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Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it is Her Majesty's Government's policy to seek a consensus decision on the extension of the non-proliferation treaty at next year's extension conference.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his Department's assessment of the progress that has been made towards the achievement of the objectives of articles I and II of the non-proliferation treaty since its entry into force.
Mr. Hurd: We believe that there has been widespread compliance with both articles since the treaty entered into force in 1970. But we have at times been concerned about suspected nuclear weapons development programmes which would have been in breach of treaty obligations.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his Department's assessment of the progress that has been made towards the achievement of the objectives of article IV of the non-proliferation treaty since its entry into force.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of the compatibility of a significant increase in the capability of the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear forces with its obligation under article IV of the non-proliferation treaty.
Mr. Hurd: The effect of recent changes to the United Kingdom's nuclear forces will be to reduce the explosive power of our operational nuclear inventory by more than 25 per cent. below the 1990 level.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards including a clause in a comprehensive test ban treaty that would permit nuclear tests to be conducted under exceptional circumstances.
Mr. Hurd: We would expect a comprehensive test ban treaty, in line with a number of international treaties in this field, to include a clause allowing parties to exercise their national sovereignty by withdrawing if they decided that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the treaty had jeopardised their vital national interests.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards including a clause in a comprehensive test ban treaty that would permit state parties to withdraw from the treaty after five or 10 years if they felt that further testing was required.
Mr. Hurd: The conference on disarmament is examining many proposals, including on withdrawal from a CTBT after a certain period, but no decisions have yet been taken. We have made clear our desire to secure an indefinite, effective and verifiable treaty which bans all nuclear tests.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his Department's policy regarding the choice of the implementing authority for a comprehensive test ban treaty; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will consider removing the condition attached to the United Kingdom's negative security assurance which exempts non-nuclear weapons states that are in an alliance or association with a nuclear weapons state from that assurance.
Mr. Hurd: No. We would not wish to forswear the possible use of our nuclear deterrent in the case of an attack on the United Kingdom, its dependent territories, its armed forces or its allies by a non-nuclear weapons state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapons state.
Column 624from 30 October to 1 November. We fully share the objective of promoting regional economic development and, in particular, encouraging private sector involvement. We and our EU partners will continue to support this initiative through our participation in the follow-up conference to be held in Amman next year, and through the regional economic development working group which the EU chairs.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions are currently taking place with (a) the United Nations, (b) the European Union or (c) other international forums on means of restricting the arms trade.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The United Kingdom strongly supports international efforts to promote responsibility in arms exports. Last month in the first committee of the UN General Assembly, the EU tabled a draft resolution proposing a UN code of conduct on conventional arms transfers. But after considerable opposition from other delegations, the draft resolution was withdrawn. An EU working group on conventional arms exports meets regularly. We are currently involved in multilateral negotiations on proposed new arrangements to promote transparency and responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and sensitive dual-use goods.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the registration of voters in the Western Sahara has now been completed; what assessment he has made of the extent to which parties accept that this has been done in a fair way; and when the referendum on the future of the Western Sahara will take place.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The deadline for the submission by the parties of applications to vote passed on 25 October. Individuals can still register their applications. Polisario has expressed concern at the large number of last-minute applications submitted by the Moroccan authorities. The UN is still identifying the voter applicants. Despite the UN Secretary-General's recent announcement that additional UN offices will be opened to process applications, this exercise is expected to take several months. It is unlikely that the referendum will be held before next summer.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which of the special advisers serving in his Department during the last five years were subject to positive security vetting.
Column 625the House the first report by Lady Anson, the independent monitor of refusal of entry clearance where there is no right of appeal.
Mr. Hurd: I have arranged for Lady Anson's first report to be laid before both Houses today and copies to be placed in the House Libraries. I welcome the report and note Lady Anson's recommendations, which will be carefully considered. Some have already been implemented.
Mr. David Howell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning changes to the protective close season for coarse fishing; and if he will make a further statement.
