Mr. Churchill: To ask the Lord President of the Council since when former Speakers of the House have been disentitled to the parliamentary pension to which they have contributed throughout their parliamentary careers in the calculation of their pension based upon 50 per cent. of final salary; and if he will take steps to ensure that present and future ex-Speakers receive their pension as Speaker in addition to their parliamentary contributory pension.
Mr. Newton: Speakers, and Prime Ministers, were excluded from the parliamentary pension scheme from 1965, when the first pension scheme for Members was set up, until February 1991. Their contributions to the scheme were repaid to them, with interest, when they left office.
In its report No. 26, the Top Salaries Review Body recommended that Speakers and Prime Ministers should be able to join the parliamentary pension scheme but that the change should not be retrospective nor apply to past service. The Government have accepted the recommendation and, since February 1991, Speakers in office have the option to remain in the parliamentary pension scheme and to contribute, earning additional pension on their reduced parliamentary salary.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 25 November,
Column 818Official Report , column 427 , in how many cases state benefits have been recouped by the Employment Service from ex- service women who have received tribunal awards on the ground of unfair dismissal because of pregnancy.
Miss Widdecombe: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from M.E.G. Fogden to Mr. A.J. Beith, dated 16 December 1994 :
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about recoupment of state benefits, by the Employment Service, from ex-service women who have received tribunal awards on the grounds of unfair dismissal because of pregnancy.
I regret that this information is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Records are not kept on the status of clients whose benefit has been recouped because of a tribunal award.
The Analysis of Adjudication Officers' Decisions, which is published and held in the House of Commons Library, provides the number of decisions made in Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act cases, but does not detail recoupment separately.
I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what use his Department has made of executive search agencies in filling vacancies within his Department and executive agencies administered by his Department during the last year; and how much these services have cost his Department.
Miss Widdecombe: Executive search agencies have been used on two occasions over the last year. The total cost is expected to be less than £60,000.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how much has been spent on telephone charges and how many telephone calls have been made by his Department for each of the last five years.
Miss Widdecombe: The Employment Department's charges for telephony for years 1989 94 are shown in the following table:
|1989-90 |1990-91 |1991-92 |1992-93 |1993-94 |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ES |13,549,979|13,858,393|14,681,323|15,968,500|14,900,554 ED |n/a |n/a |4,964,782 |4,132,756 |3,834,924 HSE |624,215 |700,116 |597,922 |622,095 |636,312 ACAS |336,978 |336,971 |345,925 |408,549 |490,014
The figures for the Employment Department for 1989 90 and 1990 91 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Details of the number of calls made per year are not held centrally.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the duration of the trips, referred to in his answer of 26 October, Official Report ,
Column 818column 679 which were undertaken by Ministers in his Department and on which they were accompanied by their spouses and paid for at public expense.
Miss Widdecombe: My answer of the 26 October, Official Report , column 679 , referred to the attendance of my hon. Friend the then Minister of State and his spouse at a social affairs informal council in Athens to which both had been invited by the Greek presidency. They travelled to Athens on the afternoon of 9 March and returned to London the following day.
Dr. Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (i) hold open meetings, (ii) conduct public consultation exercises, (iii) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests, (iv) publish a register of members' interests, (v) publish agendas for meetings and (vi) publish the minutes of meetings; and whether this is in each case (a) under a statutory requirement or (b) voluntary.
Mr. John M. Taylor: For the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by my Department, the answers are as follows: (i) none
(ii) The following advisory have carried out public consultation exercises:
the Legal Aid Advisory Committee
the Supreme Court Rule Committee
the County Court Rule Committee
the Family Proceedings Rule Committee
the Law Commission
the Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct
The Judicial Studies Board has sent questionnaires on magisterial training to outside bodies and academic organisations with an interest in that area.
(iii) the Supreme Court Rule Committee, the County Court Rule Committee and the Family Proceedings Rule Committee regularly consult with individuals and organisations which have a professional or commercial interest in the amendment of rules of court.
