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1994 - PMQT Written Answers 21st June 1994

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 21st June 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Developing Nations

Q8. Mr. Luff : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the assistance that his Government provide to developing nations.

The Prime Minister : With the sixth largest aid programme, we make a substantial contribution to the international effort to promote sustainable economic and social development in developing countries.


MI6 (Cleaners)

Ms Harman : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about cleaners working at MI6.

The Prime Minister : The contract which has been let for office cleaning services at the new security intelligence service headquarters at Vauxhall cross provides for a more flexible service at a substantial saving to public funds.

I regret that staff have had to be made redundant, but the procedures followed were fair and complied fully with the requirements of both domestic and European employment legislation. The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations do not apply in this case.


Special Advisers

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Prime Minister what criteria are used to assess how many special advisers are attached to each Government Department; what are the criteria of evaluation which are applied when determining appropriate grades and salaries; how these posts are advertised; what interviewing and staff selection procedures are applied in choosing the most suitable candidate for each post; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Special adviser appointments are made personally by Ministers, subject to my approval. There is normally a limit of one political adviser for each Cabinet Minister. There is no formal limit on the numbers of expert special advisers, which are subject to need. Salaries are negotiated individually in relation to the special adviser's previous earnings, and are confidential. Selection procedures are a matter for the appointing Minister.


Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister what was his estimated annual cost in 1992-93 for work by his Office in preparation for Prime Minister's Question Time.

The Prime Minister : It is not feasible to separate fully the costs involved.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister how many written questions were answered by his Office in each of the last three years; and what was the average cost per question.

The Prime Minister : Since I became Prime Minister I have answered more than 2,500 written questions. It is not feasible to separate fully the costs involved.


Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 19 May, Official Report, column 956, what is his estimate of the timing of the ending of the criminal investigation over Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister : The timing of the end of the criminal investigation would be a matter for my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, but the investigation will naturally remain open while the arrest warrants for those accused of the bombing remain in force.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of the validity of the alleged claim made in a trial in Beirut concerning the assassination of a Jordanian diplomat by Youssef Chaabane that he blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

The Prime Minister : We remain in contact with the Lebanese authorities on this matter. Our present understanding is that Chaabane mentioned the destruction of Pan Am 103 only in claiming that, in the face of interrogation to which he had been subjected on other charges, he would have been willing to confess to anything, even the Lockerbie bombing.


Job Seeker's Allowance

Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Prime Minister, if further details are available about the job seeker's allowance announced in the Budget statement of 30 November by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Prime Minister : Full details of the Government's proposals for job seeker's allowance will be set out in a White Paper to be presented jointly by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Employment and the Secretary of State for Social Security in the autumn. Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary legislation, the new allowance will be introduced in April 1996. Job seeker's allowance will be delivered from jobcentres of the Employment  Service of the Employment Department.

Employment Service staff will be responsible for advice and help on getting back to work and for the application of labour market tests such as availability for work. Financial aspects of the benefit, including calculation and payment, will be the responsibility of staff of the Benefits Agency of the Department of Social Security, located so far as possible in the same offices.

These arrangements will provide a comprehensive approach to getting unemployed people back to work including a full range of advice on employment and training and on the range of benefits available to those in work. This will be a significant step towards one-stop delivery of services to people seeking work.