The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1991Prime Minister (1990-1997)

PMQT Written Answers – 28 January 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 28th January 1991.



Lithuania and Latvia

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make direct representations to the President of the Soviet Union concerning recent actions by the Soviet Government in Lithuania and Latvia; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : We have made our concerns known very clearly to the Soviet authorities, both bilaterally and in conjunction with partners and allies. There should be no doubt of our condemnation of the actions of Soviet troops in Vilnius and Riga and their tragic consequences. We call urgently on the Soviet authorities to withdraw their troops and to negotiate seriously with the elected authorities in the Baltic states.

Lobby Reporters

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Prime Minister if he will change the terms under which parliamentary lobby reporters are briefed by his press secretary so that information may be attributed to the Prime Minister’s office in place of Government sources.

The Prime Minister : I have at present no plans to do so.

Saudi Arabia (Mail)

Mr. Beith : To ask the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to ensure that mail can be got through to United Kingdom civilians working in Saudi Arabia from their families, using military postal facilities if necessary and where possible.

The Prime Minister : In spite of delays caused by difficulties with air services, the Post Office is making every effort to operate the best possible service to Saudi Arabia and mail is getting through. The Ministry of Defence would be willing to consider what help it could provide, if this becomes necessary.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will bring forward proposals to institute a system for notifying (a) Parliament and (b) the electorate when the royal prerogative has been exercised; (2) if he will make it his policy to introduce legislation to ensure that the authority of Parliament is required for (a) the declaration or continuation of war and (b) other exercises of the royal prerogative; (3) if he will bring forward legislative proposals to introduce ministerial responsibility to Parliament for the powers currently exercised by the royal prerogative.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 January 1991] : No.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements exist for the Prime Minister to be notified when the royal prerogative is used.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 January 1991] : With very few exceptions, the royal prerogative comprises powers that are now exercised by Ministers subject to the constitutional conventions.

Declaration of War

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister (1) what would be the effects of an official declaration of war on the maintenance of an Iraqi diplomatic capability in the United Kingdom;

(2) whether the United Kingdom is at war with Iraq;

(3) what representations he has received concerning parliamentary consideration of the declaration of war.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 January 1991] : The United Kingdom is not in a state of war with Iraq. British forces are engaged, together with the armed forces of Kuwait and other coalition partners, in hostilities against Iraq under the authority of the United Nations Security Council. The rules of international law applying in cases of armed conflict apply to these hostilities, notably the Geneva protocol of 1925 and the four Geneva conventions of 1949. We will observe our obligations under those treaties scrupulously and expect the Government of Iraq to do the same.