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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 25th March 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 25th March 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Kashmir

Mr. Summerson : To ask the Prime Minister if Her Majesty's Government will urge the United Nations to implement its resolutions that the people of Kashmir should be given the right of self-determination.

The Prime Minister : United Nations resolutions on Kashmir over 40 years ago were concerned with the accession to India or Pakistan of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Government consider that any proposal to resolve the continuing dispute over the status of Kashmir needs to take account of subsequent developments, and to be mutually agreed between the Governments of India and Pakistan.


President Gorbachev

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Prime Minister what matters were discussed at his meeting with President Gorbachev.

The Prime Minister : The main subjects we discussed were the middle east, arms control, the Baltic states, the progress of political and economic reform in the Soviet Union and bilateral relations.


Kuwait

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Prime Minister if he will consult the United Kingdom Institute of Waste Management on the methods of reclamation of building rubble for the reconstruction of Kuwait.

The Prime Minister : The institute would be advised to register with the Department of Trade and Industry's Kuwait reconstruction database so that United Kingdom expertise in this field can be made available to the Kuwaiti authorities.


Nuclear and Chemical Weapons

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 14 March, Official Report, column 1094, to the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), if he will list in the Official Report those forums and institutions at which he intends to take up the matter of the export of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office gave to the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) on 6 March 1991.


Moscow

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Prime Minister which organisations he met during his recent visit to Moscow.

The Prime Minister : During my visit to the Soviet Union I held meetings with President Gorbachev, Prime Minister Pavlov, Defence Minister Yazov and representatives of the armed forces, representatives of the Baltic states, and leading liberals.


Child benefit

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister further to his oral answer of 7 March, Official Report, column 456, if he will make a further statement on the uprating of child benefit.

The Prime Minister : I welcome the uprating of child benefit announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement on 19 March 1991.


Research and Development

Dr. Bray : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his answer of 12 March, Official Report, column 472, what is the estimate of total Government expenditure on research and development in enterprises with fewer than 200 employees; and what proportion of it is estimated to be for defence purposes.

The Prime Minister : The 1989 survey of expenditure and employment on research and development (R and D) in United Kingdom industry was largely restricted to enterprises with 200 or more employees. A provisional estimate for civil and defence research and development expenditure in enterprises with fewer than 200 employees has been made of £255 million. Details are given in the notes of the Central Statistical Office's "Business Bulletin" issue 14/91, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

The nearest grouping for which firm data, disaggregated into civil and defence R and D, exists is that with 200 to 499 employees for which the proportion of expenditure for defence purposes is 2.4 per cent.


President Bush

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the matters discussed during his meeting with President Bush in Bermuda on 16 March.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 21 March at column 193.


Prime Minister, Tuvalu

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu during his visit to London on 19 March.

The Prime Minister : No.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what response he is making to the request for assistance in the establishment of a South Pacific disaster relief programme to respond to natural catastrophes, set out by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu.

The Prime Minister : This issue was not raised by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu when he saw the Minister for Overseas Development on 18 March. However, we are always ready to respond to the need for disaster relief assistance whether in the Pacific or elsewhere.


Gulf War

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what information he has concerning the extent of damage to sewerage systems, water purification plants, hospitals and medical centres in (a) Iraq and (b) Kuwait arising from military action in the Gulf war; and what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to provide humanitarian aid to each country to alleviate hardship and disease caused by military action.

The Prime Minister : The United Nations Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on 21 March on Under Secretary-General Ahtisaari's findings following his mission to Iraq.

Ahtisaari reported that sewage systems, water purification plants, hospitals and medical centres are largely undamaged but are not functioning fully due to a lack of electricity and fuel. The United Nations sanctions committee is considering how to respond urgently. Although Kuwait suffered widespread damage and sabotage to its infrastructure as a result of the Iraqi invasion and occupation, the Government of Kuwait have already started to organise repairs and have made arrangements to provide purified drinking water. Medical facilities were relatively undamaged and are continuing to operate. The United Kingdom supports the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations relief agencies in Iraq and Kuwait. This year we have already given £2.5 million to the ICRC's Gulf appeal (the largest single cash donation) and US$1 million to the United Nations appeal co-ordinated by United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation. In addition, the EC Commission has given £8.75 million to support the relief activities in the Gulf region. The share of this attributable to the United Kingdom's aid budget is £1.75 million.

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what initiatives have been taken by Her Majesty's Government's representatives to (a) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (b) the United Nations environment programme, (c) the International Atomic Energy Agency, (d) the International Energy Agency, (e) the World Health Organisation, (f) the International Labour Organisation, (g) the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, (h) the European Commission and (i) the United Nations, respectively, to alleviate hardship caused to civilians in Iraq and Kuwait caused by the Gulf war.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 March 1991] : The International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations relief agencies are the main international organisations providing assistance to civilians in Iraq and Kuwait. A multi-agency UN mission has just returned from Iraq where it has assessed the needs of the civilian population and will shortly be visiting Kuwait. Representatives of British non- governmental organisations, Oxfam and Save the Children Fund, just back from Baghdad, are also planning relief activities. UNEP is helping to tackle the effects of oil pollution in the Gulf. The EC Commission has given £8.75 million to support relief activities in the Gulf region. The share of this attributable to the United Kingdom's aid budget is £1.75 million.

We are not aware that the other organisations mentioned are currently providing assistance to civilians in Iraq and Kuwait.

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what communications he has had with the director of the World Health Organisation concerning disease and epidemics in Iraqi cities arising from destruction of sewage and water purification plants, and electricity generating stations, by allied bombing in the Gulf war.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 March 1991] : We are in close touch with United Nations agencies including the World Health Organisation and the International Committee of the Red Cross about requirements for humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) of 12 March, Official Report, column 472, he will make it his policy to make a one-off extra donation to the United Nations children's organisation, UNICEF, from the United Kingdom to help children in Iraq suffering as a result of the destruction of the economic infrastructure in Iraq from allied bombings.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 March 1991] : A multi-agency United Nations mission has recently been in Iraq to assess humanitarian needs. It will make recommendations to the Secretary-General on emergency actions the United Nations might take. In the light of the mission's report we will consider what response to make to any appeal for funding launched by the Secretary-General, including what would be the most appropriate channel.


Middle East

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the United States Government on the prospective role of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in a peace settlement in the middle east.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 March 1991] : We are in regular contact with the United States Administration on all aspects of the Arab/Israel dispute, including the position of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The PLO has done little to enhance its role in recent months.


Iraq

Mr. Nellist : To ask the Prime Minister if he will obtain for 10 Downing Street library a copy of the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation report on trade with Iraq; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 March 1991] : No.


Food Chain

Mr. Speller : To ask the Prime Minister if he will establish a single department of state to supervise matters relating to the food chain from farm to plate.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 21 March 1991] : No. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food already performs this function, sharing responsibility for food safety with the Department of Health.