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Schedule 2, which lists the animals which may be obtained only from designated breeding or supplying establishments, has been amended to add "any bird of the species Coturnix coturnix (quail)".
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Keith Hill, dated 23 November 1994:
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the monitoring of CD4 cell counts.
Routine clinical and laboratory monitoring, including CD4 cell counts, is accepted practice in the clinical and medical care of HIV infected individuals in the community.
The Prison Service seeks to provide the same level of care and prison medical officers have been advised that such monitoring should form part of routine medical supervision of HIV-infected patients in prison. These guidelines have been issued on the manual `HIV and AIDS a multi- disciplinary approach in the prison environment' which is available in all Prison Service establishments and to health care centres.
Mr. Howard: A review of the work of the United Kingdom Passport Agency has now been completed. Like other reviews of executive agencies, this included an evaluation of the agency's performance, and a review of options for its future organisation.
The evaluation found that since its establishment, the agency has clearly improved the service it provides and is operating in a more efficient and businesslike way. Applications have increased from 3.3 million in 1991 92 to 3.6 million in 1993 94, but targets for turnaround times have been achieved whilst unit costs have been reduced.
As to the future of the agency, I have concluded that neither privatisation nor full contracting out of the agency's activities is feasible and that passports should continue to be issued by the United Kingdom Passport Agency. But there is scope for further improvements in efficiency and quality of service, and for further reducing unit costs. As part of this process, the private sector needs to become progressively involved in the passport issuing process.
As a first step, the agency is developing plans for partnership with travel agents and other retail outlets so that they, as well as the agency's own offices, will issue and receive completed application forms and fees from the public. The intention is that these arrangements will be in place next year.
The agency is also undertaking a review of the size and location of its offices, which will be completed early next
Column 164year and will involve private sector consultants. The agency will also look at ways of involving the private sector in the issuing operation after the decision to grant a passport is taken, and in the provision of support services. It is intended to move the agency to trading fund status from April 1996.
The framework document for the agency will be revised to take account of these developments. The agency's key targets for 1994 95 are:
(i) to process properly completed, straightforward applications within a maximum of 20 working days in the periods of peak demand between January and June. 15 working days in July and August, and 10 working days at other times.
(ii) to process such application within an overall average of nine working days for the year as a whole, and
(iii) to reduce unit costs by a further 3.2 per cent. in real terms in comparison with the outturn for 1993 94.
The chief executive will remain directly accountable to me for the performance of the Passport Agency. An advisory board, including two private sector members with experience of delivering services to the public, will continue to provide me with an independent assessment of the agency's performance.
United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (Advisory) 1987
Overseas Superannuation Scheme Advisory Board
Advisory Panel on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Developing Countries Trade Agency
Irish Pensions Appeal Tribunal
Institute of Development Studies
Bureau of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases
Commonwealth Development Corporation
Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations To answer this question in full, that is, which quangos the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has abolished since 1979, would incur disproportionate cost.
Column 165Department was responsible for (a) in 1979 and (b) in the latest year for which a number is available.
Mr. Goodlad: In 1979 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including the Overseas Development Administration, was responsible for 36 quangos. In 1993 the latest year for which a number is available, it was responsible for 18.
Column 166full time and how many part time in each British embassy in each European country; how many staff are employed full time and how many part time in each British consulate in each European country; and how the level of staff is determined in each case.
Mr. Goodlad: The table gives details of United Kingdom-based staff slots in embassies and consulates in European countries, including service attache s and staff from other Government Departments and agencies. All are full time.
Staffing levels are assessed against the objectives and activities of posts; they are reviewed regularly by FCO inspectors.
