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1 Dec 1994 : Column WA49

Written Answers

Thursday 1st December 1994


Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Royal Prerogative may be defined as those residual powers, rights, immunities and privileges of the Sovereign and of the Crown which continue to have their legal source in the common law and which the common law recognises as differing significantly from those of private persons.

Statute now covers much of the ground which in the past was covered by the Royal Prerogative. The complex relationship between statutory powers and those under the Royal Prerogative means that it would be impracticable and lead to disproportionate cost to list all the powers which remain. Examples of areas where the Royal Prerogative remains important include the conduct of foreign affairs, the defence of the realm and the regulation of the Civil Service.

With the exception of powers personal to the Sovereign, powers under the Royal Prerogative are, by convention, exercised by Ministers. The manner in which they are exercised will depend on the power in question. Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the use of powers under the Royal Prerogative, as they are for powers derived from statute.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The information is not available.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The total amount of attendance allowance recovered during the financial year 1993-94 was £580,000 from 336 claimants. This gave an average recovery of £1,726 from each claimant.

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There were no legal costs incurred by the compensation recovery unit in the recovery of this benefit.


Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the recent statement by the National Book Committee that one in 12 of the new books that were to be bought by British public libraries cannot now be purchased because of cuts in expenditure, whether the Secretary of State will use his statutory powers to investigate and improve the situation.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): The Government's standard spending assessments should allow local authorities to maintain their range of statutory and non-statutory services at reasonable levels. The allocation of resources is a matter for individual local authorities, and this includes decisions about spending priorities, including the level of spending on the book fund.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage continues to monitor the provision of public library services in England, including book expenditure, by analysing statistics and by investigating complaints; and the department is prepared to intervene directly where there is doubt about an authority's ability or willingness to fulfil its statutory obligations under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.


Lord Nathan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What provisions of public general Acts enacted between 1st January 1989 and 31st December 1992 have not been brought into force.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): It is not possible other than at disproportionate cost to identify specific provisions of public general acts enacted, with commencement provisions, between 1st January 1989 and 31st December 1992 which have not yet been brought into force. However the percentage of such provisions not yet in force is, I believe, around one per cent.


Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they remain committed to reform of the Law of Privity of Contract and what progress they have made in preparing suitable legislation.

The Lord Chancellor: The Government remain committed to the implementation for future leases of the Law Commission's recommendations in its report on Landlord and Tenant Law: Privity of Contract and Estate (Law Com. No. 174), as soon as there is a suitable legislative opportunity. Legislation will be ready should a suitable opportunity occur.

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Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for improving the A.127; and What improvements have been made to the A.127 between Basildon and Southend-on Sea during 1994, and what are planned for 1995.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): These are operational matters for the Highways Agency, I have asked the Chief Executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Braine of Wheatley from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. L. Haynes, dated 1st December 1994:

    The Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport has asked me to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Questions about the A.127 in Essex since they are operational matters for the Highways Agency.

    The Highways Agency announced its proposed route for the improvement to the A.127 on 3rd November 1994 following which local public exhibitions were held in the area between 10 November and 18th November 1994. I enclose for your information a copy of the Public Consultation leaflet which shows the route proposals. The consultation period for the receipt of comments runs to 31st January 1995.

    All comments received will be carefully considered before the Secretary of State for Transport makes a decision on the way forward. The next stage could be the announcement of a preferred route by him in about 12 months' time.

    The agency will not carry out any work other than maintenance on the A.127 during 1994. In 1995, in addition to possible maintenance work and subject to the availability of funds, we propose to introduce measures to alleviate queuing at the Fortune of War Roundabout. All right turn movements at the roundabout will be barred to allow a higher degree of free flowing traffic on the A.127. This should both significantly reduce queues and result in fewer accidents at this location.

    The scheme will be initially implemented on an experimental basis using temporary materials. If the scheme were not successful in achieving its aims, the original layout could then be restored quickly.


Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish and elucidate the methodology of the calculations which led the Chancellor of the Exchequer to his view that membership of the European Union single currency system would be in the economic and political interests of the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry for Defence (Lord Henley): The question of UK participation in Stage 3 of economic monetary union is unlikely to be a real issue for the present Parliament because of the lack of economic convergence across Europe. As the Chancellor said in his recent interview with La Tribune, the UK has a completely open option on when and whether to participate in Stage 3. The Government recognise the significance of any decision on participation in Stage 3, and, through the UK protocol to the Maastricht Treaty, it has ensured that

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such a move could not be made without a full Act of Parliament.


Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their proposals for bringing competition to bear on local authorities' corporate and administrative services.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): Corporate and administrative work comprises a number of distinct administrative support services as diverse as printing and reprographics, and building facilities management. These are provided to all parts of the authority. Local authorities increasing recognition of the importance of gaining value for money for these services has meant that much of this work is already being exposed to market pressures. Most local authorities will re-charge in-house users for administrative support services. Those users, particularly where they themselves are exposed to CCT, will be keen to keep overhead costs down and will exert pressure for cost effective and efficient support services.

Customers for administrative support increasingly have the freedom to go elsewhere if the in-house service is inadequate. A significant proportion of administrative support services are already provided by external contractors, and some authorities have dispensed entirely with in-house support staff for much of the work.

The Government's discussions with local authority representatives have led me and my colleagues in Government to conclude that our objective of increasing competition in corporate and administrative support services is already being met though these means and that extension of CCT to take this work would not bring sufficient additional benefits. We have, therefore, decided not to proceed with proposals to introduce CCT for local authority corporate and administrative services.

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