Mr. Portillo : The role of the Treasury is to advise its Ministers on the level of resources appropriate for individual departmental programmes and to satisfy itself that public funds--including funds for capital developments--are used efficiently and effectively. In this context, Treasury Ministers reserve the right to examine any proposed capital development to ensure that it is affordable and represents value for money. I also formally approve new hospital developments, or schemes which are part of a planned programme of development, which have a total capital cost over £50 million.
Mr. Dorrell : Revenue management is considering a proposal to move the work of Dewsbury tax office to a new office in Leeds. No decision is likely to be made on this proposal for some months. The proposal arises from the Revenue's change programme which is designed to improve the quality and efficiency of the service provided to taxpayers by the Department. The Dewsbury proposal will be assessed against those objectives.
|Year to |1993 |1994 |April 1992 ------------------------------------------------------------- Telephone calls |49,717 |51,638 |55,961 Personal callers |10,597 |9,748 |9,577 |------- |------- |------- Total |60,314 |61,386 |65,538
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total value of providing mortgage tax relief in Scotland ; and how many households received it in the latest year for which he has information.
Mr. Dorrell : It is estimated that the cost of mortgage interest relief for Scotland in 1993-94 was £280 million. It was received by about 710,000 married couples and single people. The estimates are based on the regional distribution of mortgages shown by the 1992 Family Expenditure Survey applied to the United Kingdom total estimates for 1993-94.
Mr. Burns : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the current legislation for reinvestment rollover relief which allows individuals and most trustees to defer capital gains tax on any chargeable gains which they reinvest in an unquoted trading company.
Mr. Dorrell : A loophole has been identified in the capital gains tax reinvestment rollover relief rules. This enables taxpayers in certain circumstances to convert what is meant to be a tax deferral into an outright exemption. The main circumstances are where someone reinvests in shares bought from a spouse or where someone realises gains on two or more disposals and reinvests in shares whose market value is less than the total gains realised.
The Government intend to correct this defect in the next Finance Bill. The new rules will apply to disposals, acquisitions and other chargeable events occurring on or after today. Further details are given in a press release which the Inland Revenue is issuing.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will cause a case-stated to be delivered to Mr. Marriott of Barnstormers, West Lane, Higher Blagdon, Paignton, as requested, following the hearing at the beginning of February before the Commissioners with regard to capital gains tax liability arising from a defunct business ; if he will make a statement as to the reasons for the delays in delivering a case-stated ; and if he will cause bankruptcy proceedings to be halted until the case-stated has been delivered so as to provide the information needed for an appeal.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what allowance for price rises will be made to the electricity supply industry to recover costs incurred through the reduction in electricity voltage.
Mr. Eggar : Matters relating to pricing in respect of the electricity supply industry are for the Director General of Electricity Supply. Any costs are not likely to be incurred for several years and would also depend on the final stages of harmonisation which will not take place until some time after the year 2003.
Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the desirability of publishing the overall profit or loss of the airbus project and the amount of public or state industry financial commitment so far contributed.
The United Kingdom Government have contributed £746.4 million towards British Aerospace's involvement in the consortium and has recouped £178.3 million to date.
Mr. Burns : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the British Coal pension schemes will be guaranteed by Government ; when the new industry-wide schemes for the privatised industry will be set up ; what protected person status will mean ; and what scheme contribution rates will be payable in future.
Mr. Eggar : It is currently envisaged that, subject to the Coal Industry Bill having secured parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, Government guarantees for the mineworkers' pension scheme--MPS--and the British Coal staff superannuation scheme--SSS--would come into effect in mid-September this year. At that time the schemes would be modified as necessary by regulations as proposed in the Bill. It is envisaged that the two new industry-wide schemes proposed for the industry after privatisation would then be established in December. On the day when the industry-wide schemes are established employers of contributing members of the MPS and SSS who cease to be or are not British Coal employees--that is, any employees of British Coal or its subsidiaries transferred on that day to successor companies and all other persons who are scheme members on that day but are no longer or were never employed by the corporation or its subsidiaries--will be obliged to give such employees the option to join the industry-wide schemes in which the employees will gain statutory protected- person status. Successor employers of members of the MPS or SSS who remain as British Coal employees for some period after the establishment of the industry-wide schemes and who are subsequently transferred to the successor employers will be obliged at the time of the transfer to give such employees the option to join the industry-wide schemes in which the employees will gain protected-person status. Protected person status will operate to safeguard the pension benefit structures of the MPS and SSS which will be reproduced within the industry-wide schemes.
