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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 6th March 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th March 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Northern Region

Mr. Devlin: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government's achievements in the northern region since 1979.

The Prime Minister: The Government have had many achievements in the northern region since 1979 as our policies have created a favourable economic climate for growth. During this period the region has undergone the biggest transformation since the 19th century with the emergence of a new and diverse industrial base. Pharmaceutical, food processing, clothing, light engineering, electronics and car manufacture have replaced traditional industries. In the area covered by the Government office for the north-east this change has come about through a range of measures:

the attraction of £3 billion overseas investment since 1985, the most notable successes of which were Nissan and Samsung and a further £1.3 billion private sector investment into the areas covered by the Tyne and Wear and Teesside Development Corporations since 1987, creating and safeguarding over 30,000 jobs;

over 5,500 hectares of derelict land reclaimed, including over 700 by the Urban Development Corporations in Tyne and Wear and on Teesside;

in partnership with other organisations, the region's Training and Enterprise Councils have successfully developed innovative solutions to the training and enterprise needs of their areas including the establishment of a business Innovation Centre in Sunderland and a management training and higher education facility in Northumberland. TEC's in the region have also piloted a number of new initiatives: Open Learning Credits, Youth Credits, Adult Credits, the Out of School Childcare Grant, Workstart and Skillchoice.;

assisting over 26,000 unemployed people to start their own businesses since 1987 through the Businesses Start Up Scheme run by Training and Enterprise Councils;

820,000 people placed in jobs by the Employment Service since 1986;

unemployment has fallen by 16,100 or nearly 10 per cent. since the national peak in December 1992;

a substantial number of homes built and improved;

over 4,000 jobs created, 5,000 jobs preserved and 550 new businesses assisted by the South Tyneside and Stockton and Thornaby Task Force; and,

an increase in the numbers of young people staying in full-time education after reaching school leaving age. 12.4 per cent of those leaving schools in the region in 1992 93 intended to pursue a Degree course.

The region also piloted the development of job clubs, now a successful national programme and expects to become the first to have contracted out careers services and to have facilitated a comprehensive network of Business Links.


Internet

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the Internet E- mail numbers of all Government Ministers.

The Prime Minister: It is a matter for individual Ministers to decide whether to make public their Internet electronic mail addresses. The two Ministers with responsibility for use of the Internet are the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science and the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whose E-mail addresses are publicly available.


Government Policy

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister what role the Cabinet plays in the formulation of (a) economic policy, (b) monetary policy and (c) policy on a single European currency.

The Prime Minister: The Cabinet is the ultimate arbitrator of all aspects of Government policy.


Social Development Summit

Ms Corston: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 27 February, Official Report, column 412, if the Minister for Overseas Development, in representing him at the Heads of State world summit for social development in Copenhagen, is responsible for negotiating those aspects of the draft declaration and action programme covering national action within the United Kingdom to reduce inequality and poverty and promote full employment and social integration.

The Prime Minister: My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development will represent me at the high level segment of the summit on 11-12 March. My right hon. and noble Friend will make a statement setting out the United Kingdom perspective on the issues covered by the summit.

Ms Corston: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 27 February, Official Report, column 412, if he will publish briefs which have been prepared by his Government for discussion at the world summit for social development about social development and anti-poverty measures taken and proposed to be taken in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister: There are no plans to do so. It is not usual to publish briefing provided by officials to Ministers. The speeches of my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State for Overseas Development will be published, and copies will be placed in the Library.


Lockerbie

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has which would allow Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America to resolve the Lockerbie affair other than by way of instituting criminal proceeding in Scotland or the United States of America; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The Lockerbie bombing was a crime committed against a United States aircraft over Scotland. It has been investigated from Scotland with the co-operation of the United States authorities. The trial of those accused of this terrible crime must take place in Scotland or the United States. This has been confirmed by the UN Security Council.

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Clinton the role in Beirut in 1988 of Ron Carviene, Bill Leyene and Dan O'Connor, under the command of Matthew Gannon and Charles McKee.

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had when he last met President Clinton on the subject of the setting up of an international court to try those persons alleged to have perpetrated the murders of the passengers and crew members of Pan Am flight 103 and residents of Lockerbie in December 1988; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: None.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the memorandum for No. 10 Downing Street in 1989 adducing the reasons why Her Majesty's Government would not allow the public inquiry into the Lockerbie crime; and at what level the decision on the public inquiry was taken.

