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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 22nd January 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 22nd January 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Regulators

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 11 January, Official Report, column 289, what are the reasons for the degree of variations in the salaries paid to the regulators.

The Prime Minister: The salaries paid to individual regulators are determined by the appointing Secretary of State and take account of various factors including the responsibilities of their particular office and what is necessary to recruit and retain a suitable appointee.


Liverpool Dockers (Petition)

Mr. Loyden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the petition presented on 9 January by the women's support group on behalf of Liverpool dockers who had been made redundant.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mr. Parry) on 18 January, Official Report, column 689.


Iran-Iraq War

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions between June and October 1989 when in his capacity as Foreign Secretary he made statements, written or oral, or corresponded, on the United Kingdom's policy towards each of the participants in the Iran-Iraq war; in each case what was that stance; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: A comprehensive record of statements and correspondence on Iran and Iraq could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Statements made are, of course, a matter of public record.


"Realising our Potential"

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made, subsequent to the letter of 19 September to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, by the research councils and Sir John Cadogan, to implement the science, engineering and technology policy research set out in "Realising our Potential".

The Prime Minister: The research councils continue to implement the policy set out in "Realising our Potential" in accordance with their royal charters and guidance from the Director General of the Research Councils. The President of the Board of Trade announced on 16 January the science budget allocations for 1996-97 and the planning figures for the next two years to enable them to do so. A booklet explaining the allocations, "Allocations of Science Budget 1996-97" is available in the Library.


Rail Privatisation

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the principal statements, or documents, authorised or made by persons who are, or have been, Ministers of the Crown since 1990, which show that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to so privatise the functions of the former British Railways in a manner that made possible (a) the dispersal into separate companies the current responsibilities of Railtrack and (b) that any such company or any other performing any of the functions of the former British Railways Board could be owned or controlled by (i) shareholders a majority of whom were not citizens of the United Kingdom or (ii) a company registered outside the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister: The White Paper, "New Opportunities for the Railways", published in July 1992, announced the Government's intention to restructure the railways. Restrictions on the ownership of shares by foreign nationals are tightly controlled by international law and agreements.


Official Gifts

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent on the provision of official gifts by his Office in 1994 and 1995; and if he will now make it his policy to give details of the gifts presented.

The Prime Minister: A total of £22,510 was spent on the provision of official gifts in the 1994-95 financial year. It is not my practice to give details of gifts purchased.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to put on public display official gifts received by him and his predecessors.

The Prime Minister: All gifts are handled in accordance with the provisions set out in "Questions of Procedures for Ministers".


Mohammed al-Masari

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister who on behalf of Her Majesty's Government made representations to the Government of Dominica to inquire if they would receive Professor Mohammed al-Masari if he was deported from the United Kingdom; if he will place in the Library copies of the correspondence between the two Governments concerning this case; and if the Government of Dominica has indicated if it will receive Professor al-Masari.

The Prime Minister: The initial approach was made by my right hon. and learned Friend, the Foreign Secretary to the Dominican Prime Minister when he visited London on 18 December. It is not normal practice to make public correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and other Governments. The Dominican Government have agreed to accept Dr. al-Masari and to grant him asylum, if he applies for it.


Nuclear Tests

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Prime Minister what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the French Government's current series of nuclear tests in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing to add to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) on 29 November, Official Report, column 790-91.


Scott Inquiry

Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Prime Minister what are the responsibilities of the staff employed in the Cabinet Office in relation to the Scott inquiry.

The Prime Minister: The responsibilities of staff in the Cabinet Office employed on matters relating to the inquiry are to provide Ministers and officials with advice on matters arising from the inquiry, and to liaise with the inquiry.

Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions staff employed in the Cabinet Office in relation to the Scott inquiry have had on matters related to the Scott inquiry with persons (a) employed by and (b) working as consultants for Conservative Central Office; and what subjects were discussed.

The Prime Minister: None.


Monetary Union

Mr. David Porter: To ask the Prime Minister for how long a currency must be in the exchange rate mechanism before it can be abolished in favour of a single European currency; and what are his current plans regarding the exchange rate mechanism and the pound.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), on 9 January, Official Report, column 114.


Mobile Phones

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Prime Minister 1) on how many occasions mobile or car phones retained for his use or the use of his staff have been cloned during (a) the last two years, (b) the last 18 months, (c) the last 12 months and (d) the last six months;

(2) on how many occasions mobile or car phones retained for his use or the use of his staff have been cloned since his appointment.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 January 1996]: As far as I am aware, one, and that was in 1994.


Libya

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what is his latest estimate of the cost to British trade of sanctions against Libya.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 18 January 1996]: It is not possible to estimate the loss of trade as a result of the United Nations sanctions.


Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister what was the total cost of travel incurred by his office in each year since 1990-91.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 19 January 1996]: The information as requested is as follows:

(£000s)

 - -------

1990-91 880

1991-92 1,310

1992-93 1,730

1993-94 1,490

1994-95 1,230

Figures rounded to the nearest £10,000.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister what was the total cost to public funds arising from all duties in each complete year since 1990-91 and for 1995-96 to date; and if he will indicate the figures separately for (i) accommodation and (ii) expenses.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 19 January 1996]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) on 19 December, Official Report, columns 1053-54. The information as requested for earlier years is available only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister if he will provide the figures from 1990-91 to 1994-95 and 1995-96 to date for (a) the cost of maintaining and running No. 10 Downing Street and additional costs at Chequers, (b) the grant-in-aid to the Chequers trust and (c) the costs on a consistent basis and expressed at constant 1984-85 prices.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 19 January 1996]: The information as requested is in the table.

£000's

1990-91  1991-92  1992-93  1993-95  1994-95

Cash 1984-85 prices Cash 1984-85 prices Cash 1984-85 prices Cash 1984-85 prices Cash 1984-85 prices

 - ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. 10 capital and running costs and costs of Chequers 7,990 5,660 8,420 5,620 9,620 6,170 8,950 5,570 7,440 4,550

Grant-in-aid to Chequers trust 240 170 240 160 250 160 270 170 230 140

Total 8,230 5,830 8,660 5,780 9,870 6,330 9,220 5,740 7,670 4,690

Figures rounded to the nearest £10,000.

All figures at 1984-85 prices using GDP deflator.


Road Investment

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Prime Minister if the recent statement of the Minister of State at the Scottish Office about the fundamental importance of road investment to Scotland's economy represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government; if a similar policy exists for the rest of the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on his policies on road investment in (a) Scotland and (b) England and setting out the basis for differences between the two.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 19 January 1996]: The Government believe that an efficient transport infrastructure, of which trunk roads form an integral part, is essential to national competitiveness. My right hon. Friends, the Secretaries of State for Transport for Scotland, for Wales and for Northern Ireland develop their plans in that context taking account of transport needs of each country within the United Kingdom.