Contribution rates for employees and indicative estimates of initial employer contribution rates are set out for each industry-wide scheme as percentages of pensionable earnings :
|Employees' |Employers' |contributions|contributions |Per cent. |Per cent. -------------------------------------------------------- IWS-MPS |5.25 |9.25 IWS-SSS |5.00 |15.00
There will be no transfer of employer contribution holidays from the MPS or SSS to the industry-wide schemes.
Mr. Burns : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the total amount of money made available for training and reskilling under the Konver programme in Essex ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : A total of £201,000 was made available in Essex for training projects as part of £501,000 of grants to projects in the county from the United Kingdom's 1993 Konver programme. I shall seek to ensure that the United Kingdom receives its fair share from the £380 million available under Konver II for the period 1994-1997.
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the total value by region of (a) regional selective assistance and (b) regional enterprise grants for the period 1 August 1993 to 19 May 1994.
Mr. Sainsbury : The value of offers that have been made by region in England of (i) regional selective assistance and (ii) regional enterprise grants for the period 1 August 1993 to 19 May 1994 are as follows :
|Regional selective |Regional enterprise |assistance |grants |£ million |£ million ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- East |0.4 |0.3 East Midlands |4.9 |1.7 London |0.5 |- Merseyside |13.3 |1.5 North East |26.6 |1.5 North West |11.6 |- South East |1.6 |0.6 South West |12.3 |1.0 West Midlands |13.9 |0.8 Yorkshire and Humberside |11.6 |4.4 |-- |-- Total |96.7 |11.8
Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will discuss with the chairman of governors of the BBC their proposal for ethnic quotas in trainee schemes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Brooke : No. The BBC is responsible for decisions about recruitment to its training schemes and other employment matters. The Race Relations Act 1976 permits discrimination on the basis of racial group in the selection of trainees when statutory criteria are satisfied.
(2) what was the result of stage II, dealing with the scope for privatisation and abolition, of the framework document review of the United Kingdom Passport Agency ;
(3) what plans there are to market test the United Kingdom Passport Agency during the next two years ;
(4) what was the result of stage I, dealing with the evaluation of performance, of the framework document review of the United Kingdom Passport Agency.
Mr. Charles Wardle : In accordance with the normal practice of reviewing executive agencies after they have been in existence for three years the activities of the United Kingdom Passport Agency are currently under review. The review includes an evaluation of the agency's performance and an examination of the options for delivering its services. An announcement on the future of the agency, and on any plans for changing the arrangements for delivering its services, will be made in due course.
Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what research into the origins of firearms and shotguns used in the pursuit of crime his Department has commissioned or undertaken ;
(2) what research his Department has commissioned or undertaken to identify how many legally held and licensed shotguns have been used in the pursuit of crime.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Research which was commissioned by the Home Office into the use of firearms in offences of robbery has been conducted by the Oxford centre for criminological research. One of the aims of the research was to establish how the guns used in robbery were obtained. The report of the research has recently been completed.
In addition, a study has been conducted by the Home Office research and planning unit into the theft of firearms from an analysis of police crime reports.
It is expected that both reports will be published shortly.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to permit firearms certificates to be issued to members of the public on condition that such arms will be used only on private land specified on the certificate and where land is located away from public highways and public rights of way.
Column 6possess one, or to anyone who could not possess one without danger to public safety or the peace. In addition, chief officers may impose territorial conditions on firearm certificates, restricting the area where the firearm may be used.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidelines he issues to (a) chief police officers and (b) chief fire officers on the timing and release of information to the press following a 999 call to a serious road accident.
Mr. Charles Wardle : No specific guidelines are issued to chief officers of police or to chief officers on the timing and release of information to the press following a 999 call to a serious road accident. This is matter for chief officers to decide. General guidance to all emergency services about dealing with the media is contained in the Home Office publication "Dealing with Disaster".
