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1993 - PMQT Written Answers 6th December 1993

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th December 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Information Systems

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Prime Minister in how many Departments the management information systems for Ministers--MINIS--has been in force since November 1990 and over what periods; and what were the setting up times and costs in each case.

The Prime Minister : The Department of the Environment adopted MINIS --the management information systems for Ministers--in 1979. The Department of Trade and Industry introduced MINIS in June 1992. MINIS was described as a good example for Departments to look at when the financial management initiative was launched in 1982 and elements have subsequently been incorporated into other Departments' top management systems. Estimates of the costs of running and developing individual departmental top management systems since November 1990 are not available.


Security Services

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Prime Minister what is the delineation of the responsibility of each security service organisation for counter- proliferation; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Countering the threat from proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a high priority task for the Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters and the Security Service and the resources of the agencies devoted to that task have been increased. I do not propose to go into any further detail about their work.


Official Residences

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 30 November, if he will list the functions held at (a) No. 10 Downing Street and (b) Chequers since November 1990, where the cost of refreshments was paid for by a political party; how many guests attended; how much expenditure was reimbursed in each case; and what charge was made for the hire of facilities.

The Prime Minister : Thirty-nine occasions have been held at 10 Downing Street or Chequers where the cost of refreshments was paid for by the Conservative party. As under previous Administrations, no charge was made for the hire of facilities. Expenditure is billed directly to the organisation concerned and no central records kept.

Mr. Dowd : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 29 November, Official Report, column 325, regarding fuel costs of official residences, if he will provide the names of the chairs of trustees for (a) Chequers, (b) Dorneywood and (c) Chevening.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 December] : The Lord Privy Seal is the chairman of the board of trustees of both Chequers and Chevening. In the case of Dorneywood, the chairman is elected on an "ad hoc" basis at every meeting. The Lord Privy Seal is a member of the board of trustees and, in practice, it is customary for him to chair meetings if he is present.


Information Security

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the operation of his Department's sensitive documents unit; how many staff are employed in its operation; and approximately how many documents per annum come within its purview.

The Prime Minister : The Prime Minister's records are reviewed for any continuing sensitivity 29 years after their creation. Approximately 42 linear feet of records are reviewed each year, by a part-time member of my staff, in accordance with the guidelines contained in chapter 9 of the "Open Government" White Paper--Cm 2290. About 4 per cent. of the records reviewed are retained and these are subject to regular re-review.


Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to discuss Irish responses to the consultation on THORP at his next meeting with his Irish counterpart.

The Prime Minister : No.


Special Advisers

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister (1) what procedures are in place to ensure that special advisers attached to Ministers have no pecuniary or other interests that may conflict with their duties;

(2) if he will list the ways in which the rules applying to (a) the acceptance of outside appointments after resignation or retirement and (b) political activities by special advisers attached to Ministers differ from those applying to other civil servants.

The Prime Minister : Special advisers are subject to the same rules on conflict of interest as other civil servants. If a conflict arises in relation to their duties they must declare the interest. The business appointment rules on the acceptance of appointments after resignation or retirement do not apply to special advisers. Arrangements are made to ensure they do not have access to the kind of information, and they are not involved in the type of business, that would be likely to create suspicion of impropriety in relation to subsequent employment. Advisers are allowed more freedom of political activity than other civil servants to the extent that, with the approval of their Minister, they may attend party functions, including the party conference as an observer, may maintain contacts with party members and may take part in policy reviews conducted by the party.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister what was the total amount paid in salaries to special advisers attached to Ministers in each year since 1988 in (a) cash and (b) current prices.

The Prime Minister : The information requested is as follows :

As at             |Paybill<1>       |1993-94 prices<2>                  

                  |£ million        |£ million                          

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

June 1993         |1.37             |1.37                               

September 1992    |1.3              |1.34                               

September 1991    |1.1              |1.18                               

July 1990         |0.95             |1.08                               

June 1989         |0.93             |1.15                               

September 1988    |0.74             |0.97                               

<1> Not including earnings-related national insurance contribution and other personnel overheads.                                              

<2> Calculated using the GDP deflator.                                  

