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1992 - PMQT Written Answers 10th December 1992

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 10th December 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

Energy Policies

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made in the development of (a) coal policy, (b) renewable energy policy, (c) nuclear research and development policy and (d) energy conservation policy in the European Community during the United Kingdom presidency of the European Council.

The Prime Minister : The Energy Council discussed European coal issues on 30 November, during which the Commission presented its new proposals on subsidies for coal mines. The Council agreed on the text of a decision intended to foster the development of new and renewable energy sources. The Council noted the progress officials had made in discussing a proposed directive designed to increase energy efficiency in buildings, industry and road vehicles. The Council had earlier adopted a directive on energy labelling of appliances. Progress on nuclear R and D was satisfactory.


Exchange Rate Mechanism

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made in consolidation of the exchange rate mechanism during the United Kingdom presidency of the European Council.

The Prime Minister : Following the severe financial turbulence which affected a number of ERM currencies in the autumn, I called the European Council in Birmingham on 16 October. This decided that the mechanism should be analysed in the light of developments in capital markets and in the European and world monetary systems. The work was remitted to ECOFIN. Further strains have recently confirmed the need for this work.


Sees and Titles

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Prime Minister;

(1) pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Eltham of 18 May, Official Report, column 5, whether the consultation of Church authorities includes the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales;

(2) what changes he proposes to official recognition of territorial sees of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland or, in so far as restrictions apply, in Northern Ireland;

(3) when he expects to propose changes to official recognition of territorial sees and titles of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The Prime Minister : Consultations with Church authorities and others about the official recognition of Roman Catholic territorial designations within the United Kingdom are making good progress but have not yet been completed. We shall be seeking the views of the relevant Roman Catholic authorities as part of that consultation.


President de Klerk

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the documents he received from President de Klerk during the President's recent visit to the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister : No, as the correspondence involves matters of national security.


Civil List

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what is the time-lag between the annual payments into the civil list and the reinvestment of specified annuities to the Consolidated Fund.

The Prime Minister : If the right hon. Member is referring to Her Majesty's reimbursement of the Consolidated Fund for the section 3 annuities, refunds are normally made each November, for payments made during the course of the calendar year. The timing follows that of the first voluntary reimbursement by Her Majesty in November 1975.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister if interest on the early-years surpluses on the civil list under the current 10-year agreement is retained within the civil list.

The Prime Minister : Yes. Any surplus at the end of the 10-year period would be carried forward and taken account of in the settlement for the next period.

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what investments the royal trustees consider appropriate for the early-year surpluses on the civil list.

The Prime Minister : The surpluses are prudently invested in the United Kingdom from within a range approved by the royal trustees.


Correspondence

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister what is the policy adopted by Ministers if hon. and right hon. Members request that replies to letters concerning constituents abroad come from Ministers and not from chief executives or departmental heads of agencies.

The Prime Minister : The Government's policy on dealing with letters from hon. and right hon. Members on agency matters was most recently set out in the Government's reply to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee's 1990 report on the next steps initiative, Cm 1263, which said :

"It is for Ministers responsible for particular Agencies to respond in the way they consider most helpful and appropriate to inquiries raised by Members. Ministers will normally ask the Chief Executive to reply to letters which concern day-to-day operational matters delegated to the Agency."

The fact that a Member's inquiry was made on behalf of a constituent who lived abroad would not in itself provide a reason to change this approach.


Alois Brunner

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with his counterparts in the European Council a joint approach to the Syrian Government in support of Germany's request for the extradition of Alois Brunner for Nazi war crimes against humanity.

The Prime Minister : The case of Alois Brunner is not on the agenda for the European Council. Member states are aware of the continuing strength of feeling behind calls for his extradition. Most recently, Germany has made clear to Syria its own and wider European concerns on this matter.