Mr. Jack: We have received some 250 objections, from angling bodies, conservation organisations and individuals, to various aspects of the National Rivers Authority's proposals for the introduction of uniform arrangements in England and Wales for a close season for coarse fish. These included objections to both the proposed abolition of the close season on those stillwaters which are at present subject to such restrictions and to the proposed imposition of a close season on waters where currently no such rules apply. The NRA has now submitted its proposals for confirmation. In deciding whether to confirm the proposals, we will take into account both the NRA's case for proposing these changes and the objections to them that we have received.
Mr. Jack: Yes. British sea fishery officers have powers under the Sea Fish Conservation Act 1967, as amended, to enforce fisheries legislation on all vessels within British fishery limits and on UK fishing vessels anywhere outside those limits.
Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the British fishery protection service is authorised to work outside the limits of the waters under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Jack: All commissioned officers of the Royal Navy's fishery protection squadron are empowered, as British sea fishery officers, to enforce European Union fisheries legislation on all vessels within British fishery limits and on UK vessels anywhere outside these limits. The Royal Navy's fishery protection squadron may also undertake operations relating to the protection of UK vessels from harassment within or outside British fishery limits.
Mrs. Browning: MAFF's records of slaughterhouses in England are maintained by state veterinary service region. At 8 December 1994 the number of slaughterhouses fully approved under EC directives 64/433/EEC for red meat and 71/118/EEC for poultry meat and therefore eligible to export to other member states of the European Union was 75 and 135 respectively. The breakdown by English region was:
Region |Red meat |Poultry meat ------------------------------------------------------------------- Eastern region |17 |44 South Eastern region |7 |15 South Western region |16 |12 Midlands and Western region |20 |42 Northern region |15 |22
Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what contacts his Department has with the British embassy in Paris and the staff there dealing with agricultural matters; (2) what contacts his Department has with the British embassy in The Hague and the staff there dealing with agricultural matters.
Mr. Jack: Our agricultural attache s in all EU countries provide an important service in monitoring and reporting on developments in agriculture, food and fisheries matters. They also play a vital role in conveying the views of the United Kingdom Government to the Governments in their host countries. My Department is, therefore, in frequent contact with attache s on a wide range of agricultural and related issues.
Mrs. Browning: The Ministry has not conducted specific research on lindane in relation to breast cancer. However, the independent advisory committee on pesticides has reviewed a very substantial body of evidence on the toxicology of lindane in the course of a recent review of its non- agricultural uses. The committee concluded that the approved non- agricultural uses represent no unacceptable risk to human health. The committee is currently reviewing the agricultural uses of lindane. The relevant evidence will be studied in the course of this review. The Department of Health committee on carcinogenicity will be looking into the relationship between organochlorine pesticides, which include lindane, and breast cancer in March 1995. However, most of the data which will be considered relates to another organochlorine, DDT.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 7 December, Official Report, column 290, (1) what were the whereabouts of the official Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food veterinary surgeon during the period in which the animals were left in unattended lorries in France on the night of 1 December;
(2) if the veterinary surgeon employed by the shipping company was in a position to feed and water the animals in the livestock lorries that were left without drivers in France on the night of 1 December.
Mrs. Browning: It was intended that a veterinary officer should fly with the drivers to meet the vessel at Cherbourg in order to monitor the arrangements at disembarkation. However, the flight did not take place so the officer remained in this country. The veterinary surgeon employed by the company was not in a position to feed and water the calves in the livestock lorries which were delayed in Calais as this could not be done without unloading the calves from the lorries.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how long the animals flown from Coventry airport to France, back to Coventry airport, and subsequently back to France again on the night of 6 December and morning of 7 December remained in the aircraft; what provision there was for them to be fed, watered and rested during the journey; and if he will make a statement; (2) what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that all the animals flown from Coventry airport, to France, back to Coventry airport, and subsequently back to France again on the night of 6 December and morning of 7 December were fed and watered within 15 hours of the start of their journey and that all aspects of the journey plan for these animals were complied with.