The Prime Minister: It is not usual practice to place internal Government correspondence in the Library. I have nothing further to add to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Linlithgow on 10 January, Official Report, column 20.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his letter of 30 August 1994 to the hon. Member for Linlithgow what examination has taken place of the Toshiba and Helsinki warnings in relation to Lockerbie since the fatal accident inquiry.

The Prime Minister: The fatal accident inquiry, which took place 22 months after the disaster, examined both warnings in some detail. In his determination, the Sheriff Principal concluded that the so-called Toshiba warning was not relevant to the circumstances of the deaths and that the so-called Helsinki warning lacked credibility. It has therefore not been considered necessary to conduct further examinations into these.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what representations Her Majesty's Government have had from the German Government about their interrogation of Edwin Bolliers's Statsi control and the sale of timing devices to the Statsi.

The Prime Minister: None.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss the implications with President Clinton of the FBI briefing paper regarding Iranian links and baggage being unloaded on Air Malta 180 destination Frankfurt airport.

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if British authorities have interviewed Marwin Khreesat, a bomb maker, briefly detained and then released in Neuss, Germany;

(2) if he will put the transcript of the interview with Mr. Ghandanfar and Mr. Dalkamouni in the Library.

The Prime Minister: As the hon. Gentleman well knows, it would be wrong to reveal details of the evidence in a criminal case while proceedings are pending.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will ask Chancellor Kohl the reasons why in October 1988 the Verfassungschutz released certain Palestinians and their bomb-making equipment.

The Prime Minister: The release of detainees from German prisons is a matter entirely for the German authorities.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with Chancellor Kohl the prima facie evidence that a German-based terrorist organisation used its knowledge of a covert United States drugs operation to switch an unaccompanied bag containing drugs with an identical bag containing a bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103.

The Prime Minister: The allegation has been examined. No evidence has been found to support it.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from Lockerbie victims' families regarding information conveyed to them by members of the United States commission about the extent of the information available to United States and United Kingdom Governments and the probability of its publication; what elements of the United States commission's findings support the families' version; and if he will place in the Library the United Kingdom responses to these findings.

The Prime Minister: I have recently received a letter from the family of a Lockerbie victim which referred to the United States President's commission on aviation security and terrorism. A copy of the commission's report, dated May 1990 will be placed in the Library.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty's Government has made of the role of Khaled Jaafar, a Lebanese victim of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Prime Minister: The fatal accident inquiry in 1990-91 considered allegations of involvement of Khaled Jaafar in the bombing. In his determination, the sheriff principal concluded that there was no connection between Mr. Jaafar and the suitcase which contained the bomb.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister on what evidence British officials publicly dismissed a document of the United States Air Force, air intelligence unit, asserting that Ali Akbar Mostashemi, former Iranian Interior Minister, paid $10 million to terrorist gangs to carry out the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, as based on dud intelligence.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Gentleman on 26 January, Official Report , columns 299-300.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of American reports about the destruction of Pan Am 103, based on reports from defecting Iranian pilots.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Gentleman on 26 January, Official Report, columns 299-300

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his letter to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 25 January, what strategy, other than demanding a trial of Libyan suspects, Her Majesty's Government have for obtaining justice for all the victims of the crime of Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister: The Lockerbie investigation has been the most exhaustive ever undertaken in this country. It remains open but has to date uncovered evidence to support charges against the two Libyans accused. Our demands, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council have been for the surrender of the accused for trial in the United States or Scotland, the satisfaction of French justice over the bombing of UTA 772, the payment of appropriate compensation and concrete proof from Libya that it has renounced terrorism. I can see no other means of meeting the legitimate demands for justice than by trial of the persons alleged to be responsible before a criminal court properly exercising jurisdiction in respect of these matters.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government were informed on or about 19 December 1988 of the travel plans of Major Charles McKee by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Cyprus.

The Prime Minister: No. I understand Major McKee was not an employee of the DEA.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to his answer on 14 February, Official Report, column 571, he will identify the partners to whom he referred in relation to discussions about Lockerbie and UTH 772.

The Prime Minister: The United States, France, other EU states and other friendly countries. We work most closely with the United States and France, the other states most seriously affected by the Lockerbie and UTA bombings. The Lockerbie issue is raised in bilateral contacts with a wide range of countries.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what information came to Her Majesty's Government about approaches by members of the Juafar family offering precise testimony about Hezbollah and Achmed Tibril and their role in using a member of the Juafar family to get a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103.

