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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 29th February 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 29th February 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Export Controls

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to commission an independent review on the power to impose controls on exports from the United Kingdom.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the speech made by my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade on 26 February, Official Report, columns 589-604.


Engagements

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 26 February, indicating the purpose of each meeting.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 29 February.

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his engagements for Thursday 29 February.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is carrying out official engagements in the far east.


Downing Street Meetings

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) on how many occasions during the past 12 months he has had meetings at 10 Downing street with (a) Sir Gerrard Neale and (b) Lord Younger;

      (2) what facilities have been extended to Sir Gerrard Neale to have access to 10 Downing street in the past 12 months; and what access he has had to office and telephone facilities.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

As far as my right hon. Friend is aware, none.


British Aerospace

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister on what occasions British Aerospace was represented (a) directly and (b) indirectly in groups led by (i) him and (ii) other Ministers to India in each of the last five years; if he will give the dates of such visits; and if he will make a statement.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

Representatives from British Aerospace have accompanied British Ministers to India on two occasions during the last five years in connection with our trade promotion programme for India.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had relating to the sale by British Aerospace to India of Hawk 100 aircraft; and if he will make a statement.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

The Indian air force has a requirement for a number of advanced jet trainer aircraft. British Aerospace has offered a variant of the Hawk aircraft to meet that requirement. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has commended the Hawk to the Indian Prime Minister on more than one occasion.


Lord-Lieutenants

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Prime Minister which lord-lieutenants will be affected by the changes in local government organisation that come into operation on 1 April.

The Prime Minister: On 1 April 1996 the following arrangements will come into effect.

      In the former county of Avon

      Mr. Jay Tidmarsh will become the new Lord-Lieutenant of the new county of Bristol.

      Sir John Wills, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, will cover the unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset as part of the new ceremonial county of Somerset.

      Mr. Henry Elwes, Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, will cover the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire as part of the new ceremonial county of Gloucestershire.

      In the former County of Cleveland

      The Lord Gisborough, at present Lord-Lieutenant of Cleveland, will become Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, when the unitary authorities of Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton on Tees (south of the River Tees), previously in Cleveland, become part of the new ceremonial county of North Yorkshire.

      Sir Marcus Worsley will continue as Lord-Lieutenant of the whole of the county of North Yorkshire, including the new unitary authority of York.

      Mr. David Grant, as Lord-Lieutenant of Durham, will cover the unitary authorities of Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees (north of the River Tees) within the new ceremonial county of Durham.

      In the former county of Humberside

      Mr. Richard Marriott will become the Lord-Lieutenant of the new county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, covering the unitary authorities of Kingston upon Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

      Mrs. Bridget Cracroft-Eley, as Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, will cover the unitary authorities of North and North East Lincolnshire, as part of the new ceremonial county of Lincolnshire.


Information Technology Developments

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Prime Minister how he intends to ensure that the United Kingdom derives maximum benefit from opportunities in developments in multi-media and information technology; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The Government see the development of multi-media and information technology as an exciting area of opportunity for the United Kingdom in which much is already being achieved. These technological innovations are having an important impact on all aspects of our way of life. In the future there will be further opportunities for business to develop new products, services and ways of working; for individuals to adapt their work patterns; for consumers to improve their quality of life with new electronic products and services; and for the providers of services such as health care, education and training to strengthen their quality and delivery.

The Government have been committed to the comprehensive development of these technologies since the early 1980s. By freeing up the market for our telecommunications and broadcasting industries through privatisation and deregulation and promoting the use of computers in schools we have made sure that the UK is in the vanguard of technological change. We are now undertaking a further range of initiatives, most recently through the information society initiative launched last month.

A strong lead is rightly being given by the private sector's enterprise and initiative. That will continue to be supported by a focused and complementary partnership with Government. In order to reinforce that focus and driving force across Government, I have asked my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister to convene a ministerial group with the following terms of reference:

      "To identify and take forward significant cross-departmental initiatives to ensure that developments in information technology are exploited to the full in the national interest".

In addition to the chairman, members of the group will be as follows:

      President of the Board of Trade

      Chief Secretary, Treasury

      Secretary of State for National Heritage

      Secretary of State for Education and Employment

      Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

      Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Davis)

      Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Ian Taylor).

Other Ministers will be invited to attend for items on which they have a departmental interest. My efficiency adviser and the chief scientific adviser will also attend.

The work of the group will build on the information society initiative and the separate activities of the central information technology unit recently set up in the Office of Public Service to plan the Government's own use of technology. By these means the Government will ensure that there is strengthened stimulus and co-ordination within and beyond Government to enable the UK to derive maximum benefit from the new technology.