Mrs. Browning [holding answer 12 December 1994]: I am informed that the calves journeyed from premises in Somerset to Coventry airport, where they were loaded under official supervision for a flight to Rennes. Local turbulence prevented the plane from touching down at Rennes, so it returned to Coventry airport, where the calves were unloaded under official supervision. The calves were then sent back to their home premises where they were immediately given suitable liquid food and subsequently inspected by a local veterinary inspector. He was satisfied with their condition but administered prophylactic treatment. The entire journey, including the aborted landing and return to the premises of origin, took 15 hours.
My officials, assisted by those of Property Holdings, are developing schemes for a new office building at Crewe and either a redevelopment of our present offices at Northallerton or a new building there. If these are successful the schemes will be taken forward under the private finance initiative with the private sector funding
Column 628the projects and bearing any land acquisition, design, construction and ownership risks. On completion the Ministry will take leases on the new buildings based on partial or full occupancy.
Officials are also examining, with Property Holdings, the scope for using private finance to refurbish our increasingly aged Whitehall buildings. Expenditure is likely to be some years off because of the complexity of the scheme. Suitable temporary accommodation will need to be found for some of the staff whilst work is in progress. We would expect the provision of temporary accommodation to be part of the private finance package. Detailed costings are not available but the whole scheme is likely to be in the tens of millions of pounds range.
My Ministry will continue to require authorities responsible for flood defence and coast protection schemes to obtain private sector contributions towards the cost of capital works needed to facilitate current or future developments, and will strongly encourage authorities to do so where defences provide a particular direct benefit to a business.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he intends to publish his response to the consultation exercise on BST before the December meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers.
Mrs. Browning [holding answer 9 December 1994]: A list of those who responded has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A full set of responses has been available in the Library of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food since September 1994. The Government will not be issuing a formal response but all the replies have been carefully considered, along with the other representations received, and as indicated in the consultation letter, a copy of which is also in the House Library, will be borne in mind in the current discussions in Brussels.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimates have been made as to the volume in litres of black market milk trading; what factors he believes are responsible for the current black market in milk; and if he will forecast what the consequences will be of the market in black milk with particular reference to its effect on the price and demand for milk.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 12 December 1994]: The Intervention Board is currently investigating information that it has received concerning allegations about illegal trading in milk. The extent of these alleged irregularities has not yet been established, so it is impossible to say how much milk is involved or the effect this matter may be having on the market for milk. Anyone involved in illegal trading in milk runs the risk of a heavy fine, payment of super-levy on undeclared sales of milk and, possibly, imprisonment.
Column 629practice to prevent the spread of rabies to the United Kingdom following the report of the Agriculture Select Committee.
Mr. Wicks: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average amount of all social security and related benefits paid to those on (a) the lowest decile and (b) the second lowest decile of earnings; and what percentage of total earnings this represents for each year since 1979.
The average amounts of social security and related benefits shown are for those in each of the lowest two deciles of earnings. The average benefit income is then presented as a percentage of average earnings for each decile.
Average amount of benefit income in the lowest two deciles of earnings and these amounts as a percentage of average earnings in the lowest two deciles. Average amount of Average amount of benefit income in: benefit income as a percentage of average earnings in: |Lowest decile of |Second lowest decile|Lowest decile of |Second lowest decile |earnings |of earnings |earnings |of earnings |£ per week |£ per week |Per cent. |Per cent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1979 |46 |13 |101 |12 1981 |49 |15 |121 |15 1987 |46 |17 |99 |16 1988-9 |38 |13 |74 |11 1990-1 |44 |17 |89 |14 1991-2 |49 |21 |108 |18 Notes: 1. The analysis is on a benefit unit bases: a benefit unit being a single adult or a couple together with any dependent children. All benefit units reporting some searnings have been ranked by their level of gross earnings; the lowest and second lowest deciles or earnings have been selected from these rankings. Earnings and benefit income are the averages of the amounts for the requested deciles. Earnings are gross of income tax and national insurance contributions. For employees, earnings relate to the usual gross amount. Earnings include income of the self-employed which relates to profit or loss over the latest 12-month period for which information is available. 2. Benefit income includes all income-related and non-income-related benefits plus the value of free school meals, free welfate milk and free school milk. 3. The source of the data is the households below average income datasets for 1979, 1981, 1987, 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1991-92, where for example, 1991-92 is the combined calendar years of 1991 and 1992. Data for the intervening years are not available. 4. All benefit income figures are rounded to the nearest pound and are expressed in April 1994 prices.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures estimating the cost of reintroducing earnings uprating for the retirement pension and other linked benefits beginning in April 1997 on the basis of the assumptions used in "Options for Equality in State Pension Age", giving annual figures in current prices over a 10-year period.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The table gives the estimated additional cost of uprating retirement pension and other linked benefits in line with earnings, from 1997. The consultation document "Options for Equality in State Pension Age" used an assumption of an increase in earnings 1.5 per cent. greater than prices. The same assumption has been applied to derive this estimate.
