Mr. Channon : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what progress is being made on proposals to allow interest to be paid on county court judgments for sums (a) above £5,000 and (b) below £5,000.
Mr. John M. Taylor : That part of section 74 of the County Courts Act 1984 which deals with interest on county court judgments of £5, 000 and over was implemented on 1 July 1991. Since that date it has been possible to claim interest on a county court judgment for £5,000 and over. Following consultation last year on extending the provision to judgments below £5,000, no workable proposals were identified which would not place undue burdens or costs on creditors and the courts. The matter is still under review.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what progress has been made by the Law Commission since 17 December 1990 in examining the law in relation to treason, treason felony and piracy ; what recommendations have been made concerning the continued existence of the death penalty for these offences ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Statute Law Repeals Act 1993, which implemented recommendations of the Law Commissions in their joint reports, "Statute Law Revision : Fourteenth Report" (Law Com. No. 211, Scot. Law Com. No. 140, Cm. 2176), repealed among other obsolete measures the Piracy Acts of 1698, 1721 and 1744. The Law Commission has made no recommendations in this area other than those in this report.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what information he has on the political affiliation of justices of the peace in (i) Basingstoke, (ii) Rugby and (iii) Newcastle.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The political affiliation of magistrates in north-west Hampshire, which includes the former Basingstoke bench, and in Rugby and Newcastle on the latest information available is as follows :
|North West|Rugby |Newcastle |Hampshire ------------------------------------------------------------------ Conservative |50 |25 |74 Labour |13 |7 |71 Liberal/Democrat |22 |8 |31 Independent/not known |19 |8 |23
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many retired Chinese civil servants were resident in Hong Kong at the latest available date ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad : Of the current 41,000 Hong Kong Government pensioners, 38,000 are living in Hong Kong. It is expected that most of those living in Hong Kong will remain after 1997. There will also be a few thousand more who retire between now and 1997.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the agreement with China over the question of pensions which will be paid to retired Chinese civil servants resident in Hong Kong in 1997.
Mr. Goodlad : Annex 1 to the Sino-British joint declaration of 1984 provides that pensions will continue to be paid after 1997 on terms no less favourable than before. This guarantee is repeated in article 102 of the Basic Law.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will agree to supply the names and addresses of retired Chinese civil servants to the Hong Kong Civil Service Association.
Mr. Goodlad : In the light of article 14 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights 1991 on protection of privacy and the Hong Kong Government's guidelines on protection of personal data, it is not possible to pass the names and addresses of retired civil servants to a civil service pensioners' association. However, the Hong Kong Government will pass on any information which an association wishes to convey to pensioners.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is United Nations policy to support the peace process set in motion at the Boroma conference in Somaliland.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We take every opportunity during discussions with the United Nations and in our contracts with other international bodies and Governments to stress the importance of seeking an early solution to the problems in Somalia.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further action he proposes to take to increase the commitment of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to Somaliland.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Officials from our embassy in Addis Ababa will continue to pay regular visits to north-west Somalia. The frequency of these visits, and of other assistance to the north west, will depend on there being a stable and secure environment in the region.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that there is funding to ensure security of the heavy weapons currently being handed over by militias in Somaliland.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The latest information we have is that one tank, three heavy technicals, 20 technicals and a quantity of heavy weapons have been surrendered by clan brigades. The weapons are to be stored in two sites outside Hargeisa. The local administration continue to urge the clan militias to hand in their weapons.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the implications of the most recent UN Security Council resolution for the provision of extra resources to Somaliland.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The most recent Security Council resolution makes it clear that priority for directing international resources will be given to those regions which are secure and where representative and accountable institutional structures exist to facilitate the effective use of aid.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 February, Official Report, column 709, what information he has on the causes of the intra- Muslim tension in the Bihac pocket ; and if this tension has led to armed conflict.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Intra-Muslim tension in the Bihac area resulted from the declaration of the autonomous province of Western Bosnia by Fikret Abdic. This has led to conflict between Abdic's forces and those loyal to the Bosnian Government.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 17 February, Official Report, column 939, what report was made to the United Nations Security Council on 17 February on the presence of regular Croatian troops in Bosnia -Herzegovina ; what numbers he estimated were deployed there ; in which areas they were deployed ; and what action he recommended.
