Previous Section Home Page

Nephrops

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will ask the Council of Ministers to increase current precautionary nephrops total allowable catches in the North sea to take into account increased catches from Fladden bank;

(2) what proposals he has to introduce separate precautionary total allowable catches for nephrops on the Fladden bank in the North sea; (3) what steps he is taking to prevent current nephrops quota being reduced before the end of the current year.

Mr. Jack: Following representations from the fishing and processing industries, my Department is approaching the European Commission with a request for an increase in the current precautionary total allowable catch for North sea nephrops. I shall be considering the case for treating the Fladden ground separately. In the meantime, strict controls are being maintained in order to keep this year's fishery open as long as possible.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ban twin prawn trawls.


Column 418

Mr. Jack: EC technical conservation rules permit fishing for nephrops with a minimum mesh size of 70 mm in the North sea and allow fishing for cod and other white fish with a minimum mesh size of 100 mm. Since August 1993, with the agreement of the United Kingdom industry, it has not been possible for United Kingdom fishing vessels to use twin or multirig fishing gear in the North sea, except on the Fladen ground, unless the minimum mesh size has been 100 mm. There are no current plans to change this.

Animal Health and Veterinary Group

Mr. Booth: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes he proposes to make in his Department's functions and organisation following the management review of the animal health and veterinary group.

Mr. Waldegrave: On 16 March 1993, my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), announced a review of the Ministry's Animal Health and Veterinary Group with a view to improving the use of the Ministry's resources in this area. The review team reported earlier this year and a consultation document is now being sent out to interested organisations and placed in the Library of the House which sets out the initial conclusions which I have reached in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales, who share with me policy responsibilities in this area.

Agricultural Development Advisory Service

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future of ADAS.

Mr. Waldegrave: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I are anxious to press ahead with the privatisation of ADAS as soon as possible. However, it is necessary to have regard to financial aspects, competition policy and the need for any privatised body to avoid unacceptable conflicts of interests. Accordingly, we have now instructed officials to look into the possibility of privatising part of the organisation while avoiding these potential problems. The expectation is that the privatised body will include the whole of the commercial consultancy and commercial research and development arms and some other work. Some functions presently located within ADAS would probably remain within the departments after privatisation. I will make a further statement in due course.


Column 419

WALES

Public Information

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much has been spent by his Department in each of the last three years to (a) produce public information in alternative formats for visually impaired people and (b) publicise the availability of accessible information amongst visually impaired people.

Mr. Redwood: My Department has spent a total of £6,000 in the last three years producing and publicising public information material in Braille, large print and on audio tape.

Public Information

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will indicate which Departmental publications are currently available (a) in Braille, (b) in large print and (c) on tape; and if he will indicate what efforts have been made by his Department to inform visually impaired people about the availability of publications in alternative formats to normal print.

Mr. Redwood: The following Welsh Office publications are currently available in formats other than normal print:

Council Tax - A guide to the New Tax for Local Government in Wales

(available in Braille, large print and on tape)

Council Tax - Valuation and Banding (Braille, large print and tape)

Council Tax - How to Appeal (Braille, large print and tape) Council Tax - Liability, Discounts and Exemptions (Braille, large print and tape.

An Inspection of Services for the Visually Impaired in Gwynedd (large print and tape)

Published Information for Users and Carers and General Public-- A Guide to Good Practice (large print)

Keep Warm, Keep Well (tape)

Details of material produced in alternative formats is publicised through information releases to the media and through direct contact with relevant organisations.

Health Service Pay

Mr. Hain: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what specific analysis his Department has conducted on the cost and efficiency of introducing performance-related pay to clinical grades in the national health service.

Mr. Redwood: Local managers are in the best position to devise local pay schemes for clinicians linked to the needs of the hospital. The assessment of the cost and efficiency of any such schemes would also be for local determination.

Official Hospitality

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the total amount spent on official hospitality by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies for each year since 1990.

Mr. Redwood: The amounts spent by the Welsh Office and its agencies on official hospitality were:


Column 420


                               |Welsh Office|Cadw                     

Year                           |£           |£                        

----------------------------------------------------------------------

1990-91                        |45,419      |632                      

1991-92                        |35,982      |481                      

1992-93                        |38,382      |1,955                    

1993-94                        |26,818      |2,248                    

1994-95 (to 30 September 1994) |12,938      |244                      

Student Maintenance Grant

Mr. Ron Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the average maintenance grant paid by Welsh local education authorities to students for the 1994 95 academic year; and what the figure was for (a) the 1993 94 academic year and (b) the 1979 80 academic year.

Mr. Redwood: The average net maintenance grant paid as part of a mandatory award by local education authorities in Wales was £1,540 in the academic year 1989 90, £1,620 in 1991 92 and £1,690 in 1992 93. This is fully reimbursed by central Government.

Discretionary student awards are funded entirely from LEAs' own resources. The average net maintenance grant paid as part of a discretionary award by LEAs in Wales was £620 in the academic year 1989 90, £670 in 1991 92 and £440 in the academic year 1992 93. 1992 93 is the latest academic year for which information on LEAs' expenditure on either mandatory or discretionary awards is available. Similar information for the years prior to 1989 90 is not readily available.