The Law Commission do conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests but this is encompassed within (ii) above. (iv) none
There are no statutory requirement for these bodies in respect of any of the matters mentioned in the question.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects 26 RAF houses in Lacey street and Crowlea road, Boulmer, Northumberland, to be sold; and in what way they are being offered for sale.
Mr. Soames: A survey report on the disposal of the 26 surplus married quarters in Lacey street and Crowlea road, Loughoughton, Northumberland, is at present being evaluated. We expect to be able to offer the properties for sale to service personnel through the services' discount scheme early in the new year.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost of protection, surveillance and monitoring at Gruinard island in each year since 1988.
Mr. Soames: This is a matter for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment under its framework
Column 820document. I have asked the chief executive CBDE to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Graham Pearson to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 16 December 1994:
QUESTION 23, ORDER PAPER 8 DECEMBER 1994
1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking what was the cost of protection, surveillance and monitoring at Gruinard Island in each year since 1988.
2. Gruinard Island was successfully decontaminated in the Summer of 1986 as has been reported in Chemistry in Britain 24, 690-1(1988). This work was carried out by CBDE Porton Down with the aid of an industrial contractor. An independent evaluation of the work was provided by the Independent Advisory Group on Gruinard Island, whose Chairman was selected by the President of the Royal Society.
3. The island was returned to its original owners in May 1990. During the period from 1988 to 1990 there were final payments amounting to about £6,000 to the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology who were completing a study of the biological consequences of the decontamination of Gruinard Island which had cost £53,000. There were also small residual costs associated with the winding up of the Independent Advisory Group and with the return of the island to its original owners; the exact magnitude of these costs is not readily available without disproportionate effort.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when research at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment into protection against the use of anthrax ceased; and when the preparation and storage of (a) anthrax vaccine and (b) penicillin-resistant anthrax vaccine at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment ceased.
Mr. Soames: This is a matter for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive CBDE to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Graham Pearson to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 16 December 1994:
QUESTION 25, ORDER PAPER 8 DECEMBER 1994
1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking when research at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment into protection against the use of anthrax ceased; and when the preparation and storage of (a) anthrax vaccine and (b) penicillin-resistant anthrax vaccine at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.
2. The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment is to carry out work to ensure that the UK Armed Forces are provided with effective protective measures against the threat that chemical and biological weapons may be used against them.
3. Following the Gulf conflict, increased emphasis has been placed on biological defence which primarily consists of detection and medical countermeasures. The programme of work on medical countermeasures includes the continuing study of both vaccines and antibiotics against a range of potential biological warfare agents including anthrax. This work on protection against anthrax has not ceased and is continuing.
4. The work into vaccines against anthrax includes the study of possible improved vaccines and involves the preparation of research quantities for evaluation in animals. This research includes the examination of the effectiveness of anthrax vaccines against penicillin-resistant strains of anthrax. CBDE Porton Down has not produced anthrax vaccines in quantity for human use although we hold a small stock of vaccine for the immunization of staff working at CBDE with anthrax.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what were the differences between the first and second anthrax inoculations administered to British
Column 821personnel during the Gulf war; and by whom they were manufactured.
Mr. Soames: Details relating to all vaccines giving protection against biological warfare agents are classified.
Ms Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the conclusion of the Defence Committee in its second report of Session 1994 95, HC 87, that the review of naval support has been conducted in an unsatisfactory manner.
Mr. Soames: The Select Committee's report on naval stores proposals is being considered by my Department. We will make a formal response in the normal manner.
Mr. Churchill: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding the proposed privatisation of the Queen's Flight, indicating how many companies are being invited to tender; what is their nationality; if the list includes the company chosen to operate Ministers' flights out of Northolt; and if the ground crew in the flight are to be given the opportunity to tender.
Mr. Soames: There are no plans to privatise the Queen's Flight. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 23 June, Official Report, column 250, it was decided following an efficiency scrutiny that the Queen's Flight should move from RAF Benson to RAF Northolt to join the other communications aircraft of No. 32 Squadron. The two would then be amalgamated into one collocated squadron to be known as No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron. This process should be complete by 1 April 1995.
