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1992 - PMQT Written Answers 24th June 1992

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 24th June 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

EC Presidency

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the cost of (i) each of the special presidency events and (ii) each of the other special events that will be incurred by the United Kingdom as set out in the booklet "The United Kingdom Presidency of the European Community".

The Prime Minister : Of the 79 special events listed in the United Kingdom presidency programme booklet, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is providing funding support for 11 at a total cost of £315, 426. These are :

              |£              

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Presidency Art Exhibition, Brussels             |100,500

Britain and Europe Summer School, LSE           |5,000

European Night at the Proms, Albert Hall        |22,776

UK Presidency Conference, QEII Centre           |113,650

EC R&D meeting of Chief Scientists and European Parliamentary Committee, Edinburgh            |5,000

Women of Europe Awards, FCO                     |2,000

EC Organ Festival, Bolton                       |15,000

Association of European Journalists Conference  |7,000

Advent for Europe Concert, Durham               |5,000

New Years Eve Festival and Concert, Barbican    |35,000

Beacon Europe, throughout Europe                |5,000

Other Government Departments and the EC Commission are helping to organise or finance a further 32 events. EC ministerial meetings in the UK, including the European Council, are being funded from the FCO presidency budget of £9.8 million.

Mr. Hain : To ask the Prime Minister how many events in the calendar of special events for the United Kingdom presidency of the European Community are taking place in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The presidency programme booklet includes two events in Wales, the informal meeting of EC Employment and Social Affairs Ministers in Chepstow and the presidency concert at the Llangollen international eisteddfod. Further events in Wales are planned but not yet confirmed.

In addition, the European arts festival includes 58 events in Wales and Beacon Europe will take place throughout the United Kingdom.


Death Penalty

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to abolish the death penalty for those offences for which it remains in force in England and Wales.

The Prime Minister : The abolition of the death penalty is a matter which only Parliament can decide, each Member of Parliament voting according to his or her conscience. The Government have to abide by the decision of the House of Commons, which voted against the abolition of the death penalty during the last debate on capital punishment in December 1990.


Child Health

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister what steps he has taken, or will be taking, to promote as a priority the plan of action for survival, protection and development of children, agreed by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Harare in 1991, for improving child health in Commonwealth countries in the present decade; what information he has received from other Commonwealth countries in regard to implementing the plan of action; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I presume that the right hon. Member is referring to the plan of action adopted by the World Summit for Children in 1990.

In response to the summit's call for national plans of action, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in conjunction with other Departments, has compiled a report, which was presented to the UNICEF secretariat at the end of February, outlining our policies for children in this country and the work of the United Kingdom's aid programme of particular relevance to women and children in the third world. The report examines problem areas which persist in developed, industrialised societies and explains what measures the Government are taking to alleviate them in this country; and it reviews those areas of the United Kingdom's aid programme such as primary health care, water and sanitation, and education which are of greatest direct impact on women and children in the developing countries. We plan to publish the report as a Command Paper before the end of the month.

We understand that Commonwealth states are at various stages of preparation in work on their national reports.


Nuclear Testing

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had with the United States Administration during his recent visit to Washington about the resumption of nuclear testing by the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister : I had discussions on a range of matters with President Bush and other members of the US Administration. The Government's position on nuclear testing remains as I stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) on 12 May at column 90.


Libya

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his discussions with the French Government about United Nations sanctions against Libya.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : We have co -operated closely with France on this issue. Sanctions will remain in force until Libya has complied in full with UN Security Council resoluton 731, including handing over the Lockerbie suspects for trial in Scotland or the United States and meeting French demands over the UTA bombing.


Treaty of Rome

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the privileges of British troops serving in other EC countries when the proposed article 8 of the treaty of Rome comes into force.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The privileges enjoyed by British troops serving in other EC countries are a matter for the Government and the Government of the member state concerned. Bilateral and multilateral arrangements apply. This provision will not be affected by the entry into force of the proposed new article 8 of the treaty of Rome.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the diplomatic and other privileges of the European Commission and its employees when the proposed revised article 8 of the treaty of Rome enters into force.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The privileges and immunities of members of the Commission staff are governed by the protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities 1965, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. These privileges and immunities are not altered by the proposed new article 8 of the treaty of Rome.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will equalise the tax treatment of United Kingdom and other EC nationals when the proposed article 8b of the treaty of Rome on the right to vote in municipal elections takes effect.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The provisions concerning the right to vote in municipal elections have no implications for the basis of tax liability in this country, which will continue to be primarily determined by the residence status and domicile of each individual.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the diplomatic and other privileges of national representatives working in other member states when the proposed article 8 of the treaty of Rome enters into force.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : Such privileges are a matter for agreement between the Governments of the member states concerned and relevant multilateral agreements. None of the existing arrangements will be affected by the entry into force of the proposed new article 8 of the treaty of Rome.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government's reasons for agreeing to dual citizenship of nationals of the United Kingdom under the proposed article 8 of the treaty of Rome.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The proposed new article 8 of the treaty of Rome would confer upon EC nationals limited additional rights, as citizens of the union, defined in the articles which follows. The Government consider that all these rights would confer worthwhile benefit upon United Kingdom citizens. The addition of further rights would require unanimity and national ratification.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister how he proposes to define the purposes of the proposed articles 8a and 8b of the treaty of Rome; and what legislative or other proposals he has to enable electoral registration officers to know whether a national of another member state is a resident for the purpose of these articles.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The proposed article 8A of the treaty of Rome to be added by the treaty on European union in itself establishes no new rights. Unanimity is required in the Council for any measures to facilitate the exercise of these existing rights or to expand them. No such proposals have been suggested. Proposed article 8b of the treaty of Rome makes it clear that the rights to vote and stand in municipal elections described therein should be exercised under the same conditions as enjoyed by nationals of the member state in question. In the United Kingdom registration on the electoral roll is sufficient proof of resident status for the purpose of voting and standing in elections.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has to revise the oath of allegiance to give effect to the proposed article 8 of the treaty of Rome.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : None. The concept of citizenship of the union confers an additional status on British citizens, and does not replace British citizenship or affect allegiance to the Crown.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister to which Department he proposes to transfer responsibility for relationships with the European Community if the proposed article 8 of the treaty of Rome enters into force.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The Government have no such plans.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister what consideration he gave to proposing that the new article 3b of the treaty of Rome should be given retrospective effect.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The proposed article 3b of the treaty of Rome will have effect only when the treaty on European union enters into force. All Community institutions, including the European Court of Justice, will then be under a binding obligation to respect the principle of subsidiarity which it contains. There is, however, nothing to prevent the institutions operating in this way voluntarily, in advance of article 3b coming into effect. As presidency of the Community, the United Kingdom will encourage them to do so. There is evidence that the Commission is already doing this.


European Monetary System

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister what is the legal basis for the European monetary system; and whether its status will be changed if the Maastricht treaty takes effect.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The European monetary system is established by a resolution of the European Council. Its legal status will not be changed if the treaty on European union agreed at Maastricht takes effect.


EC Citizenship

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the level of public support for the creation of Community citizenship by the Maastricht treaty.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 June 1992] : The Maastricht treaty as a whole is a good agreement for Britain, and has been commended by Parliament. The establishment of the concept of citizenship of the union will be helpful in ensuring that the position of individual citizens within the Community is respected and enhanced, in the areas in question--limited voting rights and consular protection.