Tourist Boards

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish an up-to-date list of all the (a) chairs and (b) non-executive directors of each tourist board, indicating the gender and occupation of each individual.

Mr. Gwilym Jones: The Wales tourist board has exclusive responsibility for tourism in Wales. The current board comprises:- Chairman: Mr. A.R. Lewis--Broadcaster and journalist

Members: Mrs T. Bevan--Retired former head of programmes with BBC Wales

Mr. S. Wanhill--Professor of Tourism, University of Wales College of Cardiff

Mr. J. Dunscombe--Managing Director of Washington Travel Mr. C. Jackson-- Administrative Director of Zoological Society of Wales also involved with running Welsh Mountain Zoo.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Mozambique

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance he plans to provide for rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes following the elections in Mozambique.

Mr. Baldry: We plan to maintain a substantial bilateral development programme, focusing on support for economic reform, promotion of rural development in Zambezia province and English language teaching. We shall also continue to provide emergency assistance where appropriate, channelling it through non-governmental organisations mainly for seeds, tools and de-mining.


Column 421

Mozambique will also benefit under the EC's southern African reconstruction and rehabilitation programme, the United Kingdom share of which is over £12 million.

Yugoslavia

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many humanitarian flights have landed in Tuzla, in the former Yugoslavia, since the airport was officially opened in March; and what are now the principal obstacles to further humanitarian flights.

Mr. Baldry: It has not been possible to use Tuzla airport for humanitarian aid flights because the parties have not provided a security guarantee.

PRIME MINISTER

Public Opinion Surveys

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list each public opinion survey commissioned by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies since 1 October 1992, showing for each the subject, objectives, total cost, the period in which it was conducted and the organisation from which it was commissioned.

The Prime Minister: No such surveys have been commissioned by my office.

Saudi Arabia

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he made during his recent visit to Saudia Arabia about the Arab embargo on Israeli goods; and what was the reaction of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister: During my visit to Saudi Arabia I made clear the importance we attach to a just and lasting settlement on all aspects of the peace process. The Gulf co-operation states have since announced that, for all practical purposes, the secondary and tertiary elements of the Arab boycott will no longer be applied. I welcome any moves towards the full lifting of the boycott.

Public Appointments

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish a statistical analysis of the number of known members of each political party represented in the House who are listed by the Cabinet Office as (a) current and (b) potential appointees to public bodies.

The Prime Minister: Appointments to public bodies are made on the basis of merit, aptitude and suitability to meet the demands of the post.

Nominees on the public appointments unit's register are not required to give any details of their political affiliation. From the information made available by individuals, only 12.5 per cent. are known to have been members of a political party.

Constitutional Discussions

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what machinery exists for the Queen to receive the collective advice of the Heads of Government of all the Commonwealth countries of which she is head of state


Column 422

when matters arise which relate to the common constitutional link of the monarchy.

The Prime Minister: Her Majesty the Queen consults her Ministers in the United Kingdom, and in those countries of which she is sovereign, in matters relating to her capacity as Head of the Commonwealth.

Her Majesty also has contact with heads of state and Government of Commonwealth countries at the biennial Commonwealth heads of government meetings and on other occasions.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what communications he, or the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has had with Heads of Government of other Commonwealth countries of which the Queen is sovereign on matters relating to the succession.

The Prime Minister: None.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what communications he, or the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has had with heads of Government of other Commonwealth countries of which the Queen is sovereign on matters relating to the common constitutional link of the Crown since his answer of 17 December 1992, Official Report, column 352.

The Prime Minister: None.

Insider Trading

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 18 October, Official Report, columns 142 43 , if he will set out on which occasions statements were made by Ministers requiring that DTI inspectors' reports on matters relating to insider trading inquiries be not published; and if he will give the Official Report column references to which he is referring.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 21 October 1994]: The question was debated during the passage of the Financial Services Bill. I refer the hon. Member to the Official Report of the House of Lords, 29 July 1986, columns 737 44.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

War Crimes Act

Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on progress under the War Crimes Act 1991.

The Attorney-General: Seven cases have now been investigated by the police to a stage where it has become possible for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider the question of whether or not to prosecute. Inquiries continue into these and other cases.

LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

European Community Legislation

37. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will review the arrangements for the consideration of EC legislation.

Mr. Newton: The arrangements are kept under constant review.


Column 423

SOCIAL SECURITY

Emphysema

Mr. Enright: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent representations he has received concerning entitlement to awards for emphysema contracted through pit face working.

Mr. Hague: I have received a number of representations about the qualifying criteria recommended by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, in respect of payment of benefit for chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Poverty

Mr Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will constitute an inquiry into the current levels and extent of poverty in Britain.


Column 424

Mr. Burt: Research is now regularly conducted into the role of social security and its impact on those in low-income households. A list of research projects sponsored by the Department is published in the Social Security yearbooks, formerly the "DSS Handbook of Research and Development", copies of which are in the Library.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the total cost and number of recipients of housing benefit in the current year; and what were the equivalent figures for 1982.