United Kingdom based staffing levels at overseas posts in European countries British Embassies British British Consulates General Consulates |United Kingdom |United Kingdom |United Kingdom Post |based staff 1994|Post |based staff 1994|Post |based staff 1994 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ankara |26 |Amsterdam |3 |Florence |1 Athens |32 |Barcelona |2 |Malaga |1 Belgrade |21 |Bilbao |1 |Oporto |1 Berlin |22 |Bordeaux |1 |Palma |1 Berne |15 |Dusseldorf |11 Bonn |68 |Frankfurt |5 Bratislava |3 |Geneva CG |7 Brussels |30 |Hamburg |3 Brussels JMO |4 |Istanbul |22 Bucharest |25 |Lille |1 Budapest |30 |Lyons |1 Copenhagen |20 |Marseilles |1 Dublin |24 |Milan |6 Helsinki |22 |Munich |7 Kiev |19 |Naples |2 Lisbon |22 |St. Petersburg |7 Ljubljana |2 |Stuttgart |1 Luxembourg |7 |Zurich |3 Madrid |37 Minsk |2 Moscow |89 Oslo |23 Paris |89 Prague |25 Reykjavik |3 Riga |3 Rome |46 Sarajevo |2 Skopje |2 Sofia |23 Stockholm |22 Tallinn |2 The Hague |30 Tirana |2 Vatican City |2 Vienna |29 Vilnius |2 Warsaw |38 Zagreb |9
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to (a) reduce and (b) eliminate the flow of arms to states where they are likely to be used in the repression of civilians; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Davis: All applications for licences to export defence equipment are subject to strict controls. They are considered case by case in the light of established criteria. These criteria include the guidelines
Column 166agreed with European Union partners and in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. In particular, we do not export defence equipment which is likely to be used for internal repression.
Column 167purposes in (a) Pakistan, (b) Sri Lanka, (c) India and (d) Bangladesh in each of the last three years.
The available information is given in the table. Information on the number of DNA tests on children in Sri Lanka is not collected centrally.
Number of DNA tests on children in the Indian sub-continent carried out under the Government scheme, 1991-1993 Number of children Country where |1991 |1992 |1993 application made -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bangladesh (Dhaka) |760 |1,040 |790 Pakistan (Islamabad, Karachi) |440 |580 |410 India (Bombay, New Delhi, Calcutta, Madras) |30 |20 |110 Total Indian sub-continent |1,230 |1,640 |1,320 All figures rounded to the nearest 10. Columns may not sum due to rounding.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will arrange for publication in the Official Report of a copy of the letter on plutonium smuggling sent to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent to which he refers in his answer of 3 November Official Report, column 1385.
The British Government was represented by officials from the DTI and the FCO at the meeting called by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on 2 and 3 November.
The meeting discussed what role the Agency might play in combating nuclear smuggling. The United Kingdom shared the views expressed at the meeting that the responsibility for preventing illicit trade lay primarily with the governments concerned. But we also feel that the IAEA has two important roles to play. Firstly, in coordinating assistance to member States to help improve national systems of nuclear material accountancy and control and of physical protection. Secondly, in developing a reliable data base of information on illicit trade in nuclear materials.
Based on views expressed at this meeting the IAEA Secretariat now intends to produce recommendations for action to be presented to the Board of Governors at its next regular meeting on 8 December. The Agency issued a press release at the end of the meeting on 3 November, a copy of which I will place in the Library of the House.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made toward meeting the terms of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child; and if he will make a statement.
The United Kingdom's First Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child was published in February 1994. Copies were placed in the library. The report sets out the ways in which the United Kingdom's policy, law and practice meet the provisions of the convention.
Column 168on the Government's position on a unilateral ban on the production, sale, export, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines.
Mr. David Davis: We are very much in favour of measures to regulate the production, transfer and use of anti-personnel landmines. But to be effective, such measures need to command wide international support and respect. We are working with like-minded countries to that end.
The Prime Minister: The United Kingdom welcomes the Court of Auditors' report for 1993; its findings and recommendations will assist in the fight against fraud and financial mismanagement and in favour of better value-for-money. The United Kingdom has been in the lead in pressing the Commission and the European Parliament to attack fraud and improve financial management. We secured important improvements in the treaty on European union, including giving the European Court of Auditors enhanced status as a full Institution of the European Union. The United Kingdom has also pushed for better value for money in Community expenditure.
