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1994 - PMQT Written Answers 19th July 1994

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 19th July 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Railtrack

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 7 July, to the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), Official Report, column 447, what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of the payment of £500 to members of the Railtrack board for attendance at a board meeting.

The Prime Minister : All Railtrack board payments were agreed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and by the Treasury before Railtrack was established. No additional payments have been introduced since that time.

Non-executive directors of Railtrack receive a £500 fee for each meeting of one of the board's committees--safety, environment and health ; audit; and remuneration--which they attend as a member. Each committee meets up to four times a year, and no non-executive director is a member of more than two. They receive a separate annual fee of £10,000 for their main board duties.

These payments are consistent with the Treasury guidelines on nationalised industry board members' appointments, pay and bonuses.


Disability

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to establish a pre-legislative committee or working group to consider the findings of the consultation on disability issues.

The Prime Minister : Decisions on the way forward will be made in the light of the responses to the consultation document "Disability on the Agenda", issued on 16 July.


Debt Relief

Mr. Pike : To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with (a) European leaders and (b) Commonwealth leaders about (i) the Trinidad terms and (ii) Kashmir; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I announced in the House on 11 July 1994, Official Report, column 668, that the Naples summit had agreed to pursue additional measures aimed at increasing the level of debt relief for the poorest countries in line with the initiative that I originally proposed four years ago. We have consistently pressed for the implementation of full Trinidad terms in contacts with European, Commonwealth and other Governments. We regularly discuss Kashmir with our European Union partners, and with the Indian and Pakistan Governments who are the Commonwealth Governments most directly concerned.


Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 19 July.

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 19 July.

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


Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what representations Her Majesty's Government have received from the Secretary General of the Arab League about the Arab League's resolutions on Lockerbie and the destruction of Pan Am 103.

The Prime Minister : The Secretary General of the Arab League handed a copy of the Arab League resolution concerning the Lockerbie bombing to Her Majesty's ambassador in Cairo on 31 March this year.


Ministerial Visits

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 12 July, Official Report, column 483, how many overseas visits he has made as Prime Minister during which he undertook fund-raising activities for the Conservative party.

The Prime Minister : Fund-raising activities for the Conservative party are not part of my official duties.


European Council

Mr. Channon : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of the special European Council held in Brussels on 15 July.

The Prime Minister : A special meeting of the European Council was held in Brussels on 15 July to consider the presidency of the European Commission and certain international questions. I attended with my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary and with my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Following his consultations with Council members over the previous two weeks, the President of the European Council, Chancellor Kohl, proposed that the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Jacques Santer, should take over as the President of the European Commission on 7 January 1995.

All members of the Council endorsed this proposal. During a short discussion, I underlined the challenges facing the European Union in the period ahead, including making the single market and the need to extend prosperity and security to the east. I believed that Mr. Santer was well qualified to lead the European Commission during this period. He will have an important role to play in bringing together different points of view.

In accordance with article 158 of the treaty on European Union, the Council President will now consult the European Parliament on the nomination of Mr. Santer.

After a report by the Italian Prime Minister on the Naples summit, the Council discussed the former Yugoslavia. My right hon. Friend reported on the visit which he had paid earlier in the week to the region with the French Foreign Minister. Heads of Government expressed their support for the contact group's plan. They believed that everything possible should be done to secure its acceptance and avoid a yet more dangerous situation.

The French Prime Minister briefed the Council on the action taken by his Government in Rwanda. In the light of the grave humanitarian situation there, the Council asked the Commission to bring forward proposals for additional aid from the European Union.

Finally, the Council discussed the Baltic states and Ukraine. The European Union is seeking to develop its relationships with those countries; to work for the withdrawal of the last Russian troops from the Baltic States; and to help Ukraine to develop a new energy strategy, including closure of the nuclear power plants at Chernobyl.