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1993 - PMQT Written Answers 29th April 1993

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 29th April 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Gibraltar

Q9. Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Prime Minister if he will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the status of Gibraltar in the EC.

The Prime Minister : I have no plans to do so.


Local Authority Powers, Scotland

Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Prime Minister

(1) how many representations he has received proposing that some existing local authority powers be transferred away from Scottish local authorities to the Scottish Office;

(2) how many representations he has received to establish joint boards or non-elected bodies in Scotland to take over functions from directly elected Scottish local authorities.

The Prime Minister : I have received a number of representations on local government issues. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has received some comments, in response to his consultation exercise on local government reform in Scotland, which advocate either the transfer of particular local authority functions to central Government, or the establishment of joint boards, or both.


Former Yugoslavia

Mr. Madden : To ask the Prime Minister how much food has been contributed by the United Kingdom to relieve humanitarian suffering in the former Yugoslavia; what proportion of food held in intervention under EC rules in the United Kingdom has been supplied; what action he is taking to persuade EC Heads of Government to ensure proper supplies of food to the former Yugoslavia are made; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom has provided £92.5 million for humanitarian relief in the former Yugoslavia. Of this some £48 million is our share of EC expenditure, the bulk of which has been spent on food aid. This is provided in cash to UN agencies and NGOs, which then purchase supplies that meet their operational requirements. Some EC intervention stocks have been used in the past, but none from the UK.

The UK has also contributed some £44.5 the first country to respond to the United Nations inter-agency appeal of 25 March, donating a further £15 million, of which £8.5 million was in immediate cash contributions. We maintain a regular dialogue with other EC member states and have urged them to follow suit.


Former Soviet Union

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Prime Minister what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards securing international action to decommission nuclear power stations in the former Soviet Union where it is judged that their continued operation poses a hazard to the lives of the peoples of both eastern and western europe; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : At the Munich summit last July, the G7 countries gave their support to a multilateral programme of action designed to improve the safety of Soviet-designed reactors in the former Soviet Union and central and eastern Europe. The programme, subsequently endorsed by the G24 countries, included measures to bring about urgent operational and near-term technical improvements to the highest risk plants. The Government are playing a full part in supporting and implementing the programme both bilaterally and through the European Community's technical assistance programmes. We have contributed £8.25 million to the nuclear safety account recently set up at the European bank for reconstruction and development to finance urgent safety not covered by bilateral assistance programmes.

The longer-term future of the plants concerned is a matter for the Governments of the states concerned. However, the G7 programme also provided a basis for consideration of the future of these plants, within the framework of market-oriented energy strategies, by setting in train energy studies covering replacement sources of energy and their cost implications. The World bank, with the International Energy Agency, is in the process of completing these studies, in discussion with the countries concerned. The forthcoming Tokyo summit will review progress on the action programme as a whole, including how best to take forward the conclusions of these studies.


Water Charges

Mr. Tyler : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his statement in the House on 11 March, Official Report, column 1105, to the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor), what is the timetable for the review of water charges in the south-west; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Responsibility for water charges rests with the Director General of Water Services. My right honourable and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is now examining certain aspects of overall programmes to see if there is any room for manoeuvre. This requires analysis and it would be premature to say more at this stage.


Water Privatisation

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Prime Minister what implications the decision to abandon the privatisation of water in Northern Ireland has for the future of the water and sewerage services in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : None. The position in Northern Ireland is quite separate from that in Scotland. A decision for Scotland will be taken in the light of circumstances that apply to Scotland. I refer the honourable Member to the reply I gave to the honourable Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) on 27 April at column 848.