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Mr. David Davis: There is no policy of censorship of television on St. Helena. A television station will soon start and will operate under licence by Cable and Wireless. The company is required under the terms of the licence to notify the Governor of details of the services to be offered. The licence controls the broadcast of obscene or seditious material or material that would endanger security or public morals.
Column 377Helenian mothers leave their families on St. Helena to work for over one year elsewhere.
Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens were deported from Belgium as a result of the Bruges versus Chelsea football match; how many were arrested; how many have been charged; and how many have been or are likely to be prosecuted.
Mr. David Davis: Approximately 1,000 Chelsea fans, either without tickets or with forged tickets or with invalid tickets for the Bruges fans area of the stadium were deported from Belgium as a result of the Bruges v. Chelsea football match. Forty-two fans were detained for disorderly behaviour and one fan was arrested and charged with assault. None were prosecuted and all were released within 24 hours.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with other permanent members of the UN Security Council on ways of resuscitating the middle east peace process; and what were the conclusions.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: During the debate in the UN Security Council on 28 February on Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories, we reiterated our continued support for the peace process and our condemnation of settlement building. Separately, on behalf of the EU, the French Foreign Minister wrote to the United States Secretary of State about the Troika's recent visit to theregion in support of the peace process.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The Iraqi-British interest group neither requested nor received assistance from my Department for its visit to Iraq. However, at least one member of the group called, in a personal capacity, on our embassy in Jordan after the visit, and the normal courtesies were extended.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on levels of military activity in Iraq between Government forces and various rebel groups.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We are aware of reports of clashes that have taken place between Iraqi Government forces and opposition groups over the past few days, mainly in the areas of Kirkuk and Irbil. It is difficult to assess the level of activity. Fighting appears to have broken out following the Iraqi opposition reports of Iraqi troop movements and shelling of Kurdish villages. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.
We have no reliable information about the sale of arms to Burma by other countries.
Mr. Goodlad: Together with our EU partners we have expressed our concerns about recent developments directly to the ruling military regime in Burma, the State Law and Order Restoration Council--SLORC. We called in the Burmese ambassador on 17 February to reinforce the EU action and to urge the SLORC to call an immediate halt to the current offensive. On 10 March the EU issued a statement condemning the attacks and calling upon the SLORC to find a swift and peaceful solution to the ethnic minority problem in Burma.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from other Governments critical of British attempts to stimulate trade links with the SLORC regime in Burma.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We have no plans to contribute military or police observers to UNAVEM III. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement told the House on 23 February, we have agreed in principle to a United Nations request to provide a logistics battalion to the peacekeeping operation in Angola.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what specific international initiatives are being taken to try to stabilise the internal security position in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Baldry: We are working to bring greater international attention to the conflict; in particular with the UN and Commonwealth. We are in close touch with EU and African partners. Last month the UN and commonwealth secretaries-general sent their special representatives to Sierra Leone to examine ways of bringing about a settlement.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timetable has been drawn up by the Government of Sierra Leone for the return of the country to democratic rule.
Mr. Baldry: The existing timetable of the Government of Sierra Leone provides for parliamentary elections before the end of 1995. Although the internal security situation may lead to some delay, we expect the Government to press ahead with the transition to civilian rule as rapidly as practicable.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government of Sierra Leone has sought from the international community to deal with its internal disorder.
Mr. Baldry: In response to requests from the Government of Sierra Leone, the UN and commonwealth secretaries-general have sent special representatives to Freetown to explore ways of bringing about a settlement. We have given our strong support to these initiatives.
Mr. Michael J. Martin: A new method of identifying written parliamentary questions by attaching a unique number to each question has been developed by the House authorities, in conjunction with Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
With the wider use of questions in electronic form and the need to relate the electronic version to the printed page, the Committee has agreed that an identifying number should in future be shown beside each question when it appears on the Notice Paper and the Order Paper. As questions with an identifying number begin to be answered, the number will also start to appear in the Official Report . The number will not exceed five digits, and the sequence of numbers will begin afresh at the beginning
Column 382of each parliamentary Session. The number will not be used to "count" individual Members' questions, but will simply reflect the current total of questions tabled in the House.
