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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 20 February 1995

TRANSPORT

Fort William Sleeper

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what is the estimated subsidy per passenger of providing the Fort William sleeper service.

Dr. Mawhinney: The cost net of revenue per passenger of the Fort William sleeper, excluding infrastructure charges, is £180. The figure is £540 if infrastructure costs are allocated pro rata to non- infrastructure costs. Using infrastructure charges specific to the Fort William service the figure becomes £453. The figures are based on British Rail's best estimates, using 1993 94 demand levels and the 1994 95 price base.

Runway Capacity, South-East

Mr. Renton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the distinctions drawn by his Department between (a) a second runway at Gatwick and (b) a close parallel runway at Gatwick; and what factors cause (a) to be ruled out and (b) not be ruled out by the existing legal agreement between the British Airports Authority and West Sussex county council.

Mr. Norris: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's answer of 2 February, Official Report, column 861 62, to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) said that the options studied by RUCATSE for a second runway at Gatwick should not be considered further. These options were for full runways, located well away from the existing runway. A close parallel runway would deliver a smaller gain in runway capacity, but would also have less widespread environmental impacts. I understand that the existing legal agreement between BAA and West Sussex county council applies to any additional runway at Gatwick.

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make publicly available the results of public consultation referred to in his answer to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) on 2 February, Official Report, column 861 62 concerning runway capacity in the South- East.

Dr. Mawhinney: My Department has recorded some 350 responses from organisations and some 4,100 letters from members of the public. A number of petitions were also received.

A1

Mr. William O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the estimated cost of the A1 road development from Darrington to Hook Moor in West and North Yorkshire.


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Mr. Watts: A total of £110 million.

Mr. O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to introduce the design, build, finance and operate concessions in respect of the proposed A1 new road developments; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Watts: There are no proposals at present to introduce design, build, finance and operate projects in respect of proposed A1 new road developments, beyond the short length of A1 between Hook Moor and Bramham included as part of the M1 A1 link road design, build, finance and operate project and the A1 widening project between Alconbury and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. Tenders for both were invited on 9 January.

Area Flying Restrictions

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what reasons underlie the policy of not publishing individual area flying restrictions.

Mr. Norris: Temporary restriction of flying regulations are classified as local statutory instruments. By virtue of regulation 5 of the Statutory Instruments Regulations 1947, local instruments are exempt from the requirement to be printed. We believe this is due to the limited number of persons affected by such statutory instruments and the disproportionate costs that would be incurred in publication.

Full details of these statutory instruments are promulgated to the aeronautical industry by aeronautical information circulars or, in cases of urgency, by notices to airmen.

Search and Rescue

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what review is being undertaken of search and rescue helicopter provision along the channel coast.

Mr. Norris [holding answer 17 February 1995]: None.

School Buses

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what types of seat belts and fittings his Department recommends for fitting into minibuses used for the transportation of children; (2) what types of seat belts and fittings are recommended for school minibuses.

Mr. Norris: Regulations 46 and 47 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended) specify, for all vehicles, the minimum standards for both seat belts and anchorages. In the case of minibuses, most seats may be fitted with either lap or three-point belts suitable for use by adults or children.

Vehicle Tax

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects on employment in the regional vehicle registration offices of proposals to privatise the means of preventing vehicle tax evasion.


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Mr. Norris: No decisions on the future vehicle excise duty enforcement regime will be made until after the consultation period has ended later this year.

Driving Tests

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to introduce a requirement to retake the driving test for all drivers whose driving licences have been suspended (a) for drink driving, (b) for refusing breath tests or (c) for any other reason, for six months or more.

Mr. Norris: None, but the courts have discretionary powers to require any such drivers, or other drivers convicted of endorsable offences, to retake the driving test.

Bray's Detective Agency

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contract Bray's detective agency has with his Department; and what was the purpose of the attendance of an employee of the agency at Winchester county court on 30 January.

Mr. Watts: Bray's detective agency has no contract with the Department of Transport and did not attend Winchester county court on the Department's behalf on 30 January.

QE2 (Safety)

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on the reasons the QE2 was found unsafe by United States officials during the vessel's visit to the United States of America in December 1994;

(2) what were the responsibilities regarding safety of the Marine Safety Agency surveyor who sailed with the QE2 from Southampton in December 1994;

(3) what were the precise differences between United Kingdom and United States regulations which allowed British authorities to allow the QE2 to sail from Southampton in December 1994, but which led the United States authorities to require further work to be undertaken.

