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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 14 December 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Energy Expenditure

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the total expenditure on energy for offices and buildings by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies in each of the last three years for which figures are available.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The total expenditure on energy for offices and buildings in each of the last three years was:


                                 |1991-92|1992-93|1993-94        

                                 |£000   |£000   |£000           

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

(a) Lord Chancellor's Department |6,047  |6,286  |6,325          

(b) Public Record Office         |546    |654    |465            

Public Trust Office              |105    |100    |90             

HM Land Registry                 |1,583  |1,693  |1,437          

Legal Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department how many legal aid applications were made in 1992 93 and 1993 94.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The number of applications received was as follows:


                      |1992-93|1993-94        

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

Civil legal aid       |472,903|413,738        

ABWOR                 |60,356 |32,056         

Criminal legal aid<1> |699,576|635,839        

Duty solicitor scheme |838,321|895,691        

Applications in respect of legal advice and assistance --green form--are dealt with by solicitors. It is therefore not known how many applications were actually received, but in 1992 93 and 1993 94 the number of people who received help under the scheme was 1,434,661 and 1,640,593 respectively.

Information is only available on a calendar year basis, i.e. for 1992 and 1993.

The provision of legal advice and assistance is subject to an assessment of financial means by the solicitor.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many parliamentary questions tabled in the last Session of Parliament were not answered


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on the grounds that the information sought was not held centrally by the Department.

Mr. Dorrell: During the last Session of Parliament only two questions received the answer that the information requested was not held centrally.

European Year of Older People

Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what contribution his Department has made in 1994 to follow up the European Year of Older People and Solidarity between Generations in 1993.

Mr. Dorrell: My Department did not itself launch any special initiatives for the European Year of Older People and Solidarity Between Generations in 1993, or in the following year.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Remand Prisoners

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what is the estimated number of remand prisoners who have been awaiting trial (a) for more than three months, (b) for more than six months (c) for more than 12 months and (d) for more than 18 months at the latest available date.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Jack Straw, dated14 December 1994 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking what is the estimated number of remand prisoners who have been awaiting trial (a) for more than three months, (b) for more than six months, (c) for more than 12 months and (d) for more than 18 months, at the latest available date.

The latest available provisional data is for 30 September 1994 and is shown in the attached table.


Inmates recorded as being untried held in custody on           

30 September 1994 by time on remand<1>                         

                                                 |Number       

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

For over 3 months up to and including 6 months   |1,920        

For over 6 months up to and including 12 months  |1,270        

For over 12 months up to and including 18 months |300          

For over 18 months                               |220          

<1> Not all of these defendants will have been in continuous   

prison custody since their first remand. This period excludes  

any time spent in non-Prison Service Establishments (eg police 

cells) before reception on remand into a Prison Service        

establishment; it excludes inmates who are awaiting trial and  

those being tried.                                             

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applications have been awaiting decision for more than (a) six years, (b) five years, (c) four years, (d) three years and (e) two years.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: As at 30 November 1994--the latest date for which this information is available--the estimated number of asylum applications outstanding was 54,025. Information on the number of these cases waiting longer than two, three, four, five or six years is not available.


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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to examine the length of detention periods of asylum seekers in relation to the EU human rights convention, article 5.4.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Powers of detention under the Immigration Act 1971 are used only where there is no alternative and where there are good grounds for believing that a person will not comply with the conditions of temporary admission.

Anyone refused asylum may appeal under the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 and may apply for bail to the independent appellate authorities at any time while an appeal is pending. Bail may also be sought from the appellate authorities by any passenger who has been detained for longer than seven days pending further examination. These statutory provisions are supplemented by the general power of the courts to grant a writ of habeas corpus and to grant bail in any case before them.

Decisions to detain under the Immigration Act 1971 are authorised at Chief Immigration Officer level at least and are reviewed by an Immigration Service inspector within 24 hours. The need for detention is then reviewed locally at least every seven days and after one month at increasingly senior levels.

Gloucestershire Police Authority

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to reply to the request, made on 16 September 1994, by Gloucestershire police authority for a special grant in respect of the Cromwell street murder investigation.

Mr. Maclean: A reply will be sent within the next two weeks.

