Home Page

Column 245

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 23 June 1994


Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease

Mr. Barnes : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what advice and instructions have been issued from his Department concerning the granting of legal aid to those pursuing claims concerning Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

Mr. John M. Taylor : None.

Civil Enforcement Agents

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 29 April, Official Report, column 335, when he expects to be able to publish his analysis of the responses received to the consultation paper on the organisation and management of civil enforcement agents.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The consultation exercise raised a wide range of difficult issues. The Lord Chancellor is continuing to give consideration to these, and is not in a position to say when an announcement will be made.


D-day Commemoration

Mrs. Lait : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 May, Official Report, column 127, what arrangements were made for the funding of the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-day.

Mr. Hanley : The expected additional cost to the MOD of the commemoration of D-day is between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. This covers expenditure on the military events organised by the MOD. Parliamentary approval to this expenditure is being sought in the 1994-95 supply estimates for defence : operational and support costs vote, class I, vote 1. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure of £1,000,000 on new services is being covered by a repayable advance from the contingencies fund.

Troop Location

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future location of units returning from Germany and Hong Kong ; and if he will now announce the location for the second additional infantry battalion announced on 3 February 1993, Official Report, column 321.

Mr. Hanley : A number of options have been considered for permanent barracks required for three Army units returning from Germany in 1995, for one of the battalions returning from Hong Kong, and for the Gurkhas. I am pleased to announce that I have decided that the following locations will be retained by the Army as permanent baracks :

Column 246

i. The Gurkhas, currently in Church Crookham near Aldershot, will move to Elizabeth Barracks, Pirbright around the end of the year. Until that time Pirbright will house the Black Watch, returning in July from Hong Kong.

ii. The Army Apprentice College, Chepstow will be converted into a permanent infantry barracks and will be the home for the 1st Battalion the Royal Welch Fusiliers from December 1995.

iii. 14 Signals Regiment, returning from Germany, will be housed permanently in RAF Brawdy from December 1995. Until then, RAF Brawdy will be used as temporary accommodation for the 1st Battalion the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

iv. 16 Regiment Royal Artillery (Air Defence), returning from Germany, is to be located at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich by November 1995. Woolwich is the historic home of the Royal Artillery.

v. 39 Regiment Royal Artillery, returning from Germany, is to be located at Albermarle Barracks, Ouston from November 1995. I am still considering possible locations for another permanent infantry barracks to cater for the second of the two additional infantry battalions announced on 3 February 1993, Official Report, column 320. I hope to be able to make a further announcement very soon.


Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make an announcement about the future of Her Majesty's yacht Britannia.

Mr. Rifkind : HM yacht Britannia was launched in 1953 and commissioned for service in January, 1954. In the 40 years since then she has travelled over 1 million miles and has served as royal residence and a setting for official entertainment by the Queen and members of the royal family during state and other visits overseas and in home waters, and has also been used for the promotion of British commercial interests overseas. She was originally designed to have the additional function of serving as a hospital ship in time of war, but has never served in this capacity and it is no longer practicable for her to do so. Her outstanding contribution over the years reflects the great care and professionalism which the Royal Navy, and in particular her successive ship's companies, have devoted to her.

The yacht last underwent a major refit in 1987. A further refit at an estimated cost of some £17 million would be necessary in 1996-97 but would only prolong her life for a further five years. In view of her age, even after the refit she would be difficult to maintain and expensive to run. It has therefore been decided to decommission Britannia in 1997.

The Government will now consider the question of whether to replace Britannia. The Queen has made it known that in the light of changes in the pattern of royal visits since the yacht was built, she does not consider a royal yacht to be necessary in future solely for the purposes of royal travel. None the less, in view of the success of Britannia in her representational role during state visits, and on other state occasions, and of the part played by the royal yacht in trade promotion, the Government believe it right to consider, without commitment, whether there should be a replacement at some future point, together with other options for meeting the tasks presently fulfilled by Britannia.

The Government will be seeking Her Majesty's views on what should happen to Britannia after 1997. We shall

Column 247

seek to find a way of enabling her to continue to serve a useful purpose, even though she will no longer go to sea. A further statement will be made in due course.

Territorial Army (Germany)

Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any decision has been taken on the future of the continental Territorial Army in Germany.

Mr. Hanley : The continental Territorial Army, CTA, which is some 160-strong, was formed in Germany in 1984. At that time, when there was still a real threat from the Warsaw pact and Soviet Union, there was seen to be clear advantage in recruiting reserve forces from among those with useful skills who could be immediately available on mobilisation in the area they are likely to serve. The requirement for Territorial Army units based in Germany has now been reviewed following the changes in the security environment that have resulted from the end of the cold war. It has been decided that there is no longer a need to base TA units in Germany and the CTA will be disbanded with effect from 30 November 1994. Any individual who wishes to continue to serve will be given the opportunity to do so in a United Kingdom-based unit. I should like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to all the volunteers who have served with the CTA since its formation.

