Previous Section Index Home Page


Mr. Mans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what specific reliability and ergonomic factors have led to the requirement for improved Tornado nose landing gear cable harness assembly as advertised as future purchase number SMC 11aR/273 in MOD "Contracts Bulletin" Vol. 11, No. 7; and if continued use of existing assemblies is affecting serviceability of the Tornado fleet.[9592]

Mr. Soames: The Tornado nose landing gear cable harness assembly dates back to the original aircraft design. The assembly has been found to be susceptible to water and grit ingress which can give rise to false readings on the cockpit instruments and system unserviceability. There is no significant impact on aircraft availability and no adverse effect on airworthiness.

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 632


European Union (Currency Support)

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has received for a regulation of the European Community in pursuit of budgetary discipline and monetary stability to secure the obligations of members or institutions to support the currency of any one of its members, being a member of the exchange rate mechanism but not that of a common currency; and under what article of the treaty of European Union such regulation could be proposed. [7693]

Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 6 December 1996]: The Florence European Council agreed that a new exchange rate mechanism will be established for stage 3 of economic and monetary union to link the euro with currencies of member states remaining outside the single currency. The new mechanism, like the existing one, will be an intergovernmental nature and outside the community, and EC treaty, framework. Membership will be voluntary.

Proposals for how the mechanism may operate were set out by the European Monetary Institute in its paper of 7 October entitled "Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy Co-operation between the euro area and other EU countries", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. There are no draft legal texts at this stage.

Administration Costs

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the total administration costs of non-departmental public bodies in each year between 1991-92 and 1996-97. [8276]

Mr. Waldegrave [holding answer 9 December 1996]: As part of the work for developing the expenditure plans published in the "Financial Statement and Budget Report", the Government collected information on the total administration costs of the larger executive non-departmental public bodies--those which (a) have 25 or more staff; and which (b) normally rely upon Government grant or grant in aid for 50 per cent. or more of their income or trade mainly with Government Departments. While the information was not complete, expenditure was estimated to have been about £1.9 billion in 1993-94 , £2 billion in 1994-95 and £2.1 billion in 1995-96 and is expected to be £2.1 billion in 1996-97.

Information relating to 1991-92 and 1992-93 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departments will be publishing information on the administration costs of each of their larger executive non-departmental public bodies and tribunals from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 in their annual reports in March 1997.

Pensions (Public Sector Research Establishments)

Mr. Ingram: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what decisions have been taken to finance the costs arising from the crystallisation of pensions liabilities of public sector research establishments; if he will list the establishments involved; and which Departments will bear the costs involved. [8888]

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 633

Mr. Waldegrave [holding answer 16 December 1996]: Pension liabilities of public sector research establishments crystallise (a) when a pension entitlement becomes payable and (b) on the transfer of accrued rights out of unfunded schemes into funded schemes. The existing arrangements for financing these costs vary between Departments and between establishments--no decisions have been taken to change the current arrangements.

Gifts in Kind

Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will revise his current policy on the tax treatment of donations of gifts in kind to charities and trusts so that employers are able to donate without tax consequences; and if he will make a statement. [9569]

Mr. Jack: Tax relief for donations to charity is aimed at straightforward donations of money. If relief were to be extended to gifts in kind, there would have to be special arrangements to value them, which would complicate the present system. I do not propose to extend tax relief to donations of gifts in kind.

Official Ministerial Visits

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for each of the Ministers in his Department how many official ministerial visits they have undertaken since 1 January; and how many of these have been abroad.[9375]

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: My ministerial colleagues and I have made the following official ministerial visits:

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 634


Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the recent Council meeting of the Economic and Finance Ministers of the European Union. [9858]

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 635

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: I represented the UK at the Economic and Finance Council--ECOFIN--of the European Union in Dublin on 12 December.

The Council agreed, subject to a parliamentary scrutiny reserve by the UK, its report on progress towards economic and monetary union, for presentation to the European Council meeting commencing the following day. The report considers the new exchange rale mechanism, the stability and growth pact and the legal framework for the introduction of the euro.

The Council also discussed new guarantee arrangements for the European Investment bank's lending and new regional lending mandates. Agreement was not reached, so the issue will be discussed again at a future ECOFIN meeting.

Next Section Index Home Page