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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 4th April 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 4th April 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Members of Parliament (Contacts)

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister what central record is kept of requests by groups of hon. Members seeking to discuss issues with Ministers.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. So far as my right hon. Friend is aware, none.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government policy on official contact between civil servants and spokespersons in Her Majesty's official Opposition.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. Opposition spokesmen may request briefings on departmental organisation or policies, or in advance of overseas travel. Ministers would expect to be asked to give their authority for such meetings, and to be present if sensitive matters of public policy are to be discussed. Civil servants may also on occasions have dealings with Opposition spokesmen on Ministers' behalf; again, Ministers would expect to authorise such meetings.

The conventions relating to confidential pre-election contacts between senior civil servants and opposition parties are described in a memorandum submitted to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee by the Cabinet Office in November 1994, printed at page 29, vol II of the Committee's Fifth Report, Session 1993 94. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has agreed that such contacts should be permitted from early 1996 in advance of the next general election.


Scott Inquiry

Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister if he will take steps to ensure that all of the documents (a) seized by Ministry of Defence police from the offices of British Manufacture and Research Company in April 1990 and (b) held by the receivers of Astra Holdings and British Manufacture and Research Company are made available to the Scott inquiry.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. All the documents taken from the offices of the British Manufacture and Research Company were sent to the receivers for Astra on 22 June 1993. The question of the provision of any of these documents to the Scott inquiry is one for the receiver and the inquiry.


Chemical Weapons Convention

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to introduce legislation to ratify the chemical weapons convention.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. The legislation needed to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the chemical weapons convention will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time and the Government's other legislative priorities permit.


Rail Privatisation

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 28 March, Official Report, column 823 , which other countries he had in mind as pursuing the same model of rail privatisation as Her Majesty's Government; and what were the points of similarities he was referring to in each case.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. A number of other European countries including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland have restructured or are restructuring their railways to split responsibility for track and infrastructure from the operation of services. Both Germany and Holland plan to privatise some or all of their railways on this basis.


Parliamentary Questions

Mrs. Ann Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister how many times in each year since 1979/80 his Department has written to an hon. or right hon. Member correcting an answer to a parliamentary question.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. The information as requested is not available.

Mrs. Ann Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many parliamentary questions to his Department were transferred for answer to the chief executive or other senior official of a non-departmental public body or agency for which he has responsibility in each year since 1979 80 or for each year that the body or agency has been in existence;

(2) how many parliamentary questions to his Department that were transferred for answer to the chief executive or other official of a non- departmental public body or agency for which he has responsibility received an answer which was not printed in the Official Report in each year since 1979 80 or for each year that the body or agency has been in existence.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. None.

Mrs. Ann Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many parliamentary questions requesting an ordinary written answer were received by his Department in each year since 1979 80; and how many such questions received a substantive answer within 10, 15, 20 days or longer;

(2) To ask the Prime Minister how many parliamentary questions to his Department in each year since 1979 80 requesting a priority written answer or answer on a named day, were answered within three days; how many received a holding reply; and how many of those which received a holding reply then received a substantive answer within a further five, 10, 15, 20 days or longer.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. The information requested is a matter of public record, but it could be provided in the form requested only at disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Ann Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister how many times in each year since 1979 80 his Department has given a reply to a parliamentary question which has resulted in the information requested being placed in the Library and not printed in the Official Report.

The Lord President: I have been asked to reply. The information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Publicity

Mrs. Ann Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list, for 1992 93 and 1993 94 separate figures for the spending by his Department on (a) television advertising, (b) radio advertising, (c) newspaper advertising, (d) other promotions materials and activities, (e) the totals in each year of (a) to (d) and (f) the proportion of (e) that was spent on recruitment advertising; and what are his latest estimates for the years 1994 95 and 1995 96.

Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply. For this purpose, the Prime Minister's Department is part of the Cabinet Office. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science.