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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 28th February 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 28th February 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Scott Inquiry

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Prime Minister if information communicated by the United Nations special commission to the International Atomic Energy Agency by Her Majesty's Government on British companies which supplied materials relevant to Iraqi programmes to acquire weapons of mass destruction, was communicated to the Scott inquiry in its entirety.

The Prime Minister [holding answers 26 February 1996]: Yes, insofar as it related to the period covered by the inquiry's terms of reference.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he received from Ministers at the time he established the Scott inquiry in respect of (a) the remit and (b) the format of the inquiry.

The Prime Minister: My discussions with Ministers are private.

Mr. Smith: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the Iraq note referred to on page 439 of the Scott report;

(2) if he will now place in the Library a copy of the information note prepared by his private secretary on 3 December 1990.

The Prime Minister: This document was submitted as evidence to Sir Richard Scott's inquiry. I understand that Sir Richard Scott proposes to publish as soon as possible any documents which he considers relevant to his report, consistent with his procedures.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister what response he plans to make to the representations made by the secretary of the Scott inquiry concerning the nature of statements by various Ministers following the press conference held by Sir Richard Scott on 15 February.

The Prime Minister: A reply has been sent to the secretary of the inquiry's letter on this matter. As the inquiry's letter has been widely quoted and reproduced in the media, this reply was made public.

The inquiry wrote again subsequently making it clear that Sir Richard's view applied to any summary of his report, whether by Government, Opposition or the media.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place copies of ministerial and departmental responses to the first draft of Sir Richard Scott's report of the inquiry into the sale of arms to Iraq in the Library; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 27 February 1996]: Departments' closing statements to the Scott inquiry have already been published in part B of volume V of the Scott inquiry report. I understand that Sir Richard Scott proposes to publish as soon as possible documents that he considers relevant to his report, consistent with his procedures. However, paragraph B3.11 of the report records that, in the interests of fairness, Sir Richard does not propose to publish comments submitted by witnesses on the draft report.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all the people who received copies of the Scott report in advance of the official publication date; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 February 1996]: The following Ministers received advance copies of Sir Richard Scott's report: the Prime Minister; the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary; the President of the Board of Trade; the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; the Secretary of State for Defence and the Attorney-General.

In addition, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, the Paymaster General and the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service, had access to the report prior to publication, in accordance with the terms laid down by the Scott inquiry.

A small number of civil servants in the main Departments concerned also received advance copies.


Iraq (Defence-related Exports)

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister when he first learned of the 1988 amendments to the 1985 Howe guidelines into defence-related exports to Iraq; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 27 February 1996]: The first time I learned that a change in the guidelines had been considered in 1988 was in a minute from my private secretary dated 13 November 1992.


Mr. Omar al Hassan

Miss Emma Nicholson: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions in 1994 he met Mr. Omar al Hassan; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: As far as I am aware, once, at a speaking engagement.


Millennium Exhibition

Mr. Booth: To ask the Prime Minister what part he envisages that Government will play in relation to the millennium exhibition; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The Government very much welcome the announcement by the Millennium Commission of its decision to stage a national millennium exhibition in Greenwich. This visionary and exciting scheme will enable the whole nation to mark this significant event in a wholly appropriate way. It should also encourage large numbers of overseas visitors to join in our national celebrations during the millennium year.

Arrangements for the millennium exhibition are the responsibility of the independent Millennium Commission. The exhibition will be funded by the Commission from its share of national lottery proceeds and from private sector contributions. Given its scale, the event will, raise many issues to which the Government have to respond.

In order to ensure that the Government's participation in this significant national event is well planned and co-ordinated, I have asked the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister to convene a ministerial group with the following terms of reference:

"to oversee the Government's role in relation to the Millennium Festival and to take forward any necessary planning of the Government's involvement in this event."

In addition to the chairman, members of the group will be as follows:

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Secretary of State for the Home Department

Secretary of State for the Environment

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Secretary of State for National Heritage

Lord Privy Seal

Secretary of State for Transport

Secretary of State for Scotland

Secretary of State for Wales

Other Ministers will be invited to attend for items in which they have a departmental interest.

The Government will do all they can to assist the Millennium Commission to ensure that the millennium festival is an outstanding successful national event.


Hong Kong

Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to meet Mr. C. H. Tung, Mr. Rong Yiren, Mr. David Choy, Mr. Tsui Tsin-tong, Mr. George Cardona and Mr. Algy Cluff during his forthcoming visit to Hong Kong.

The Prime Minister: I hope to meet a broad range of business men, politicians and other opinion formers.