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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 15th July 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 15th July 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Building Societies

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Prime Minister, if Ministers, at the time of the 1985 Budget, intended to lay regulations to create liability for tax relating to a year for which building societies composite rate tax liability had been fully discharged; what estimate of the money involved was available to Ministers at the time; and what, and when, an estimate was first made available to Parliament.

The Prime Minister : The 1985 Budget day press release announced that there would be transitional provisions to deal with the changeover for building societies from an annual to a quarterly accounting system in line with that for the banks.

The announcement followed confidential discussions with building society representatives during which Ministers made it clear that the provisions would cover payments between the end of societies' accounting periods in 1985-86 and 5 April 1986 that would otherwise fall out of account.

No estimate was made at the time of tax on interest accruing between the end of societies' accounting periods ending in 1985-86 and paid before the end of that tax year. No estimate covering all societies has subsequently been made available to Parliament. For societies other than the Woolwich Equitable, I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him by the Economic Secretary on 21 June at column 341.


Additionality

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements exist for co-ordination between the Treasury, the Department of the Environment, the Scottish Office and the Welsh Office, on the question of additionality in respect of RECHAR funding from the European Community; and which Minister has the lead responsibility for policy regarding additionality.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has lead responsibility for all matters concerning the European Community structural funds.


Former Prime Ministers

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 27 March, Official Report, column 428, whether income arising from a former Prime Minister's special position in public life was taken into account in assessing their eligibility for the allowance to former Prime Ministers for the additional costs which they are liable to incur from their special position in public life.

The Prime Minister : No. The full amount of the allowance is available to all former Prime Ministers.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 27 March, Official Report, column 428, what is the former Prime Ministers' total annual allowance; whether it includes travel expenses (a) within the United Kingdom and (b) abroad; and if he will make a statement on the restrictions on the use of money under the scheme.

The Prime Minister : The maximum amount of the allowance available to former Prime Ministers during 1991-92 is £28,986 plus £2,899 for secretaries' pension contributions. Former Prime Ministers may draw on the allowance to offset the secretarial and other office expenses they incur because of their special position in public life, but not the cost of their travel either in the United Kingdom or abroad.


Mar Lodge

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will set up an interdepartmental working group to consider the future of Mar lodge.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has already established the Cairngorms working party to present options for the integrated management of the Cairngorms as a whole. Mar lodge estate is central to the area under consideration. The relevant Government Departments and agencies are represented on, or act as technical assessors to, the working party.

I understand, moreover, that the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and the Countryside Commission for Scotland are giving consideration to the future management of the natural heritage interest on the estate.


Cairns Group

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the communique issued following the meeting of Cairns group of ministers in Manaus, Brazil, on 9 July; if there is any action he will be taking; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The communique rightly points to the need to bring the Uruguay round of trade negotiations to an early conclusion, and the crucial importance of agreement on agriculture in order to do so. As the communique says, the need now is to move from technical discussions to decisions on the framework within which agricultural support and protection are to be reduced. I hope that the London economic summit this week will give a strong push to the Uruguay round, and that Heads of Government will remain personally involved, with the aim of reaching a successful conclusion this year.