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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 17th January 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 17th January 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Saudi Arabia

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Prime Minister if he raised with the Saudi Arabian Government during his recent visit the issue of British citizens missing since the tunnel disaster of 2 July 1990.

The Prime Minister : No. The British embassy in Riyadh remain closely in touch with the Saudi authorities who are continuing their investigations to try to trace the three British pilgrims still missing. We have provided finger prints of two of the pilgrims for comparison with those taken of victims before burial.


Departmental Budgets

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Prime Minister by how much the budget for the Department of Social Security will be decreased and the budget of the Department of the Environment will be increased for 1991-92 in respect of (a) hostels, (b) housing and community charge benefit subsidy and (c) care in the community.

The Prime Minister : For the 1991-92 financial year there will be no transfer of funds between the Department of Social Security and the Department of the Environment in respect of care in the community; but in drawing up the proposed local government financial settlement for England for that year full account was taken of some £16.35 million in respect of hostels. Similarly, the effect of the £86 million reduction in direct subsidy for housing benefit and community charge benefit in 1991-92 was fully taken into account in drawing up the proposed local government financial settlements for that year.


Nuclear Arms

Mr. Wray : To ask the Prime Minister if he will now reconsider Her Majesty's Government's refusal to commit the United Kingdom to negotiate a complete ban on nuclear tests and to accept annual mini-reviews on the progress of effective reduction of nuclear weapons, as proposed by Mexico and other non-aligned nations at the review conference on the nuclear non- proliferation treaty in 1990.

The Prime Minister : We have made clear that we support a comprehensive test ban as a long-term goal to be reached on a step-by-step basis. Because our security will depend for the foreseeable future on deterrence based in part on the possession of nuclear weapons, we have a continuing need to test our nuclear weapons to ensure they remain effective and up-to-date. We believe that the conference on disarmament at Geneva provides the most appropriate forum for discussion of progress on nuclear testing issues.


European Community

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister what treaty amendments beyond those in the conclusions of the Rome European Councils are being considered by Her Majesty's Government for submission to the European Community.

The Prime Minister : The Government have already tabled draft treaty amendments on EMU. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary referred in his speech to the House on 6 December to a number of areas in which the Government would seek improvements in the treaties in the context of the inter-governmental conference on political union. All these are covered by the conclusions of the Rome European Councils.


Iraq

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister what is the policy of the allies towards Iraq should the present regime be militarily defeated in the event of war.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in the debate on 15 January at column 814. I have nothing further to add.


Public Records Office

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the findings of the report on the future of the Public Records Office prepared by the civil service efficiency unit published in December 1990.

The Prime Minister : I understand that my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has received the report of the efficiency scrutiny of the Public Record Office. The report has not yet been published. I understand that the Lord Chancellor intends to make a statement very shortly.


The Gulf

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list in full the military objectives of the allies if war occurs in the Gulf.

The Prime Minister : The Government's objectives since the invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 have been and remain those of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.


Advertising

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister whose responsibility it is to ensure that departmental Ministers observe Government conventions on the use of paid publicity and advertising ; what process of scrutiny is currently in operation ; and by what process departmental Ministers are held to account for the actions of their Departments in this regard.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 16 January 1991] : It is the responsibility of individual Ministers to ensure that the conventions on Government publicity and advertising are observed by their Department. Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the actions of their Departments.