European Year of Older People

Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what contribution his Department has made in 1994 to follow up the European Year of Older People and Solidarity between Generations in 1993.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: My Department has continued its funding of the retired and senior volunteer programme and the retired executives action clearing house. It also funds other organisations which encourage volunteering by people of all ages, including older people.

Marriages of Convenience

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to consider new guidelines for immigration officers to avoid a couple remaining separated for an alleged marriage of convenience.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: None.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training immigration officers receive to enable them to decide if a marriage is one of convenience.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Immigration and Nationality Department staff responsible for considering applications for leave to remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of marriage receive full training on all aspects of the immigration rules and their application before taking up their duties.


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Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy that the enforcement of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 will be kept under review.

Mr. Maclean: In accordance with standard practice, the application of the main provisions of the Act will be monitored and evaluated.

Inspector of Constabulary

Sir Ivan Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary with a statement of the duties which he expects of the inspector of constabulary.

Mr. Howard: As promised in the Government's White Paper on police reform, Cm 2281, I have provided the Chief Inspector of Constabulary with a clear statement of the duties and responsibilities which I expect the inspectorate should fulfil.

The statement emphasises the key role of the inspectorate as an independent watchdog monitoring police performance and ensuring that standards are maintained. I have made it clear that I will also be looking to the inspectorate to report to me on the progress being made by police authorities and forces in establishing local strategies for building effective partnerships between the police and the local community.

I have placed copies of the statement in the Library. I am also arranging for it to be circulated to all chief officers of police and to clerks of police authorities.

Research

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what sum was spent by his Department on research in each of the last 10 years; what percentage this was of the total annual budget; what is the research budget for the forthcoming year; what percentage this is of his total budget; and what additional new research is to be undertaken.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 13 December 1994]: The sums spent on research and development by the Department for the last 10 years were reported in the statistical supplement to the "1994 Forward Look of Government-funded Science Engineering and Technology". The expenditure on research and development and the total percentage that this expenditure was of total departmental expenditure is as follows:


Year                |R and D expenditure|Percentage total                       

                                        |expenditure                            

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

1985-86             |23.7               |0.6                                    

1986-87             |13.3               |0.3                                    

1987-88             |14.2               |0.3                                    

1988-89             |14.1               |0.3                                    

1989-90             |15.2               |0.3                                    

1990-91             |25.0               |0.4                                    

1991-92             |17.3               |0.3                                    

1992-93             |20.1               |0.4                                    

1993-94             |<1>19.8            |0.3                                    

1994-95             |<1>19.1            |0.3                                    

1995-96             |<1>20.4            |0.3                                    

<1> Estimated                                                                   

<2> Planned                                                                     

The Home Office publishes an annual report--"The Research Programme"--which lists all research currently in progress and planned. A new edition will be published this month and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Special Advisers

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which of the special advisers serving in his Department during the last five years were subject to positive security vetting.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 13 December 1994]: All of them.

PRIME MINISTER

Intelligence Services Act 1994

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Prime Minister what steps have been taken to appoint an intelligence and security committee, commissioner and tribunal, under the terms of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

The Prime Minister: Following consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, and in accordance with section 10 of the Intelligence Services Act, I have appointed the intelligence and security committee as follows:

The right hon. Tom King CH MP (Chairman)

The right hon. Alan Beith MP

The right hon. Dr John Gilbert MP

The right hon. Sir Archie Hamilton MP

The right hon. Lord Howe of Aberavon QC

Mr Barry Jones MP

Mr Michael Mates MP

Mr Allan Rogers MP

Sir Giles Shaw MP

In accordance with section 8 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994, I have appointed Lord Justice Stuart-Smith as the Intelligence Services Commissioner for a period of three years. Sir Simon Dennis Brown has been appointed president of the intelligence services tribunal, John Colin McInnes vice-president of the tribunal and Sir Richard Kennedy Harvey Gaskell a member of the tribunal, by royal warrant, each for a period of five years. All appointments take effect from 15 December 1994.

TREASURY

Christmas Expenditure

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much public money will be spent on entertaining, Christmas decorations and other festive activities this Christmas season by his Department and Government agencies answerable to his Department; and of this sum how much will be spent in Ministers' private offices and official residences, including No. 11 Downing street and Dorney Wood.