Following on from the Edinburgh European Council conclusions, the 1993 structural funds regulations required, for the first time, prior appraisal of expenditure, effective monitoring and evaluation of results. In March of this year, the United Kingdom proposed a joint action to ensure that member states make legally binding commitments to take tougher action against criminal fraud. The United Kingdom also supports the principles of a proposal from the Commission for a complementary framework of financial penalty rules and wants to see these principles carried through effectively. Both proposals are currently under discussion.
The European Court of Auditors' report will be considered by the Council of the Ministers early next year. The United Kingdom will urge that its findings are followed up vigorously by the Commission and member states; that appropriate action is taken; and that the Commission reports back fully on the results.
As I said last week, following the Anglo-French summit at Chartres, we shall press for the Council of Ministers to act on the court's special reports on particular areas of the Community budget and we wish to see member states co-operate in taking tougher action against criminal fraud. We also wish to see the Commission step up its spot checks for fraud and fraudsters; the European parliament as a whole, rather than just its budgetary control committee, act on fraud; and we are in touch with the German presidency to see how we can use the Essen European Council to add further momentum to the fight against fraud.
Column 169between European Union member states in matters related to the European Communities (Finance) Bill are honoured.
The Prime Minister: The purpose of the European Communities (Finance) Bill is to enable the United Kingdom to give effect to a new own resources decision. The British Government, and the Governments of all other member states, committed themselves politically to the financial arrangements which are the basis of the own resources decision by a settlement at the Edinburgh Council, during the British presidency in 1992.
The relevant arrangements for giving legal effect to this international agreement are set out in article 201 of the treaty establishing the European Community which states that:
"The Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, shall lay down provisions relating to the system of Own Resources of the Community, which it shall recommend to the Member States for adoption in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements." National procedures for adoption are a matter for each member state. In the United kingdom, the practice is to ask for Parliament's approval by means of a Bill adding the new own resources decision to the list of relevant "Treaties" in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.
When all member states have notified adoption of the new own resources decision, it will enter force, retrospectively if necessary, with effect from 1 January 1995. Once in force, member states will be under a legally binding obligation to make contributions to the Community budget in accordance with the new own resources decision.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many victims of asbestos-related diseases have had benefits recouped under the compensation recovery unit powers following successful claims for damages against an employer or other party.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Andrew Mackinlay, dated 22 November 1994 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many victims of asbestos related diseases have had benefits recouped under the Compensation Recovery Scheme.
The full range of information you have requested is not available. The Compensation Recovery Unit's computer system records cases involving victims of asbestosis rather than asbestosis related diseases. In addition, information relating to cases settled prior to January 1993 is no longer held on the computer system and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.
However, I am able to tell you that there have been recoveries in 171 cases involving victims of asbestosis where final settlement was made after January 1993.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Darling: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the target time for the Child Support Agency to answer inquiries about cases; in what percentage of inquiries the target is reached; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Alistair Darling, dated 23 November 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency's target time for answering written queries.
Under its current Charter Standard the Agency aims to reply to all routine written enquiries within 10 working days of receipt. Figures published for the period April 1994 to August 1994 show we replied to 29 per cent. of such enquiries within this timescale. These results are disappointing, but the Agency is working to improve performance.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps are taken by the Child Support Agency to investigate the financial circumstances where the parent with care is self-employed.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Dr. Lynne Jones, dated 23 November 1994:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about steps taken to investigate the financial circumstances where the parent with care is self-employed.
The formula for assessing maintenance is applied equally to both the parent with care and the absent parent. where either parent is self-employed, they will need to provide evidence to the Agency about their business. Details of the information required by the Agency and the steps taken to verify such information are contained in the Child Support Adjudication Guide and the Child Support Manual, copies of which are held in the Library.
I hope that this reply is helpful.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps are taken by the Child Support Agency to investigate cases where the parent with care is fraudulently claiming benefit; and how many such cases have been discovered since the agency was set up.