Mr. Norris: The United Kingdom and the United States of America apply the same international standards relating to passenger ships--the safety of life at sea convention. In accordance with those standards, a limited passenger certificate was issued authorising the QE2 to sail from Southampton to New York with a reduced number of passengers. Heavy weather prevented completion of work during the voyage, and it became clear that further work would be required by the Marine Safety Agency before the ship could leave New York with her full complement of passengers.

The MSA principal surveyor who had been involved from the conceptual designs through to the refit sailed with the ship to see the completion of outstanding survey items and witness appropriate tests. He had no wider responsibility for the safety of the ship during the voyage. The surveyor remained on board in New York until satisfied that all necessary safety work was being undertaken and would be completed before departure.


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Ministerial Visits Overseas

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what overseas visits he or his Ministers have made since 1 July 1994; and what was the duration and cost of the visits and the organisations and groups that he met during the course of such visits.

Dr. Mawhinney: Details of the overseas visits made by Transport Ministers since 1 July 1994 are as follows:


Country                                                                                                                                                    

visited                        |Duration                      |Cost £                        |Organisations/Groups                                         

                                                                                             |met                                                          

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

The Rt Hon Dr Brian Mawhinney, Secretary of State for Transport                                                                                            

USA                            |1 day                         |2,863.20                      |HM Ambassador, Washington*                                   

France                         |1 day                         |115.08                        |EPS Eurostar                                                 

USA                            |5 days                        |11,764.20                     |Texas Instruments                                            

                                                                                             |Texas Turnpike Authority                                     

                                                                                             |American Airlines                                            

                                                                                             |United Airlines                                              

                                                                                             |Illinois Dept of Transport                                   

                                                                                             |Winconsin Central                                            

                                                                                             |GT Capital Railcar                                           

                                                                                             |Thrall Car Manuf.                                            

                                                                                             |Co. Wabash National Corp.                                    

                                                                                             |Union Tank Car Co.                                           

                                                                                             |Chicago Aviation Commissioner                                

                                                                                             |Massachusetts Bay                                            

                                                                                             |  Transportation Authority                                   

                                                                                             |Massachusetts Institute of                                   

                                                                                             |  Technology                                                 

                                                                                             |Boston Central Artery/Tunnel                                 

                                                                                             |  Project                                                    

France                         |1 day                         |579.99                        |Telematics Conference                                        

Holland                        |2.5 days                      |624.64                        |Dutch Transport Ministry; Town                               

                                                                                             |  of Houten; Schiphol Airport                                

France                         |1 day                         |663.20                        |French Transport Minister                                    

Belgium                        |2 days                        |1,040.58                      |Transport Council                                            

Belgium                        |1 day                         |722.38                        |Transport Council                                            

                                                                                                                                                           

John Watts, Minister for Railway's and Roads                                                                                                               

Germany                        |3.5 days                      |3,419.96                      |German State Secretary and                                   

                                                                                             |  President of Deutsche Bahn                                 

France                         |1 day                         |470.85                        |Chambers of Commerce and                                     

                                                                                             |  Bridge Designers                                           

France                         |1 day                         |318.00                        |Prometheus Ministers' Day                                    

Germany                        |2 days                        |603.40                        |German State Secretary and                                   

                                                                                             |  Rhineland TuV                                              

France                         |2 days                        |689.64                        |Informal Transport Council                                   

                                                                                                                                                           

Lord Goschen, Minister for Aviation and Shipping                                                                                                           

Denmark                        |1 day                         |704.00                        |Danish Shipping Minister                                     

Japan                          |3 days                        |10,967.22                     |Kansai Airport Management;                                   

                                                                                             |Transport, Trade and Industry                                

                                                                                             |Ministers; Defence Agency;                                   

                                                                                             |Shipowners, Shipping and                                     

                                                                                             |Marine Associations; Kawasaki                                

                                                                                             |Heavy Industry; Wakagyama                                    

                                                                                             |Marine City; Virtuality Group;                               

                                                                                             |Airline, Railway, Shipping,                                  

                                                                                             |Heavy Industry and Travel                                    

                                                                                             |Companies; Media                                             

                                                                                             |Representatives                                              

Denmark                        |1 day                         |1,125.08                      |Ministers of Paris Memorandum                                

                                                                                             |  of Understanding Group                                     

France                         |1 day                         |No costs                      |P&O Ferries and Calais                                       

                                                                                             |  Chamber of Commerce                                        

Belgium                        |1 day                         |649.40                        |Transport Council                                            

                                                                                                                                                           

Steven Norris, Minister for Local Transport and Road Safety                                                                                                

Portugal                       |2 days                        |1,248.80                      |Road Haulage Assn Conference                                 

France                         |1 day                         |514.20                        |Paris; Ministry of Interior;                                 

                                                                                             |  The Paris Region Transport                                 

                                                                                             |  Administration                                             

The figures include the cost of officials accompanying Ministers, with the exception of .*.                                                                

EMPLOYMENT

Earnings

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the real increase in take-home pay for a married couple with two children at the bottom 25 per cent. of the earnings distribution between (a) 1973 74 and 1978 79 and (b) 1978 79 and 1993 94.

