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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 26 May 1994


Maastricht Treaty

Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the procedures for informing industry, commerce and the public about the effect of the provisions of the treaty of Maastricht.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I am satisfied that an appropriate effort has been made to explain the effects of the Maastricht treaty. We have issued a number of publications. Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office publications include "Europe After Maastricht", "Britain in Europe", and "The European Elections--Why They Matter to You". The Department of Trade and Industry recently issued "The Single Market--Making It Work For You". This includes advice to business on the European Community's legislative process.


Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department is offering to the people of Gibraltar following cuts in Government spending ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have established the joint economic forum to bring those concerned together to help overcome Gibraltar's economic difficulties. The forum includes United Kingdom Government Departments, the Government of Gibraltar, trade unions and representatives of local business. We have negotiated substantial European Union funds for Gibraltar. The Ministry of Defence is offering training, and will continue to purchase local goods and services.

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Mr. Young) of 10 May, Official Report, column 83, what arrangements have been made to enable Gibraltarians resident in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) other EU countries to vote in the European elections.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Gibraltarians resident in the United Kingdom are entitled to vote in European elections. Gibraltarians resident in other member states of the European Union are entitled as citizens of the European Union to vote in European parliamentary elections on the same terms as nationals of that member state under article 8b2 of the treaty on European Union.

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Wilton Park Executive Agency

Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the Wilton Park executive agency performed against the targets which were agreed for 1992-93 ; and if targets have yet been agreed for the current year.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : According to provisional figures, which are subject to full audit, Wilton Park exceeded two of the four targets set for the 1993-94 financial year, for the number of conference participants and the cost per head to the FCO. It failed to achieve those for cost recovery and commercial income by margins of 0.1 per cent. and 0.6 per cent. respectively. Commercial income was again affected by adverse trading conditions.

The Wilton Park departmental board met on 19 April. We have agreed to the recommendation of the board that the following key targets be adopted for this financial year :

to increase overall income from £953,000 in 1993-94 to £1,039,000 ;

to increase cost recovery from 71.9 per cent. in 1993-94 to 72.8 per cent. ;

to increase the overall number of Wilton Park conference participants from 1,077 in 1993-94 to 1,260 ;

to reduce the average cost to the FCO of each participant from £345 in 1993-94 to £307.

It has also been agreed that for 1994-95 Wilton Park will aim to recover 80 per cent. of the costs of its commercial activities and 64 per cent. of the cost of Wilton Park conferences.

Arms Sales (Middle East)

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the sale of arms to Israel and Syria.

Mr. Hurd : I have decided that, in the light of favourable developments in the middle east peace process, in particular the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho, the United Kingdom's arms embargo against Israel should be lifted. This will bring the United Kingdom into line with our European Union partners.

Forthwith, all applications for the sale of arms to Israel will be considered cases by case in the light of the international guidelines to which we are committed. Those include whether a proposed transfer would be likely to increase tension in the region or contribute to regional instability.

The Israeli Government have made it clear that they have no territorial claim on Lebanon. We hope to see progress on the Syrian track in line with that seen on the Palestinian track. In that context, we will be ready to raise with our European partners the lifting of the European Union arms embargo against Syria.


Citizens Charter

Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to include in the citizens charter specific charter provisions for disabled people.

Mr. David Davis : The citizens charter applies to all users of public services. One of the six key principles of the charter is that service providers should inform their

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customers of the standards of service that they can expect. It is for individual organisations to decide on the specific commitments that they are able to meet in order to improve the quality of their services to disabled people.

There are currently 39 charters, of which 35 make particular reference to people with disabilities.

Parliamentary Counsel

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what consideration he has given to the role of civil servants in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in preparing amendments and new clauses for private Members' Bills.

Mr. Waldegrave : The civil servants in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel are accountable to ministers in the same way as other civil servants. Their work in preparing amendments and new clauses for private Members' Bills is, like their other work, undertaken on the authority of Ministers.


Ms Primarolo : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the expenditure on management and financial consultants by his Department in 1992-93.