As it would not be practicable to employ two contractors to maintain the aircraft of the single collocated squadron, an extension of the existing engineering support contract was arranged. Arrangements will be made in the normal way to re-tender this task when the current contract expires.
Ms Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he gave to making an oral statement on the decision to close Rosyth naval base; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman: The Government's proposals in relation to Rosyth naval base were set out fully in the "Font Line First" publication issued on 14 July, a copy of which was placed in the library of the House, and in the consultative document issued on that day. Full consultation ensued, including with the hon. Member and with other interested parties.
The written answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth Sutton (Mr. Streeter) on 8 December, Official Report, column 305 was to confirm a previous proposal and an oral statement was therefore not appropriate.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the formulation of the biological agent treatment sets issued to British troops during the Gulf war;
Column 822what are their known side effects; and if the troops were informed of their formulation purpose and side effects.
Mr. Soames: Specific details relating to medical countermeasures against biological warfare agents are classified, but biological agent treatment sets--BATS--issued to British troops during Operation Granby consisted of a licensed antibiotic. Each individual was issued with one set, together with printed instructions for its use. The antibiotic was to have been taken by mouth on the orders of the local commander when the presence of a biological warfare agent was confirmed. No biological warfare agents were detected in the Gulf and it was not therefore necessary for orders to take BATS to be issued. Side effects to any antibiotic are uncommon but can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin rash. All troops were informed of the general nature and purpose of BATS but, because they were only to be used to combat life-threatening biological warfare attack, an explanation of their potential side effects was judged to be necessary.
Mr. Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the memorandum of understanding recently signed with the United States of America.
Mr. Freeman: The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence and the US Secretary for Defense have signed a memorandum of understanding relating to the principles governing co-operation in research and development, production, procurement, and logistic support of defence equipment. A United State/United Kingdom defence co-operation MOU was first signed in 1975, renewed in 1985, and has now been renewed for a further 10 year period. The aim of the MOU is to promote the widest possible use of standard or interoperable equipment in the interests of national security and to make the most cost-effective and rational use of the respective industrial, economic and technological resources in both countries. The MOU has been of significant benefit to both countries, creating a "two-way street" which has resulted in a severalfold increase in bilateral defence equipment trade since the mid-1970s.
Mr. Sykes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with his Department's review of the status of single parents in the armed forces.
Mr. Soames: My Department's review of the status of single parents serving in the armed forces is now complete. Its purpose has been to consider, against the background of changing social trends, whether the entitlement to service families' accommodation and other related allowances, which currently applies only to married personnel and to lone parents whose marriages have ended in bereavement, divorce or separation, should be extended to single parents. The armed forces rightly continue to attach great importance to the place of marriage and the family in the service community. We have concluded, however, that single parents should in future be eligible for the same entitlements as other lone parents. These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 1995, and will place single parents who wish to remain in the service in a better position to meet fully
Column 823their service commitments, at the same time as fulfilling their parental responsibilities.
Mr. Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to be able to make an announcement on the future of the Royal Air Force's Hercules fleet.
Mr. Rifkind: The Government place a high priority on the maintenance of an effective tactical air transport capability and have examined a range of options on this question. Our plans fall into two distinct parts: first, we have an urgent operational requirement to replace and refurbish that part of the Hercules fleet which is nearing the end of its operationally useful life. For this immediate requirement, I have concluded that refurbishment would provide poor value for money.
The Government have accordingly decided to meet the urgent operational requirement of the RAF by purchasing 25 C-130J Hercules II aircraft from the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of a contract. Lockheed has agreed to place contracts to the value of 100 per cent. of the order with United Kingdom companies. At least 10 per cent. of the value of these contracts will be for work directly on the C130J aircraft itself. As a result, some 36 United Kingdom companies will be participating in the production of C130J not only for the RAF's order but also for aircraft supplied to other nations.
