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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 11th November 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 11th November 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Irish Republic (Legislation)

Mr. Stanbrook : To ask the Prime Minister in how many cases proceedings in the Irish Republic under their Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 have been requested by United Kingdom prosecuting authorities since 1976; in how many cases proceedings in the United Kingdom under the Criminal Jurisdiction Act 1975 have been requested by prosecuting authorities in the Irish Republic since 1975; and if he will make a statement on this reciprocal legislation.

The Prime Minister : Since 1976 there have been 32 applications by the United Kingdom prosecuting authorities for proceedings in the republic under the 1976 Act. There have been no applications from the prosecuting authorities in the republic under the 1975 Act, but 18 persons have been prosecuted in the United Kingdom under that Act for offences allegedly committed in the republic.


Voice

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his reply to a letter to him from "Voice" dated 11 October.

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


Political Advisers

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his reply of 5 November columns 42-43 about political advisers to Ministers, whether any of the individuals work for Ministers of lower rank than Secretary of State or equivalent.

The Prime Minister : Yes. Six do so.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his reply of 5 November columns 42-43 about political advisers, whether there is any limit on the number of political advisers who can be appointed by individual Ministers.

The Prime Minister : My approval is required for the appointment of all special advisers.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his reply of 5 November, columns 42-3, about political advisers to Ministers, if he will list the names of the individuals concerned.

The Prime Minister : The names of the special advisers (political) currently serving are as follows :

Mr. K. Adams

Mr. L. Anisfield

Mr. E. Bickham

Mr. G. Black

Ms. A. Broom

Ms. L. Campey

Mr. T. Collins

Mr. M. Fraser

Mr. J. R. M. Gardner

Mr. C. M. Grantham

Mr. H. Harris-Hughes

Mr. J. Hill

Mrs. S. Hogg

Ms. S. Hole

Mr. A. Kemp (part-time)

Mr. T. Kerpel

Mrs. T. Keswick

Mrs. E. Laing

Mr. W. Lightfoot

Mr. R. Marsh

Mr. J. Mayhew

Ms. S. McEwen

Mr. P. Miller

Mr. P. Moman

Mrs. K. Ramsay (part-time)

Dr. W. Robinson

Mr. A. Rosling

Mr. A. Ross-Goobey

Mr. D. Ruffley

Mr. I. Stewart

Lady Strathnaver

Mr. N. True

Miss B. Wallis (part-time)

Mr. A. Young


Civil Service (Sexual Harassment)

Mr. Cox : To ask the Prime Minister if he will develop a female contact point in the civil service management structure where women can seek guidance when suffering from sexual harassment.

The Prime Minister : The civil service is committed to providing a working environment which is free of harassment for all staff. Departments and agencies are advised to ensure that women who feel that they have been subjected to sexual harassment are able to go to a woman officer for advice and support in dealing with the problem. In many departments and agencies there are specially designated women officers to contact in case of sexual harassment. Specific training is available for those dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.


Single Parents

Mr. Battle : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all Government policy initiatives taken since 1987 which aim to assist single parents.

The Prime Minister : The information is set out in the table.

Policy initiatives taken since 1987 to assist lone parents                                                                                            

Department / Date                                       |Policy initiative                                                                                  

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Employment (September 1988)                                        |  Lone parents who have been in receipt of Income Support for at least 26 weeks may enter Employment Training even if they do not meet the usual eligibility criteria.

Health (Since 1987)                                            |  The National Council for One Parent Families and Gingerbread have received over £1 million in core grants.

Health (Since 1987-88)                                   |  Gingerbread has received a total of £90,000 for its local groups from the Department’s under fives small grants scheme.

Health (Early 1988)                                        | Over £1 million of the RPI error monies was spent by 10 voluntary organisations on many different projects for lone parents.

Health (Since 1989-90)                                 | The second Under Fives Initiative includes 4 local projects, costing in all over £300,000, to help understand better the effect of childcare services on the economic circumstances of lone parents.

Home Office                                       |  In the Maintenance Enforcement Act 1991                                                          

1991                                            |the Government has given courts additional                                                         

                                                |powers to enforce the payment of maintenance

                                                  |which will help to ensure that single                                                       

                                                  |parents receive the monies to which they are                                                       

                                                  |entitled. The Act will be implemented in                                                           

                                                  |spring 1992.                                                                                       

Lord Chancellor's                                 |  Single Parents can benefit from the new                                                          

1989                                            |orders provided under the Children Act 1989.                                                       

                                                |One of the Act's main principles is that                                                           

                                                |parents should, wherever possible, come to an                                                      

                                                |agreement about the future of their children                                                       

                                                |without the intervention of the court.                                                             

                                                |  The Act also gives unmarried fathers the                                                         

                                                |chance to apply for formal parental responsibility

                                                |for their children.                                                                       

Social Security                                   |  The structure of personal allowances in                                                          

April 1988                                      |Income Support provide that all lone parents                                                       

                                                |aged 18 or over receive the full adult rate of                                                     

                                                |benefit, normally only available from age 25.                                                      

