Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 9th November 1992.
Library and Information Services
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Prime Minister what inter-departmental co-ordination of Government policy towards library and information services exists; and what steps he is taking to improve such co-ordination.
The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage liaises with colleagues on library and information matters where these are not within a specific departmental interest. Department of National Heritage officials have close working relations with other Government Departments. The National Heritage Secretary is considering how far these links need to be strengthened, and will initiate action as necessary.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what is his policy in regard to permitting serving members of the security services to give evidence in court cases held in the United Kingdom on matters related to their responsibilities.
The Prime Minister : There is no objection of principle to serving members of the security and intelligence services giving evidence in court cases held in the United Kingdom on matters relating to their responsibilities, subject to considerations of the public interest, including protection of identification, and to the condition of relevance being satisfied.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty’s Government’s policy in regard to examining reports produced by the European Parliament committees.
The Prime Minister : Departments in London closely follow European Parliament–EP–developments on subjects within their responsibilities. Councils in Brussels take account of EP resolutions relating to their current business. Each Foreign Affairs Council considers resolutions recently approved by the European Parliament and the presidency draws attention to resolutions of particular importance.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty’s Government will support the proposals to be made at the Edinburgh summit by the Government of Denmark.
The Prime Minister : The proposals submitted by the Danish Government on ratification of the Maastricht treaty will form the basis for our discussions with other member states. Our objective is to agree the framework for a solution at Edinburgh.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if he will review the Government’s opposition to an arms embargo against Indonesia.
The Prime Minister : No. I do not believe that a review is necessary.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what opportunities exist for citizens of the United Kingdom to make suggestions to the European Commission for proposals to the Council under the provisions of the treaty on European Union.
The Prime Minister : Any citizen of a member state may make suggestions to the Commission.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he will put forward to enable the Danish request for exemption from part two of the treaty on European union, concerning citizenship, to be met.
The Prime Minister : A memorandum was presented by the Danish Government to Community member states on 30 October. This will now be discussed within the Community.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Prime Minister in what areas of policy covered by the treaty on European union will the Commission’s role be solely advisory.
The Prime Minister : There are provisions in the treaty on European union for the Commission to be consulted on a proposal by another party; for example, article 168a–court of first instance–and article N– amendment of the treaty.
Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Prime Minister what is the number of persons employed in general Government using the figures for (a) 1961 and (b) 1991; and what is the percentage increase that the 1991 figure represents.
The Prime Minister : The information required is available in the Central Statistical Office publication “Economic Trends”, December 1991– Table D of “Employment in the public and private sectors”. A copy is available in the Library.
Public Record Office
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Prime Minister how many papers his Department has currently withdrawn from the Public Record Office; if he will list their titles; and when he estimates that they will be returned.
The Prime Minister : About 30 files of papers on open deposit at the Public Record Office are currently requisitioned for departmental use in London as permitted under the legislation, but the number may change from day to day. They have mainly been requisitioned for purposes of official historical research. A member of the public applying for access to any such file has only to cite its title and number, by reference to the shelf lists held at the Public Record Office, and arrangements can normally be made for its early return to the public reading room for as long as may reasonably be required.
Health Pay Review Boards
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to suspend the health pay review boards; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 November 1992] : The Government see a continuing role for these review bodies, whose advice it has greatly valued. We have made clear to the review bodies, and more generally, the importance we attach to tight control over public spending and borrowing. As part of this, the Government will be seeking to maintain firm downward pressure on growth in the pay of public sector employees, including those whose pay is subject to the recommendations of the pay review bodies.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make representations to President Yeltsin concerning the Russian seal cull at his forthcoming meeting; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 5 November 1992] : The Russian authorities are well aware of public concern in the United Kingdom about seal culling. The EC banned the import of harp and hooded seal pup skins in 1983. The United Kingdom persuaded the Community to extend the ban indefinitely in 1989.