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Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what he assesses
Column 435would be the cost of operating an embassy in Armenia by renting premises in Yerevan.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: It is not possible to give a reliable estimate. Much would depend on the number of staff to be accommodated, the functions to be performed, and the size and location of the premises.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what has been the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Armenia in each of the past five years.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Armenia for the year 1993 and from January to August 1994 is shown in the table:
|Crude |Exports £000s|Imports £000s|Balance £000s ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Jan-Dec 1993 |5,346 |18 |+5,328 Jan-Aug 1994 |3,332 |21 |+3,311 Previously, all United Kingdom trade with Armenia was included in records of UK trade with the Soviet Union.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if United Kingdom interests are safeguarded (a) by embassies and (b) other means in (i) Azerbaijan, (ii) Kazakhstan, (iii) Turkmenistan and (iv) Uzbekistan; and if he will specify the other means used.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: There are British embassies in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Her Majesty's ambassador in Moscow is also accredited to Turkmenistan. He and his staff visit regularly.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the embassies the United Kingdom in former territories of the USSR which have become independent.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: British embassies in the former Soviet Union and Baltic states are:
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the relationship between the Russian Government and the Azerbaijan Government and the claims to the oil resources of the Caspian sea in so far as it relates to the activities of oil companies operating from Britain.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We understand that discussions on co-operation in the Caspian sea among the five littoral states, including Russia and Azerbaijan, are continuing. We welcomed the signature on 20 September of a production-sharing agreement between the Azerbaijan
Column 436state oil company and a consortium including British-based oil companies.
Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the recent visit to the Caribbean by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.
Mr. Baldry: I visited the Caribbean from 1 7 October and chaired a meeting of the governors and chief Ministers of the Caribbean dependent territories in Montserrat. I also visited Anguilla, the British Virgin islands and the Turks and Caicos islands. I had constructive meetings in each territory with local Ministers on a wide range of issues of mutual concern.
I also met the British military short-term training team who are currently based in Puerto Rico training the Commonwealth contingent of the multinational force in preparation for duties in Haiti.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the level of (a) British, (b) other EU countries, (c) USA, (d) Australian and (e) Canadian investment in China.
Mr. Goodlad: According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, figures for cumulative investment in China are as follows:
Investment in China: 1979-1993 |Pledged |Utilised |investment |investment --------------------------------------------------------------------- United Kingdom |616 |3,013 |578 Germany |569 |1,458 |527 France |547 |920 |602 Italy |467 |552 |397 Netherlands |191 |406 |176 Spain |168 |289 |24 Belgium |100 |137 |67 Denmark |51 |102 |63 Ireland |8 |49 |5 Luxembourg |13 |16 |2.3 Portugal |9 |5 |0.3 Greece |2 |0.5 |- |------- |------- |------- Total EU |2,749 |6,947.5 |2,441.6 United States of America |12,019 |14,659 |5,237 Australia |n/a |n/a |n/a Canada |n/a |n/a |n/a
Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made by the United Nations Security Council regarding the establishment of an international tribunal for Rwanda.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: Following the preliminary report of the United Nations Commission of Experts, the question of an international tribunal for Rwanda is being discussed by the Security Council.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on Sino-- British relations of the disagreements about the future of Hong Kong.
Mr. Goodlad: It is in the clear interests of Hong Kong, China and Britain to draw a line under recent disagreements and to work for an improvement in Sino--British co-operation across the range of bilateral and international issues. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took this forward with Chinese Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen during their meeting on 29 September. The governor's annual policy address to Hong Kong's Legislative Council on 5 October underlined our determination to improve co-operation, and set out specific ideas to that end.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will approach the Indonesian Government to demand the release of Muchtar Pakpakan, the head of Indonesia's leading independent trade union.
Mr. Goodlad: We have made no approach to the Indonesian Government, but European Union heads of mission in Jakarta are monitoring the trial of Mr. Pakpahan, which is still in progress.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he has to make European Union markets more open to South African goods.
Mr. David Davies: The European Community included South Africa in its generalised system of preferences for the first time from 3 September. This allows a range of South African goods to enter the Community at lower tariffs than before.
