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1993 - PMQT Written Answers 4th November 1993

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 4th November 1993.


PRIME MINISTER:

Nuclear Testing

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Prime Minister what plans the Government have to declare a moratorium on British nuclear testing.

The Prime Minister : We have no such plans, but we have made it clear that we will carry out no nuclear tests while the United States moratorium continues.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Prime Minister what discussion he has had with the Government of the United States of America on making representations to the Government of China with a view to dissuading them from conducting an underground nuclear test; and what action he took as a result.

The Prime Minister : The United States Government informed us in September of their intention to seek to dissuade China from conducting a nuclear test. In the event, the Chinese conducted a test on 5 October. We have expressed our regret at this, given the background of restraint on testing by the other nuclear powers.


Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the United States Government on the prospects for concluding a comprehensive test ban treaty by 1996; and what plans the Government have to announce a date by which they hope such a treaty may be concluded.

The Prime Minister : In our exchanges with the United States Government on approaches to a comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), the time scale for concluding such a treaty is one of a number of issues we have discussed. We do not believe that setting a deadline for the treaty's conclusion will necessarily help the conduct of negotiations.


Cyprus

Dr. Spink : To ask the Prime Minister if he will raise at the United Nations Security Council the continued Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : We hope that direct talks between the parties, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General, will resume after next month's elections in northern Cyprus. We stand ready, together with other Security Council members, to consider alternative ways to promote the effective implementation of United Nations resolutions on Cyprus should there be no further progress by the time of Mr. Boutros Ghali's next report.


Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 4 November.

The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.


Agency for Health and Safety

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Prime Minister what are the costs and benefits to the United Kingdom in financial and administrative terms of the establishment of the Agency for Health and Safety.

The Prime Minister : It is too early to say, but we believe that the agency should be beneficial if it can facilitate the use of risk assessment as a basis for prioritising commission proposals; if it can avoid duplication of research; and if it can contribute to more consistent standards of enforcement.


Northern Ireland

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister in what circumstances the Government would recommend a referendum in the United Kingdom over constitutional proposals for Northern Ireland based on an agreement reached with the Government of the Irish Republic.

The Prime Minister : The Government are fully committed to seeking a comprehensive political settlement with the four main Northern Ireland constitutional parties and the Irish Government, which addresses all three main relationships : those within Northern Ireland; those within the island of Ireland; and those between the British and Irish Governments. The Government believe that the best way forward lies with the talks process and the question of how any such agreement is subsequently endorsed is a matter for discussion between all the participants in this process.


European Monetary Union

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Prime Minister what is meant by the full use of EMU as set out in the presidency conclusions.

The Prime Minister : The presidency conclusions of the European Council on 29 October recorded all member states' commitment to the full implementation of the second stage of economic and monetary union. In addition to the establishment of the European Monetary Institute, this will mean strengthened co-operation between member states on their economic and monetary policies to facilitate economic convergence.


Maastricht

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Prime Minister how the mechanisms for co-ordinating economic policies laid down in the Maastricht treaty will strengthen the process of convergence with the aim of returning to growth and reducing unemployment.

The Prime Minister : The provisions in the Maastricht treaty relating to multilateral surveillance of member states' economic policies and the excessive deficits procedure will enable the Council to monitor progress with economic convergence. The Council's discussions on these issues will inform national Governments as they frame their economic policies.


Policy Unit

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister how many Central Policy Review Staff staff were absorbed into the No. 10 policy unit in 1983 -84; at what cost; and what was the cost of the policy unit in that year and at the latest available date.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 November 1993] : Two staff were absorbed into the No. 10 policy unit from the Central Policy Review Staff; the cost involved was negligible.

The cost of the policy unit in 1983-84 was £154,923 and the estimated cost for 1993-94 is £615,000. Both figures include the costs of unit members and secretarial support staff.


National Portrait Gallery

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Prime Minister how many nominations he received in appointing the new director of the national portrait gallery; and to what extent the views of trustees were presented to him.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 3 November 1993] : As is required by law, the board of trustees of the national portrait gallery submitted to me for my approval their proposal for the new director of the gallery. In the knowledge that the trustees had conducted an open competition for the post, I was content to approve their choice of appointee on the basis of their recommendation.