Column 310as 5,000 regular Croatian troops in Bosnia, but that UNPROFOR had not found any command structures or any regular Croatian army brigades operating as formed units. We have repeatedly condemned Croatian interference in Bosnia. The issue is now being considered by the Security Council. In the meantime, we shall continue to press the Croatian Government to withdraw their forces.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 February, Official Report, column 709, if he will list those who gave evidence to the United Nations investigative team who looked into the massacre at the Sarajevo market on 5 February.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent communication he has had from Lord Owen in respect of an UNPROFOR report about the massacre at the Sarajevo market on 5 February ; what information was contained in that communication ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Lord Owen communicates regularly with European Union Foreign Ministers, reporting on his talks with the Bosnia parties. The contents of these communications are confidential. The United Nations investigative team, established by United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative, Yasushi Akashi, concluded that it was not possible to establish who was responsible for the Sarajevo market massacre.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 17 February, Official Report, column 939, what is the basis for his belief that Belgrade is recruiting personnel and providing equipment for the war in Bosnia- Herzegovina.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 14, what is the name of the conservation consultant for the British Indian Ocean Territory ; what resources have been made available for this consultant ; and what plans there are to reduce the military presence on the British Indian Ocean Territory at Diego Garcia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The consultant's name is Mr. J. M. W. Topp. He has the full support of the authorities of the British Indian Ocean Territory and regularly visits the territory. Mr. Topp has access to all scientific data gathered from previous expeditions to the area and has been provided with a computer and related software. Mr. Topp is working closely with Warwick university on a conservation management plan for the territory.
There are no plans to reduce the military presence on Diego Garcia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : After several rounds of discussion between all interested parties in Burundi, President Ntaryamira was sworn in on 5 February. He has appointed a new Tutsi Prime Minister from the main opposition party. Every party contesting the June 1993 election, successful or not, has a slot in the new cabinet. The army appears to be supporting the civil Government.
Sir Jophn Cope : Based on expenditure in 1992, it is estimated that an extra 2 per cent. irrecoverable VAT on commercial fuel use, excluding expenditure on road transport would raise around £300 million in a full year.
1994 Departmental Reports: proposed publication dates Departmental Report |Date ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Statistical Supplement to the Financial Statement and Budget Report |Friday 25 February Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Intervention Board |Friday 25 February National Heritage |Tuesday 1 March Home Office (including Charity Commission) |Wednesday 2 March Lord Chancellor and legal departments |Thursday 3 March Ministry of Defence |Thursday 3 March Chancellor of the Exchequer's departments and net payments to EC institutions |Thursday 3 March Department of Health and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys |Monday 7 March Department of Social Security |Tuesday 8 March Department of the Environment |Tuesday 8 March Department of Trade and Industry |Wednesday 9 March Foreign and Commonwealth Office (including ODA) |Wednesday 9 March Cabinet Office |Wednesday 9 March Wales |Thursday 10 March Department of Transport |Thursday 10 March Department of Employment |Thursday 10 March Northern Ireland |Friday 11 March Scotland |Friday 11 March Department of Education |Friday 11 March
Column 312Copies will be made available at the Vote Office.
Sir John Cope [holding answer 22 February 1994] : The Government have announced a package of proposed changes to the insurance premium tax provisions of the Finance Bill, designed to simplify the operation of the tax, mainly in response to representations made by the insurance industry. As part of that package it is proposed to tax gross premiums, inclusive of commission, at 2.5 per cent. rather than net premiums at 3 per cent. This change means that the total yield and the impact of the tax remain broadly the same as originally forecast.
Ms Harman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the tax losses to the Exchequer of (a) all exemptions from air passenger tax, (b) the exemption from air passenger tax of aircraft under 10 tonnes in weight, or with fewer than 20 seats and (c) of the exemption from air passenger tax of flights for which tickets are not issued and (d) the total of the exemptions for private aircraft under (b) and (c).