The Community has also recently signed a framework agreement with South Africa which establishes a basis for a future relationship. The agreement commits both sides to stepping up co-operation, with an explicit reference to trade.
Discussion on how this commitment is to be honoured in detail is still at an early stage.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the outcome of the meeting in September between IGADD heads of state and the combatants in the Sudanese war; and what new initiatives are now to be taken.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The fourth round of talks ended in stalemate over the issues of self-determination of Sharia law. The IGADD heads of state remain committed to their peace initiative, which we and the European Union will continue to support.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 17 March, Official Report, column 804 , what
Column 438evidence he has that, following the consensus statement, Indonesia is now living up to its human rights obligations.
Mr. Goodlad: We welcome as a positive step the visit to Indonesia and East Timor in July of the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. We continue to encourage Indonesia to live up to the other commitments made at the last session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what events are planned in the United Kingdom to mark United Nations day on 24 October; and what steps have been taken to publicise these events.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: Normally the only way the Government marks United Nations day is by raising flags in Parliament square. As the Secretary- General is in London on the day this year he has agreed to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
The pool of photographers were informed of the event on 20 October.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members, salaries and occupations of those serving on the Government hospitality fund advisory committee for the purchase of wine.
Mr. Goodlad: Members of the Government hospitality fund advisory committee for the purchase of wine receive no salaries, allowances or expenses. The chairman is Sir Ewen Fergusson, formerly ambassador to France and now employed by Coutts bank. The other four members are all wine experts and either serving or retired wine merchants. It is not normally customary to disclose their names so as to prevent undue lobbying by members of the wine trade. However, the details are:- 1.
Major John Surtees, retired wine merchant
Mr. Anthony Hanson, wine consultant
Mr. Mark Savage, wine merchant
Mr. Sebastian Payne, The Wine Society
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what have been the (a) annual budget, (b) annual running costs and (c) annual travel costs of the Government hospitality fund advisory committee for the purchase of wine in each of the last five years.
Mr. Goodlad: The chairman and members of the Government hospitality fund advisory committee for the purchase of wine receive neither salaries, allowances nor expenses. The answers are (a) nil--actual purchases of wine are funded separately (b) about £1,500 a year (c) nil.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Mr. Naveed Ahmed , the husband of Mrs. Shahida Naz, of Bradford, is to be issued by the post in Islamabad with a visa enabling him to join his wife in the United Kingdom following the withdrawal by the Home Office of their application to the immigration appeal tribunal; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: I have asked the entry clearance officer in Islamabad to let me have a report on the application from Mr. Naveed Ahmed to join his wife Mrs. Shahida Naz in the United Kingdom. I shall arrange for the hon. Member to receive a substantive reply from the migration and visa correspondence unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as soon as possible.
Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost of the European Parliament each year since 1989 90; and what amount is included in the draft budget for 1995.
Mr. David Davis: The outturn for expenditure by the European Parliament each year form 1989 93 (ecu/£ sterling) was:
Year |ecu |£ ------------------------------------------------ 1989 |381,146,291|256,043,458 1990 |429,706,145|306,932,961 1991 |488,691,650|342,125,210 1992 |579,968,058|425,820,894 1993 |624,592,678|486,253,544
The amount in the 1994 budget (as adopted is 665,910,000 (£502, 839,236).
The amount in the 1995 draft budget is 693,321,000 (£544,549, 953).
Note--conversion rates for years prior to 1994 are:
The 1994 figures are converted at the rate of £1=1.3243, which is the rate set for United Kingdom VAT and fourth resource contributions to the 1994 Community budget.
The 1995 figures are converted at the rate of £1=1.2732, the rate notified in the Official Journal as prevailing on the last working day of last month (30 September 1994).
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of South Africa regarding allegations of sales of arms by British companies to the former South African Government in breach of the UN arms embargo; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: No such discussions have taken place. Britain conscientiously enforced the UN arms embargo and related European and Commonwealth restrictions. At no time did we knowingly authorise any company to export defence equipment to South Africa, and any reports of British companies breaching the embargo were rigorously investigated by the appropriate authorities.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total amount spent on severance payments to those who have resigned, retired or been dismissed from ministerial office for each year since 1990.