Year |Extra costs (£ |billion --------------------------------------------- 1997-98 |0.5 1998-99 |1.1 1999-00 |1.6 2000-01 |2.2 2001-02 |2.8 2002-03 |3.4 2003-04 |4.0 2004-05 |4.7 2005-06 |5.3 2006-07 |6.1 Source: Government Actuary's Department.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the (a) mean and (b) median payment for funeral expenses from the social fund for the latest period for which figures are available; how many applicants were successful in that period; how many of the grants made were between £875 and £1,000; and how many were over £1,000.
Since 1988 89, the average funeral payment award has been rising by 6 per cent. per annum more than the rate of inflation and the total cost has risen from £18 million to over £60 million in 1993 94.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Number of funeral payment awards April-November 1994 |44,428 Number of awards made between £875 and £1,000<1> |8,718 Number of awards over £1,000 |19,791 Average award size |£919 Median award size<1> |£967 Source: Benefits Agency's policy, budget and management information system. Note: <1> These figures are estimates based on data which provide the number of awards by cash bands of £100. The available data on cash band do not take account of payments that are returned in the accounting period in which the awards were made.
Column 631expenses in terms of his announcement of changes to the social fund rules announced on 30 November;
(2) how many of the applicants receiving grants for funeral expenses from the social fund during the latest period for which figures are available he estimates would not have been eligible to claim if the limitation excluding remote relatives announced by him on 30 November had been in force.
Mr. Roger Evans: From April 1995, a funeral payment may not be awarded to a claimant where another close relative had equal or closer contact with the deceased, and either that relative is not in receipt of a qualifying benefit or has capital exceeding the disregard for a social fund funeral payment.
Column 632A precise estimate of the impact of this change is not available. However we estimate that about 1,500 relatives and acquaintances will be affected.
Funeral payment qualifying benefits are income support, family credit, disability working allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Less than 2 per cent. of all awards using 1993 94 figures.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many social fund grants were awarded for between (a) £10 and £100, (b) £200 and £400, (c) £400 and £600, (d) £600 and £800 and (e) thereafter up to the sum of £2,000 for funeral expenses, by region in each of the last three years.
Funeral payment awards by cashband<1> Year |0 to £200 |£201 to £400 |£401 to £600 |£601 to £800 |£800 to £1,000|over £1,000 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Southern Territory 1991-92 |1,604 |1,430 |1,724 |4,173 |5,777 |2,712 1992-93 |1,537 |1,252 |1,317 |3,239 |6,208 |5,742 1993-94 |1,504 |1,165 |1,142 |2,113 |6,033 |10,246 Wales and Central Territory 1991-92 |1,960 |1,894 |2,915 |7,598 |6,604 |2,140 1992-93 |1,795 |1,706 |2,199 |6,074 |9,183 |4,399 1993-94 |1,834 |1,584 |1,800 |4,664 |10,490 |8,598 Scotland and Northern Territory 1991-92 |1,403 |1,429 |2,082 |5,320 |5,118 |1,751 1992-93 |1,156 |1,239 |1,583 |4,134 |6,283 |4,235 1993-94 |1,185 |1,183 |1,386 |3,190 |6,929 |7,150 Note: <1> The available data on awards by cash band do not take account of payments that are returned in the accounting period in which the awards were made. Source: Benefits Agency's policy budget and management information system.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) whether the restrictions to income support assistance with mortgage interest payments from (a) April 1995 and (b) October 1995 will apply equally to households claiming (i) a disability premium, (ii) a severe disability premium, (iii) a carer's premium, (iv) a disabled child premium, (v) disability living allowance, (vi) the higher rate care component of disability living allowance, (vii) a lone parent premium, (viii) a pensioner premium or (ix) people who are terminally ill;
(2) whether the restrictions on income support assistance with mortgage interest payments from (a) April 1995 and (b) October 1995 will apply equally to households where the claimant or partner is over 60 years of age;
(3) whether the restrictions in income support with mortgage interest payments from (a) April 1995 and (b) October 1995 will apply equally to households in which the claim has resulted from marital breakdown or the death of a spouse.