Maintenance Group Defence Agency

Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the key management targets of the Maintenance Group Defence Agency for the financial year 1994-95.

Mr. Hanley : The Maintenance Group Defence Agency's key management targets for 1994-95 concentrate on three principal objectives : (

(a) The effective performance of the Group ;

(b) The economic use of resources ;

(c) The introduction of management initiatives.

The group's targets are :

(1) To achieve at least 98 per cent. of the specified aerosystems maintenance task to standard and on time ;

(2) To achieve the Joint Service Publication of 336 Defence Supply Manual speed-of-issue and pipeline targets for at least 95 per cent. of the Depot Supply task ;

(3) To keep within the Group's allocated budget ;

(4) To reduce the cost per unit of output by 2.5 per cent. ; (

(5) To complete the implementation of the Warehouse and Transport Management System by 31 March 1995.

Navy Training and Recruitment

Mr. Peter Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about possible defence agency status for the Royal Navy's training and recruiting organisation.

Mr. Hanley : I have decided that the Royal Navy's flag officer training and recruiting organisation, FOTR, should be considered as a candidate for defence agency status under the next steps initiative. FOTR currently employs 5,400 staff and has some 15 major training schools across the country. Of those 3,900 are service personnel who rotate between front- line operational appointments and the FOTR organisation, thus providing current knowledge, experience and expertise ; the remaining 1,500 are civilians.

Column 248

A "prior options" study of FOTR's organisation is being undertaken.

Comments and contributions from those with an interest in the organisation would be welcome and should be sent, by 8 August, to : Head of Naval Personnel Finance & Systems


Victory Building

HM Naval Base

Portsmouth PO1 3LS

VIP and Communications Flying

Mr. Jenkin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future of RAF VIP and communications flying.

Mr. Rifkind : Following the efficiency scrutiny undertaken last year, it has been decided that the Queen's flight, currently based at RAF Benson, will move to RAF Northolt to join the other RAF communications aircraft of No. 32 Squadron. Rationalisation into a single collocated unit, which will be known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron, will enable the RAF to continue to provide a flexible and cost-effective service to the royal family and the other VIP customers. The high standards associated with the Queen's Flight will be fully maintained. The new arrangements will include a new centralised tasking and monitoring organisation to ensure best use of all the assets available.

The bulk of the use made by the royal family of the Queen's flight is for national, ceremonial and other public duties where the cost falls to the MOD. Private use of the Queen's flight at MOD expense has been restricted to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, and the Prince and Princess of Wales. Such use has been minimal. However, Her Majesty has indicated a wish in future that the MOD should be reimbursed for this use, and arrangements are being made accordingly.

Long-range VIP flying will for the time being continue to be undertaken by the RAF's VC10 fleet. However, the possibility of using an RAF Tristar remains under consideration.

Otterburn Training Area

Mr. Sykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make details available of proposals for the development of the Otterburn training area.

Mr. Hanley : New developments within the Otterburn training area are required for training with AS 90 and MLRS--multiple-launch rocket system-- equipments on their return from Germany under the Government's "Options for Change" programme.

Last year independent environmental consultants, RPS Clouston Ltd., were commissioned to consider proposals by my Department for Otterburn. Using their material, and advice provided informally by the Northumberland National Park Authority, the proposals have undergone a detailed scrutiny within my Department and have been significantly refined. I am now satisfied that these revised proposals are for the minimum development necessary to meet the Army's operational training requirements.

These development proposals are, of course, subject to planning approval, and as a first step in the public consultation process my Department will shortly be making arrangements for consultants to undertake a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. When

Column 249

this assessment has been completed and after careful consideration of any views put forward by the statutory bodies and other relevant parties, it is out intention to lodge a notice of proposed development with the Northumberland National Park Authority. Because there are sensitive issues involved my Department will enter into an early dialogue with the Northumberland national park and Countryside Commission authorities to examine the issues in detail and recommend how a balance might be achieved between the requirements of national park policies and the Army's need for effective training.

Aircraft Collisions

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal actions were taken against his Department following the collisions between civil and military aircraft over Norfolk on (a) 9 August 1974 and (b) 29 February 1984 ; and what were the outcomes of the actions.

Mr. Hanley : My Department no longer holds records which might relate to the legal and claims aspects of either of these accidents.

Hawk Jets

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken to monitor the use by Indonesia of British Hawk jets.