The Prime Minister: No such approaches have been received.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what reports the United Kingdom and the United States authorities in Cyprus received from Mr. David Lovejoy, an employee of the United States Government directly or through other sources on the movements of the United States hostage rescue team, including Matthew Gannon and Major Charles McKee subsequently killed at Lockerbie, before the destruction of Pan Am 103; and if he will discuss with President Clinton the reasons why these reports were sought.

The Prime Minister: The British authorities in Cyprus neither sought nor received any such reports.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his Private Secretary, Mr. Edward Oakden's letter of 18 January to the relatives of the Lockerbie victims, if he will bring forward proposals whereby fatal accident inquiry presiding judges can have access to intelligence information.

The Prime Minister: Section 4(3) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths (Scotland) Act 1976 requires that, subject to an exception relating to the reporting of matters affecting persons under the age of 17, any fatal accident inquiry shall be open to the public. There are no proposals to amend that provision.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if pursuant to his letter to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 15 February on Lockerbie, if he will list the witnesses interviewed by the German authorities at the request of, or in consultation with, the Scottish authorities and on what dates; and on what occasions Scottish officers were present, assisting at interviews.

The Prime Minister: Disclosure of the fact the Messrs Ghadanfar and Dalkamouni were interviewed was an exceptional step taken only because of the unwarranted criticisms which had been, and were continuing to be, made of the German authorities and the Scottish police. It would not be appropriate to go beyond this by discussing details of confidential communications between the Scottish police and prosecuting authorities and their counterparts in Germany, or indeed in any other country.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow on 26 January, Official Report, column 300, in what month of what year allegations were first made to the effect that Ali Akbar Mostashemi had paid $10 million to have the Lockerbie bombing carried out; who were the competent authorities to whom the Prime Minister refers; and how much of the alleged contradicting material came from Abdul Meged Jiacha.

The Prime Minister: This allegation first appeared in the British press in September 1989. I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 26 January, Official Report, column 299-300.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Clinton the statement of Mr. Vincent Cannistraro, head of the CIA counter-terrorism operations until 1990, that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine general command was implicated in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and had been planning other operations against United States and Israeli targets when some of its members' squad were arrested in Frankfurt and that the operation had been bankrolled by Iranians.

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Clinton the posting of warnings about Pan Am flight 103 on United States embassy bulletin boards, and the subsequent United States directive requiring imprisonment of officials, should they discuss warnings with family, friends, and colleagues in the absence of a public warning.

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.


European Courts

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had with the leaders of the other member states of the European Union, on the modification of structure, membership and functions of (a) the European Court of Auditors, (b) the European court of first instance, and (c) the European Court of Justice; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: We did not discuss these issues at the last European Council meeting in Essen, but, as I said in my December statement to the House, we did emphasise that, in the interests of combating fraud and waste, the Council must ensure that the Court of Auditors' reports are rigorously scrutinised and followed up.


Scott Inquiry

Mr. Bermingham: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to assist the speedy conclusion of the Scott inquiry and to ensure that the report is published before 1 May.

The Prime Minister: As I said when I announced the terms of reference for the inquiry on 16 November 1992, Official Report, columns 74- 75, Lord Justice Scott will be entirely free to decide on the publication of his report. The inquiry will report to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. The Government continue to give Sir Richard Scott's inquiry the fullest possible co-operation.


Disabled People

Mr. McMaster: To ask the Prime Minister what is the percentage of disabled people directly employed by his Department; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: For these purposes, my office is part of the Cabinet Office. I therefore refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Secretary Office of Public Service and Science gave the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) on 1 February, Official Report, column 712.


Public Inquiries

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, in what circumstances a public inquiry may take evidence on intelligence matters in camera.

The Prime Minister: Whether and to what extent a public inquiry may take evidence in camera depends on the powers given to the inquiry when it is established.


Libya

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if the United Kingdom has an extradition treaty with Libya.

The Prime Minister: No.


Command Papers

Mr. Boyes: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list White Papers, Green Papers and pamphlets issued by his Department, or agencies for which it is responsible, in 1994 giving, in each case, the total cost to the Exchequer of their publication and distribution; and what was the total equivalent cost in 1980.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 March 1995]: Her Majesty's Stationery Office aims to recover all production and distribution costs from the sales revenue of all White Papers and Green Papers which it publishes. The cost to my Office of the 1994 pay review body reports was approximately £8,000. Figures for 1980 are not available.