Mr. Sproat [holding answer 7 March 1995]: Details of the weekly revenue made available to the Football Trust for distribution in the current financial year were given in response to a written question from the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) on 2 February, Official Report column 778. The national lottery was introduced on 14 November 1994. A table detailing the trust's revenue since the start of 1995 is as follows.
|Football Trust |Income Week ending |(£) |(£) |(£) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 7 January 1995 |393,654 |189,906 |583,560 14 January 1995 |404,662 |205,343 |610,005 21 January 1995 |408,250 |206,575 |614,825 28 January 1995 |408,357 |197,103 |605,460 4 February 1995 |401,609 |204,514 |606,123 11 February 1995 |398,305 |200,988 |599,293 18 February 1995 |398,545 |195,498 |594,043
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage, pursuant to his oral answer of 27 February, Official Report , column 680 , if he will publish the performance targets for the key areas in which services are delivered by his Department together with the results that have been achieved; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sproat [holding answer 6 March 1995]: Details of the achievement of key performance targets by my Department appear in our annual report, which was published on 9 March, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. My Department's agencies and sponsored bodies produce their own reports.
|Cabinet Office|COI |HMSO |£ |£ |£ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1991-92 |62,069 |52,623 |70,762 1992-93 |73,952 |32,106 |111,602 1993-94 |66,766 |3,128<2> |98,266 1994-95<1> |98,798 |n/a |102,290 <1> This is a part-year figure as not all invoices to the end of the year have yet been submitted. <2> The charging regime changed from rateable value to metered supply costs in 1993-94.
Mr. Horam: The Command Paper "The Civil Service: Taking Forward Continuity and Change (CM 2748)" indicated the Government's intention to reinforce the principle of selection on merit and to enhance the role of the independent civil service commissioners. The approval of the Privy Council is currently being sought to a revised civil service Order in Council to give effect to these new recruitment arrangements. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. From 1 May 1995 the civil service commissioners will be responsible for interpreting the fundamental principle
Column 383of selection on merit on the basis of fair and open competition for all civil service recruitment, including the circumstances in which exceptions to the principle can be made within the parameters of the Order in Council; publishing a simple, but binding, recruitment code; auditing departments' and agencies' systems for compliance with their recruitment code and publishing on account of their audit in their annual report. They will continue to approve appointments from outside the civil service to the new senior civil service, but not to appointments immediately below that level and to the fast stream entries. Such appointments, like all other recruitment, will be subject to the commissioners' new recruitment code.
Departments and agencies will be required to publish information about their recruitment systems and their use of the permitted exceptions to fair and open competition. This will make information available publicly about recruitment to the civil service and the extent to which exceptions to the recruitment principle are made, apart from very short-term appointments.
Making these changes now does not, of course, prejudice the commitment in the Command Paper to consider legislation on the civil service to put the powers of the civil service commissioners and the Minister for the Civil Service on a statutory basis at a later date.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what measures he is taking to combat sickness absenteeism in (a) the Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency, (b) the Civil Service Occupational Health Service, (c) Chessington Computer Centre and (d) the Central Office of Information
Mr. David Hunt: Management of sickness absence at next steps agencies is the responsibility of chief executives. I have therefore referred the hon. Member's question to the chief executives of the four agencies concerned, who will be writing to him separately. Letter from Thea Harvey to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 9 March 1995:
Michael Geddes has asked me to reply to your PQ on sickness absence.
The Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency formally monitors the sickness absence level of its staff on a monthly basis.
However, the initial responsibility lies with line managers who are required to meet informally with staff when the attendance level is unsatisfactory.
If there is no improvement, formal procedures begin which, ultimately, would end with dismissal as a result of irregular attendance.
Letter from E. C. McCloy to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 8 March 1995:
Your question to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on measures taken to combat sickness absence in the Civil Service Occupational Health Service has been referred to me to reply directly.
Hitherto, line managers initiated investigations on receipt of sickness absence records triggered from central records at Chessington at 14 days in 1 year for those under 45 years and 21 days in 1 year for those over 45 years.
Over the last year a small number of staff developed serious medical conditions which resulted in unavoidable long periods of absence. In a small agency, 120 full time staff, the effect of a few
Column 384individuals with long term absence on the overall percentage sickness absence can be misleading. In 1993, 75 staff had no recorded sickness absence. The corresponding figure for 1994 was 92. The apparent rise in percentage absence has led us to review our management procedures. Line managers will, in future, initiate informal review of absence after 7 days of self certificated absence or 14 days of certificated or combined certificated/self certificated absence in any one year.
Where such action fails to resolve the situation, discussion with senior managers will result, where appropriate, in a request for an assessment by an occupational physician independent of line managers. Where absence continues thereafter at and unacceptable rate formal procedures for inefficiency will be instigated in accordance with OHSA policy.
Letter from R. N. Edwards to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 2 March 1995 :
I refer to your enquiry of 1 March to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster regarding the measures being taken to combat sickness absenteeism at Chessington Computer Centre.
The Centre's procedures for the monitoring and control of sick absence were reviewed during 1994. As a result, new guidance notes for line managers were issued in September 1994 formally introducing new procedures. The changes in procedure introduced were intended to emphasise the line manager's role in the control of absence. Return to work interviews have been formally introduced, and warning letters to staff, whose absence levels exceed that normally expected, are to be issued by line managers rather than by personnel managers. These steps have been taken in addition to the measures already in place which include the provision of a welfare service for staff, and the use of the Occupational Health Service for advice on medical and health care issues.
