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23 Jun 1998 : Column WA11

Written Answers

Tuesday, 23rd June 1998.

G8 Birmingham Summit: Cost

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost to the United Kingdom taxpayer of the Birmingham G8 summit.[HL2000]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We do not yet know the final cost of the G8 Birmingham Summit because we have not received all the bills. But we estimate the cost of the arrangements made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be £6.9 million.

Commonwealth Institute: Funding

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans for the future funding of the Commonwealth Institute.[HL2009]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Commonwealth Institute has been allocated a grant in aid of £600,000 for this financial year. Until the comprehensive spending review is completed, I am unable to say anything specific about future funding for the Commonwealth Institute or for any other FCO supported organisation. Our goal is to put the institute on a firm financial footing. Officials are discussing a range of options with the institute.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Cost Limits

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes are proposed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cash limits and running cost limits for 1998-99.[HL2388]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary revised estimate, the cash limit for Class II, Vote 1 (overseas representation) will be reduced by £2,261,000 from £590,265,000 to £588,004,000. This reduction takes account of transfers of responsibility to the newly established Department for International Development (Class III, Vote 1). It also reflects the movement of the Wilton Park executive agency from a net running cost regime to a gross running cost regime. This does not change the overall cash limit.

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The gross running costs limit on Class II, Vote 1, will be reduced by £509,000 from £511,044,000 to £510,535,000.

The changes will not add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Oakwood Integrated Primary School: Free School Meals

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what grounds the decision has been taken to refuse free school meals to the 29 per cent. of pupils at Oakwood Integrated Primary School who appear to be so entitled.[HL2208]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): There is no entitlement to free school meals in the independent sector. The provision of a school meals service, including decisions as to whether certain pupils may be offered free meals, is a matter for the school authorities.

Oakwood Integrated School: SEN Provision

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what grounds the decision has been taken to refuse to provide classroom assistance to a statemented pupil at Oakwood Integrated School unless he transfers to a mainstream Catholic school.[HL2209]

Lord Dubs: By law, the special educational provision to be made for pupils with statements of special educational need is determined by Education and Library Boards. I am not aware of any such decision having been made by a board in respect of a pupil at Oakwood Integrated School. Where a parent is dissatisfied with a board's decision, there may be a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

Northern Ireland Office: Leaks

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to identify the source of recent unauthorised disclosures of confidential information from the Northern Ireland Office; and how will they ensure that no further disclosures occur.[HL2210]

Lord Dubs: Leaks are damaging to good government and no effort will be spared to discover who leaked this information. The Northern Ireland Office has been in touch with the Royal Ulster Constabulary about identifying the source of this latest leak. In the meantime the systems for the distribution and handling of documents within the Northern Ireland Office are presently under review.

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Loans to Young Persons

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that companies or other organisations or individuals soliciting the opportunity to lend money to young persons are authorised to do so; and, if so, whether they will publish in the Official Report a list of those who are so authorised.[HL2346]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Companies or other organisations which offer loans to consumers for amounts up to £25,000 generally require a licence issued under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The Director General of Fair Trading is responsible for administering the consumer credit licensing system and maintains a public register of licence holders.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approve of banks granting overdraft facilities to young persons who are not employed, such as students, and who have no collateral security; and, if they are not satisfied with present practices, what steps they propose to regulate the situation.[HL2347]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Banks' decisions on lending are a matter for their own commercial judgment. The Banking Code sets out the factors that are taken into account by the banks when considering whether or not to lend. The age of the applicant and the applicant's ability to repay are two of these factors.

VAT: Refunds on Purchases in EU

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any difficulties which United Kingdom hauliers are experiencing in the recovery of VAT paid on road fuel purchases made in other European Union member states; and what those difficulties are.[HL2257]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Although the Government occasionally receive complaints from UK businesses about delays in obtaining refunds of VAT incurred on business purchases generally in other member states, they are not aware of any particular difficulties which UK hauliers are experiencing in relation to purchases of road fuel.

United Kingdom Population: Grandparents Born Abroad

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of the United Kingdom population has at least one grandparent who was born abroad.[HL2221]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

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Letter to Lord Inglewood from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 23 June 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question on grandparents born abroad.

The information you requested is not available. This is primarily because government censuses (since 1971) and surveys cover only co-resident grandparents.

English Heritage Monuments at Risk Survey

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the recently published English Heritage Monuments at Risk Survey; and what action they propose to take.[HL2188]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes. The survey provides invaluable information about the state of England's archaeological heritage, and the threats it faces. English Heritage has responded very positively by publishing a number of measures which it is committed to implement. The Government's Planning Policy Guidance Note on archaeology and planning (PPG 16) sets out a framework for addressing the threat to archaeology caused by development, which the survey highlighted. PPG 16, and the possible need for additional legislative and financial measures, will be kept under review in the light of continuing discussions with English Heritage and other relevant government departments.

Berlin Airlift: Commemorative Stamps

Lord Craig of Radley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, in spite of the assurance given by the Prime Minister on 13 May (HC Deb. col. 369), the Post Office is not going to issue a set of stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift, which lasted from June 1948 until May 1949.[HL2358]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The Post Office's stamp programme for 1999 has been designed to celebrate the millennium; no special anniversaries will be commemorated. The Post Office recognises the importance of the Berlin airlift anniversary and plans to issue a special commemorative label with associated philatelic products to honour the event.

Home Office Presenting Officers

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why there is an apparent shortage of Home Office Presenting Officers (HOPOs); why some arrive for hearings before adjudicators without case files, either because the case files cannot be located or have not

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    been sent to HOPOs; and when they expect to be able to ensure that all the cases listed before adjudicators at the Immigration Appellate Authority, Taylor House, will be heard on the day they are listed.[HL2330]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Recruitment constraints within the Home Office have led to a temporary shortage of Presenting Officers which is now being actively addressed; the Central London Presenting Officer's Unit last month moved into new premises following the Immigration Appellate Authority's own move to Taylor House. This unfortunately led to some administrative problems in the handling of files, which have now largely been overcome; the decision on whether a case will be heard on the day that it is listed is a matter for the adjudicator.

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