Mr. Oppenhiem: Real take-home pay for married couple with two children at the bottom 25 per cent. of the earnings distribution increased in real terms by 1 per cent. between 1973 74 and 1978 79 and by 24 per cent. between 1978 79 and 1993 94.

Workshops

Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the average cost per person


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employed by (a) Remploy, (b) local authority workshops, (c) voluntary run workshops, (d) local authority sponsored sheltered placements and (e) voluntary organisation sheltered placements on each of the last five years.

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. Peter Thurnham, dated 20 February 1995:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the average cost per person on the Supported (formerly Sheltered) Employment scheme.

The information you requested is shown in the following table. This shows the full cost to the contractor, per person, per year, towards which the Employment Service (ES) makes a contribution. In 1993/94 the ES contribution was £3,480 per worker to local authorities and £4,310 per worker to voluntary bodies. In the same year, the subvention for Remploy was £89.2 million.


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                           |1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93|1993-94        

                           |£      |£      |£      |£      |£              

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

Remploy                    |7,229  |8,325  |8,864  |9,472  |9,727          

Local Authority Workshops  |7,292  |8,262  |8,907  |9,547  |9,729          

Voluntary Body Workshops   |5,776  |7,022  |7,733  |8,488  |9,200          

Local Authority Placements |3,683  |4,064  |4,337  |4,530  |4,600          

Voluntary Body Placements  |3,456  |3,748  |3,907  |4,138  |4,223          

I hope this is helpful.                                                    

Remploy

Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his Department's view on the decision of Remploy in Barking to increase the number of able-bodied employees and of the effect of this policy on employment opportunities for disabled people.

Miss Widdecombe: Remploy's Barking factory is a twin site, with both bookbinding and packaging units. There are 146 severely disabled employees with 15 non-disabled employees in clerical, technical, supervisory and managerial roles. Remploy has not increased, and does not intend to increase, the number of non-disabled employees in either unit.

Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration his Department has given to the knock-on effects of the interwork scheme on the skills base of Remploy; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Widdecombe: Remploy has around 8,900 severely disabled employees of whom about 1,450 are employed under interwork. The interwork scheme enables Remploy's disabled workers to be supported in jobs in a variety of host firms outside Remploy. The interwork scheme has had no knock-on effect on the skills base in Remploy factories; the company is in fact taking steps to increase the skills of its employees.

Remploy has introduced a special programme called Choices designed to give new recruits to Remploy, as well as the company's existing employees, the opportunity, guidance and training to plan a career best suited to their individual needs. Remploy has introduced individual training plans aimed at improving skills. Company training programmes encourage development of basic core skills, such as numeracy and literacy, while aiming to help people gain a national vocational qualification or


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credits towards one. Remploy groups are working towards investors in people status and some factories have already achieved this.

Petroleum

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he had made of (a) current progress towards the revision of the Petroleum Consolidation Act 1928 by the Health and Safety Executive and (b) the interim measures that have been agreed under the deregulation process.

Mr. Oppenheim: The Health and Safety Commission is seeking to make early progress with the review of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 and other petroleum legislation but the timetable for completion is currently under review. HSC's review of the guidance on petrol filling stations and other sites where petroleum is dispensed is already well advanced and the first part will be available in the summer.

Mercury

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps the Health and Safety Executive is required to take when notification of the arrival of a consignment of waste mercury has been received.

Mr. Oppenheim: There is no legal requirement for notification to the Health and Safety Executive of the arrival, transportation, treatment and disposal of a consignment of waste mercury at premises for which it has enforcement responsibility.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what notice is required by the Health and Safety Executive of the arrival, transportation, treatment


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and disposal of a consignment of waste mercury; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Oppenheim: There is no legal requirement for notification to the Health and Safety Executive of the arrival, transportation, treatment and disposal of a consignment of waste mercury at premises for which it has enforcement responsibility.

Labour Statistics

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment of those unemployed in the London borough of Lambeth how many have been unemployed for more than (a) two years, (b) one year and (c) six months.

