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1993 - PMQT Written Answers 15th March 1993

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 15th March 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Poland

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the matters discussed during the recent visit of the Prime Minister of Poland and the outcome of those discussions.

The Prime Minister : I had valuable discussions with Ms Suchocka on a wide range of issues.

Ms Suchoka briefed me on the Polish economic reform programme. We discussed Poland's wish to become a full member of the European Community, and ways in which the United Kingdom could help Poland towards this goal. We agreed on the need to develop trade and investment. Ms Suchocka stressed the importance to Poland of the restoration of ECGD cover. I agreed to review the position.


Military Equipment

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish in the Official Report his correspondence to date with the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent since 24 November 1992 on the involvement of United Kingdom companies in supplying Iraq with military equipment, the sales of United Kingdom origin military equipment to Yugoslavia and United Kingdom compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The Prime Minister : No. It is not my normal practice to do so.


China (Human Rights)

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Prime Minister when he now expects to receive the final report on the outcome of the visit to China of the delegation led by Lord Howe to discuss human rights last December; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave him on 17 December 1992 at column 352. Work on the report by my right hon. noble and learned Friend, Lord Howe, is well advanced. As soon as it is available we propose to place copies in the Library of the House and to make it available to the public. We continue to raise the issue of human rights in China, most recently in Geneva at the UN Commission on Human Rights, and with Chinese embassy officials here on 4 March.


Liverpool

Mr. Parry : To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit Liverpool; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I have at present no plans to do so.


Polish Prime Minister

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what matters in regard to (a) PHARE, (b) environmental technology transfer and (c) export controls on military or dual-use equipment were discussed during his recent meeting with his Polish counterpart in London.

The Prime Minister : These matters were not raised in my discussions with the Polish Prime Minister.


Kashmir

Mr. Madden : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his letter of January to the hon. Member for Bradford West, what information he has received about the detention of Kashmiri leaders, Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik in Delhi; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : We have asked the Indian Government through our High Commission in New Delhi for information about Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik and are awaiting a reply.


Public Bodies

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister what percentage of total Government spending is accounted for by the bodies listed in "Public Bodies 1992".

The Prime Minister : Gross expenditure by executive non-departmental public bodies was 8.2 per cent. of general Government expenditure in 1978-79 and 5.8 per cent. in 1991-92.

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister how many non-departmental public bodies there were in (a) 1979 and (b) the last year for which figures are available.

The Prime Minister : There were 2,167 non-departmental public bodies in 1979 consisting of 492 executive bodies, 1,485 advisory bodies, 70 tribunals and 120 boards of visitors; and 1,412 in 1992 consisting of 369 executive bodies, 846 advisory bodies, 66 tribunals and 131 boards of visitors.

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister how many appointments to public bodies and positions he is able to make; and if he will list the bodies and positions.

The Prime Minister : The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Dr. Wright : To ask the Prime Minister what was the total budget of all non-departmental public bodies in (a) 1979 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available.

The Prime Minister : Total expenditure by executive non-departmental public bodies was £6,150 million in 1979 and £13,750 million in 1992.


Scott Inquiry

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister how many of additional topics have been referred to Lord Justice Scott since his terms of reference were established; and when he will now report.

The Prime Minister : The wide terms of reference of Lord Justice Scott's inquiry enable him to examine whatever topics he considers relevant to the issues of his inquiry. Lord Justice Scott has not yet announced when he expects to publish his report.


Water Privatisation, Scotland

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Angus East, of 9 March, Official Report, column 783, what plans the Scottish Office now has to announce the conclusions of its consultative process on the privatisation of the water industry in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is considering the responses to the Government's consultation paper on the future of water and sewerage in Scotland. An announcement will be made when that consideration is complete.


Ghazanfer Ali

Mr. Madden : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his letter of 21 October concerning Ghazanfer Ali, in prison in Pakistan, what further information he has received about the progress of the case; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Mr. Ghazanfer Ali is facing two murder charges. They were due to be heard on 13 and 14 March 1993. We shall continue to watch developments.


Prerogative Powers

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister what prerogative powers pertain to public borrowing.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 9 March 1993] : Central Government borrowing to raise money for general purposes is undertaken under the National Loans Act of 1968 and not under the prerogative. Public borrowing to raise money for various specific functions is generally undertaken under statutory powers.


Maastricht Treaty

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister when he last communicated with his counterparts in other EC countries over the proposed ratification of the Maastricht treaty by the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 12 March 1993] : I last discussed ratification of the Maastricht treaty with my European Community colleagues collectively at the Edinburgh European Council on 11 and 12 December 1992. I have since reaffirmed to our partners our commitment to ratify the treaty, most recently in my meeting with the Prime Minister of Denmark on 9 March.


Scottish Water Privatisation

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answers to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) and for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Chisholm), of 9 March, Official Report, column 783-4, whether a decision has now been taken to proceed with the privatisation of Scottish water.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 12 March 1993] : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has consulted widely on the future of the water and sewerage services in Scotland. We will announce our conclusions after the responses have been carefully considered. No decision has been taken.