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Ms Lynne : To ask the Lord President of the Council to which bodies the Privy Council makes appointments ; what is the total membership of these bodies ; how many members of each are appointed by the Privy Council ; and if he will list the bodies according to the Government Department or other organisation that makes the recommendations for appointments.
Mr. Newton : In respect of the first and third parts of the question, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's reply of 27 January 1994 at columns 359-60, to a question from the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright). The full information relating to the second part of the question is not held centrally and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost. The remaining information requested is as follows :
Body to which appointments are made |Recommendations/comments |sought from ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Council and Academic Advisory Committee of the |The University University of Buckingham Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine |Health Departments Court of the University of Kent at Canterbury |The University General Optical Council |Health Departments Court of the University of Lancaster |The University Council and Statutory Committee of the Royal |The Society, and Health Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain |Departments Council of the University of the South Pacific |Foreign and Commonwealth |Office Court and Conference of the University of Stirling |The University General Convocation of the University of Strathclyde |The University Court of the University of Sussex |The University Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons |The Ministry of Agriculture, |Fisheries and Food Council of the Royal Veterinary College |The College
Mr. Hanley : Royal Navy ships and aircraft and RAF Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft continue to contribute to operations in the Adriatic to monitor and enforce compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions on trade sanctions and the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia. NATO/WEU Operation Sharp Guard continues to be highly successful. Since enforcement operations began, there have been over 27,000 challenges of suspected violators and over 1,900 instances of ships being stopped and boarded, with over 450 diversions for inspections.
Mr. Hanley : In line with Government policy, the Ministry of Defence seeks to identify, assess and, where practicable, minimise the environmental impacts of its activities. The identification and, where appropriate, rectification of environmental damage attributable to past defence activity, principally soil contamination, is undertaken where there is considered to be a risk to health and safety, where water quality is threatened or where land is being sold.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what evaluation has been made of the possible health risks of siting Ministry of Defence radar installations within close proximity to settlements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : My Department sites radar installations in accordance with national guidelines. However, where there is concern about possible health implications from facilities in close proximity to settlements, my Department commissions independent consultants to carry out a full evaluation in accordance with DOE circular 15/88, Welsh Office circular 23/88--"Assessment of Environmental Effects"--and Scottish Office circular SDD 3/88.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the projected cost of replenishment of the current fleet of Hercules aircraft in use by the Royal Air Force ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 871competitive procurement process that we are pursuing for the Hercules replacement/refurbishment programme. I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House in closing the debate on the Royal Air Force on 27 January, Official Report , columns 506-7.
Mr. Hanley : My Department has received a number of representations on the future of the Air Training Corps. I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave during the Adjournment debate on the future of the Corps on 23 November 1993, Official Report, columns 421-28, and in my answer to the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) on 21 February 1994, Official Report, column 68.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what would be the total cost of purchasing 30 C-130J aircraft for use by the Royal Air Force ; what proposals there are to purchase such aircraft ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Aitken : It would not be appropriate to release sensitive cost information particularly during the competitive procurement process that we are pursuing for the Hercules replacement/refurbishment programme. As I explained to the House in closing the debate on the Royal Air Force on 27 January, columns 506-7, the C-130J aircraft is only one of the options under consideration.
Mr. Aitken : We are considering whether the United Kingdom might have a future requirement for ballistic missile defence and are about to embark on a two-year programme of pre-feasibility studies to determine what options might be available. The United Kingdom is also fully involved in a number of international studies.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what notice was given to local fishermen before the live firings exercise involving the RAF and HMS Fearless, conducted outside the established exercise areas in the Minch in the week beginning 7 February ; and if he will make a statement on future policy regarding notice for such exercises.
Mr. Hanley : The activity in the Minch involving HMS Fearless and the RAF took place on 10 February. It was not a live firing exercise ; only inert practice bombs were used and the activity was conducted wholly within the Clyde exercise areas. The firing was carried out in full accordance with established safety procedures which ensure the safety of other vessels. Since there is currently no requirement to inform mariners of this type of activity, no formal notification was given of the firing, although
Column 872notices had been issued indicating that HMS Fearless would be operating in support of exercises in the area. There are no plans to alter the requirements governing the issue of formal warning notices, but we intend shortly to introduce a system for broadcasting details of firing intentions in local sea areas.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to conduct a review similar to that being conducted by the Director General of Testing and Evaluation, for all service ranges not under the director general ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Aitken : The future requirements for MOD ranges are being reviewed as part of the defence costs study "Front Line First". The study is progressing well. As my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces made clear in his written answer of 18 February to the hon. Member for Warley, West (Mr. Spellar), the study is due to report in March, but it will not be until some time after this that final conclusions will be reached. Decisions taken as a result of the study will be announced in due course.
Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people were employed by his Department or its agencies at the Ministry of Defence Woolwich arsenal in each of the years 1964, 1970, 1980 and 1990 ; and how many are employed there currently.
Mr. Aitken : The number of staff currently employed by the MOD and Defence Research Agency at the Royal Arsenal is 413. Records do not exist for years prior to 1975, but available figures are : 1975--3,799 ;, 1980-- 2,823 ; 1990--1,544.
