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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 6th June 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th June 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

VJ Day

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister if he will re-define VJ day as VP day, victory in the Pacific; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: No.


Churchill Papers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister on which occasions the Churchill papers were offered for sale to the Government.

The Prime Minister: I cannot answer for previous Administrations. A formal offer of sale was made by the current trustees in 1991.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will instruct the national heritage fund to put the Churchill papers up for public tender without reservation.

The Prime Minister: No. The papers which constitute the Churchill archive are now the property of the Sir Winston Churchill archive trust, a charitable trust set up for the purpose of preserving the archive intact for the nation.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister what consideration he gave when deciding whether the Official Secrets Acts covered the Churchill papers in the case of Peter Wright; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The case to which the hon. Member refers has little or no relevance to the question of the applicability of the Official Secrets Acts to the Churchill papers.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if the national heritage fund is free to sell private papers acquired from the Churchill family; and what evidence he has as to their current market value, taking into account the copyright provisions.

The Prime Minister: The private papers sold by the Churchill family were bought on behalf of the specially constituted Sir Winston Churchill archive trust through the money allocated from the heritage lottery fund by the national heritage memorial fund. The only way the trust could dispose of the papers would be with the consent of the trustees of the national heritage memorial fund. As trustees of a charitable trust, they may not, in any case, dispose of the permanent endowment of the trust without the consent of the Charity Commissioners or of the courts. The independent advice on the value of the papers which the national heritage memorial fund received took into account the intended arrangements as to copyright ownership.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will take impartial professional advice as to the open market value, subject to the existing restrictions on copyright, of the private papers purchased by the national heritage fund from the Churchill family;

(2) what account was taken of the value of the copyright when estimating the amount which might have been paid by purchasers of the Churchill memoirs.

The Prime Minister: The independent advice on the value of the papers which the national heritage memorial fund received took into account the intended arrangements as to copyright ownership.


Ministers's Official Broadcasts

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if drafts of Ministers' official broadcasts are classified as official papers.

The Prime Minister: If such drafts are created or acquired by Ministers by virtue of their office, they would be official papers.


Living Standards

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Prime Minister what is his policy in respect of the state funding improvements in individuals living standards in old age.

The Prime Minister: Our policy on pensions remains unchanged. We will maintain the value of the basic state pension by increasing it in line with prices, encourage personal responsibility for additional pension provision through occupational and personal pensions and target extra resources on those with low incomes.


Housing Benefit

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Prime Minister what provisions his Department has made to ensure that accommodation designed to provide care and support for vulnerable residents and those at risk, is fully covered under the proposed changes to housing benefit.

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security has recently received the report of the Social Security Advisory Committee following its public consultation on the proposed changes to housing benefit. He will be considering carefully the position of sheltered and supported housing under the changes as part of the response to the report.


Ministerial Documents

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister what classes of document relating directly or indirectly to the performance by Ministers and officials of their duties are still regarded as state papers which cannot be sold for personal gain by Ministers and officials.

The Prime Minister: Papers which are created or acquired by Ministers or officials, or other Crown servants, by virtue of the office they hold under, or in their service to, the Crown, are regarded as state papers which should not be sold for personal gain. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 4 May 1995, Official Report, columns 281 82 in respect of the convention relating to papers taken away by Prime Ministers on leaving office.


Local Education Authorities

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 25 April, Official Report, column 65, where in the current edition of "Social Trends" can be found the information that education authorities employ two administrators for every three teachers; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), on 27 April, Official Report, column 613.