Mr. Oppenheim: The information requested is given in the following table:


Unemployed claimants in Lambeth                      

(January 1995, not seasonally adjusted)              

                                       |Total        

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

Claimants unemployed for over 2 years  |6,228        

Claimants unemployed for over 1 year   |10,940       

Claimants unemployed for over 6 months |15,485       

Information on ILO unemployment in Lambeth is not    

available by duration.                               

PRIME MINISTER

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his reply to the question from the hon. Member for Monklands, West on 31 January, Official Report, column 849 , if he will publish the statement of the Medical Research Council on alleged Gulf war syndrome; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, on 8 February, Official Report , column 331.

Ian Greer

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Prime Minister whether all departmental ministers in answering questions on items received from Ian Greer in the last month included all packages and all correspondence from Messrs Ian Greer Associates.

The Prime Minister: It is for individual Ministers to answer questions as they consider appropriate.

European Single Act

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish in the Official Report the text of the letters received by the then Prime Minister from Heads of Government of member states of the European Community concerning the interpretations of those points of the draft European Single Act treaty concerning controls to be exercised by the United Kingdom at the frontiers between it and other member states of European Community.

The Prime Minister: The acceptance by Heads of Government of the right of member states to take measures necessary for the purpose of controlling


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immigration from third countries and to combat terrorism and other serious crime was signified by their agreement to the general declaration on articles 13 to 19 of the Single European Act, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Wardle) in the last 15 months, over the opt-out negotiated to the Single European Act over frontiers in 1985; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 16 February 1995]: Meetings and correspondence between myself and my Ministers are confidential.

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 14 February Official Report , column 793, by what article of which Community treaty he expects to maintain a degree of frontier control and inspection in respect of persons and goods arriving from other member states of the European Union similar to that practised in 1992.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 February 1995]: The Government take the view that there is nothing in the treaty to prevent the continuation of its practices in relation to persons and goods at frontiers. They base this view on their interpretation of article 7A, read in conjunction with the general declaration on articles 13 to 19 of the Single European Act.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will arrange for a copy of legal opinion obtained by the Government in 1991 concerning the legality of the opt-out from the Single European Act negotiated in 1985 permitting the United Kingdom to maintain frontier controls to be placed in the Library.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 February 1995]: The advice of the Law Officers is not normally disclosed.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister what specimen treaty, providing measures to exclude certain categories of people from entering the European Union, has been approved in principle on behalf of Her Majesty's Government; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 February 1995]: At its meetings on 30 November and 1 December, the Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted a standard format for the conclusion of bilateral readmission agreements between member states and third countries. The documents are available in the Library of the House.

TREASURY

Income

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the division in percentage terms between (a) all forms of earned income including PAYE and self-employed persons and (b) all forms of unearned income including rents, investment income, pensions, and transfers from the state in the form of benefits.

Sir George Young: Information on personal sector income is published in table 4.1 of "1994 UK National Accounts Blue Book". A more detailed breakdown based on the 1992 93 survey of personal incomes is published in table 3.4 of "Inland Revenue Statistics 1994", copies of which are in the Library.


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National Lottery

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of the Secretary of State for National Heritage of 7 February 1995, Official Report , column 160 , what will be the income to the Exchequer, during the course of a full year, from (a) the investment of £65 million of lottery proceeds in Treasury bills and (b) of £22 million in gilts.

Sir George Young: None. Income from Treasury bills and gilts goes to the beneficial owner, which is in this case would be the national lottery distribution fund, and not to the Exchequer.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many projects are being considered for the private finance initiative; how many have been agreed; and what is the estimated value of the contracts involved.

Sir George Young: Since the autumn statement of November 1992, notices for 29 projects of a value of greater than £5 million have been issued in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The estimated value of the capital investment under these contracts is £5 billion. Records are not held centrally for projects which are under consideration but are not yet in procurement or which are less than £5 million in value.

Crime Prevention

Mr. William O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will disregard the increase in the rateable value of crime prevention measures where these have been provided at the cost of a tenant when assessing new rateable values for tenanted properties; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nelson: Regulations due to come into effect on 1 April 1995 will require valuation officers to reflect the value of plant and machinery provided for protection of properties from a range of hazards. This will include plant and machinery that is used to protect the property from trespass of criminal damage. It is likely that the impact of these measures will be material where security is an important feature of the property concerned, for example, bullion stores, and likely to be less significant in relation to small businesses.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for taxing carbon dioxide emissions; and what discussions he has had with his


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colleagues in relation to improvements to the environment.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I have no plans to tax carbon dioxide emissions as such. However, the commitment to increase road fuel duties by on average at least 5 per cent. a year in real terms, and the introduction of VAT on domestic fuel and power, now held to 8 per cent., both play an important part in achieving the United Kingdom's commitment to return CO2 emissions to 1990 levels in the year 2000. I have regular discussions with my colleagues about improvements to the environment.

