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Pensions Review

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if the review of pensions will assess the advantages and disadvantages of freezing pensions for expatriates; and if she will make a statement; [41482]

Mr. Denham: The Pensions Review is examining all aspects of the basic State pension and its value, and second pensions including State Earnings-Related Pensions Scheme (SERPS)

Of the 2,000 responses received, 343 are from pensioners and organisations representing pensioners living abroad.

The Government will publish a Green Paper on Pensions later this year. There will be a period of further consultation before final proposals are developed.

20 May 1998 : Column: 399

Illness and Mortality Rates

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what research her Department has commissioned into the correlation between social class and (a) illness and (b) mortality rates; and if she will make a statement. [29368]

Ms Jowell: I recently announced a £1.7 million programme of research projects on health inequalities. In addition the Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health is reviewing existing research on these issues. Further research will be commissioned in the light of the Inquiry's report.


Departmental Buildings

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the value of the freehold property of the National Sound Archive building at 29 Exhibition Road; and when the freehold will be disposed of. [40127]

Mr. Fisher: The property at 29 Exhibition Road, currently occupied by the British Library's National Sound Archive (NSA), is held in Trust by the National Sound Archive. It is intended that the property will be sold when the NSA vacates the building later this year. The value of the premises will depend on the property market at the time. The terms of the Trust require that the proceeds from sale of the property should be used to further the NSA's designated activities.

20 May 1998 : Column: 400

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for the future use of the unoccupied Public Record Office in Chancery Lane; and what estimate he has made of the freehold value of (a) that site and (b) the tenant-free accommodation of the Science Reference Library and Patent Office, at 25 Southampton Buildings and Furnival Street, London WC2. [40145]

Mr. Fisher: The property formerly occupied by the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane is vested in the Crown Estate Commissioners. The property is currently for sale but there is at the moment no indication of its value since this is expected to vary according to its eventual use. The Commissioners intend that the building should be used in keeping with its Grade II listed status.

The freehold of Southampton Buildings, currently occupied by the British Library's Science Reference and Information Service, will be sold on the Library's vacation of the property in the summer of 1999. Proposed options for the sale are currently the subject of discussion between the Department and the Library: the value of the building will depend on the method of sale and the prevailing market conditions.

Consultation Papers

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the consultation papers published since 1 May 1997 giving the date of publication, closing date for submissions and the number of respondents. [42256]

Mr. Tom Clarke: The details requested are as follows:

20 May 1998 : Column: 399

Title Date of publicationClosing DateNumber of replies
Broadcasting events of National Significance (on criteria to guide the listing of events under the Broadcasting Act 1990)10 July 19971 September 199738
The People's Lottery21 July 199712 September for comments on the Bill and 10 October for general comments588
Access to Museums and Galleries--Consultation Paper on Draft Code of Practice8 December 199728 February 199860
Television: the Digital Future (jointly issued by DCMS and the DTI's Radiocommunications Agency)12 February 19984 September 1998n/a
Definition of a British Film (included in the Film Policy Review Group Report)25 March 199829 May 1998n/a
Tourism--Towards Sustainability14 April 199829 May 1998n/a

n/a = Not applicable

20 May 1998 : Column: 399


Sierra Leone

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Attorney-General on what date (a) he and (b) officials in his private office were told that allegations of a breach of the UN arms embargo on Sierra Leone had been referred to HM Customs and Excise. [41882]

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The Attorney-General [holding answer 14 May 1998]: On 17 June 1996 my predecessor announced the establishment, in accordance with a recommendation by Sir Richard Scott, of new arrangements for supervision by the Attorney-General to cover prosecutions by HM Customs and Excise involving defence related exports and all sanctions enforcement cases. That superintendence does not extend to investigations.

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On 3 April 1998 in accordance with those arrangements, my office received advance notification of a suspected breach by Sandline International of the UN arms embargo against Sierra Leone. In my absence from the office on leave over Easter, the papers were submitted (in the usual way) to the Solicitor-General for noting. I noted the position on my return from leave.

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Attorney-General whether advice was sought from himself or his officials before the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 10 March formally advised Her Majesty's Customs and Excise of the allegations regarding Sandline. [42074]

The Attorney-General [holding answer 14 May 1998]: As a matter of convention, neither the substance of the Law Officers' advice, nor the fact that they have been consulted, is disclosed outside Government other than in exceptional circumstances. I see no reason to depart from this convention in this case.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Attorney-General if he will list all (a) oral and (b) written communications to and from his Department and (i) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (ii) the Ministry of Defence, (iii) the Department of Trade and Industry, (iv) Her Majesty's Treasury and (v) Her Majesty's Customs and Excise with regard to Sierra Leone and the export and import of arms since 1 January. [42072]

The Attorney-General [holding answer 19 May 1998]: HM Customs and Excise have concluded their investigation of allegations, passed to them by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of a breach of the arms embargo on Sierra Leone and announced their decision that no criminal proceedings will be instituted against any person. The Foreign Secretary has appointed Sir Thomas Legg and Sir Robin Ibbs to conduct a full investigation into events surrounding this case. The report of that investigation will be published.



Sir Alastair Goodlad: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid programmes her Department is currently supporting in India; at what cost; and what was the comparable figure for 1997-98. [42231]

Clare Short: Britain provides substantial bilateral development assistance to India at a cost of around £80-£90 million a year. Our programme is increasingly focused on the elimination of poverty and consists mainly of support in the areas of rural development, water and sanitation, urban poverty, education, health and energy as well as assistance through non-Governmental Organisations. We also help indirectly through contributions to the European Commission and other multilateral institutions.

The provisional bilateral outturn for 1997-98 is around £75 million--lower than average due mainly to slippage on two large energy projects. This year, we expect spending to revert to the level of previous years.

20 May 1998 : Column: 402

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with her Indian counterparts on the impact on the Warli culture of a deepwater port at Vadhavan in Dahanu Taluka. [42562]

Clare Short: I have not discussed this matter with my Indian counterparts.

Ministerial Briefing

Sir Alastair Goodlad: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what instructions she gave, on assuming office, on the information which she wished to be drawn to her attention, in red boxes or otherwise; and what modifications she has made to these instructions. [42301]

Clare Short: I made it clear that I should be given all information necessary to allow me to direct the Department's work effectively and carry out my Parliamentary and Cabinet duties. This included policy recommendations, information on the conduct of the Department's business, Parliamentary questions and correspondence, and relevant public and Government correspondence. I frequently request further information in the course of departmental meetings or consideration of papers. I have had no reason to change these instructions.

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