Mr. David Davis : The expenditure in 1992-93 on management and financial consultants by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster's Departments was :




Office of Public Service and Science and its Agencies<1> |949,031        

COI                                                      |136,460        

HMSO<2>                                                  |410,075        

<1>This figure does not include CCTA contracts let on behalf of other    

government departments.                                                  

<2>HMSO records do not distinguish between types of consultancy. The     

figure provided represents expenditure on consultancy during the HMSO    

financial year January to December 1992.                                 

Civil Estate

Mr. Robathan : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what arrangements have been made to publish the efficiency unit's scrutiny report on the management of the Government's civil estate.

Mr. Waldegrave : I am pleased to publish today the Scrutiny report on the management of the Government's civil estate.

The Prime Minister has welcomed the findings. He commissioned the scrutiny in July 1993 to consider how far responsibility for civil estate properties could be passed to Departments and agencies and to identify central systems which should be retained or established. The Government will now proceed to implement the report's broad findings. The report's main recommendations are :

that Departments should take responsibility as principals for the property they occupy ;

that property holdings should be reconstituted as an executive agency ; to co-ordinate the Government's market activity on the civil estate and to promote rationalisation of the estate ; to provide Departments with a body of off-the-shelf advice and support ; and to provide intelligent customer support to those Departments who do not have in-house facilities. (The Government will consider further which Department is to sponsor the new agency.)

The scrutiny team was also asked to look specifically at the management of historic buildings on the civil estate and

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extended its review to include historic building issues on the defence estate. The team concluded that the arrangements introduced in 1992 for regular audit and monitoring of the condition of the historic estate had started well and should be given further time to work. New guidance should be provided to Departments on procedures for the disposal of surplus historic property. This would ensure that the special considerations which may arise in connection with heritage disposals are taken fully into account in applying normal disposal rules.

Copies of the efficiency unit scrutiny have been placed in the Library of the House.

Public Bodies

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the non-departmental bodies in England the conduct of which can be referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

Mr. Waldegrave : The following non-departmental public bodies fall within the jurisdiction of the PCA. Those NDPBs with a remit specific to Wales or Scotland only have been omitted from the list. Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

Agricultural Wages Committees

Arts Council of Great Britain

British Council

British Film Institute

British Library

Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond (only in respect of functions as a general lighthouse authority)

Countryside Commission

Crafts Council

Data Protection Registrar

UK Ecolabelling Board

Education Assets Board

Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges

English Heritage (Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England)

English Nature (Nature Conservancy Council for England) English Tourist Board

Equal Opportunities Commission

Health and Safety Commission

Health and Safety Executive

Horserace Betting Levy Board

The Housing Corporation

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Legal Aid Board

Local Government Commission for England

Medical Practices Committee

Museums and Galleries Commission

National Heritage Memorial Fund

National Rivers Authority (except for flood defence functions) Commission for the New Towns (except for housing functions) Development Corporations for the New Towns (except for housing functions)

Commission for Protection against Unlawful Industrial Action Registrar of Public Lending Right

Commission for Racial Equality

Research Councils :

Economic and Social


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Natural Environment

Residuary Bodies

Office of the Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members Rural Development Commission

Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work Sports Council

Traffic Director for London

Industry Training Boards :

Agricultural Training Board

Construction Industry Training Board

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board

Urban Development Corporations (except for town and country planning functions).

Urban Regeneration Agency (except for town and country planning functions)

Parliamentary Counsel

Ms Lynne : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on what occasions since April 1992 Ministers from his Department have (a) requested Parliamentary counsel to assist in preparing amendments to private Members' Bills on behalf of other private Members and (b) authorised officials to instruct Parliamentary Counsel to prepare amendments which were subsequently passed to private Members.

Mr. Waldegrave : Parliamentary Counsel draft not on behalf of private Members but on the instructions of Departments acting on the authority of Ministers. No amendments were drafted since April 1992 by parliamentary counsel on instructions from my Department. However, some of the amendments tabled during the Committee and Report stages of the Right to Know Bill were prepared by my officials with advice from Parliamentary Counsel.


Licence Fees

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he will have consultations within the European Community concerning the proposed directive on licence fees for television and radio.

Mr. Brooke : I have no knowledge of any proposed directive on this matter.

Football Stadiums

Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will grant time extensions to any of the premier league and first division football clubs in respect of the Government's 1 August all- seater deadline.