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list (a) the annual salaries paid to special advisers attached to Ministers in bands of £10,000 and (b) the number of advisers whose salary falls within each band.

The Prime Minister : The information requested is as follows :

Salary band £     |Number of special advisers<1>                        

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

 0- 10,000        |2

10- 20,000        |1

20- 30,000        |10

30- 40,000        |5

40- 50,000        |8

50- 60,000        |6

60- 70,000        |-

70- 80,000        |-

80- 90,000        |2

90-100,000        |1

<1> As at 1 November 1993.                            


Civil Servants

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list for each civil service grade in his Department (a) the total number of people employed, (b) the total number of black people and (c) the total number of Asians.

The Prime Minister : For recruitment purposes, my Office is part of the Cabinet Office. The figures for that Department, excluding its executive agencies and the CCTA--Government Centre for Information Systems- -are set out. Ethnic monitoring in the civil service is carried out on a voluntary basis. Figures for Asian and black staff therefore only include those who have chosen so to describe themselves.

Equivalent Grade |Total           |Black           |Asian                            

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

1                |3               |0               |0

2                |17              |0               |0

3                |19              |0               |0

4                |0               |0               |0

5                |41              |0               |0

6                |27              |1               |0

7                |109             |0.5             |0

AT/HEO(D)        |16              |0               |0

SEO              |49              |0               |0

HEO              |85.5            |0               |0

EO               |180.5           |5               |4.5

AO               |243             |26              |9

AA               |151             |15              |6.5

                 |-------         |-------         |-------

Total            |941             |47.5            |20

Full time equivalent staff in post figures as at 2 December 1993.                    


Departmental Files

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister how many files marked "Not for National Audit Office eyes" are held by the Department; and how many are marked "Not for Public Accounts Committee eyes."

The Prime Minister : No files marked "Not for NAO eyes" are held by my Department. There is no such classification as "Not for PAC eyes".

Mr. Byers : To ask the Prime Minister how many files marked "Not for National Audit Office eyes" are held by his Department.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 3 December 1993] : None.


Year of the Family

Miss Lestor : To ask the Prime Minister what action is proposed by Her Majesty's Government to celebrate the UN Year of the Family 1994; and which Minister is responsible for its co-ordination and implementation.

The Prime Minister : Family policy bears on the responsibilities of a number of Government Departments, who in 1994 and beyond will be taking appropriate steps within their remits to strengthen our commitment to the family. We also support the United Kingdom Association for the International Year of the Family, which will be organising and overseeing activities within the United Kingdom during the year.

During the International Year of the Family, domestic and international issues touching on the family will continue to be led and co-ordinated in the usual way, depending on the key departmental interest. However, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security will act as a liaison point for the co-ordination and exchange of information about and during the year.


Redundancies and Closures

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will list all hon. Members whom he has personally met concerning redundancies or closures in their constituencies, the dates of each of the meetings and the precise nature and numbers of redundancies involved;

(2) what is his policy concerning meetings with hon. Members about redundancies or closures in their constituencies;

(3) if he will now meet the Ayrshire hon. Members to discuss redundancies at Jetstream and the long-term threat to the plant.

The Prime Minister : I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry met a group of hon. Members to discuss Jetstream on 25 November.

Ministers at the Department of Trade and Industry and I often discuss such matters with right hon. and hon. Members.


Ex-service Men

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received calling for the setting up of a department of veterans' affairs to cover the needs of ex-service men; what consideration he is giving to dealing with such requests positively; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 December] : I have received a number of letters from right hon. and hon. Members and members of the public on this matter, but I do not believe that the establishment of a separate department for ex-service affairs would result in a better service for ex-service men and women. The facilities of the health service and social security system are available to all and provision for veterans is integrated with that for the population as a whole; a new department would simply add another tier of administration.

We recognise, however, that some ex-service personnel may encounter difficulties on returning to civilian life. We are therefore committed to the provision of comprehensive resettlement advice and support. We also recognise the particular needs of disabled ex-service personnel; we have not only preserved the preferential provisions of the war pensions scheme, but have also done much to enhance it.