Sir Russell Johnston : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many citizens of each country of the European Union have been remanded in custody in the United Kingdom for more than (a) two years and (b) one year.
Letter from A. J. Butler to Sir Russell Johnston, dated20 June 1994.
The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question asking how many citizens of each country of the European Union have been remanded in custody in the United Kingdom for more than (a) two years and (b) one year.
The latest available provisional information is for the population in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales on 30 April 1994. It is given in the attached table.
Population of remand prisoners in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales on 30 April 1994, remanded in custody for more than (a) two years and (b) one year, by European Union country<2> Nationality Time since first remand in custody<1> |Over two years |Over one year but |less than two years --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Belgium |- |- Denmark |- |- Netherlands |- |5 France |- |1 Germany |- |1 Greece |- |- Ireland |1 |7 Italy |- |1 Luxembourg |- |- Portugal |- |- Spain |- |1 United Kingdom |37 |287 All EU Nationalities |38 |303 <1> Time since first remand into a Prison Service establishment; includes any intervening time on bail. Excludes any time spent in non-Prison Service establishments (eg police cells) before reception on remand into a Prison Service establishment. <2> Provisional figures.
Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to meet the European Commission's target of a 50 per cent. reduction in animals used in experiments by the year 2000.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The Government fund research into alternatives to the use of animals in scientific work, and welcome the contribution which the European centre for validation of alternative methods--ECVAM--will make at a European level to the identification and validation of alternatives. The number of procedures carried out in the United Kingdom has been declining, and this process, combined with the search for alternatives, should make a significant contribution to meeting the European Commission target.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances it is his Department's practice, when issuing a public consultation document, to inform those consulted that their responses will be made public unless they explicity ask for them to be kept confidential ; and if he will arrange for his Department to do so in all cases in future.
Mr. Howard : The code of practice on Government information commits the Department to publishing relevant facts and analysis underlying major policy proposals. This would include details of any public consultation exercise. Comments on public consultation documents are sought on the basis that the Department would not wish to publish individual responses without the agreement of those providing them.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many job offers were reported by staff in his Department under the requirements of the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments in each of the last 10 years by (a) staff of grade 3 and above, (b) staff below grade 3, (c) staff in sections concerned with procurement or contract work, under section 15 of the rules of 1 February 1993 and (d) staff in other sections, under section 14 ; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.
Mr. Howard : The rules do not require staff below grade 3 level to report approaches to the centre of their departments. Five offers of jobs have been reported by staff at grade 3 level and above since 1989, all of which have been followed by a formal application. The rest of the information requested is either not available or is not maintained centrally.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make available in the Library details of contracts for the Blakenhurst and Doncaster prisons ; what representations he has received concerning these contracts ; and what has been the nature of such representations.
Letter from A. J. Butler to Mr. Robert Wareing, dated 20 June 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about Blakenhurst and Doncaster prisons.
A copy of the invitations to tender which formed the basis of the contracts are already in the Library and copies of the contracts without details of the contractor's prices will be placed there. From time to time the Director General receives questions concerning the nature of these contracts. They are diverse in their scope but have covered the costs of the contracts ; staffing numbers and arrangements ; which companies had tendered for the contracts ; and the wrongly perceived privatisation' of the Prison Service.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Efforts are being made to trace, with a view to removal, 11 passengers who arrived on two charter flights at Gatwick last December and who are known to be here illegally because they have not complied with the terms of their temporary admission. If any other passengers who were allowed to enter for six months are found to have overstayed their visit, we will pursue them with a view to deportation in the normal way.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether the application for political asylum made by Tamara Norashkaryan, a Russian visitor to the United Kingdom, was considered under the normal procedures ; who reviewed the recommendation on the application within the Immigration and Nationality Department at senior official level ; and what conditions have been imposed on Ms Norashkaryan's leave to remain in the United Kingdom ;
(2) when Tamara Norashkaryan, a visitor to the United Kingdom from Russia, applied for political asylum in the United Kingdom ; when her application was approved ; whether a recommendation on her application was referred to Ministers for decision ; when he was informed Ms Norashkaryan had married Sir Antony Buck ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) on what date Sir Antony Buck was interviewed concerning Tamara Norashkaryan's application for political asylum in the United Kingdom ; what representations Sir Antony has made to Ministers concerning the immigration status of Ms Norashkaryan ; and in what form and on what date or dates such representations were made ;
(4) how many meetings his officials have had with Ms Tamara Norashkaryan, a Russian visitor to the United Kingdom, in connection with her application for political asylum in the United Kingdom ; when she completed the necessary application forms ; when she told his officials she intended to marry or had married Sir Antony Buck ; and for how long in total Ms Norashkaryan was interviewed.