Mr. Roger Evans: The reduction in the capital limit to £100,000 from April 1995 will apply equally to all income support claimants except where a loan has been taken out to adapt a dwelling for the special needs of a disabled person. As now, any loan taken out for this
Column 632purpose will not count toward the capital limit. A disabled person, for this purpose, is defined in the Income Support (General) Regulations 1987, S.I 1987 No. 1967, schedule 3 paragraph 7B. This definition will remain unchanged in April 1995.
The October 1995 changes will be subject to wide consultation and the position of particular groups will be considered during the consultation process. The position of pensioners will be protected.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what he estimates to be the full year cost of changes announced in the Budget and uprating statements of the cold weather payments and the home energy efficiency scheme.
Mr. Roger Evans: Cold weather payments will rise to £8.50 from 1 November 1995. The full year cost of this change will depend on the number of cold weather payments made, but if the same number of payments are made as in 1993 94, costs will increase by £3.15 million between 1994 95 and 1995 96.
The Department of Environment have agreed additional resources of £30 million in each of the next three years for the home energy efficiency scheme--a 43 per cent. increase in funding compared with expenditure in 1994 95.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the total annual cost for (a) cold weather payments and (b) the home energy efficiency scheme for 1994 95 and 1995 96; and if he will make a statement.
The total annual cost of the home energy efficiency scheme including 2.55 per cent. management costs will be £75.2 million in 1994 95, almost double the amount available in 1993 94. In 1995 96, it will be £106.2 million, an increase of 43 per cent. on the previous year.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many children live in households receiving (a) income support or (b) family credit in the areas covered by Benefits Agency offices serving predominantly (i) Southampton, (ii) Portsmouth, (iii) Hampshire, (iv) Dorset (v) East Sussex, (vi) West Sussex, (vii) Kent, (viii) Berkshire and (ix) Surrey.
Mr. Roger Evans: The best estimated information available is set out in the table, but some figures, particularly those for family credit, are estimated from a small number of sample cases and should therefore be treated with caution.
Number of children<1> in households receiving Income Support and Family Credit paid by Benefits Agency offices predominantly serving<2> the areas shown |Income support<3>|Family Credit<4> Area |thousands |thousands ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Southampton |17 |5 Portsmouth |16 |4 Hampshire |73 |23 Dorset |25 |8 East Sussex |34 |10 West Sussex |27 |7 Kent |81 |20 Berkshire |33 |9 Surrey |22 |6 Notes: <1> Income support figures include children under 16 and dependants aged under 19 still living in the parental home. Family credit figures include children under 16 and aged 16 to 18 if still in full-time education. <2> A Benefits Agency office has been regarded as predominantly serving an area where more than half of its case load resides in the area. <3> Source: "Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry" February 1994, 5 per cent. sample of income support awards. <4> Source: 5 per cent. sample of family credit awards at 30 April 1994. <5> All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures broken down by claimant group for the number of recipients of income support assistance with mortgage interest payments who receive help for (a) less than two months, (b) over two months, (c) over six months and (d) over nine months, giving the most recent available figures.