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1992 - PMQT Written Answers 16th November 1992

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 16th November 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

Private Detectives

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Prime Minister what use his Department has made of private detectives in each of the last five years; at what cost; and if he will list the firms involved.

The Prime Minister : My Office has not made use of private detectives.


President Yeltsin

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of the recent visit of President Yeltsin of Russia.

The Prime Minister : President Yeltsin paid a highly successful visit on 9 and 10 November, the first official visit to the United Kingdom by a President of Russia. During his visit he addressed Members of both Houses in the Royal Gallery, attended a luncheon given by Her Majesty the Queen and met businessmen at the London Stock Exchange. I hosted a dinner for the President in the painted hall of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

President Yeltsin and I signed a treaty on the principles of relations between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation and five other agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed by representatives of the two Governments during the visit. In discussions with the President, I welcomed the new and friendly relations between the United Kingdom and Russia and underlined the Government's support for the process of economic and political reform in Russia.


Classless Society

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made towards the creation of a classless society in Britain.

The Prime Minister : The Government's policies are aimed, and will continue to be aimed, at widening choice and opportunity for all members of society. Most recently, progress has been made through the introduction in the 1992 Budget, of a new lower rate band which reduced the marginal rate to 20 per cent. for almost 4 million people on low incomes, including over 1 million working wives; through our recent reforms in education and health; and through other public service initiatives, including the introduction of the citizens charter.


Environment

Mr. David Porter : To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made on implementing the involvement of young people in environmental awareness following the decisions agreed at the 1992 Earth summit; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Many of the recommendations relating to young people in Agenda 21 have already been implemented in the United Kingdom; for example, the requirements of a number of subjects in the national curriculum include studies relevant to the environment. We are also supporting informal environmental education initiatives through the Department of the Environment's grant schemes. Chapter 17 of the Second Year Report (Cm 2068) on the anniversary of the "Environment" White Paper explains our action in detail.


Office Telephone Lines

Mr. Madden : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 10 November, Official Report, column 672, regarding facilities for the public to telephone his Office, if he will give details of the existing practice.

The Prime Minister : I have nothing further to add to the reply that I gave the hon. Member on 10 November at column 672.


Iraq

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) on 10 November, Official Report, columns 737-38, what was the start date for the application of the full embargo on the supply of arms to Iraq.

The Prime Minister : The full embargo came into force at midnight on 8 August 1990 in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 661.

All relevant issues will be covered by Lord Justice Scott's inquiry whose terms of reference will be :

"Having examined the facts in relation to the export from the United Kingdom of defence equipment and dual use goods to Iraq between December 1984 and August 1990 and the decisions reached on the export licence applications for such goods and the basis for them, to report on whether the relevant Departments, Agencies, and responsible Ministers operated in accordance with the policies of Her Majesty's Government; to examine and report on decisions taken by the prosecuting authority and by those signing public interest immunity certificates in R v Henderson and any other similar cases that he considers relevant to the issues of the inquiry; and to make recommendations".

The terms of reference have not been restricted to Matrix Churchill. They include the supergun and other defence and dual-use sales.

The terms of reference relate not just to arms questions but to decisions taken on the prosecution of companies and on public interest immunity.

All Ministers who are called will give evidence.

All civil servants who are called will be instructed to co-operate.

All papers that the inquiry calls for will be made available. Lord Justice Scott will be entirely free to decide on the publication of his report and of the evidence he takes.

If Lord Justice Scott finds that his powers are in any way insufficient, he can invite the Government to alter the basis of his inquiry and the Government would agree to do so.

The inquiry will report to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.


Cabinet Committees

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Prime Minister whether the rules of collective responsibility for decisions made in a Cabinet Committee are applied only to those attending the meeting.

The Prime Minister : Decisions reached by the Cabinet or Ministerial Committees are binding on all members of the Government.