Mr. Nelson: About £400 will be spent by the Treasury this year on purchasing and decorating four Christmas trees, the tree at the entrance to No. 11 Downing street accounting for approximately £100 of this sum. The only other Christmas-related expenditure borne by the Treasury is a party for representatives of the press to be hosted by


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the Chancellor at No. 11. This is estimated to cost in the region of £1,150.

European Communities (Finance) Bill

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has anything to add to his statement of 28 November concerning treaty obligations of Her Majesty's Government on the European Communities (Finance) Bill, Official Report, column 953.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: The agreement reached at Edinburgh was a political commitment in which the United Kingdom Government gave our word to our EU partners. We expect our partners to keep their word; and they expect us to keep ours. If we were to break our word, the international reputation of the United Kingdom would be severely damaged. The own resources decision will constitute a treaty obligation when the Government notify adoption of it.

Economic and Finance Ministers Council

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the most recent Council meeting of the Economic and Finance Ministers of the European Union.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: I represented the United Kingdom at the Economic and Finance Council of the European Union in Brussels on 5 December.

The Council broadly endorsed the Netherlands' convergence programme for 1995 to 1998 and the Commission's assessment of it.

The Council adopted a slightly amended version of the ECOFIN report to the Essen European Council on the employment aspects of the White Paper follow- up, subject to a Belgian reserve. I thoroughly welcomed the report with its analysis of the causes of structural unemployment and in particular the problems caused by high levels of social protection in some areas.

The Council endorsed the "Main Recommendations" of the Christophersen Group report on the trans-European networks aspects of the White Paper follow-up, omitting any reference to possible new Community financial instruments in the future.

The Council adopted the ECOFIN report to the Essen European Council on implementation of the broad economic guidelines requested by the Brussels European Council in December 1993, and carried out the multilateral surveillance required by article 103(3) of the treaty. The Council agreed in principle to an 85 million ECU loan to the Ukraine subject to the signature of an IMF stand-by arrangement and to the rapid implementation of the EU/G7 action plan for the closure of Chernobyl. The Council noted the exceptional nature of the loan and agreed to a review of EU lending priorities. The Council reached political agreement on Commission proposals to provide

macro-financial assistance to Algeria and Slovakia.

The Council agreed with the recommendations of the European Monetary Institute in its opinion that decisions on the transition to the third stage of economic and monetary union will be taken in full accordance with the relevant articles of the treaty and the protocol on the convergence criteria.


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The Council heard a presidency progress report on improving the fight against fraud in the Community. The Commission emphasised the need for greater efforts in this area, and circulated a communication showing the areas where it would put emphasis in the coming year. I stressed that the fight against fraud was a top priority for ECOFIN and that strong conclusions would be needed at the forthcoming European Council. I underlined the need for rapid progress to be made on the Commission's programme, particularly on the third pillar legislation, and said that the recent report of the Court of Auditors on the 1993 budget had revealed unacceptable levels of fraud, waste and mismanagement, of great concern to the public.

The Council agreed to an adjustment of the financial perspective to take into account the enlargement of the union.

The Council heard progress reports on taxation of savings, the second VAT simplification directive, the carbon-energy tax and biofuels, but adopted no conclusions.

No formal votes were taken at the Council meeting.

Official Residences (Expenditure)

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many bottles of (a) whisky, (b) other spirits and (c) wine were bought from public funds for use at No. 11 Downing street and his other official residences in 1993 94; how much they cost; how many bottles were consumed in December 1993; and how many he estimates will be consumed at No. 11 Downing street and the other residences in December 1994.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: I pay for all drinks consumed on private occasions. Information of this sort about drinks provided for official occasions could be provided only at disproportionate cost to public funds. The hon. Member is wasting an absurd amount of official time and public money by asking a series of parliamentary questions on topics of this kind.

VAT

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a regional breakdown of the projected revenue received from VAT on domestic fuel in (a) the 1994 95 financial year and (b) the 1995 96 financial year.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The latest assessment of regional expenditure is contained in the 1993 family expenditure survey. Any projections to 1994 95 or 1995 96 would be purely speculative.

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the amount per week a married couple on average male earnings with two children is estimated to have paid in VAT, at today's prices, in the year 1978 79; and what he estimates a similar family will pay in 1994 95.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 13 December 1994]: A couple with two children on average earnings paid VAT of £7.05 per week in 1978 79, in 1994 95 prices, and an estimated £21.43 in 1994 95. Since 1978 79, the real take-home pay of such a family has risen by over £80 a week.


