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 – 12 February 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 12th February 1991.



United Kingdom 2000

Mr. Beith : To ask the Prime Minister what has been the total funding to date of the United Kingdom 2000 initiative set up by his predecessor under the chairmanship of Mr. Richard Branson; which voluntary organisations have been involved; what have been the achievements of the initiative ; whether he has any further proposals to develop this initiative; and whether he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Total Government funding to March 1991 will be £9.434 million. The partner voluntary organisations in England are the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, the Civic Trust, Community Service Volunteers, Groundwork, Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. In Wales the organisations involved are the same apart from the Civic Trust, and in addition the Keep Wales Tidy Campaign. In Scotland, the organisations are the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Conservation Projects, Community Service Volunteers and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The main achievements have been high-quality, practical environmental improvement projects, training and work experience together with the creation of new environmental enterprises. This work has been carried out in partnership with the public and private sectors. In 1989-90 there were 717 projects which generated 7,819 training places and 54,218 volunteers and which attracted £2,423 million support from the private sector.

In England United Kingdom 2000 phase 2 began on 31 March 1991 and, subject to performance, the voluntary organisations will continue to receive grant until March 1993. United Kingdom 2000 (Scotland) will be launched as a company limited by guarantee in April 1991. The initiative in Wales has recently been fully reviewed ; the next steps are now under consideration.


United Nations

Mr. Wray : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will make it his policy to put forward proposals to amend the United Nations charter to provide for periodic elections of all members of the United Nations Security Council; (2) if he will make it his policy to put forward proposals to amend the United Nations charter to provide that United Nations Security Council members should have veto powers; (3) if he will make it his policy to put forward proposals to amend the United Nations charter to provide that in the event of war waged in the name of the United Nations basic decisions are taken by all member countries of the United Nations with an ad hoc executive committee to supervise the conduct of hostilities by the armed forces acting for the United Nations.

The Prime Minister : No. The Government do not believe that reform of the United Nations charter is either necessary or desirable.

Mr. Wray : To ask the Prime Minister when he expects the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss the conduct of the war in the Persian Gulf.

The Prime Minister : The United Nations Security Council has met frequently since the outbreak of hostilities in the Gulf on 2 August, most recently in informal consultations on 8 February.



Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Prime Minister what specific plans he has to improve investment in Lanarkshire.

The Prime Minister : The Lanarkshire working group, which met last month, will identify the main constraints to revitalising the Lanarkshire economy and recommend measures to resolve those problems. Investment in Lanarkshire from the private and public sector, is among the working group’s concerns. The working group expects to report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland around the end of April.



Mr. Beggs : To ask the Prime Minister what is the estimated additional cost incurred weekly by pensioners in Northern Ireland for heating, lighting and travel when expenditure is compared with that of pensioners in a comparable region in Great Britain.

The Prime Minister : Information on the expenditure of pensioner households on heating, lighting and travel is available at household level from the family expenditure survey. Northern Ireland compares with Wales in terms of average normal weekly disposable income for all households, including pensioner households. The table provides information from the amalgamated results of the 1988-89 family expenditure survey for pensioner households.


1851 Exhibition

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Prime Minister when the holder of his office last attended a meeting of the royal commissioners for the exhibition of 1851.

The Prime Minister : I am not aware of such a meeting.


Probation Officers, Liverpool

Mr. Parry : To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from the probation officer based at Liverpool about salaries ; and what reply he has sent.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has received representations from seven probation officers from Merseyside about probation officers’ salaries. They either have received or will receive official replies.



Mr. Terry Davis : To ask the Prime Minister whether the policy of the Government with regard to correspondence between hon. Members and officials remains as set out in the letter from the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill, of 18 May 1989.

The Prime Minister : It is for Ministers in each Department to decide how correspondence will be handled. Following the recent scrutiny of ministerial correspondence, Departments are considering how to assist Members of Parliament to direct their inquiries to the point which is best able to give them a fast, informed and helpful reply.

The Government reply to the eighth report from the Treasury and Civil Service Committee–Cmnd 1263–states that Ministers will normally ask the chief executive of an agency to reply to letters that concern day-to-day operational matters delegated to the agency.


East Timor

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty’s Government’s policy towards the Timor Gap agreement between Indonesia and Australia; and whether this agreement was discussed during his telephone conversation with Prime Minister Hawke of Australia on 5 February.

The Prime Minister : The Timor Gap agreement is a matter between Indonesia and Australia, who recognised East Timor’s incorporation into Indonesia in 1979. The agreement in no way affects our own stance on recognition. I have not discussed the agreement with Prime Minister Hawke.



Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 12 February.

The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. I also called on Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and presented her with a gift from the Cabinet to mark her 90th year. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.


The Gulf

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what steps have been taken by allied bombing sorties over Iraq to avoid disruption of the ecological balance of the marshes in the River Euphrates delta and to the habitat of the striped hyenas, jackals and wolves of the western desert of Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 8 February 1991] : Allied aircrews have instructions to attack only military targets which could pose a threat to allied forces or facilities supporting Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait. The missions are carefully planned to minimise the risk of damage to other areas.


Nuclear Test Veterans

Mr. Higgins : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Worthing on 4 December 1990, Official Report, column 17, by what process British nuclear test veterans may seek to establish the Crown’s legal liability for compensation for the effects of radiation while serving in Her Majesty’s forces.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 February 1991] : The process to establish the Crown’s legal liability in this matter is the need, in common law, to show that participants in the test programme had been exposed to radiation due to Ministry of Defence negligence and that such exposure caused them harm. The Government commissioned a study by the National Radiological Protection Board into this and the report published in 1988 did not establish a causal link between participation and an increased incidence of cancer. A further study by the NRPB to validate the findings of the previous study has been commissioned and the report is due to be published in 1992.


Elderly People

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Prime Minister if he will convene a working group comprised of representatives of the Departments of Health, Social Security and the Environment and of the public, private and voluntary sector providers, funders and user representatives to undertake an investigation into problems and issues involved in funding care for the elderly.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 February 1991] : There are regular opportunities for interdepartmental consultation on the care needs of elderly people. Provider and user interests are fully reflected in this process. We believe that the creation of a formal working group of the kind suggested would add little to the existing effective collaboration machinery, and might in fact diminish its effectiveness.


Toxteth Riots

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Prime Minister if he will now place in the Library (a) the report of the Secretary of State for the Environment about the Toxteth riots, entitled “It Took a Riot”, (b) the letter of the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) in response to that report and (c) the report of the former Central Policy Review Staff on problems of the inner cities ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 February 1991] : No.