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1994 - PMQT Written Answers 30th March 1994

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 30th March 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Official Gifts

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister if he has chosen to purchase any official gift since becoming Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister : That is a private matter.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 10 March, Official Report, column 319, if he will list those charities which have benefited from the proceeds of the sale of small gifts given to him and his predecessor.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 29 March 1994] : That is a private matter.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister how much has been spent by his Office on the provision of official gifts in each of the last three years.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 29 March 1994] : The information requested is as follows :

Year           |Provision of official gifts |£

1991           |17,470

1992           |21,241

1993           |18,385

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister if details of gifts received by Ministers in their official capacity and reported to the departmental permanent secretary are made available to the public; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 29 March 1994 : Gifts received by Ministers in their official capacity are dealt with in accordance with the procedures set out in "Questions of Procedure for Ministers". The details are not made public.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 10 March, Official Report, column 319, if he will state the amounts accruing to official funds from the sale of gifts from the official inventory in each year since 1985.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 29 March 1994] : The only sales have been those to the Prime Minister of the day. These have all been carried out in accordance with "Questions of Procedure for Ministers". It is not the practice to publish details.


Government Car Service

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what is the annual cost to the Department of the car service for Ministers; and how many vehicles are involved.

The Prime Minister [pursuant to his reply, 8 December 1993, c. 222] : The charge to my office for ministerial use of the Government car service during 1992-93 was £130,198. Two vehicles are involved.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what was the cost to his office in 1990-91 of use of the Government car service other than the vehicles for his ministerial use; and which persons other than Ministers had a car specifically allocated to them.

The Prime Minister : The charge to my office for official use of the Government car service in 1990-91 was £192,998. No cars were specifically allocated to individuals.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what was the annual cost to the Department of the car service for Ministers in 1990-91; and how many vehicles were involved.

The Prime Minister [pursuant to his reply, 14 December 1993, c. 561] : The charge to my office for ministerial use of the Government car service during 1990-91 was £75,954. Two vehicles were involved.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister if he will quantify the cost of the factors which led to a fall in the cost of cars for Prime Minister's use since 1990-91; what change has taken place in the cost of cars for No. 10, other than for the Prime Minister's use, since 1990-91; and what changes have taken place in the rules governing their use.

The Prime Minister : Since my answers of 8 and 14 December 1993, a detailed examination has been carried out of the invoices from the Government car service over the period from 1990-91 to 1992-93, in particular to check on the allocation between ministerial and official use. This has produced some changes from the figures originally given to the hon. Member.

Since 1990-91, GCS costs have increased, and in addition GCS charges have been restructured to reflect the fact that it had been under-recovering its costs in 1990-91. These factors have affected the costs of the cars for ministerial use and of those for official use. In addition, for the Prime Minister's cars, the basis of funding the necessary security work has changed, and now falls on the No. 10 running costs budget; this has increased the costs of the Prime Minister's cars by some 60 per cent., on top of the 12 per cent. increase in GCS charges for long-term hire. For the cars for official use, there has been an increase in costs arising from a change away from the GCS providing 24-hour cover for the cars on long-term hire towards greater use of pool cars. There has been no change in the rules governing the use of official cars by staff in 10 Downing Street.

The revised figures (net of recovered VAT) are as follows :

                |Ministerial use (£) | Official use (£)

1990-91         |75,954         |192,998                        

1992-93         |130,198        |339,549                        

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister when he will provide substantive answers to the questions from the right hon. Member for Swansea, West tabled for answer on 16 December and on 13 January relating to the costs of cars used by his Office.

The Prime Minister : I have done so.


Malaysia

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions took place between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence prior to the Secretary of State's March 1988 visit to Malaysia about the range of subjects to be covered in the protocol; to what extent the question of civil aid was considered; what documentation is held at No. 10 Downing street and the Cabinet Office reporting on the progress of the negotiations in Kuala Lumpur; and how the Prime Minister's office was kept informed of the progress of the negotiations.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 9 March 1994] : In January 1988 my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence wrote to ministerial colleagues to secure agreement to the signing of a protocol covering the purchase of defence equipment by the Malaysian Government. This exchange made no mention of civil aid. No. 10 files confirm that the Prime Minister's office was informed about the negotiations in Kuala Lumpur, and the inclusion of the paragraph on civil aid, only after the protocol had been signed.