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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 10th January 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 10th January 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 10 January.

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.

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 10 January.

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.


Intelligence and Security Committee

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what is the annual expenditure earmarked for the Intelligence and Security Committee;

(2) if he expects to give oral evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee;

(3) if senior staff below the level of director general in the security services are to be allowed to give evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee if the committee requests this;

(4) at what time of the year he expects to receive the first report from the Intelligence and Security Committee;

(5) if officers of the House are involved in staffing the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 21 November 1994, Official Report, column 25 .

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Prime Minister what considerations underlay the decision to hold meetings of the Intelligence and Security Committee in the Cabinet Office; what consideration was given to holding them in the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The House has always recognised that intelligence issues cannot be dealt with in the same way as normal departmental affairs. Special arrangements have been made therefore for the committee to meet in suitable secure accommodation in the Cabinet Office, reflecting the necessary secrecy of the committee's proceedings.


European Parliament

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy not to agree to any proposal which would extend or increase the powers of the European Parliament.

The Prime Minister: The treaty on European Union accorded the European Parliament new powers. We do not believe that the case has been made for an extension of these powers. The primary democratic focus in the European Union rests with national Parliaments, not the European Parliament.


Hunting Engineering

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will provide a breakdown of all ongoing Government contracts with Hunting Engineering and those completed in the last two years, summarising the amounts relating to each purpose within the contracts and the total of them overall.

The Prime Minister: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Voter Satisfaction Surveys

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what surveys Her Majesty's Government carried out in 1994 to assess voter satisfaction with Her Majesty's Government's policy; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: None.


Employment Statistics

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will propose action to increase the numbers of people aged 16 to 20 years employed in each Department and associated agencies;

(2) if he will give an estimate of the numbers of people available for work aged (a) 16, (b) 17, (c) 18, (d) 19 and (e) 20 years; and if he will compare their ratio to all employees with the ratio of young people employed across the public services and agencies.

The Prime Minister: Government Departments and agencies recruit staff on merit through fair and open competition. The details of recruitment procedures are determined by each Department or agency in the light of its own needs and circumstances.

The Employment Department aims to integrate young people into the labour market by providing a wide range of employment and training measures and services for them. Government Departments and agencies participate fully in programmes such as youth training.

The employment of young people in different occupations or sectors of activity is affected by recent recruitment levels and by the qualities and experience appropriate to the work.

In particular, young people tend to group towards particular occupations, some of which may not be associated with the public sector.

The available estimates from the labour force survey for Great Britain in summer--June to August--1994 show that there were 1,597,000 16 to 20-year- old employees in total, representing 7 per cent. of all employees. Of these 119,000 were in the public sector, representing 2 per cent. of all public sector employees. A further 507,000 16 to 20-year-olds were classified as International Labour Organisation unemployed of which 157,000 were in full- time education but actively seeking a part-time or vacation job.


Political Resolutions

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what are his political resolutions for 1995.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Queen's Speech, Official Report, 16 November 1994 columns 4 6.


European Councils

Dr. Marek: To ask the Prime Minister what changes he proposes to make in reporting to Parliament proceedings and debates within European Council meetings and committees; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: Ministers give Parliament an account of each meeting of the Council of Ministers. Press releases, which include details of voting, are deposited in the Library of the House. I see no reason to change these arrangements.


Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library his correspondence with Mr. Martin Cadman, of the Lockerbie victims' relatives association, and in particular his response to Mr. Cadman's letter of 18 December 1994, concerning Lord Parkinson's meetings on 19 September 1989 and 5 December 1989 with the relatives, and his answer of 15 December, Official Report, column 1068.

The Prime Minister: No, it is not my normal practice to do so.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his response to Lockerbie victim relative Rev. John Mosey's letter to him of 28 December 1994.

The Prime Minister: No, it is not my normal practice to do so.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if, following communications from Mr. Martin Cadman, Pamela Dix, Rev. John Mosey and Dr. Jim Swire, relatives of Lockerbie victims, he has anything to add to his oral answer to the hon. Member of Linlithgow of 15 December, Official Report, column 1068.

The Prime Minister: I understand that the meeting between Lord Parkinson and a group of British relatives of the Lockerbie victims to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Gentleman on 15 December took place in December 1989, not in 1990. At that meeting, Lord Parkinson explained the Government's decision not to hold a confidential inquiry into the disaster, but said that the Lord Advocate was likely to hold a public fatal accident inquiry. I have received representations from several relatives of Lockerbie victims calling for a further inquiry. However, in view of all the investigations that have already been carried out, and the need to avoid the danger of prejudicing a criminal trial of the two accused, I do not believe such an inquiry is warranted.


Ghazanfer Ali

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the latest position in the case of Mr. Ghazanfer Ali, detained in Mirpur prison in Azad Kashmir.

The Prime Minister: We continue to raise our concerns over the delays in the hearings of the charges facing Ghazanfer Ali. There has been no progress since my previous answer. The hearings continue to be adjourned.


Scottish Devolution

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to conduct an analysis of the effects on the rest of the United Kingdom of devolution for Scotland as proposed in the Scotland Act 1978; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The proposals for a Scottish assembly contained within the Scotland Act 1978 were the subject of a referendum in 1979 and failed to gain the support of the electorate. The proposals of the Scotland Act 1978 no longer enjoy the support of any political party, but the inconsistencies inherent in those proposals, which were clearly highlighted over 15 years ago, remain today unanswered by the proponents of devolution.