Absence levels across the centre are monitored on a monthly basis and measured against set targets. Over the last year there has been a downward trend in overall absence rates. Progress towards targets will continue to be observed closely and procedures reviewed and revised as necessary.
Letter from Mike Devereau to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 6 March 1995 :
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has asked me to respond to your PQ about managing sickness absenteeism.
You are already aware, from my 26 January letter to you, of our figures over recent years. When compared against other organisations, our absence record might be regarded as not being a case of especially serious concern. However, I am by no means complacent and I do, of course, fully recognise that any reduction in sickness levels can contribute directly to our successful year-on-year achievement of efficiency gains.
We have recently carried out an internal pilot study, which has been a valuable overall indicator, but now recognise that more analytical work needs to be carried out if we are to achieve meaningful benchmark comparisons. We believe that we need to build up a more complete picture of absences analysed by grade; by age range; by sex; staff with no absences; distribution of illness by length of absence; types of illness, and comparison across various work areas. This further analysis is in hand.
We are also awaiting report of a Health Screening exercise, in which --on a voluntary basis--a high percentage of staff recently underwent physical and lifestyle checks. This screening was carried out for us by an independent external organisation, and we have asked that they report back to us on their overall findings--including details of health profiles, smoking and drinking patterns, and any observations they can provide on matters such as stress levels. Health screening is one of a number of initiatives taken by COI in recent years to improve health standards. Other initiatives have
Column 385been the introduction of `no smoking' policies; provision of a small fitness centre; eyesight testing for VDU users; and training in safe manual handling procedures.
Depending on the further analysis work referred to above, it is likely that our action plan will encompass:
(i) setting up better monitoring systems;
(ii) carrying out regular benchmarking against `best practice' organisations;
(iii) providing more detailed guidance to line managers, so as to encourage them to take even greater personal responsibility for controlling absences;
(iv) if appropriate, provide training for line managers in the management of sickness absence;
(v) providing more counselling to staff with comparatively poor sickness records, and developing our system so that--even after a single day's absence--staff are formally interviewed by the manager to welcome them back and discuss the nature of the illness.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will amend the Register of County Court Judgments Regulations so as to exempt hon. Members carrying out their public duties from having to pay for searches of county court judgments.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on what date his Department transferred its responsibility for logging county court judgments to Registry Trust Ltd.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Although the Lord Chancellor retains statutory responsibility for the register of county court judgments, responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the register was passed to Registry Trust Ltd. on 30 December 1985.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department in what way payments for search requests on county court judgments by hon. Members carrying out their public duties have changed since the Lord Chancellor's departmental responsibility for these matters was transferred to Registry Trust Ltd.
Mr. John M. Taylor: No changes have been made to the requirement to pay a fee for searches of the register of county court judgments since Registry Trust Ltd. assumed responsibility for the operation of the register.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the report on the future of civil enforcement, which was lodged with him in early 1994.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make it his policy to ensure that court summonses in the county court are served by first class post; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The Lord Chancellor recently conducted a public consultation exercise on the policy of serving summonses by first class post. The responses to this consultation are currently being evaluated.
Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consideration his Department is giving to the use of an encryption key which would allow the state access to all information on the Internet; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The Internet is an open and unrestricted environment for information exchange, in which encryption is currently little used. The Government, along with other member states, are currently discussing the future use of encryption in such networks, taking account of both commercial needs and the interests of security and public order.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has made to the European Commission concerning the Italian Government's proposals to reintroduce the imposta straordinaria; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The Government are very concerned about the difficulties which Italian car taxation has been causing exporters to Italy of luxury cars. This problem has been raised at regular meetings of the Internal Market Advisory Committee, which is chaired by the European Commission. In addition, I wrote to the Italian Finance Minister last month, urging the Italians not to reintroduce the imposta straordinaria, which we understood was then under consideration. We were pleased to learn that the Italian Government subsequently published their budget without including this tax.
Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the Office of Fair Trading's decisions on 7 March relating to the packaging and pricing of BSkyB programming to cable operators.
Mr. Bennett: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if the export licence application refused for the export of goods to Gibraltar in 1993 was for equipment specified as ML3 in group 1 of part III of schedule 1 to SI 1992 No. 3092.
It has not been the practice of successive Governments to reveal details of licences or applications unless the requirements of confidentiality are outweighed by the public interest.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy to continue the requirement for petrol pumps to be checked by trading standards officers; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Trading standards officers have the power to test petrol pumps, as items of weighing or measuring equipment in use for trade. TSOs test petrol pumps before first use and from time to time during use; the frequency of this subsequent testing will depend on the local situation.
Plans have already been announced--in the booklet
"Deregulation--Cutting Red Tape", January 1994--for a scheme to allow manufacturers to self-verify their own production if they so choose. This would not affect the in-use testing by TSOs.