Mr. Brooke : The Government's policy has been that premier league and first division football clubs should eliminate standing accommodation from their grounds by 1 August 1994. The policy was first announced in January 1990, when the Government accepted the recommendations in Lord Justice Taylor's final report. This policy was reaffirmed in the Government's response to the Home Affairs Committee report on policing football hooliganism

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in May 1991 and again in July 1992, following a review of the policy by the former Secretary of State. In recognition of the costs involved, the Government reduced pool betting duty in the 1990 budget, making available to clubs some £20 million each year since then via the Football Trust, on the understanding that these funds will be used for major projects associated with Taylor implementation. I am pleased to report that the majority of clubs in the top two divisions will meet or are planning to meet the deadline. I congratulate those clubs on the great strides they have made in improving the safety and comfort of spectators at their grounds. I have, however, indicated that I will consider extensions to the deadline in exceptional cases.

The all-seater policy will be enforced by means of the licensing system operated by the Football Licensing Authority under the Football Spectators Act 1989. Under section 11(1) and (2) of the 1989 Act I am empowered to make an order directing the FLA to include certain specified conditions about seating in the licences that it issues to clubs. Before making such an order, I am required to consult the FLA, which in turn is required to consult local authorities before making recommendations to me. The FLA consulted local authorities and clubs on 17 December 1993, asking for comments by 28 February. It submitted its main recommendations in mid-April together with copies of the representations made by local authorities and clubs. It submitted further representations in relation to two late applications at the end of April.

Of the 12 clubs that have formally applied for an extension, one--Oxford United--has been relegated to division 2, which is not subject to the 1994 deadline. I have considered the case made by the remaining 11 clubs, taking into account the recommendations made by the Football Licensing Authority.

On the basis of the information I have before me, I have today written to the chairmen of both clubs to inform them of my preliminary view in each case, and offering them the opportunity to submit further representations.

I have written to the chairmen of the following clubs, all of which are actively engaged in relocation to new stadiums, indicating that I am minded to agree that they have a valid case for an extension to the 1 August deadline :

Derby County

Grimsby Town




I have warned, however, that although I am considering whether to grant an extension, my general policy remains, and I have in mind that any extension should be for a limited period only.

I have also explained that any decision to allow the retention of standing accommodation for a limited period will not affect safety requirements at the ground. Clubs will still be required to observe the terms and conditions of the local authority safety certificate issued under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, and any requirement placed on the club as a result of the FLA exercising its powers under section 13 of the 1989 Act. The responsibility of each club to ensure that the ground meets the necessary safety requirements remains unchanged, irrespective of whether or not an extension is granted.

I have also written to the chairmen of the following clubs indicating that, while I appreciate the very real

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difficulties faced, I do not consider that the case presented to date is sufficiently strong to warrant an extension of the deadline beyond 1 August 1994 :



Manchester City

Newcastle United

Oldham Athletic

Swindon Town

In arriving at my preliminary view, I have applied the criterion adopted by the Football Licensing Authority, which were set out in the FLA's letters of 13 November 1992 and 17 December 1993 as follows :

Clubs seeking an extension in order to relocate to a new ground are expected to produce clear evidence that such an extension would be for a strictly limited period and that the club could realistically complete its relocation within a reasonable and definite timescale.

Clubs applying for an extension in order to redevelop their existing grounds are expected to show why their circumstances are wholly exceptional, why the reasons for the delay could not reasonably have been foreseen, and why they could not be attributed to the actions or inaction of the club.

I must stress that I have not yet made my final decision, and before I do so I think it only right that the clubs affected should have the opportunity to comment and to make further representations to me if they feel that this would be appropriate.

In reaching my final decision I will consider each case on its individual merits in the light of the above criteria, having regard to all material facts and to the need to be consistent where circumstances are similar and fair to all clubs in the premier league and football league, first division. I will also take into account any other relevant points which the clubs wish to make in response to my letters.

I am acutely aware that it is important that clubs have as much time as possible to prepare for the 1994-95 football season. I therefore propose to end any uncertainty about the outcome of my deliberations within a matter of weeks rather than months. Clubs have been asked for any comments they may have on the contents of my letters, or for any further representations they may wish me to take into consideration, by Thursday 16 June at the very latest. My final decision will follow as soon as possible thereafter.

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