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Credit Unions

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many credit unions were operating in England and in the United Kingdom for (a) 1980, (b) 1990 and (c) in each year since 1990.

Mr. Nelson: Credit unions in Northern Ireland are registered separately from those in Great Britain, and are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. For credit unions in England and Great Britain, the information requested is as follows:


8

               Number of credit                         

               unions at end of                         

               year                                     

              |England      |Great Britain              

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

1980          |43           |57                         

1990          |217          |275                        

1991          |255          |327                        

1992          |299          |383                        

1993          |330          |427                        

Inland Revenue Stamp Office

Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to provide continuing counter facilities for the Inland Revenue stamp office in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young: No. The Cardiff stamp office public counter is little used and no stamp office facilities will be available in Cardiff after that office closes on 30 December 1994. Former Cardiff customers should be able to get their documents stamped and returned by post from another stamp office within the stamp office guide time of five working days.

Interest Rates

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the increase in interest rates on 7 December was at his request or on the recommendation of the Governor of the Bank of England.

Mr. Nelson: As is clear from the published minutes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for all interest rate decisions. The Governor's advice at the 7 December meeting will be published on 11 January 1995.

Public Sector Borrowing Requirement

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated borrowing requirement to the end of the current financial year; what is the forecast distribution in terms of interest-bearing assets by length to maturity; and what is the additional cost to the Exchequer of securing the additional debt each year to the last maturity date in (a) nominal terms and (b) real terms, assuming nil inflation.

Mr. Aitken: The public sector borrowing requirement for 1994 95 is forecast to be £34.3 billion. The outturn for the first seven months of the financial year was £19.2 billion, implying borrowing of £15.1 billion between November and March.

The distribution of debt in terms of interest-bearing assets by length to maturity will depend on market conditions. The cost of securing the additional debt will depend on the form of the debt and on market interest rates.


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VAT (Airlines)

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to resolve the issue of the hidden VAT which is incurred by airlines as a consequence of the Civil Aviation Authority's VAT status as a public body.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I am pleased to announce that, from 1 April 1995, the Civil Aviation Authority will be granted taxable status in respect of its supply of en route air navigation services. This change will enable the CAA to recover the VAT paid in its en-route operating costs and capital expenditure, which is estimated as being in the order of around £30 million per annum. Over £20 million of this, representing VAT on en-route operating costs, will be passed directly to the airlines in the form of lower charges. The remainder, formerly incurred on the CAA's capital spending, can be used to fund the CAA's investment programme.

This change removes a source of potential discrimination against United Kingdom airlines, and will be widely welcomed by the airline industry.

Income Tax

Ms Primarolo: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were removed from the income tax net in (a) 1990 91, (b) 1991 92 and (c) 1992 93.

Sir George Young [holding answer 13 December 1994]: Information on numbers of taxpayers is published in table 2.1 of Inland Revenue Statistics 1994, a copy of which is in the Library.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list those ports and airports which do not have permanently staffed Customs checks and operate a system whereby entrants telephone Customs if they have anything to declare; and how many calls were received by Customs on its telephone in each month of 1993 and 1994; (2) if he will list those ports and airports in which Customs checks are not permanently staffed.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 8 December 1994]: There are no Custom-free ports or airports. Over recent years customs enforcement strategy has progressively moved away from a static presence at all ports and airports towards more flexible checks operated by fast response teams targeted at both areas and time of highest risk. At major ports and airports these anti-smuggling teams are based on site; the smaller places being covered by mobile anti-smuggling teams based elsewhere. It would not be in the public interest to identify all these smaller ports and airports. As a part of the overall Customs strategy, which encompasses both anti- smuggling and fiscal controls, there are some locations where entrants can telephone Customs if they have anything to declare for fiscal purposes. A list of such locations is shown in the table and where the information is available, the number of


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calls received by Customs for each of 1993 and 1994 is also shown. Humberside international airport

Telephone introduced in April 1993, three calls received to date but no record of months.

Leeds Bradford airport

No record kept of the number of calls received but estimated by local management at round six per month.

Bristol airport The total calls received were as follows: Plymouth The total calls received were as follows:


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