Mr. Charles Wardle : It has been the long-standing normal policy not to confirm or deny whether any individual has applied for political asylum or to provide details of the consideration of individual claims.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what decisions he has reached on the recommendations made by the Police Negotiating Board for the United Kingdom for changes to pay structures, pay levels and pay-related conditions of service for police officers in the ranks of inspector and above.
Mr. Howard : The Police Negotiating Board's recommendations for police officers of all ranks were sent to the Secretaries of State for the Home Departments at the beginning of April. The board subsequently put forward further proposals which took account of the decision which I announced on 26 April that the rank of chief inspector should be retained.
We have now studied these proposals carefully. We accept the board's proposals for superintendents and their revised proposals for inspectors and chief inspectors. The proposals will be implemented with effect from 1 September 1994.
New pay arrangements for chief constables and assistant chief constables are linked to the introduction from 1 April 1995 of fixed-term appointments for officers in these ranks. Once certain outstanding issues relating to these appointments have been settled I shall be in a position to announce the Government's decision on pay for this group of officers.
Mr. Mates : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if discretionary life prisoners who have been transferred to hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983, and whom it is not appropriate to remit to prison even though they no longer require, or can effectively be given, hospital treatment, are able to have the question of their release considered by the Parole Board under section 34 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
Mr. Howard : The cases of discretionary life prisoners in this category are referred to the Parole Board under section 34 of the 1991 Act, while they remain in hospital, in the same way as if they had been remitted to prison.
Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received from discussions recently held by the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development about the killings and dispossession of the people of the Nuba mountains.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We are not aware that the subject of the Nuba mountains has been discussed at the IGADD talks. A draft declaration of principles, now under consideration by the parties, makes general references to human rights and human suffering in war-affected areas.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : North Korea's continued non-compliance with its safeguards agreement remains a cause for great concern. In the United Nations Security Council we are consulting other member states and regional countries on the timing, tactics and substance of Security Council action. Another cause of concern is the large concentration of North Korean forces along its border with the Republic of Korea. We urge North Korea to recognise that peaceful means offer the best chance of resolving the current problems on the Korean peninsula.
Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the use of the Turks and Caicos islands as a processing camp for Haitian refugees will be limited to a certain period of time.
Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to make the proposed United States of America processing camp for Haitian refugees on the Turks and Caicos islands subject to a formal leasehold agreement betwen the United Kingdom and the United States of America ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The arrangement to establish a processing centre for Haitian boat people in the Turks and Caicos islands is contained in a memorandum of understanding signed by the British, United States and Turks and Caicos islands Governments. The UNHCR will be closely involved in the arrangement. Under the MOU, the TCI Government will make a site available in Grand Turk for the processing centre, which the United States authorities will occupy on a lease arrangement.
Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans exist to resettle those Haitians who are judged to be genuine political refugees ; and whether they will have a right of abode in the Turks and Caicos islands.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Under the arrangement agreed with the United States for the establishment of a processing centre for Haitian boat people in the Turks and Caicos islands, those Haitians considered by United States immigration officers running the processing centre to have a genuine claim to refugee status will be removed from the Turks and Caicos islands and resettled in third countries or in the United States. These Haitians will not have the right of abode in the Turks and Caicos islands.
Column 11reported confession of Yusef Shaban that he had responsibility for the Lockerbie disaster ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Wise : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many initial assessments prior to formal application for a visitor visa have in the last year resulted in the potential applicant being advised not to proceed with formal application on the grounds that they are unlikely to succeed.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : At the 27 posts worldwide where a formal preliminary examination of applicants is carried out, 33,890 applicants were advised in 1993 that their applications would be unlikely to succeed without further information being supplied. Such advice would no doubt also have been offered at other posts when appropriate, but precise figures are not available.