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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 6th March 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th March 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Scott Inquiry

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the content of all briefings given by his press office on the subject of the Scott report since 15 February.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

This would be neither customary nor practicable.


Hong Kong (Visit)

Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out his programme during his recent visit to Hong Kong.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

It is not my right hon. Friend's normal practice to do so.

Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister if all his engagements during his recent visit to Hong Kong related to public duty.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

Yes.


Mobile Phones

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Prime Minister (1) on how many occasions car based and mobile phones allocated to the use of his office have been cloned; to which officers these phones had been allocated; and when this cloning was discovered, in each of the last five years;

(2) pursuant to his answer of 22 January, Official Report, column 45, to which officer in his personal office the phone cloned in 1994 was allocated; when it became apparent that this phone had been cloned; and what action has been taken by his office to improve the security of the mobile phone in the use of his office;

(3) on how many occasions mobile phones allocated for the use of (a) himself and (b) his office have been cloned since his appointment.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend on 22 January, Official Report, column 45. I have nothing further to add.


Arms Exports

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Prime Minister which Departments hold information relative to the financing by British banks, since 1980, using their customers' balances, of arms supplied to Iraq and Iran; which British banks were involved; what proportion of such financing went on the supply of Valmara 69 anti-personnel land mines; and if he will make a statement.

The Deputy Prime Minister [holding answer 29 February 1996]: I have been asked to reply.

Exports of lethal equipment including anti-personnel land mines from the United Kingdom to Iraq or Iran would require an export licence. No such licences have been issued since 1980. The financing by British banks of arms sales from other countries to Iraq and Iran would be a matter for Government Departments only if breaches of United Nations' sanctions were involved. Government Departments hold no evidence of such breaches by British banks. If the right hon. Member has any information regarding possible breaches of United Kingdom export controls or United Nations' sanctions, he should pass it to the relevant authorities.


Public Appointments (Women)

Ms Jowell: To ask the Prime Minister how many appointees to public offices in the list of public appointments were women for each year since 1990; and what proportion these represented of the total for each office.

The Deputy Prime Minister [holding answer 4 March 1996]: I have been asked to reply.

Information about the annual number of women appointed to public office is not maintained centrally. However, it is known that in 1990 and 1991, women held 23 per cent. of the total number of appointments to public bodies. In October 1991, at the launch of Opportunity 2000, my right hon. Friend announced a Government initiative aimed at increasing this figure further. Good progress has been made and the percentage of such posts held by women, at 1 September 1995, is 30 per cent. The following table gives the figures for the intervening years:

Year   Total number of public appointments | Number held by women | Percentage

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

1990 44,057 10,256 23

1991 39,122 9,135 23

1992 41,011 10,701 26

1993 42,606 12,007 28

1994 42,876 12,686 30

1995 40,170 11,898 30


European Courts

Mr. David Porter: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the advantages and disadvantages to the United Kingdom of membership of (a) the European Court of Justice and (b) the European Court of Human Rights; and by what mechanism the United Kingdom can withdraw from membership of each.

The Deputy Prime Minister [holding answer 4 March 1996]: I have been asked to reply.

Accepting jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is an essential element of European Union membership, the advantages and disadvantages of which have been discussed many times in this House. The UK could withdraw from the jurisdiction of the ECJ only by withdrawing from the EU.

Our policy in respect of the European convention on human rights was set out by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 13 December 1995, Official Report, column 647.


Northern Ireland

Mr. Stott: To ask the Prime Minister if his negotiations with the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland to determine the electoral process will include the Progressive Unionist party and the Ulster Democratic party.

The Deputy Prime Minister [holding answer 5 March 1996]: I have been asked to reply.

Letters of invitation to the round of intensive consultations with the parties were sent on 28 February and the leaders of the Progressive Unionist party and the Ulster Democratic party were among the recipients.