Mr. Aitken : The United Kingdom could not monitor the use of these aircraft on a regular basis. But the Government have made clear their concerns and have received an assurance from the Indonesian Government that the Hawks will not be used against civilians. Staff from the British embassy in Indonesia regularly visit East Timor, as do representatives of various human rights organisations. We have no reports from these visitors of Hawk sightings there, either in the air or on the ground.

Flight Recorders

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reconsider his Department's policy on fitting flight recorders to military aircraft.

Mr. Aitken : My Department's policy on fitting recorders to military aircraft remains that all new aircraft types shall be fitted with accident data recorders. The technical difficulties and costs in fitting ADRs to older aircraft types are such that this could be undertaken only as part of a major upgrade programme.

Mr. Paul Martin

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what grounds Mr. Paul Martin was suspended from work ; when he hopes to announce the results of his Department's inquiry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : Mr. Paul Martin was suspended from work, under departmental disciplinary regulations, pending the outcome of inquiries into the security implications of allegations of improper behaviour reported by a national newspaper. It is not the practice to announce the results of internal inquiries of this nature and I do not, therefore, intend to make a statement.

Column 250


Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the RAF Tornado GR1/1A fleet will be equipped with thermal imaging airborne laser designator equipment ; and what is the expected resultant increase in the requirement for night flying training by RAF Tornado aircraft.

Mr. Hanley : It is not our practice to release operational information such as that concerning the number of TIALD-equipped aircraft. There are no plans to increase night flying training in order to practice TIALD operations at night, since it should be possible to practice these within the current Tornado GR1 night flying training programme.

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current annual requirement for live delivery of the JP233 weapon in the continuation training syllabus of combat-ready Tornado GR1 aircrew ; and where the live firing is carried out.

Mr. Hanley : There is no annual requirement for live delivery of the JP233 weapon in the continuation training syllabus of combat-ready Tornado GR1 aircrew. Live firing is not carried out during training.

Air Misses

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many confidential incident reporting system--CONDOR--reports have been received in each year since 1979 in which military pilots have reported narrowly avoiding hitting the ground.

Mr. Hanley : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) on 15 December 1993, Official Report, column 749.

Rapier Missile Launcher

Mr Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the operational function of the ground-to-air Rapier missile launcher that was stationed in the village of Great Stukely, Cambridgeshire, on 16 May ; whether the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) was informed of its presence ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : The Rapier missile launcher was stationed in Great Stukely, Cambridgeshire, on 16 May 1994 as part of a routine airfield defence training exercise. The office of the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon, was consulted prior to the deployment.


Football Clubs (Taxation)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many Football Association Premier League clubs are under examination by the special compliance office of the Inland Revenue ; if he will identify the clubs ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) how much was recovered by the Inland Revenue from FA Premier League clubs following investigations in each of the last three financial years ; and if he will make a statement ;

Column 251

(3) what efforts are being made to recover unpaid taxes from FA Premier League clubs.

Mr. Dorrell : The Inland Revenue's special compliance office is conducting investigations into FA Premier League clubs. For reasons of confidentiality, to which football clubs are entitled as much as any other taxpayer, I am not able to provide details of these investigations or of any results which may have arisen from them.

Special Compliance Office

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was received by the Inland Revenue following investigations by the special compliance office in each of the last three financial years.

Mr. Dorrell : Special compliance office investigations produced the following yield in the last three financial years :

          |£ million          


1991-92   |330.6              

1992-93   |387.4              

1993-94   |348.3              

European Union (United Kingdom Contribution)

Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the United Kingdom's net contribution to the European Union in (a) the calendar year 1995 and (b) the current year ; and what was the actual net contribution in 1993.

Sir John Cope : The Government's estimates of the United Kingdom's net contribution to EC institutions for the calendar years 1993 and to 1994 are set out in the "Statement on the 1994 Community Budget" (Cm 2486), which was published in March this year. Our estimates for the calendar year 1995 will be published in next year's statement.

Alcohol (Illegal Imports)

Mr. Miller : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many seizures of illegally imported alcohol were made by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise service in the last year for which figures are available ; what was the total volume of these seizures ; and how these figures compare with previous years.

Sir John Cope : During the year to 31 March 1994 Customs and Excise seized 790,169 litres of alcoholic drink in 1,866 seizures. Before the completion of the single market on 1 January 1993 only seizures of spirits were separately recorded as numbers of seizures of other alcoholic drinks were insignificant. Seizures recorded in the previous two financial years were : 1992-93, including first three months of the single market, 88,858 litres in 1,561 seizures ; 1991-92, 73,956 litres in 3,132 seizures.


Contracting Out

Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the President of the Board of Trade which local authorities have approached his Department for their views on the contracting-out of

Column 252

trading standards and/or environmental health enforcement ; what proposals were made by those authorities ; and what position his Department took on such proposals.