Mr. Roger Evans: The information is in the table.


Great Britain                    Housing Benefit                 Housing Benefit                                

                 only                                            plus an estimate                               

                                                 for the                                                        

                                                                 number of people                               

                                                                 on Supplementary                               

                                                                 Benefit                                        

                                                                 who get help with                              

                                                                 housing costs                                  

                                |Spending       |Caseload       |Spending       |Caseload                       

                                |£ (millions)   |(thousands)    |£ (millions)   |(thousands)                    

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1982-83<1>      |Rent Rebate    |929            |3,050          |1,777          |3,580                          

                |Rent Allowance |74             |260            |351            |851                            

1994-95<2>      |Rent Rebate    |5,659          |1,432          |n/a            |n/a                            

                |Rent Allowance |4,320          |3,186          |n/a            |n/a                            

n/a=not applicable                                                                                              

Note:                                                                                                           

1982-83 caseload and expenditure figures include estimates for people whose Supplementary Benefit payments      

included help with their rent.                                                                                  

<1>Information taken from Public Expenditure papers.                                                            

<2>"Government's Expenditure Plans 1994-95 to 1996-97". Caseload information extrapolated from figures in same  

report.                                                                                                         


Column 423

Child Support Agency

Sir David Knox: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many letters he has received concerning the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Burt: Between April 1993 and the end of September 1994, approximately 18,000 letters have been received at DSS headquarters covering a range of views about child support.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what factors led to the delay in assessing child maintenance by the Child Support Agency; and if he will make a statement on what proportion of assessments for lone mothers take more than six months.

Mr. Burt: A variety of factors were involved, including early operating difficulties and clients' response to the new arrangements.

The agency acknowledge that an unacceptable proportion of cases take more than six months to clear and is already taking action to improve processing times.

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the operations of the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Burt: Despite acknowledged early difficulties, the performance of the agency has improved significantly during the first part of this year. I will be monitoring its performance very closely to ensure that such improvements continue.

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the recommendation made by the Social Security Select


Column 424

Committee in its first report on the operation of the Child Support Act that if the appeal is decided in favour of the applicant, a reimbursement of the excess paid should be made within five working days and that this should also be part of the citizens charter for the agency; and what plans he has to implement that recommendation.

Mr. Burt: The Government did not accept this recommendation. The reasons are set out in the Government's response to the report--CM 2469, published February 1994.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Jacques Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the detection of social security fraud.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The fight against fraud remains a top priority. In 1993 94 Benefits Agency investigators caught 312,000 cheats and a record £654 million of fraud was identified and stopped.

Sir Anthony Durant: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how he is planning to reduce fraud involving order books and giros.

Mr. Arbuthnot: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Luff).

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what incentives he is giving to Benefits Agency staff to reduce order book fraud.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Benefits Agency staff are expected to be alert to the possibility of fraud at all times. Last year


Column 425

a record £105.5 million worth of fraudulent and counterfeit order books and girocheques were recovered, and new performance indicators have been set for this year to improve upon this performance.

Automation

Mr. Booth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his policy in respect of the automated payment of benefits.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Our preferred method of payment is by automated credit transfer directly into bank or building society accounts. However, we recognise that many people prefer to collect their benefit at post offices, and in May my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced our intention to automate the process by which benefits are delivered at post office counters. This is good news for customers, good news for taxpayers and good news for post offices.

Child Poverty

Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next intends to meet the Child Poverty Action Group to discuss initiatives to reduce the extent of child poverty in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Burt: Ministers meet regularly with representatives of children's groups, including the Child Poverty Action Group, to discuss a variety of issues affecting children. I last met CPAG on 13 October.

Pensioners

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what plans exist to incorporate the provisions of the War Pensioners (Equal Rights) Bill within the overall review of differentials between pensions; and if he will make a statement; (2) if he will make a statement on the progress of the review of the differentials between pensions.

Mr. Roger Evans: There are no plans for such a review.

Pension Trusts

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what safeguards will exist under the new proposals to protect employee trustees from dismissal for whistleblowing on any illegitimate action taken by pension trusts.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Were an employee trustee to be dismissed from his employment for whistleblowing he would enjoy the protection afforded by the appropriate provisions contained in existing employment law.

Pension Trusts

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received on the prospective complications posed by the proposed opt-out option for the requirement for compulsory employee trustee elections for pension schemes.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The Department of Social Security received 178 replies to its consultation document on the selection and appointment of member-nominated trustees. A majority of respondents supported our proposals that members in all types of schemes should have the right to


Column 426

select one third of the trustees but many were concerned that the arrangements for opt-out, suggested in this document, could prove difficult to operate on a practical level. We are now considering the best way to implement our proposals in the light of these comments.

Public Appointments

Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the public appointments for which he is responsible (a) in the west midlands region and (b) in Shropshire, indicating in each case the duration of the appointment, the date when a new appointment is due, and the salary.


Next Section

  Home Page