                                                |  The Income Support lone parent premium                                                           

                                                |is paid on top of the family premium to those                                                      

                                                |lone parents who do not qualify for another                                                        

                                                |type of premium.                                                                                   

                                                |  Income Support earnings disregard is £15 a                                                     

                                                |week for lone parents, compared with a £5                                                        

                                                |disregard for most single people.                                                                  

                                                |  Family Credit introduced: a much more                                                            

                                                |generous scheme for all low income families                                                        

                                                |than the Family Income Supplement scheme.                                                          

                                                  |  In Family Credit lone parents get the same                                                       

                                                  |adult credit as two parent families.                                                               

                                                  |  One Parent Benefit is ignored when                                                               

                                                  |calculating entitlement to Family Credit.                                                          

                                                 |  Higher levels of lone parent premium in                                                          

                                                 |Housing Benefit and Community Charge                                                               

                                                 |Benefit.                                                                                           

                                                 |  Housing Benefit and Community Charge                                                             

                                                |Benefit rules for lone parents generally                                                           

                                                 |aligned with those in Income Support.                                                              

 October 1989                                    |  Lone parents under 18 who have to live                                                           

                                                 |away from home entitled to the over 18 rate                                                        

                                                 |of Income Support personal allowance.                                                              

 April 1990                                      |  Lone parent premium in Housing Benefit                                                           

                                                 |and Community Charge Benefit increased.                                                            

October 1990                                    |  Earnings disregard for those lone parents                                                        

                                                |not on Income Support but receiving                                                                

                                                |Housing Benefit or Community Charge                                                                

                                                |Benefit increased from £15 to £25 a week.                                                      

Planned for April 1992                          |  Reduction in qualifying hours rule in                                                            

                                                |Family Credit from 24 to 16 hours a week.                                                          

                                                |Corresponding change in Income Support.                                                            

                                                |  Introduction of £15 maintenance disregard                                                      

                                                |in Family Credit, Disability Working                                                               

                                                |Allowance, Housing Benefit and Community                                                           

                                                |Charge Benefit.                                                                                    

                                                |  Child Support Unit Becomes operational                                                           

                                              |and takes on existing liable relative work in                                                      

                                                |preparation for the establishment of the Child                                                     

                                                |Support Agency.                                                                                    

Planned for                                     |  Child Support Agency becomes operation-                                                          

Spring 1993                                   |al. The Agency will trace absent parents,                                                          

                                                  |assess, collect and review child maintenance,                                                      

                                                 |and ensure that payments are made regularly.                                                       

Welsh Office                                      |  Gingerbread is helped through the Support                                                        

                                           |for Child and Family Services' grant scheme.                                                       

1991-92                                         |  A total of £24,440 has been awarded to                                                         

                                            |Gingerbread to meet part of the costs of their                                                     

                                             |Swansea office and of a development officer in                                                     

                                             |North Wales.                                                                                       


Disabled People

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make the European Community's policy for disabled people one of his priorities at the Maastricht summit.

The Prime Minister : We believe that existing provisions for disabled people at the European level are satisfactory. In addition, a number of new proposals relating to disabled people are under consideration.


London Government

Mr. Tracey : To ask the Prime Minister how many representations he has received calling for a directly elected council for the London conurbation; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : As far as I am aware none, although my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has received a dozen or so, mostly in response to consultation on the review of local government outside London and the metropolitan counties. I am aware that the main opposition parties and the Association of London Authorities want to recreate a Greater London council in all but name. I have no plans for changing the basic structure of local government in London.


Child Benefit

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy not to allow names and addresses of child benefit claimants to be sold or passed on outside the Department of Social Security.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 8 November 1991] : It is Government policy that all personal information, including names and addresses, held in social security records should be regarded as confidential and should not normally be disclosed to a third party without the consent of the person concerned. Information may normally be disclosed without consent to assist the police in the investigation of a serious crime; to meet the welfare needs of the individual concerned; to meet statutory requirements, for example, to other Government Departments or organisations which act as agents of the DSS in paying benefit; and to prevent the duplication of payments from public funds. We have no plans to change this policy.


Executive Agencies

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what changes have been made in the arrangements regarding the sending of letters from chief executives of executive agencies to hon. Members in response to parliamentary questions when the House is not sitting.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 8 November 1991] : The aim of the arrangements for chief executives to write direct to hon. Members is to ensure that the replies are full, prompt and as helpful as possible. It is for individual Ministers to determine how they will achieve this, including when the House is not sitting.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list each Department and each executive agency which employs its target quota of people with disabilities.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 8 November 1991] : All departments and agencies work to increase opportunities for people with disabilities, whether registered or unregistered, under a civil service code of practice on the employment of people with disabilities. The civil service compares favourably with the private sector and in 1990 six departments and agencies exceeded a 3 per cent. level of staff registered as disabled. The Government will continue to seek to ensure that disabled people have opportunities for employment in departments and agencies which are at least as good as those of able bodied people.


Offensive Odours (Cardiff)

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Prime Minister what consultations he has had concerning the Butetown main foul sewer and offensive odours in the area of the Cardiff bay pierhead broadwalk.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 8 November 1991] : During my visit to Cardiff bay on 20 September the problem was raised by local residents.