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British Council

Mr. Renton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government propose to make available to the British Council to help with its restructuring costs and to avoid overseas port closures. [30511]

Mr. Rifkind: I have today written to the chairman of the British Council informing him that my Department is prepared to meet 80 per cent. of the actual costs of redundancies among its grant in aid funded UK appointed staff this financial year. I propose to finance this from the Overseas Development Administration's contingency reserve. Since this reserve is higher than originally planned, this can be accommodated without affecting our ability to respond to foreseeable emergencies or reducing planned aid programmes. That part of the funding which serves aid objectives will be provided directly through the ODA vote. For the balance, I shall be seeking parliamentary authority later this year to make the appropriate transfer between the ODA and British Council votes.

In my letter to the chairman I have also assured him that an additional £5 million in 1997-98 and £9 million in 1998-99 will be made available to the Council from within my departmental programme in order to avoid closures of British Council offices overseas to help sustain their programmes in priority countries and to contribute towards their continuing redundancy costs.

The British Council will of course be continuing with their existing programme of efficiency savings.

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Bosnia and Croatia

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what has been the total cost to date to his Department of renting property for use as British bases as part of the implementation force operations in (a) Bosnia and (b) Croatia; [29672]

Mr. Soames [holding answer 17 May 1996]: A list of the major sites in Bosnia and Croatia currently occupied by British forces is as follows, together with the monthly charges where these have been established.

Between January and April this year, my Department spend £665,000 and £688,000 on leases for all sites occupied in Bosnia and Croatia respectively.

BosniaMonthly charge £
Banja Luka--factory38,000
Bosanski Petrovac--garage5,000
Bugojno--factoryNot yet known
Glamoc--sawmill and factory8,000
Gornji Vakuf--2 factories44,000
Kljuc--depotNot yet known
Kupres--various sites34,000
Mrkonjic Grad--2 factories, sawmill and damNot yet known
Sanski Most--factory8,000
Sipovo--3 factories, hotel and sawmillNot yet known
Tomislavgrad-warehouse and other sites42,000
Vitez--Bulk Fuel Installation (BFI) and school3,000
Split--3 factories and warehouse243,000
Split--North Port and warehouse facilitiesNot yet known
Trogir (near split)-Divulje BarracksNo charge

Royal Navy Wrecks

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his Department's policy on the recovery of munitions and other weapons from sunken Royal Navy ships; and what environmental monitoring is undertaken at such sites where it has not proved possible to recover military material. [29980]

Mr. Soames: Our policy, in normal circumstances, is to leave munitions and other weapons on Royal Navy wrecks undisturbed. However, recovery may be considered where sensitive technology is involved, or where there is a risk that the munitions may fall into the hands of terrorists, criminals or unfriendly foreign powers.

Should munitions be disturbed in some way, consideration may be given to their recovery on a case-by-case basis, taking account, among other things, of the extent of any danger to the public, the potential risk to those who would be involved in the recovery operation, and technical feasibility.

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As current scientific evidence shows that, provided they remain undisturbed, such sites do not present a significant risk to safety, human health or the marine environment, my Department does not undertake environmental monitoring of wrecks in which there is remaining military material.

Wine and Spirits Stocks

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) number of bottles and (b) value of stocks of (i) wine and (ii) spirits are held by (1) the Army, (2) the Royal Navy and (3) the Royal Air Force; and if he will make a statement. [29999]

Mr. Soames: The only stocks of publicly funded wines and spirits held by the armed forces are for use in cooking, as recipe ingredients. Details of the stocks held for this purpose are not maintained centrally. Spirits can be authorised for issue in special circumstances, but these are purchased only when required. Stock levels of wines and spirits purchased with non-public funds are a matter for individual messes and no central records are held.


Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated cost of decommissioning the Polaris system; and from which subheads of which votes these funds will be taken. [29871]

Mr. Soames: Details of all costs associated with decommissioning or disposal of equipments and facilities connected with the Polaris programme are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The cost of the defuelling, de-equipping and day-up procedure for the four submarines is expected to total some £61 million; to be attributed to vote 2 subhead 2A21.

Disposal of rocket motors and propellant is expected to cost some £2 million; to be attributed to vote 2 subhead 2F2.

It is not our practice to reveal costs associated with the warhead.


Competitiveness White Paper

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on what date he expects to publish the third competitiveness White Paper. [29955]

Mr. Freeman: The Government plan to publish the third competitiveness White Paper in mid-June.


Mrs. Roche: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the deregulation orders which passed into law, indicating which of them affect firms with under (a) 100, (b) 50, (c) 20 and (d) 10 employees. [29959]

21 May 1996 : Column: 110

Mr. Freeman: The deregulation orders which have passed into law are:

The first four orders are sectoral measures intended to assist all firms in those sectors, regardless of their size. The next three orders amend competition legislation and, again, could potentially benefit any firm regardless of size.

Civil Service (Ethnic Monitoring)

Mr. Callaghan: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the progress of ethnic monitoring within the civil service. [29929]

Mr. Freeman: Equality of opportunity in employment is vital to the effectiveness of the civil service and to good race relations. Ethnic origin monitoring data provides a powerful tool for identifying where barriers exist for the recruitment and advancement of ethnic minority staff. Since 1989 departments and agencies have been working to an agreed code of practice on collecting this information from entrants and existing staff, and they continue to do so. The programme for action on race, introduced by the Cabinet Office in 1990, provides a strategic framework for progress towards race equality in Departments and agencies, which includes monitoring. Regular reports on progress as regards equal opportunities across the civil service are published by the Cabinet Office and placed in the Commons Library. In the year to April 1995, the ethnic minority representation across the civil service rose to 5.4 per cent., which compares with 4.9 per cent. in the economically active population. Information for April 1996 is currently being compiled and will become available later in the year.

Privatised Utilities (Civil Servants)

Mr. Sutcliffe: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many (a) serving civil servants and (b) retired civil servants have been appointed to the boards of privatised utilities. [30254]

Mr. Freeman: There are currently no serving civil servants who are non-executive directors of any privatised utilities on the list of non-executive directors supplied to the Office of Public Service by Departments. Comprehensive information of this kind on retired civil servants is not held centrally and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.

21 May 1996 : Column: 111

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