bosnian-Serb leadership ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the meeting between European Union Foreign Ministers and the Bosnian parties on 29 November 1993. I attended a further such meeting on 22 December 1993.

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what has been the level of fighting between Muslim and Croat forces in central Bosnia during the past seven days ; and what efforts Her Majesty's Government are making to try to secure a ceasefire between these armies.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Fighting continues between Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim forces in central Bosnia. Discussions are taking place between Croatia and the Bosnian Government, but so far there has been no agreement on a ceasefire. Bringing an end to this fighting is a high priority within the international efforts to bring about a political settlement in Bosnia.

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to relieve the siege of Mostar ; what representations have been made to the besieging Croat forces ; and what plans there are to require the Croat forces to surrender their heavy weapons to the United Nations.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The situation in Mostar is of grave concern. The European Union plan of action calls for Mostar to be put under European Union administration. Both the Bosnian and Croatian Governments have accepted this in principle as part of an overall settlement. Meanwhile, efforts continue to alleviate the humanitarian situation on the ground.

Money Laundering

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken through the European Union to prevent money laundering, particularly with regard to profits from drug trafficking.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : In June 1991, the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers adopted a directive--91/308/EEC--on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering. It specifically requires prohibition of money laundering where the money laundered is the proceeds of drug trafficking.

Member states were required to implement the directive by 1 January 1993. Provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1993, together with Her Majesty's Treasury's Money Laundering Regulations 1993, brought United Kingdom legislation into line with the directive.

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current position on international co- operation to prevent money laundering particularly related to the drug traffic.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg : The 1988 United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances commits all signatories to introduce legislation against laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking, and measures to trace, freeze and confiscate these proceeds. There are currently 96 signatories, including the United Kingdom.

The Council of Europe convention on laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime was opened for signature in November 1990. The United Kingdom was the first country to ratify it on 28 September 1992. The purpose of the convention is to facilitate international co-operation in these areas against all types of crime, including drug trafficking.

In addition, the United Kingdom has established bilateral agreements to trace, freeze and confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking with 29 countries.

The United Kingdom also plays an active role in the financial action task force and holds the presidency this year. The FATF, which consists of all members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development together with Hong Kong and Singapore, has drawn up 40 recommendations to prevent money laundering. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Limassol last October agreed, at the Prime Minister's initiative to call for the early implementation of the FATF recommendations throughout the Commonwealth.

Turkey

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to meet the Turkish ambassador to discuss reports of ethnic cleansing of Kurdish areas of south-east Turkey.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs raised the question of south-east Turkey when he visited Ankara on 19 and 20 January. He has no plans to meet the Turkish ambassador to discuss this subject.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

Mr. Cash : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place a copy of the general agreement on tariffs and trade and all supporting papers in the Library.

Mr. Goodlad : A copy of the 15 December version of the final act embodying the results of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations has already been placed in the Library. A copy of the definitive version of the final act, which will be signed in Marrakech in April, will be placed in the Library.

Ngo Van Ha

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the proposed repatriation to Vietnam from Hong Kong of Ngo Van Ha.

Mr. Goodlad : The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong determined that Ngo Van Ha was not a refugee on the basis of internationally accepted criteria, including the 1951 convention and the 1967 protocol relating to the status of


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refugees. In light of a submission made by Ha's lawyer last month, UNHCR is re-examining the case. It has undertaken not to repatriate Ha until these inquiries are complete.

Housing Assistance Scheme

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 19 January, Official Report, column 587, what are the criteria and rules applying to the housing assistance scheme advances, including the circumstances under which advances can be written off ; what were the total amounts advanced under the scheme in 1992-93 and so far in 1993-94 ; and how many staff were assisted in 1992-93 and so far in 1993-94.

