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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 20th November 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 20th November 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Prime Minister what consideration he is giving to the recent findings of the Select Committee on Defence in regard to Gulf war syndrome; what action he is taking and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will be considering the points made by the House of Commons Defence Committee very carefully and will reply formally in due course.


French Nuclear Tests

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister what percentage of representations he has received on the French nuclear tests have supported the views of the Prime Minister and President Chirac.

The Prime Minister: I have received a substantial number of representations expressing a range of views.


Stonehenge

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Prime Minister who is responsible for co-ordinating Government policy concerning the future of the Stonehenge site.

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage.


Nigeria

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a full statement of the conclusions reached at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference regarding the situation of the Ogoni people and the death sentence on Mr. Saro-Wiwa.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) on 16 November, Official Report, columns 6-7.


Acts of Parliament

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the Acts of Parliament and consolidation Acts that affect local government that have been introduced by his Department since January 1994.

The Prime Minister: For these purposes my Office is part of the Cabinet Office (Office of Public Service). I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Ministerial Transport, London

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Prime Minister how many times in the last year he has used (a) London Buses and (b) London Underground while on official business.

The Prime Minister: I am not usually able to undertake such journeys.


Duke of Windsor

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what public records are held in respect of communications held between his predecessor and Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, about the marriage of the late Duke of Windsor; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: Communications that concern the marriage of the late Duke of Windsor took place between the then Prime Minister, Mr. Stanley Baldwin, and Mr. Mackenzie King in late 1936. Like all papers relating to the abdication, these are currently closed until 2037 by agreement between the then Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor in 1976. However, as with the generality of papers held for more than 30 years, these papers will be reviewed and, while it is expected that many will continue to to be sensitive for some time to come, it is not ruled out that it may be possible to release them earlier than 2037.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what consideration led to the decision not to release to the Public Record Office certain papers relating to the conduct of the Duke of Windsor during the second world war, as indicated in his answer of 3 November, Official Report, column 478;

(2) if copies of all communications this century between heads of state of other countries and the United Kingdom monarch are (a) lodged in the Public Record Office or (b) lodged exclusively in the royal archives; and whether all such documents are available for public inspection regardless of where they are lodged.

The Prime Minister: Documents held by Government Departments are released to the Public Record Office after 30 years in accordance with the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, unless they meet criteria which allow them, with the Lord Chancellor's approval, to be withheld for longer. These criteria, which apply equally to records relating to the royal family, were recently revised and are set out in the White Paper on open government, Command Paper 2290 published in July 1993. Records withheld for longer than 30 years under the earlier criteria are being re-reviewed in the light of the revised criteria.

Copies of communications belonging to the sovereign are lodged in the royal archives and access is a matter for the Keeper of the Royal Archives.


Royal Family

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister to what extent his duty to act as the principal adviser to the Queen extends also to the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The Prime Minister: Ministers may on occasions provide advice to other members of the royal family.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what communications or discussions he has had in the past year with Prime Ministers of those countries where Her Majesty the Queen is also head of state about matters relating to the monarchy.

The Prime Minister: None.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will make it his policy to introduce legislation further amending the Regency Act 1937;

(2) if he will make it his policy to introduce legislation to amend the Royal Marriages Act 1772;

(3) if he will make it his policy to introduce legislation to permit (a) the monarch and (b) heirs to the throne, to contract a morganatic marriage.

The Prime Minister: No.