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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 6th June 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th June 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 14 May, Official Report, columns 762-63, what consideration he has given to the issue addressed to him by the chairman of United Kingdom Families Flight 103, in a letter of 13 May, as to (a) whether the criminal investigation findings were reliable and complete and (b) whether there has been a fabrication of evidence to conceal certain matters therein set out.

The Prime Minister: My noble and learned Friend, the then Lord Advocate, concluded after the most intensive investigation in United Kingdom history that there was no evidence to support charges against the nationals of any other country. The alleged involvement of a Palestinian terrorist group was closely investigated during the early stages of the investigation, but no credible evidence emerged to substantiate its involvement in the Lockerbie crime. It is for a jury to decide how reliable the evidence is, but successive Lord Advocates would not have brought and maintained charges if they had believed that the evidence on which they were based was unreliable, incomplete or fabricated.


Beef Ban

Sir Russell Johnston: To ask the Prime Minister what representations were made to the United States Government following their banning of British beef in 1989; what further negotiations have taken place since; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: It is not true that the United States authorities banned British beef in 1989. However, the USA has not accepted imports of bone in beef from Britain since 1989. After 1989, negotiations concentrated on securing access to US markets for boneless beef, which were successfully concluded in July 1994. Negotiations continue on securing wider access to the US markets, although in regular discussions with representatives of industry, the USA has not been identified as a priority market for the export of beef.


Kashmir

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make representations to the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir concerning the detention in Mirpur prison of Chazanfer Ali; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: As Ghazanfer Ali, a Pakistani national, has now been formally charged and has made appearances in court, it is now a matter for the Azad Kashmir authorities. It would not be appropriate for us to make further representations.


European Union Flag

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister what instructions were issued to Government offices and agencies in respect of flying the European Union flag on 8 May; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 6 June.

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 6 June.

The Prime Minister: This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.


Security and Intelligence Services

Mr. Day: To ask the Prime Minister when the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Security Service Act 1989 will be laid before the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: A copy of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's sixth annual report for 1995 has been laid before the House today in accordance with section 4(6) of the Security Service Act 1989. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 4(7) of the 1989 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided in that Act and for reviewing the issue of warrants under the Intelligence Services Act 1994. I note that he is satisfied that the Secretaries of State have exercised their powers in accordance with the provisions of the 1994 Act.

Sir Roger Moate: To ask the Prime Minister when the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 will be laid before the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: A copy of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's first annual report, for 1995, has been laid before the House today in accordance with section 8(6) of the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 8(7) of the 1994 Act. I am grateful to the Commissioner for his work in reviewing the issue of warrants and authorisations, and in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided for in the Act. I note that he is satisfied that the Secretary of State has properly exercised his powers under the two sections of the 1994 Act.

Sir Jim Lester: To ask the Prime Minister when the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 will be laid before the House; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: A copy of Lord Nolan's annual report for 1995 has been laid before the House today in accordance with section 8(7) of the Interception of Communications Act 1985. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 8(8) of the 1985 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in reviewing the issue of warrants and in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided for in the Act. I note in particular the commissioner's view that the interception of both postal and telecommunications remains both an effective and essential operation in the interests of national security and the economic well being of the United Kingdom, and the prevention and detection of serious crime.