Mr. Goodlad : The information is as follows :

The criteria and rules of the diplomatic housing assistance scheme

To qualify for an advance of salary for house purchase diplomatic service officers must be buying, for the first time, a house within normal commuting distance from London or Hanslope Park. They may apply for the advance at any time during or after a substantive tour of duty abroad. Application must be made at the time of purchase. Repayment of the advance may be spread over a maximum of nine years following an initial three-year grace period. Any amount outstanding at retirement, resignation or death is recovered immediately. The advance is subject to a range of maxima--the highest of which is currently £10,500--related to current salary scales and in any case will not exceed the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage obtained.

All applications must be supported by documentary evidence, normally in the form of a solicitor's letter indicating the purchase price of the property, the mortgage obtained and the expected completion date.

Circumstances under which advances may be written off

The officer must sign an undertaking to repay any outstanding balance on leaving the diplomatic service for any reason, or in the case of death. This is recovered by abating the accrued superannuation or death entitlement due to the officer. These entitlements are thus used as security when early recovery is required. In cases where this security is not sufficient, recovery would be pursued vigorously if necessary, including recourse to legal action up to the point where the cost of that might exceed the benefit of recovery, in accordance with the provisions of government accounting. But in fact no advance has been written off since the scheme was introduced in 1975.


Total amounts advanced                      

           |£         |Staff                

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

1992-93    |549,321.05|66                   

<1>1993-94 |769,800.50|90                   

<1> To date.                                

The figures for the ODA scheme to which I referred in my reply of 19 January are :


        |£     |Staff        

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

1992-93 |18,736|2            

1993-94 |27,693|3            

Military Equipment Sales

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries to which the United Kingdom has sold military equipment following upon intergovernmental discussion at


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a ministerial level and where a protocol or other memoranda have been drawn up linking overseas aid to the supply of military equipment or military services.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave to the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) on 25 January, Official Report, columns 145-46. I repeat that our aid programme is not linked to arms sales.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Health and Safety

Mr. Lidington : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the qualifications required by his Department of a candidate for appointment as a health and safety officer at the grade of HPTO.

Mr. David Davis : When recruitment was centrally co-ordinated, with standardised entry criteria, the basic qualification for the grade of HPTO was a relevant degree plus two years' training/experience. In May 1993 authority to set appropriate eligibility criteria for non-scheduled grades- -which includes HPTO--was delegated to Ministers in charge of Departments. Within my own Department there are no health and safety officers in the grade of HPTO.

Public Bodies

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who are the members currently appointed to the Medical Research Council.

Mr. Waldegrave : The current membership of the Medical Research Council is as follows :

Sir David Plastow (Chairman)

Sir Dai Rees FRS (Secretary)

Mr. R. P. Bauman

Professor Colin L. Berry

Professor M. Bobrow

Professor Alasdair M. Breckenridge FRSE

Dr. K. C. Calman FRSE

Sir Michael Carlisle

Dr. J. T. Carter

Professor M. Dexter

Dr. Peter Doyle CBE

Professor C. R. W. Edwards

Professor John G. Evans

Professor Robert E. Kendell CBE

Sir Aaron Klug FRS

Miss Emma Nicholson MP

Professor John R. Pattison

Professor Michael Peckham

Professor Sir Michael L. Rutter CBE FRS

Professor Sir David Weatherall FRS

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who are the members currently appointed to the Economic and Social Research Council.

Mr. Waldegrave : The current membership of the Economic and Social Research Council is as follows :

Professor H. Newby, (Chairman) FRSA

Ms J. Abramsky

Professor M. Anderson, FBA, FRSE

Professor V. Bruce, FBPsS

Dr. W. Daniel

Ms E. Filkin

Professor J. Finch

Professor R. Floud, FRHISTS


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Mr. J. Fox

Mr. R. Freeman

Professor J. Goodman, CIPM

Mr. N. Glass

Miss C. Hancock

Dr. J. Harbison, FBPsS, FPSI

Professor D. Hargreaves

Professor A. Hay

Professor D. Kavanagh

Professor S. Nickell, FBA

Mrs. M. Tuck, CBE, FHRS

Equal Opportunities

Mr. Burden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, what is the objective of removing equal opportunities requirements from private contractors for Government contracts.


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