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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 29th November 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 29th November 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Classless Society

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list those measures brought in since December 1990 which are aimed at bringing about a classless society.

The Prime Minister : Government policies are designed to improve society by the removal of barriers to choice and by the provision of opportunity.

A key element in our approach is the citizens charter, which is intended to ensure that everyone, whoever and wherever they are, will have access to the same high-quality public services. This approach is reflected in our legislative programme and other measures that we are taking.

Our education policies will raise standards and improve parental choice. We have introduced legislation to provide parents with more information about the performance of schools; to improve school inspection; to widen access to an expanded higher education system ; to abolish the distinction between universities and polytechnics; and to raise the status of vocational education and of further education colleges.

Our health policies are designed to achieve a more efficient health service with higher quality of health care for all, underpinned by a new approach of setting targets for the improvement of health in key areas, as proposed in the recent consultative document "The Health of the Nation" and its Scottish and Welsh equivalents. Legislation has been introduced this Session aimed at improving the standards of local government services with increased powers for local authority auditors and provision to extend competition to a wider range of services.

In the housing field we have introduced pilot rent-to-mortgage schemes to extend tenants' present opportunities to buy their own homes. We are preparing a revised tenants charter for local authority tenants and a new right to repair. We have brought in new arrangements to ensure that tenants are actively consulted in local authorities' housing plans.

We are providing more effective training opportunities and better help for the unemployed in obtaining new jobs. Our policies continue to provide strong support for people in the inner cities, and the new initiative of city challenge announced earlier this year gives the whole community an opportunity to bring imaginative and innovative approaches to regenerating their cities.

We attach particular significance to support for families through the provision of increased child benefit, and the establishment of the Child Support Agency, for which legislation was introduced and enacted earlier this year, to improve the enforcement and collection of child maintenance. We are continuing to improve the opportunities for disabled people to play an independent part in society. This year we enacted legislation to introduce two new social security benefits for disabled people.

We have taken steps, through support of Opportunity 2000 and in other ways, to increase opportunities for women and people from the ethnic minorities to play their full part in public and national life.

These policies, and many others, will contribute to the development of a society with fewer divisions, in which talent and initiatives are rewarded.


Members' Letters

Mr. Onslow : To ask the Prime Minister what is his normal practice for dealing with mail addressed to him by right hon. and hon. Members; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I receive an enormous number of letters every week--currently some 5,000--from Members of Parliament and others. It is not possible for me to deal with all these letters personally and I must accordingly refer most of them to the Minister and the Department with the responsibility for the policy in question.