Mr. Aitken: The Prime Minister explained on 7 December 1993 Official Report, columns 142 43 in his reply to an earlier question from the hon. Member that no composite list then existed of severance payments made under the Parliamentary Pensions Act 1984 and the Ministerial and Other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991. The Treasury instituted a composite record of such payments with effect from 1 January 1994 on the basis of written confirmation from individual Departments. Since that date, the record shows that the total amount expended on severance payments in accordance with the terms of the relevant Act has been £131,776.75.
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the latest estimate of the outturn of general Government expenditure for 1994 95 analysed by function as in table 1.2 of Cm. 2519.
Mr. Aitken: Following the usual practice, estimates of general Government expenditure for 1994 95 in total and a breakdown of the control total by Department will be published in the Financial Statement and Budget Report on 29 November 1994. A full functional breakdown of general Government expenditure as in table 1.2 of Cm. 2519 will be published in the statistical supplement in February 1995. The most recent published estimate of total general Government expenditure for 1994 95 was £291.6 billion, in the Treasury summer economic forecast published on 28 June 1994.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met representatives of the construction industry.
Mr. Nelson: My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer met the export group for the constructional industries on 21 September this year.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now publish a calculation of the cost to the average family per week of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The calculation of the budgetary cost to the average family of United Kingdom membership of the European Union is as follows:
Weekly net contributions per family<1> Year |Number --------------------- 1992 |2.63 1993 |2.79 1994 |1.75
Those calculations relate to the net direct budgetary cost of United Kingdom membership. They do not reflect the wider benefits and
Column 441costs of United Kingdom membership. They do not reflect the wider benefits and costs of United Kingdom membership of the European Union. Based on an average 2-parent family size of 3.9. Source: Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys 1992 General Household Survey.
Mr. Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the number of house purchasers with negative equity on their homes.
Mr. Nelson: House prices have clearly increased since their trough in the first half of 1993, reducing negative equity. The latest estimate from the Bank of England is that in the third quarter of 1994, 1,096,000 households had negative equity. This represents a fall of 678,000 households, or over 38 per cent. compared with the first quarter of 1993.
Ms Corston: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Inland Revenue staff have received specific training on the effects of the changes to the tax treatment of maintenance payments, introduced in the Finance Act 1988, and the option to elect to stay with the previous regime.
Sir George Young: Statistics are not available centrally. However, the Inland Revenue provides appropriate information and training for all staff who deal with the tax treatment of maintenance payments.
Ms Corston: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are subject to the special transitional rules for the tax treatment of maintenance payments, introduced by the Finance Act 1988.
Sir George Young: It is estimated that about 210,000 people paying maintenance are subject to the special transitional rules.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a statement regarding the continuation of the exemption of the United Kingdom from the European Union's sixth VAT directive (77/3881 EEC) after 31 December 1996.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The sixth VAT directive lays down the common system for VAT throughout the European Union and has been adopted by all member states, including the United Kingdom. With effect from 1 January 1993, the directive was amended to allow a transitional system for VAT to be introduced for the single market. That system will continue until the end of 1996, when it is planned to introduce a definitive VAT regime. Failing unanimous agreement among member states on what this regime should be, the present arrangements will continue.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will continue to make it his policy that a trader should receive a visit from Customs and Excise within the first three years of registering for VAT.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Customs and Excise is committed to ensuring that businesses new to VAT are given an opportunity to learn about the tax and their responsibilities in the three years following VAT
Column 442registration. They will continue to keep the best means of ensuring this under review.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the outcome of the meeting of the IMF on 16 September relating to the continued membership of Sudan and its judgment about the economic policy being pursued by Sudan.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The IMF's executive board decided on 16 September that it would not recommend a vote of governors of the IMF on the compulsory withdrawal of Sudan from the IMF. It decided to consider further the issue, and Sudan's programme, by 15 January 1995 or at the time it considers Sudan's 1994 article IV consultation, whichever is the earlier.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish details of each of the list of severance payments deemed to be illegal or outside appropriate limits as described in the memorandum dated 10 August from the NHS executive to the Treasury showing what action is now being taken in each case.
Mr. Aitken: I refer the hon. Member to the written reply that my hon. Friend the Minister for Health gave him earlier today.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the financing rules on capital programmes within the NHS.