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1994 - PMQT Written Answers 14th June 1994

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 14th June 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

European Convention on Human Rights

Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to ratify the 11th protocol to the European convention on human rights.

The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom signed protocol 11 to the European convention on human rights on 11 May 1994, the date on which it was opened for signature. We intend to ratify the protocol in due course.


Student Awards

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if the Departments of Social Security and of Employment and the Department for Education will jointly address funding of students aged over 19 years on full-time courses following the reduction in availability of discretionary awards.

The Prime Minister : Full-time higher education students at undergraduate level are generally eligible for a mandatory award, regardless of their age. The report of the independent survey of discretionary awards provision, published by the Gulbenkian Foundation on 8 April, estimates an increase of 20 per cent. in the total number of discretionary awards made between the 1990-91 and 1993-94 academic years.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is currently considering his response to the Gulbenkian report. My right hon. Friends and their Departments regularly consult on matters of mutual concern, including student support.


Government Information

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to publish his office's guidance on the implementation of the code of practice on access to Government information, as promised at paragraph 3(ii) of the code issued on 4 April; and what has been the cause of the delay in publishing his office's guidance.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Pan Am 103

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Government of Germany about the attitudes of the legal authorities in Scotland and Germany towards those accused of perpetrating the crime against Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister : None. The case is in the hands of the prosecuting authorities.


Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 14 June.

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 14 June.

The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.


European Union

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister whether continuing membership of the European Union is dependent on member Governments being opposed to all forms of authoritarian rule in their own country; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : It is a fundamental principle of the European Union, reflected in both the preamble and article F of the treaty on European Union, that its member states have systems of government founded on the principles of democracy.


Correspondence

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 18 May, Official Report, column 470, if his office will seek to obtain a copy of the receipt and letter for the Ritz hotel in Paris referred to in the correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Peter Preston, editor of The Guardian.

The Prime Minister : I have nothing further to add to the reply I gave on 18 May 1994, Official Report, column 470.


Post Office

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 24 May, Official Report, column 102, what considerations he is taking into account in determining whether a leak inquiry would be justified.

The Prime Minister : It is not the usual practice to give details about such matters.


Climate Change Conference

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he plans to attend the first conference of the parties to the Framework convention on climate change to be held in Berlin from 27 March to 7 April 1995; and what will be his targets for the conference.

The Prime Minister : No decisions have yet been taken on attendance at the conference of parties in 1995. The convention requires that meeting to resolve a number of issues relating to the operation of the convention and the implementation of parties' commitments. The United Kingdom will be looking for a successful resolution of those issues.


Civil Servants (Outside Appointments)

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Prime Minister how many job offers were reported by staff in his Department under the requirements of the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments in each of the last 10 years by (a) staff of grade 3 and above, (b) staff below grade 3, (c) staff in sections concerned with procurement or contract work, under section 15 of the rules of 1 February 1993 and (d) staff in other sections, under section 14 ; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.

The Prime Minister : Information about job offers is not held centrally. For the areas covered by the Cabinet Office and Office of Public Service and Science votes, the number of applications to join companies is as follows :

Job applications under the business appointment rules                                                                      

                                                                    |1984|1985|1986|1987|1988|1989|1990|1991|1992|1993     

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Grade                                                                                                                   

Grade 3 and above                                                   |1   |1   |1   |3   |6   |3   |4   |7   |-   |1        

Below Grade 3                                                       |-   |-   |1   |-   |-   |-   |1   |-   |2   |4        

By Function                                                                                                                

People in contract/procurement sections (under section 15 of rules) |-   |-   |-   |-   |-   |-   |-   |-   |-   |3        

People in other sections (under section 14 of rules)                |1   |1   |2   |3   |6   |3   |5   |7   |2   |2        


Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill

Mr. Madden : To ask the Prime Minister what considerations underlay the Government's decision not to seek to amend the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill at Committee stage; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Although the Government share the aim of eliminating discrimination against disabled people, we favour specific legislation. Despite concerns about the Bill's clarity, affordability and practicality, we examined it in detail, in a considered way, at Committee stage to see whether any parts of it were appropriate and acceptable. Having decided that the Bill could not be accepted, the Government subsequently announced their intention to consult within six months on proposals for action in five key areas : employment, access to goods and services, financial services, access to buildings and the establishment of a new advisory body on disability.


Beggars

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister how many letters he has received on the subject of beggars in the last three months.

The Prime Minister : I have received numerous representations.


Third-party Claims

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his letter to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 15 March, what success Her Majesty's Government have had in persuading eastern European countries, which are not yet members of the third-party liability regime, to join the convention system, and implement its provisions in their national law; and what agreements have been reached with recipient states on the indemnification of western countries for third-party claims in the event of an accident at a plant that they have assisted.

The Prime Minister : Several eastern European countries, among them Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Romania, already belong to the Vienna convention. The Czech Republic acceded to it in March. Estonia acceded in May.

A number of other countries in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have still to accede. This is a matter of concern to all those interested in helping them to improve nuclear safety. Every opportunity, both bilaterally and multilaterally, is being taken to persuade them of the importance of acceding to the Vienna convention and implementing its provisions in their national legislation. The Government of the United States have concluded interim indemnity agreements with Russia and Ukraine. These cover material provided under the United States bilateral nuclear safety assistance programmes to those two countries. As an interim measure, the European Commission is continuing to negotiate an appropriate indemnity from the Governments of Russia and Ukraine for European companies involved in the European Union nuclear safety assistance programme.