Although the FLA is not available to meet this requirement, it is expected to be available to meet the need to replace the balance of the Hercules fleet and other possible air transport requirements. This would lead to a requirement for between 40 and 50 FLA. The United Kingdom will, therefore, rejoin the FLA programme at the end of the feasibility phase provided that it is managed on a commercial basis under the umbrella of the Airbus consortium. Resources will need to be available at the time and our requirements on price and performance must also be met. Commercial management should include United Kingdom firms being given the opportunity to compete in the programme fairly and on merit. A programme of work on FLA has been set in hand with our partners.
This decision will ensure that our urgent operational requirement is met in the most cost effective way, while bringing substantial benefit to United Kingdom industry which will stand to gain from both programmes.
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish extracts from the notes of the Security Service debriefing of the Soviet defector Oleg Gordievsky to the extent that such extracts (a) do not threaten current national security, (b) add to public knowledge of the ways in which the Soviet state sought to obtain information from British people about the United Kingdom with a
Column 824view to breaking its security and (c) reveal the main United Kingdom providers of such information.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Prime Minister how many train journeys for one hour's duration or more he has made in Britain in 1994 in the course of his official duties.
The Prime Minister: I have made one such journey in the past 12 months.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of whether the answers given to the hon. member for Workington on the cost per head of NHS spending in respect of Scotland, 7 December, Official Report, columns 278 79, Northern Ireland, 5 December, Official Report, column 47, and England and Wales, 1 December, Official Report, column 830, are comparable calculations based on comparable data.
The Prime Minister: The answers given to the hon. Member reflect the different structure of the national health service in each of the countries concerned, and the latest year for which figures on expenditure are available.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister what criteria he uses in deciding whether it is appropriate for a spouse to accompany a Minister on Government duties abroad.
The Prime Minister: Public interest, as stated in paragraph 74 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Prime Minister if he will announce the composition of the United kingdom delegation for the 1995 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Prime Minister: The 1995 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will be opened in Strasbourg on 30 January 1995. The delegation from the United Kingdom for the session will consist of 19 members of the Conservative party, 15 members of the Labour party and two members from the minority parties. The appointments of representatives and substitutes have been made on the basis of nominations by the parties concerned, in accordance with the resolution of this House on 22 May 1992, Official Report, column 682, and of the House of Lords on 18 June 1992, Official Report columns 290 92.
The same delegation will be representing the United Kingdom Parliament at the Assembly of the Western European Union, which next meets in Paris in June 1995.
Column 825Representatives from the Government Benches will be:
My Noble Friend, the Lord Finsberg--who will continue to act as leader of both delegations.
My hon. Friends the Members for:
Warwick and Leamington (Sir D. Smith)
Calder Valley (Sir D. Thompson)
Ashford (Sir K. Speed)
Medway (Dame P. Fenner)
Lewes (Mr. T. Rathbone)
Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson)
Ravensbourne (Sir J. Hunt)
Reading, West (Sir A. Durant)
My noble Friend Lord Newall
Representatives from the Labour Party will be:
The hon. Members for:
Wentworth (Mr. Hardy)
Tooting (Mr. Cox)
Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson)
Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks)
Don Valley (Mr. Redmond)
Manchester, Central (Mr. Litherland)
The Noble Lord Kirkhill
The representative from the minority parties will be:
The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston)
The following substitutes have been appointed to act as necessary on behalf of the delegates.
From the Government benches:
My hon. Friends, the hon. Members for:
Sheffield, Hallam (Sir I. Patnick)
Norfolk, North (Sir R. Howell)
Brighton, Kemptown (Sir A. Bowden)
Wellingborough (Sir P. Fry)
Southampton, Test (Mr. Hill)
Bridlington (Mr. Townsend)
Newark (Mr. Alexander)
and my noble Friends the Baroness Hooper and the Earl of Dundee From the Labour Party
The hon. Members for:
Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie)
Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray)
Newport, East (Mr. Hughes)
Easington (Mr. Cummings)
Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe)
Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall)
Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. T. Davis)
The noble Baroness Gould of Potternewton
From the minority parties:
The Noble Lord Mackie of Benshie.