Sir John Cope [holding answer 22 February 1994] : It is estimated that if all passengers departing from a United Kingdom airport were liable to air passenger duty, there would be an additional revenue yield of around £80 million in 1995-96. Of this total, around £30 million is in respect of passengers on return domestic flights ; £45 million is in respect of transit and transfer passengers ; and around £5 million is in respect of passengers on aircraft with fewer than 20 seats or having a maximum take-off weight below 10 tonnes. Data are not available on the proportion of non-chargeable aircraft which are private aircraft. No estimates have been made for the revenue yield that would result from extending the duty to cover children under two. The issuing of tickets is not a criterion used to determine whether air passenger duty is payable.
Ms Harman : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide estimates of the percentage of passengers who fly to, from and between the Scottish islands, that will be exempt from payment of the air passenger tax.
Sir John Cope [holding answer 21 February 1994] : Civil Aviation Authority data suggest that around a third of passengers departing from airports on the Scottish Islands and from Inverness and Wick are on non-chargeable aircraft. This includes North sea rig operations. It is likely that around half of all passengers departing from those airports on chargeable aircraft will be exempt because they are on the return leg of a domestic journey. No estimates have been made for the proportion of passengers who are exempt because they are either transfer passengers or under two years old.
Column 313Majesty's Customs and Excise in each year since 1991 ; how much outstanding VAT was recovered from these concerns after formal insolvency occurred ; what was the cost to Customs and Excise of pursuing those insolvencies ; and how many VAT registrations were affected after guarantees were sought because of previous insolvency action against persons in the new venture.
Sir John Cope [holding answer 24 February 1994] : The numbers of VAT-registered companies and individuals who were declared to be insolvent by the courts following presentation of a petition on behalf of Customs and Excise were 6,775 in the financial year 1991-92 and 7,543 in 1992-93. In the vast majority of these cases other creditors were also involved. Figures for recoveries and costs related to insolvencies resulting from petitions on behalf of Customs and Excise are not available separately. Where Customs and Excise seek security from a business this follows VAT registration. The number of cases in which security was sought was 106 in 1991-92 and 573 in 1992-93.
Mr. Don Foster : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the net effect on the public sector borrowing requirement in each year since 1991 of the removal of students' entitlement to housing benefit and income support.
Mr. Portillo [holding answer 23 February 1994] : Benefit entitlement will vary according to individual circumstances. There is no information to enable a meaningful estimate of the overall effect of the changes on the PSBR to be made.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the reasons for his decision to recall to custody Anthony Jeffs following his release on licence after serving 20 years of a life sentence for the murder of PC Peter Guthrie in 1972 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : On 31 January 1994, the Secretary of State exercised his power under section 39(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, to revoke the life licence of Anthony Charles Jeffs and recall him to prison. This decision was taken in the light of information received from the probation service responsible for Mr. Jeffs' supervision in the community under the terms of his life licence. That information gave rise to concern about the risk Mr. Jeffs might pose to others, although there was nothing to indicate that he had committed any criminal offence since his release from prison on life licence on 3 September 1993.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the percentage of people aged (a) 18, (b) under 21 and (c) under 24 years that are missing from the electoral roll in (i) the parliamentary constituency of Newham, North-West and (ii) each London borough.
Sir Ivan Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Governor of Hong Kong has submitted a further report on the discharge of his functions under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990.
Mr. Maclean : Since 1990, the Home Office drugs prevention initiative has, through the work of its 20 local teams and the central drug prevention unit, generated, supported and funded a wide range of activities to encourage drugs prevention in the community, including drugs education and support for families and children. The total cost of the initiative to date is about £14 million. The third annual report of the initiative, which describes a cross-section of work supported, is in the Library.
Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) 14, (b) 15, (c) 16 and (d) 17-year-olds were (i) given cautions (ii) fined and (iii) imprisoned on drugs offences in each year since 1987.
Mr. Maclean : Information on the number of 14, 15, 16 and 17-year- olds who were given cautions, fined or given immediate custodial sentences for drug offences, in each of the years since 1987, is contained in the table.
