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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 16th October 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 16th October 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Self-governing Schools

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister (1) pursuant to his press statement of 24 August concerning his hopes for education, what procedures, flexibilities and diversity will potentially be available to future pupils, or parents, not already available at schools currently under local management arrangements, if they become directly funded under conditions laid down by Her Majesty's Government; and by what means in those circumstances Ministers will ensure that the options now preferred, or currently available, will be maintained under such arrangements.

(2) pursuant to his press statement of 24 August concerning education, which freedoms, flexibility, and additional diversity will potentially be available to future parents and pupils in schools now under local management arrangements in England and Wales if they became directly funded under conditions laid down by Her Majesty's Government; and by what means Ministers will ensure that options currently available will be maintained.

The Prime Minister: Self-government is a significant and logical step beyond local management. A self-governing school controls its total budget, not just the proportion delegated by an LEA. It is also free to preserve its existing character or to propose changes without reference to the local authority.

This gives self-governing schools greater flexibility to innovate, and to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve.

I believe that the benefits of grant-maintained status should be extended to all schools. This option is currently being examined.


Sports Facilities

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister if he will require all relevant Government Departments to maintain a register listing sporting facilities in receipt of public funds (a) closed after 1 September 1995 and (b) proposed for closure; and if he will then instruct his Minister for Sport to investigate and report to him on relevant reasons for closure.

The Prime Minister: The sports policy statements issued during the summer recognised the important role which sports facilities, including those provided by public funds, play in the development of sport. The documents detail the measures that have taken and will be taking to safeguard and improve the current level of facilities provision. We will also shortly be consulting on a proposal that the Sports Councils should be given statutory consultee status on planning proposals affecting all playing fields. Additionally, the Government will retain statutory area standards to protect school playing fields. The Government do not see a need for a register of publicly funded sports facilities of the kind that the hon. Member suggests.


Breast Cancer Campaign

Mr. Canavan: To ask the Prime Minister how many postcards he has received expressing support for the national postcard campaign for breast cancer; and how many of these have been answered.

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Prime Minister how many postcards he has received in response to the recent campaign on breast cancer.

The Prime Minister: I have received a substantial number of representations regarding this campaign.


Lockerbie

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 two junior operatives, Her Majesty's Government now have for obtaining justice for all the victims of the crime of Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 79.

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

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 78.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what reports the United Kingdom and United States authorities in Cyprus have now received from Dr. David Lovejoy, an employee of the United States Government, directly or through other sources, on the movement 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: I have nothing further to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 80.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government were informed by the US authorities on or around 19 December 1988 of the travel plans of Major Charles McKee.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 79.

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

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 78.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 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 contradictory material came from Abdul Meged Jiacha.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, columns 80-81.

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

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 79.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will now discuss with President Clinton the implications regarding Iranian links and baggage being onloaded on Air Malta 180, destination Frankfurt airport.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 78.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will now discuss with Chancellor Kohl the prima facie evidence that a German-based terrorist organisation used their knowledge of a covert US 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: I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 6 March 1995, Official Report, column 78.

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

The Prime Minister: So far as I am aware, no such approaches have been received.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with Chancellor Kohl the reasons why the Justice Department of the German Government have challenged Anglo-US explanations of the Lockerbie crime.

The Prime Minister: The German Federal Ministry of Justice has not challenged the basis on which charges have been brought against the two individuals accused of having carried out the Lockerbie bombing.

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

The Prime Minister: No.


Intergovernmental Panel on the Oceans

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his letter of 9 March to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, what recent consideration Her Majesty's Government have given to the recommendation of the Government's panel on sustainable development on the establishment of an intergovernmental panel on the oceans.

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is organising an international workshop from 30 November to 2 December to consider the machinery by which global decisions on the oceans take place. The Government will be putting the conclusions of this workshop, with their own views, to the next meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.


East German Security Service

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what representations Her Majesty's Government have had recently, since 15 July, from the German Government about their interrogation of Edward Bollier's Stasi control, and the sale of timing devices to the Stasi.

The Prime Minister: So far as I am aware, none.


Trafficking in Fissile Materials

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his letter of 2 May to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, what progress has been made on the plan of action agreed by the European summit at Essen in December 1994 to improve co-operation between member states of the Union on how to develop programmes of assistance to third countries in relation to illegal trafficking in fissile materials; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The Essen report on Illicit Traffic in Radioactive Substances and Nuclear Materials recommended a plan of action to improve co-operation with countries which were potential sources of illicit nuclear material. Since then, EURATOM has promoted a number of projects, the primary aim of which has been to provide assistance on improving nuclear materials accountancy and control. Three projects involving co-operation with Russia are currently under way and five are planned for 1996. The United Kingdom has been pursuing bilateral projects in Russia and Kazakhstan to assist those countries in a range of safeguards-related areas.


Libya (Extradition)

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

The Prime Minister: No.