Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1995 - PMQT Written Answers 15th May 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 15th May 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Government Announcements

Mr. Mandelson: To ask the Prime Minister what is the Cabinet Committee on policy co-ordination and presentation in supervising Government announcements, irrespective of department; and how a distinction is made between the objective presentation and timing of these announcements and their use for party political benefits.

The Prime Minister: I published the terms of reference of the ministerial committee on the co-ordination and presentation of Government policy on 21 March 1995 Official Report, column 112. The committee's terms of reference make it clear that the committee's role is to consider the co-ordination and presentation of Government, as distinct from party, policy. It is therefore subject to the published conventions relating to Government publicity.


No. 10 Downing Street

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he takes to ensure that the address No. 10 Downing Street is not used in connection with private business activities.

The Prime Minister: I know of no reason to believe that the No. 10 Downing Street address has been improperly used.


Churchill Papers

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the state papers donated to Churchill College, Cambridge, in each case giving the date the item was donated.

The Prime Minister: The Churchill archive comprises many thousand documents. It would be disproportionately costly to list the state papers in the archive individually.

The papers relating to Sir Winston Churchill's ministerial and prime ministerial appointments, claimed by the Crown as state papers, were transferred to Churchill College on the same day as the agreement to purchase the non-state papers was concluded. The effective date of transfer was 26 April 1995.


Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Cox: To ask the Prime Minister when he last met the current President of the European Commission.

The Prime Minister: I last saw Mr. Santer in Paris on 8 May, and will see him for substantive talks about when he comes to London on 17 May.


Official Gifts

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister who is responsible for maintaining the official inventory of gifts given to the office of the Prime Minister and kept at No. 10; and what additions have been made to the list since 1979.

The Prime Minister: The inventory is maintained by staff within No. 10 in accordance with the rules in "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" and is subject to the normal audit procedures. The details of gifts received are not made public.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister what official gifts have been received by officials travelling with him abroad during the last 12 months.

The Prime Minister: Gifts received by officials are dealt with in accordance with the official rules. The details are not made public.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister how much has been donated to charity arising from the sale of official gifts given to Prime Ministers since 1979.

The Prime Minister: I have made it a practice to donate to charity all the proceeds from sales of gifts which I have retained under the guidelines set out in "Questions of Procedure for Ministers".

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister what has been the total value of gifts to Prime Ministers since 1979 sold from the official inventory.

The Prime Minister: Sales from the inventory have been carried out in accordance with "Questions of Procedure for Ministers". It is not the practice to publish details.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister what record is kept official gifts given to business representatives travelling with him on official visits abroad.

The Prime Minister: No gifts are given by the British Government. Gifts by foreign Governments are a matter for them.


Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will acquire for the video library of No. 10 Downing Street the video of Alan Francovitch's film. "The Maltese Double Cross".

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

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister for what reason Her Majesty's Government declined to allow Chief Superintendent Gilchrist of Dumfries and Galloway police to interview Mr. O'Neill and Mr. Tuzcu, baggage handlers at the Rhein-Main airport in Frankfurt, when they were brought to the United Kingdom in connection with the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister: Her Majesty's Government did not and would not interfere in decisions regarding the conduct of the Lockerbie investigation.


Gibraltar

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister on what occasions Gibraltar's status within the European Union has been raised formally in the Heads of Government Council of Ministers since he became Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister: I do not recall any such occasion.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister on what occasions Gibraltar's status (a) within the European Union and (b) with Spain has been raised by him since he became Prime Minister at his meetings with the Prime Minister of Spain.

The Prime Minister: I last discussed Gibraltar in detail with the Prime Minister of Spain in May 1991. I have met him since on a number of occasions, but have not discussed the points mentioned by the hon. Member.


Royal British Legion

Mr. McMaster: To ask the Prime Minister when he last met representatives of the Royal British Legion to discuss the establishment of a ministry of veterans affairs; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I have not personally met representatives of the Royal British Legion to discuss a ministry of veterans affairs but my noble Friends Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and Lord Henley did so on my behalf on 23 November 1994. My view remains that such a Ministry would add an extra layer of bureaucracy without necessarily resulting in a better service for ex-service men and women. The Government's continuing commitment is to improve standards for every citizen.


Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Mr. McMaster: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the application of the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to Scotland, by comparison to how they apply in England; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 apply equally to all parts of the United Kingdom.


Departmental Seminars

Mr. Mandelson: To ask the Prime Minister whether departmental seminars have been organised under the auspices of the Cabinet Office with the aim of taking the presentational initiative away from the Government's critics.

The Prime Minister: No.


No. 10 Policy Unit

Mr. Mandelson: To ask the Prime Minister whether the No. 10 policy unit and its head, Norman Blackwell, have any party political responsibilities; and what rules exist on the subject.

The Prime Minister: The members of the policy unit are either career civil servants or employed as special advisers, and are subject to the general rules applicable to those groups. They have no party political responsibilities at national level. The rules on political activities for special advisers are set out in the model appointment letter for special advisers, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. I refer the hon. Member to the reply of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) on 24 April 1995, Official Report, column 373 .

Mr. Mandelson: To ask the Prime Minister what functional relationship exists between the Cabinet committee on policy co-ordination and presentation and the No. 10 policy unit; and how this is discharged.

The Prime Minister: The Prime Minister's policy unit contributes to the work of the Cabinet committee on policy co-ordination and presentation as appropriate. The head of the policy unit attends meetings of this and other Cabinet committees as required.


World War Two

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his statement on 25 April, Official Report, column 667, if he will list the 18 hon. Members who saw active service in world war two; and if he will also list those who served in the Merchant Navy during the war.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 5 May]: The figure to which I referred on 25 April derived from information provided by the House of Commons authorities. I understand that they now believe that a least 20 hon. Members saw active service in world war two, including those who served in the Merchant Navy. It is a matter for hon. Members whether they wish to make their war record known.