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1994 - PMQT Written Answers 20th January 1994

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 20th January 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Councils of Ministers

Q5. Mr. Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has made, in the light of the decisions of the European Councils in Edinburgh 1992 and Brussels 1993, to increase the transparency and accountability of decision making, including the recording of votes of each member state, at meetings of European Community Councils of Ministers; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : We supported the Council decision of 6 December on the publication of Council votes; and we shall routinely provide to Parliament all consequent published information, which will be made available in the Library of the House. We have also encouraged the Danish and Belgian presidencies in holding a number of open Council sessions.


Honours List

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Prime Minister what is (a) the number of each honour granted in the new year's honours list and (b) the number of each such honour was awarded to (i) public servants, (ii) civil servants, (iii) officers of the armed forces, (iv) other members of the armed forces and (v) for political services.

The Prime Minister : My honours recommendations for the new year list contained 970 names. The breakdown of awards is as follows :

                 |Number      

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

Life Peer        |2           

Privy Counsellor |2           

CH               |3           

Knight           |30          

GCB              |1           

KCB              |2           

CB               |14          

GCMG             |1           

CMG              |2           

DBE              |3           

CBE              |98          

OBE              |241         

MBE              |571         

Around 180 awards were granted to public servants--people working, for example, in health, education, the police, the fire service, public transport and local government--and 170 awards to state servants, including civil servants. These awards were given for their work as public and civil servants. Some of the awards given for voluntary work may also have gone to public or state servants, but it is not possible to identify these. Forty-nine awards went to individuals either for their political or for their political and public service. Awards to members of the armed forces are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.


Value Added Tax (Domestic Fuel)

Ms Jowell : To ask the Prime Minister how many representations he has received (a) in favour of and (b) against the imposition of value added tax on domestic fuel.

The Prime Minister : I have received a substantial number of representations on this subject.


Arms Sales Register

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Prime Minister if he will report what progress he has made in establishing the register of arms sales announced after the European Council meeting on 8 May 1991.

The Prime Minister : I called for a United Nations register of conventional arms transfers at the Luxembourg European Council on 8 April 1991.

The United Nations General Assembly voted on 9 December 1991 to establish such a register, covering seven major weapons systems, with first returns due on 30 April 1993. The United Kingdom submitted its return to the United Nations Secretary-General on 29 April 1993. The return covered arms imports and exports for the calendar year 1992, including background information; a copy was placed in the Library of the House.

The report of the United Nations Secretary-General, published last October, included returns from some 80 countries.

The United Kingdom will seek to build on this successful start to the initiative to improve its effectiveness; we will be represented on a United Nations panel of experts shortly to discuss the operation and expansion of the register.


Mr. Frank Machon

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what record his Office has of telephone conversations held between his predecessor and Mr. Frank Machon of Glasgow in (a) October 1988, (b) February 1989 and (c) March 1989.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to him on 18 January 1994, Official Report, column 456.


Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 20 January.

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.


Iraq

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what medical evidence he has received from the doctor accompanying the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) on his recent visit to Iraq, from Harvard medical school, and from the hon. Members for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) and for Linlithgow; and if he will reconsider his policy on United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

The Prime Minister : We have received various reports about the health conditions in Iraq and are aware that they continue to deteriorate. No medical evidence was passed to us by the doctor accompanying the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) on his recent visit to Iraq.

Medical supplies have never been subject to sanctions. Our quarrel is not with the people of Iraq but with Saddam's regime.

The Security Council again concluded on 18 January that there were no grounds for lifting sanctions against Iraq.


British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Prime Minister what public funds are currently made available (a) through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and (b) through other channels to finance the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body ; what has been the level of such fundings in each of the years since it commenced; what is the purpose of those funds; what information he has relating to the expenditure by that body upon travel, hotel accommodation and refreshments in each of those years; by whom that expenditure was incurred; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 January 1994] : The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body is funded jointly by the British Government, through a grant in aid from Her Majesty's Treasury administered by the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and by the Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs. The body was established in 1990 to provide a forum for British and Irish parliamentarians to discuss Anglo-Irish relations. Twenty-five Members of Parliament and 25 members of the Oireachtas belong. Two plenary conferences are held each year, one in the United Kingdom and one in Ireland. There is a steering committee and four separate committees tasked to study and prepare reports on a range of issues including political, economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental matters. Since 1990 British Government expenditure has been as follows :

                                                                                                         | £          

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

1989-90                                                                                                               

Total expenditure                                                                                        |46,757      

Accommodation                                                                                            |7,006       

Travel/transport                                                                                         |1,442       

Refreshments                                                                                             |8,489       

1990-91                                                                                                               

Total expenditure                                                                                        |64,998      

Accommodation                                                                                            |639         

Travel/transport                                                                                         |10,826      

Refreshments                                                                                             |2,539       

1991-92                                                                                                               

Total expenditure                                                                                        |98,310      

Accommodation                                                                                            |16,150      

Travel/transport                                                                                         |23,280      

Refreshments                                                                                             |11,214      

1992-93                                                                                                               

Total expenditure                                                                                        |78,352      

Accommodation                                                                                            |9,616       

Travel/transport                                                                                         |13,798      

Refreshments                                                                                             |4,814       

1993-94                                                                                                               

Final expenditure figures for the year are not yet available but are forecast to fall within the budget.              


Correspondence

Mr. Tyler : To ask the Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter of 18 January 1993 from the hon. Member for North Cornwall on the subject of compensation for Gulf war widows; and if he will give reasons for the delay.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 18 January 1994] : As the hon. Member knows, he has received replies from my principal private secretary and from me. I am aware, however, that a decision is awaited on the matter at issue and I hope that conclusions can be reached shortly.