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1997 - PMQT Written Answers 11th February 1997

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 11th February 1997.


PRIME MINISTER:

Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagement for Tuesday 11 February.

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 11 February.

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


Building Society Conversions (Disabled People's Rights)

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Prime Minister which Departments have responsibility for assessing the National Disability Council's representations for action to stop building societies converting to banks without paying bonus shares to disabled people who are not the first named on their account; what response has been made to the council; what action has been taken by the Government; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: Officials from Her Majesty's Treasury, the Department responsible for overseeing building societies, and the disability unit of the Department of Social Security have been working together with the independent National Disability Council on this issue. A report of their progress was given to the National Disability Council's meeting on 27 January. My hon. Friend, the Minister for Disabled People hopes to respond to the council in the near future.


Interception of Communications

Mr. Alton: To ask the Prime Minister what role the Interception of Communications Tribunal and the commissioner have in the handling of (a) complaints of interceptions not authorised by warrant and (b) surreptitious surveillance of telephone calls by methods not prohibited by the definition of interception of the Court of Appeal in R v. Ahmed (1984); and what changes there have been to their role, with special reference to the area of unauthorised interception, since the statement by the Home Secretary on 7 February 1985, Official Report, column 1121.

The Prime Minister: The tribunal and commissioner have no statutory power to investigate allegations that interception has taken place without a warrant issued under the Interception of Communications Act 1985. That would fall to be investigated by the police. The Act, which defines the roles of the tribunal and commissioner, is concerned only with the interception of communications in the course of their transmission by post or by means of a public telecommunications system. It does not apply to private telecommunications systems. There has been no change to the roles of the tribunal and commissioner since the introduction of the Act.


Ministerial Visits (Indian Sub-continent)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 20 January, Official Report, column 448, who the 48 representatives of British industry were who accompanied him on his recent visit to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister: The following list details those commercial organisations who were represented on various stages of my visit to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh:

Alfred McAlpine, SAGG, ANZ Gringlays, ABI, BAT, BOC, BAe British Airways, British Council, CBI, Commercial Union, Courtauld, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Eagle Star, Foster Wheeler, GEC, Grand Met, HSBC, Hyder Consulting Group, ICI Paints, Kvaerner, Mott McDonald, Nat West Markets, PowerGen, Premier, Robert Fleming, Rolls Royce, Royal Sun Alliance, The 600 Group, Scotch Whiskey Association, Standard Life, W S Atkins, Asia House, Caparo Group, GEC Alsthom, General Accident, GPT, John Laing International Ltd, Prudential, RTZ/CRA, T&N, University of Warwick, Cable and Wireless, Midland Electricity, Hardy Oil, LASMO, Nat West Securities, Siemens Plessey, Shell UK, Balfour Beatty, Barclays Bank, Barclays BZW, Biwater, ICI-Polyester, National Grid.