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 – 5 July 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 5th July 1991.



National Identity Cards

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the Government’s policy towards issuing national identity cards to (a) immigrants and (b) all citizens.

The Prime Minister : As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary informed the House on 10 February 1989, the Government are not persuaded that a compulsory national identity card scheme should be introduced.

In the Government’s view the disadvantages of a policy of issuing national identity cards, notably the high financial cost, the risk of harming the relationship between police and public, and civil liberty objections, would outweigh its benefits.


Child Benefit

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Prime Minister if he will arrange for the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys to use the post code information held by the Benefits Agency to analyse child benefit to obtain and publish up-to-date information on the numbers of children in lone and two-parent households by area.

The Prime Minister : This information cannot be obtained using child benefit records, as post codes necessary to allocate claims to local authority areas are not available for some 2 million, out of 6.7 million, payees. The objective could be achieved by other means only at disproportionate cost.



Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Prime Minister whether the initiative taken by the three EC Foreign Ministers who visited Yugoslavia on peace-keeping missions was undertaken at the request of the Heads of Government meeting; whether the decision to send them was unanimous; what were their terms of reference; to whom they were to report back; and whether the agreed policy precluded individual Heads of Government from expressing separate national views.

The Prime Minister : I and my EC colleagues decided at the European Council in Luxembourg on 28 June to send the troika of EC Foreign Ministers to Belgrade and Zagreb to try to negotiate an agreement on the terms of a ceasefire which would allow negotiations between all the parties involved in the crisis in Yugoslavia. They reported back to us on the results of their mission on 29 June. The decision to send the troika was taken by consensus, as are all decisions in the field of foreign policy co-operation among the member states of the Community. The speed and unity of the Twelve’s response reflected a convergence of national views on this subject. We shall, of course, continue to express our views bilaterally to the various Yugoslav parties.


Hot Pursuit

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Prime Minister what is his policy on allowing police officers from other EC countries to enter the United Kingdom in hot pursuit of suspects.

The Prime Minister : There is currently no provision for police officers from other EC countries to enter the United Kingdom in pursuit of suspects.


UK-US Relations

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on current United Kingdom relations with the United States of America in regard to (a) the future role of NATO, (b) the development of free trade and the GATT negotiations, (c) the strategic defence initiative, (d) the halting of nuclear weapons testing and (e) the future of Antarctica and the Antarctic treaty.

The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom and the United States are in full agreement with each other, and with the rest of the alliance, on NATO’s future role as the cornerstone of European security. We are both committed to securing an open world trading system. We and the European Community are working closely with the United States in the GATT negotiations, which we all hope to conclude successfully by the end of the year.


Lone-Parent Families

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make arrangements for the Department of the Environment to arrange with the Benefits Agency the means of obtaining up-to-date information on the numbers of children in lone-parent households by local authority area for the purpose of assessing standard spending.

The Prime Minister : The standard spending assessments include indicators based on the most up-to-date information which is reliable at a local authority level on numbers of children and numbers of persons living in lone parent households. It is not possible to obtain more recent information by using child benefit records because the necessary post codes are not available for some 2 million out of 6.7 million, payees. An analysis of child benefit payments will not, in any case, identify all lone parent households since some parents in receipt of income support do not claim one parent benefit as there is no financial incentive to do so.


Immigration and Frontier Controls

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library the papers on immigration and frontier controls used during the Luxembourg summit and by his press officer subsequently to brief journalists.

The Prime Minister : I refer the honourable Gentleman to the statement I made in the House on 1 July, and the conclusions of the European Council which have been placed in the Library of the House.


Immigrants (Criminal Activity)

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Prime Minister what research has been undertaken into the incidence among the immigrant population, relative to the non-immigrant population, of criminal activity, in particular (i) drug trafficking and (ii) terrorism, and of contribution to racial tension.

The Prime Minister : I am not aware of any research of these specific matters.