Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 25th November 1993.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Dartmouth, South Devon.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has no immediate plans to do so.
Nuclear Tests (Radiation)
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the current position on his consideration of the report by the National Radiological Protection Board into the effects of radiation on British service personnel involved in nuclear tests.
The Prime Minister : I understand that a follow-up report by the National Radiological Protection Board–NRPB–on cancer and mortality among nuclear test veterans is now undergoing peer review prior to publication. The Government know of no new evidence to change the position from the previous NRPB report, which showed that the total incidence of death and malignant disease among test veterans has been no greater than among people generally. We will of course study the follow-up report once it is published.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Prime Minister which Department will be conducting the investigation into the feasibility of a national identity card scheme.
The Prime Minister : The Government keep the question of a national identity card under review. The Department of Social Security is considering whether identity cards can contribute to the fight against benefit payment fraud.
Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister how many officials in his office are currently involved in drafting replies to letters for him to sign.
The Prime Minister : Officials provide drafts as necessary.
Higher and Further Education
Mr. Madel : To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has to introduce a national awards scheme to recognise outstanding achievement by higher and further education institutions.
The Prime Minister : I am pleased to inform the House that Her Majesty the Queen has given her approval to the introduction of a national awards scheme to be known as the Queen’s anniversary prizes for higher and further education.
The proposal for these prizes was initiated by the Royal Anniversary Trust. This trust was formed to fund certain celebrations of the fortieth anniversary of the Queen’s accession in 1992. The awards scheme will be funded and operated by that trust, using the residue of money remaining in it at the end of 1992, in collaboration with Her Majesty’s Government.
The purpose of the scheme is to recognise projects of the widest scope which are judged to be of outstanding excellence in service and benefit to the nation. It will be held every two years commencing in 1994, when applications will be sought in January. The prizes will be presented by her Majesty the Queen at a ceremony, which on the first occasion will be in February 1995.
The scheme is a free-standing initiative but obviously draws much on the experience of the existing Queen’s awards arrangements. There are, of course, other awards schemes for further and higher education institutions and there continues to be a place for them in their particular fields. This new and distinctive scheme complements those activities and usefully provides a new focus for a vital part of the nation’s endeavour.
The Government regard it as essential that the substantial expansion of further and higher education opportunities should be accompanied by increases in attainment and quality. I pay tribute to the many colleges and universities across the country which continue to work hard for these ends. Success brings its own reward, but it is right that particular excellence should receive particular recognition.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 25 November.
The Lord President : I have been asked to reply.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the Anglo-German summit in Cologne.