Tax Self-assessment

Mr. Byers: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated cost of developing the computer facilities necessary to support the introduction of tax self-assessment; and what plans he has to involve the private sector and from what date.

Sir George Young: About £200 million. The Inland Revenue's information technology partner, Electronic Data Services, is due to take formal responsibility for this work from January 1996, but EDS is already involved in the programme and has expressed its full commitment to it.

Doctors

Mrs. Beckett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Treasury will publish its general schedule for 1994 95 for doctors undertaking part-time work for central Government Departments and other agencies.

Mr. Aitken: The Treasury will not be publishing revisions to the schedule which was effective from April 1993. It is not mandatory on Departments and agencies. Subject to any statutory Treasury involvement in specific cases, they can decide whether to vary the schedule's provisions in the light of their own judgments on best value for money and affordability within cash constraints.

PAYE and National Insurance

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest estimated level of uncollected PAYE and national insurance contributions deducted but not paid over to the Revenue, in figures and as a percentage of the total amounts, for each year since 1979 expressed in 1994 prices.

Sir George Young [holding answer 6 February 1995]: The amounts of PAYE and national insurance contributions uncollected and consequently remitted or written off as uncollected are as follows:


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                                                                                |As a percentage                                

                                |As a percentage|Amount         |Classes 1 and  |of total NIC   |Amount                         

                |PAYE amount    |of total PAYE  |expressed in   |1A NIC amount  |classes 1 and  |expressed in                   

Year            |in £ thousands |collected      |1993 prices    |in £ thousands |1A collected   |1993 prices                    

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

1979            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a                            

1980            |9,914          |0.05           |26,975         |1,056          |0.01           |2,873                          

1981            |11,432         |0.08           |28,345         |1,158          |0.01           |2,871                          

1982            |15,281         |0.06           |34,603         |1,261          |0.01           |2,855                          

1983            |22,622         |0.08           |47.227         |1,555          |0.01           |3,246                          

1984            |33,312         |0.11           |64,863         |1,971          |0.01           |3,838                          

1985            |46,695         |0.14           |82,879         |2,213          |0.01           |3,928                          

1986            |60,915         |0.17           |100,334        |4,377          |0.02           |7,209                          

1987            |92,560         |0.25           |137,559        |8,514          |0.03           |12,653                         

1988            |130,724        |0.33           |174,624        |15,894         |0.06           |21,231                         

1989            |122,890        |0.28           |151,176        |15,127         |0.05           |18,609                         

1990            |107,091        |0.22           |122,314        |17,239         |0.05           |19,689                         

1991            |135,285        |0.26           |148,307        |21,644         |0.06           |23,732                         

1992            |381,172        |0.71           |401,898        |32,570         |0.09           |34,341                         

1993            |388,190        |0.72           |388,190        |41,257         |0.11           |41,257                         

1994            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a            |n/a                            

The figures for 1994 are not sufficiently complete to allow the necessary comparison to be made and consequently the information is not available in the form requested. Therefore, the figures are expressed in accordance with 1993 prices.

Insolvencies, where the Inland Revenue has very little control over the amount recoverable, account for the vast majority of remissions of tax.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Colombia

Mr. Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Colombian Government over the human rights situation in Colombia.

Mr. David Davis: We maintain a regular dialogue on human rights with the Colombian Government. We welcome recent measures taken to address problems they acknowledge exist. My current visit to Colombia will provide a further opportunity to discuss this issue.

Mr. Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts he has made to persuade the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to appoint a special rapporteur on Colombia.

Mr. Goodlad: None. I refer the hon. Member to the reply that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave to the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) on 14 February, Official Report , column 580 . We do not believe that the appointment of a special rapporteur is needed.

Chechnya

Mr. Elletson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the crisis in Chechnya with the German Foreign Minister; and what assessment he has made of whether a common European response to it exists.

Mr. Goodlad: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs last discussed the crisis in Chechnya with the German Foreign Minister, Herr Kinkel, on 1 February.

A common European response has been agreed within the framework of the common foreign and security policy. All EU members share the view that the fighting in Chechnya needs to be brought to an end, and negotiations on a political settlement started. The EU has given its full support to the OSCE's efforts to help find a lasting


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