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1993 - PMQT Written Answers 31st March 1993

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 31st March 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Public Appointments

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the report of the review of public appointments.

The Prime Minister : I will arrange for a copy of the latest report of the review of public appointments (1989) to be placed in the Library of the House.

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister if he will now publish the report of the Central Policy Review Staff in 1973 on the system of public appointments.

The Prime Minister : I do not know of such a report. The hon. Member may have in mind an inter-departmental working party of officials in 1974 which studied certain aspects of appointments in the public sector. Their advice recommended the establishment of the public appointments unit. I will arrange for a copy of the working party's report to be placed in the Library of the House.


Non-departmental Public Bodies

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list those non- departmental public bodies which (a) have been abolished since 1979 and (b) have been established since 1979.

The Prime Minister : A full list of non-departmental public bodies in existence for each year since 1979 is available in the following publications : "Report on Non-Departmental Public Bodies" (Pliatzky Report, Cmnd 7797, January 1980), "Non-Departmental Public Bodies : Facts and Figures 1980", "Non-Departmental Public Bodies : Facts and Figures 1981", and "Public Bodies" published annually from 1982. Copies of these publications are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

For each year since 1986, a press notice has listed separately public bodies which have been created and abolished. Copies are being sent to the hon. Member, and to the Libraries of both Houses. Such summary data for the years 1979 to 1985 do not exist, and could be reconstructed only at disproportionate cost.


Coal Industry

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) on 25 March, Official Report, column 1223, if he will set out a detailed itemised breakdown of the annual expenditure of £18 billion invested in the British coal industry since 1979.

The Prime Minister : Grant aid made available to the coal industry since 1979 is set out in the table :

Grants<1> to British Coal and payments under the Redundant Mineworkers Payments Scheme<2>                                            

Financial year |Deficit & Deficiency Grants |Operating Grants |Social & Restructuring Grants |Redundant Mineworkers Payments Scheme |Total   

                   |£ million         |£ million         |£ million         |£ million         |£ million                            

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

1979-80            |159               |30                |62                |15                |266

1980-81            |149               |26                |79                |15                |269

1981-82            |428               |27                |120               |48                |623

1982-83            |374               |12                |134               |80                |600

1983-84            |875               |-                 |270               |190               |1,335

1984-85            |2,225             |-                 |189               |200               |2,614

1985-86            |50                |-                 |513               |563               |1,126

1986-87            |288               |-                 |594               |610               |1,492

1987-88            |200               |-                 |477               |295               |972

1988-89            |0                 |-                 |297               |168               |465

1989-90            |6,153             |-                 |1,090             |126               |7,369

1990-91            |0                 |-                 |141               |93                |234

1991-92            |0                 |-                 |457               |61                |518

1992-93<3>         |0                 |-                 |622               |43                |665

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

Total              |10,901            |95                |5,045             |2,507             |18,548

<1> Grants to British Coal are at outturn prices, on an accruals basis, taken from British Coal's Annual Report and Accounts.        

<2> Redundant Mineworkers Payments Scheme. Figures exclude administration costs.                                                     

<3> 1992-93 figures provisional.                                                                                                     


Nuclear Tests

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 March, Official Report, column 467, if it is Her Majesty's Government's policy that a cessation of United Kingdom underground nuclear tests is dependent on the negotiations of a comprehensive test ban treaty.

The Prime Minister : Our policy has always been to keep our testing programme to the minimum necessary to maintain the safety and credibility of our deterrent. In the absence of a comprehensive test ban, whether we continued to test would naturally depend on our needs at the time, and whether they could be met by means other than testing. We believe any restraints on testing should be negotiated and verifiable.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effect on the United Kingdom of legal and other restrictions applying to states to prevent their conducting nuclear tests.

The Prime Minister : The effect would depend on the scope and nature of such restrictions. If backed by effective verification and inspection mechanisms they could play a useful part in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In our approach to these issues we shall be seeking an outcome which ensures this objective is achieved, but which enables us to maintain the safety and credibility of our deterrent.


Council Tax (Care Homes)

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister what consultation there has been between the Department of the Environment and the Department of Health on the imposition of council tax on charitable residential care accommodation; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The two Departments have discussed a number of representations which have argued that residential care homes should be exempted from the council tax. Care homes will receive a number of reliefs, which will together mean that their council tax bills will be small. These bills represent a reasonable contribution to the cost of the local authority services from which care homes and their residents benefit.


Security Service

Mr. Hayes : To ask the Prime Minister when the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Security Service Act 1989 will be laid before the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : A copy of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's third annual report, for 1992, has been laid before the House today in accordance with section 4(6) of the Security Service Act 1989. The confidential appendix to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 4(7) of the 1989 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in reviewing the issue of warrants and in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided in the Act. I note that he is satisfied that the Secretaries of State have properly exercised their powers under the Act and that the arrangements in force for ensuring that the service discloses information only in accordance with the provisions of the 1989 Act are working satisfactorily.


Interception of Communications

Mr. Hayes : To ask the Prime Minister when the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 will be laid before the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : A copy of the right hon. Sir Thomas Bingham's first report, covering 1992, has been laid before the House today in accordance with section 8(7) of the Interception of Communications Act 1985. The confidential appendix to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 8(8) of the 1985 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his report. I note in particular his observations that the Secretaries of State take great care to satisfy themselves that the warrants are necessary for the purposes stated in the Act, and that the system for the issue of warrants is working as intended by Parliament.