Mr. McLoughlin : There have been no such approaches.

Accountancy Firms

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many contracts and for what total sum were let out by his Department and for the Department of Energy when it was a separate department and agencies for which it is responsible to (a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) KPMG Peat Marwick, (c) Ernst and Young, (d) Price Waterhouse, (e) Arthur Andersen, (f) Touche Ross, (g) Grant Thornton, (h) Robson Rhodes and (i) Pannell Kerr Forster for (i) privatisation, (ii) market testing, (iii) management advice, (iv) accounting, (v) audit, (vi) consultancy and (vii) other services in (1) 1980 to 1983, (2) 1984 to 1987, (3) 1988 to 1991 and (4) 1992-93.

Mr. Eggar : My Department does not record centrally details of work undertaken in terms of its activity, and collection of this information would incur disproportionate costs.

Unfair Consumer Contracts Directive

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether full compliance costs assessments have yet been undertaken in connection with the implementation of the European Commission's unfair consumer contracts directive ; what are the results of such assessments to date ; what benefits this legislation will bring to United Kingdom industry ; and how it furthers the Government's deregulation initiative.

Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 20 June 1994] : A compliance cost assessment is in the course of preparation following responses to my Department's consultation paper published last October. To the extent that it may call for improved standards in the drafting of consumer contracts the unfair contract terms directive should assist the competitiveness of United Kingdom industry. Political agreement on the directive was reached before the launch of the Government's deregulation initiative, but consistent with that initiative the Government secured the deletion of certain provisions which appeared likely to prove onerous to industry.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what changes were (a) sought and (b) obtained to the early drafts of the EC unfair consumer contracts directive ; and to what extent he now considers that the directive is helpful to United Kingdom industry.

Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 20 June 1994] : The text of the unfair contract terms directive at the time of its adoption by the Council of Ministers broadly met the United Kingdom's negotiating objectives. In particular, we secured the deletion of potentially onerous provisions regarding the law relating to sale of goods, and agreement that the annex of potentially unfair terms should not be a blacklist. To the extent that it may call for improved standards in the drafting of consumer contracts the directive should assist the competitiveness of United Kingdom industry.

Column 253


War Pensions

Mr. Moss : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to make further improvements to the war pensions scheme.

Mr. Hague : We have decided to introduce two improvements which will benefit two groups of war widows. First, from October, we will supplement to United Kingdom levels the pensions of New Zealand war widows resident in this country, who are British. They receive the lower New Zealand pension because their husbands served with the independent New Zealand forces, not with those of the United Kingdom.

Secondly, and also from October, we will improve the financial position of some Northern Ireland war widows. They are the widows of members of the Ulster Defence Regiment who died in service between 1 April 1974 and 31 March 1980 and whose attributable pension from the Ministry of Defence is not as much as the special payments made to pre-1973 war widows. We will top up the MOD pension to the level of the pre-1973 payment.


Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his further letter of 12 April to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State's letter, reference POF(6) 3644/65, concerning a constituent.

Mr. Burt : I replied to the hon. Member today, and I am sorry for the delay.


Daylight Saving

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 May, Official Report , column 598 , what plans he has for the adoption of daylight saving.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Our policy on future summer time arrangements, including whether to move to central European time, remains under consideration.

British National Party

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will refer the case of J. R. Edmonds of the BNP to the Court of Appeal in order that that court may impose a higher sentence in that case ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has no powers to do so. Sections 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act give the Attorney- General the power to refer unduly lenient sentences passed for certain offences in the Crown court to the Court of Appeal. The power applies to offences that are triable only in the Crown court and to those triable either way which have been prescribed by order made by the Secretary of State. The Home Secretary has made such an order in respect of offences of indecent assault, making threats to kill and child cruelty.

Column 254

I understand that Mr. Edmonds was convicted of violent disorder. This offence does not fall within the scope of the Attorney-General's powers.

Police Negotiating Board

Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the draft regulations which have been agreed at the police negotiating board and remain to be placed before the House and in each case the date when they were agreed at the PNB and the expected date when they will be placed before the House.

Mr. Charles Wardle : None, but I will write to the hon. Member.


Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in establishing an EU register of primates held in breeding and research establishments.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The idea of a primate register has not so far been taken up by our EU partners. I understand, however, that a European primate resources network, EUPREN, is in the process of being established by primate breeding and research centres in a number of member states, with the object of improving both the quality of primate research and the welfare of the animals concerned. I gather that the network will be an appropriate forum for the exhange of information on the availability of suitable animals.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when the next survey of primates held in British laboratories is scheduled to take place ;

(2) what percentage of primates held in United Kingdom laboratories are captive bred.

Next Section

  Home Page