Table: number of 14, 15, 16 and 17-year-olds given cautions, fined and given immediate custodial sentences for drug offences, United Kingdom 1987-92 Age at sentence Year and disposal |14 |15 |16 |17 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1987 cautioned |36 |116 |258 |405 fined |3 |15 |103 |344 immediate custody |2 |5 |14 |49 1988 cautioned |36 |131 |319 |659 fined |2 |23 |76 |360 immediate custody |3 |6 |20 |57 1989 cautioned |97 |282 |548 |1,028 fined |5 |23 |123 |529 immediate custody |3 |7 |20 |45 1990 cautioned |207 |573 |1,031 |1,633 fined |10 |33 |163 |602 immediate custody |1 |0 |21 |38 1991 cautioned |256 |661 |1,219 |2,091 fined |11 |28 |143 |551 immediate custody |0 |4 |19 |53 1992 cautioned |281 |619 |1,263 |2,365 fined |6 |27 |122 |424 immediate custody |0 |10 |25 |67
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many cases of household burglary were recorded by the police in each parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom for each year from 1989 to 1993 ;
(2) how many cases of arson against a domestic dwelling were recorded by the police in each parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom for each year from 1989 to 1993.
Mr. Maclean : The information requested is not collected centrally. Figures for domestic burglary by police force area and figures for arson offences for all of England and Wales are published annually in "Criminal Statistics England and Wales". Details on the types of building subject to arson attacks are not collected centrally. Requests for figures relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland should be addressed to the Scottish Office and Northern Ireland Office respectively.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many household fires to which the emergency services were called were reported in each parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom from 1989 to 1993.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The most detailed information available centrally is for fire brigade areas. Details of fires in dwellings in these areas are published in the annual Home Office report "Fire Statistics United Kingdom", copies of which are in the Library. The latest published data are for 1991 and are shown in table 61 of the 1991 volume. Comparable data for previous years are in table 61 of the 1990 volume and table 59 of the 1989 volume.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it remains his advice to Somalians and British citizens of Somali descent in the case where his Department refuses to issue prior visa authority for their relatives to apply direct on their behalf to the nearest British diplomatic post.
Mr. Charles Wardle : In cases raised on or after 27 January 1994, Somalis who wish to join relatives in this country are expected to make entry clearance applications in person in the normal way, although it will be open to sponsors to write to posts on behalf of their relatives.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to publish the Government's position on negotiations to alter the means of petitioning the European Court of Human Rights ;
Column 316(2) what plans he has to argue for the alteration of the system of petitioning the European Court of Human Rights ; and what system he will propose.
Mr. Charles Wardle : At present, under the European Convention on Human Rights, acceptance by member states of the right of individuals within their jurisdiction to petition the European Commission on Human Rights may be on a renewable or indefinite basis. Since 1966 the Government, in successive declarations, has recognised the competence of the Commission to receive such petitions from people who claim to be the victims of a violation of the convention in the United Kingdom.
We are currently considering a proposal within the Council of Europe that indefinite acceptance of the right of individual petition should be a requirement on member states.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The Government are contributing fully to work within the Council of Europe on the reform of the European Commission and Court of Human Rights by their replacement with a single body, with the aim of enabling the increasing number of cases to be dealt with more speedily while maintaining the highest standards of jurisprudence.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the right of United Kingdom citizens to seek legal redress for violations of the European declaration of human rights.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The Government fully accept, and have no plans to review, their obligations under article 13 of the European convention on human rights to provide effective national remedies in respect of claims of violations of the convention. Under present arrangements, the right of individuals within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom to petition the European Commission of Human Rights will be reviewed in 1996. We are currently considering the proposal that indefinite acceptance of that right should be a requirement on states party to the convention.
Sir Ivan Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he has received the report on the review of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 which began in July 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all television advertising, newspaper advertising, radio advertising and other promotional campaigns with a budgeted cost in excess of £10,000 conducted by his office (a) in the current financial year and (b) planned for 1994-95, showing for each the objectives and mechanisms for assessing the effectiveness of the advertising.