Mr. Hanley : As well as the defence attache and his supporting staff of one, there are currently 14 British military personnel in Mozambique making up the Mozambique short-term training team. Their role is to supervise and monitor Mozambican instructors, previously trained by the Mozambique training team at Nyanga, Zimbabwe, in the training of the unified Mozambican army.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the value to United Kingdom companies of defence contracts following the establishment of memoranda of understanding with (a) Bangladesh, (b) Ecuador, (c) India, (d) Indonesia, (e) Jordan, (f) Nigeria, (g) Oman, (h) Pakistan and (i) Thailand in each of the last five years.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to appoint the new head of the Defence Export Services Organisation ; when the post was advertised ; and how the successful candidate will be chosen.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will establish an independent scientific inquiry into reports of the existence of a medical condition peculiar to service in the Gulf conflict ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : We have no plans to do so as there remains no clinical evidence that members of the British armed forces who served in the Gulf conflict are suffering from any unexplained medical symptoms which would call for such an inquiry. My Department continues to monitor all the available information on the alleged Syndrome and continues to offer medical assessments for those United Kingdom Gulf war personnel who are concerned about their health. Of the 11 so far assessed--of the 14 who have come forward for examination--all have been found to be suffering from separate but recognised medical conditions unconnected with their service in the Gulf.
Mr. Hanley : The Ministry of Defence has received correspondence from two firms of solicitors concerning the reported effects of the so- called Desert Storm syndrome. One is acting on behalf of an individual ; the other wrote on behalf of a group of solicitors who have indicated that they will be acting for a number of service and ex-service personnel. We have not yet been informed how many individuals this group will represent.
Mr. Hanley : A total of 120 additional British troops were deployed to UNPROFOR Bosnia-Herzegovina command last month. The Government have no plans at this stage to send further troops, but will continue to keep developments in Bosnia under review.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 18 February, Official Report, column 1054, whether those British service personnel in the former Yugoslavia who will be participating in the two-month trial of the United Nations system of supply are volunteers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : British personnel stationed at Tomislavgrad have been chosen to participate in the United Nations food trial. Tomislavgrad is a staging post for convoys and as such is subject to a fluctuating complement of personnel. This unit has been chosen, therefore, as it represents a rigorous examination of the United Nation's ability to maintain the quantity and quality of rations demanded by the British contingent in Bosnia. Since the trial must involve a complete unit, seeking individual volunteers would be impractical.
Mr. Hanley : No charges are recovered for assistance given by the RAF mountain rescue teams except when provided in connection with civil aviation incidents. The cost per hour of operating the RAF MRTs is dependent upon the manpower and resources utilised in undertaking the task and costs vary in accordance with the number and grade of personnel involved, and the number and type of vehicles used.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, (Mr. Byers) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Wallsend of 24 February, Official Report, column 383, in the case of which countries with whom memoranda of understanding were agreed such agreement was preceded by the drawing up of a protocol.
Ms Hoey : To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee when hon. Members will be given full access to the "Register of Playing Fields in England and Wales" ; and what has caused the delay in access for Members.
Column 875Official Report, column 209, the Department of National Heritage stated that the Sports Council would be providing the register's database on diskette to the Library of the House. Unfortunately the database has been supplied in a form which is not usable with existing Library software without significant programming effort, and the volume of data is too great to be provided in the form of a print-out. The Library has, however, made arrangements to obtain sample data in spreadsheet format from Birkbeck college, which maintains the database, and will continue to explore alternative means of access for Members.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee what was the cost of the initial refurbishment of 7 Millbank ; if he will identify the cost of building the canteen and kitchen area ; what is the estimated cost of further refurbishment of 7 Millbank ; and if he will identify the cost of expanding the canteen and kitchen area.
Mr. Ray Powell : The cost of the building works at 7 Millbank will be some £6.3 million. The cost of the canteen and kitchen area is not separately identified in the contract. £100,000 is provided in the estimate for 1994-95 for an extension to the cafeteria and servery--there are no plans to expand the kitchen.
1. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest estimate of the total revenue raised by VAT in the current financial year ; and what will be the likely take in each of the next two financial years.
Sir John Cope [holding answer 23 February 1994] : I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) earlier today.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average rate of interest over each of (a) the past two years and (b) the average between February 1974 to May 1979 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nelson : (a) In 1992 the average level of interest rates was 9.6 per cent. In 1993 the average level of interest rates was 6 per cent. Between March 1992 and February 1994 the average level of interest rates was 7.4 per cent.
Column 876(b) Between February 1974 to May 1979 the average level of interest rates was 10 per cent.
Interest rates are set to achieve the Government's inflation objectives. Base rates now stand at 5.25 per cent. and are among the lowest in the EC.
Mr. Portillo : United Kingdom base rates have fallen by 4 percentage points over the past 18 months. It is estimated that, when fully passed on, that will have reduced United Kingdom companies' interest bills by over £6 billion a year.
Mr. Nelson : The Government remain committed to providing an environment which will enable the City to maintain and enhance its position as a leading world financial centre and the pre-eminent financial centre of Europe.
19. Mr. Mans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received encouraging him to increase the size of the public sector borrowing requirement ; and if he will make a statement.
20. Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the cost to the average family from (i) April 1994 and (ii) April 1995 of the cumulative tax increases announced since last March.
29. Mrs. Anne Campbell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the increase a typical family will have to pay over the next two years in taxes announced in last year's Budgets.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the cost to the average family from (a) April 1994 and (b) April 1995 of the cumulative tax increases announced since last March.
22. Mr. Barnes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to compensate families on 75 per cent. or less of average earnings, following the changes announced in last year's Budgets concerning income tax and national insurance.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to compensate families with two children and one spouse working on average male earnings, following the increases in income tax and national insurance coming into effect in April 1994.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people with earnings below the income tax threshold will be affected by the increases in indirect taxation announced in November's budget.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of the Government's tax policies on the income of a family with two children and one spouse on average male earnings.
Column 878it had risen for seven successive quarters, to a level over 4 per cent. above its trough in the first quarter of 1992. Its growth is forecast to strengthen in 1994.