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District Auditor's Inquiry (Westminster)

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received on the impact on Westminster City Council's fulfilment of its statutory

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functions of the reimbursement of legal costs associated with councillors and officers in connection with the District Auditor's inquiry into designated sales. [84065]

Ms Armstrong: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is not aware of any such representations.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he proposes to take, in relation to the work of the auditor involved in the inquiry, following the Court of Appeal's judgment reducing the Westminster auditor's calculation of loss in connection with the inquiry into designated sales. [84064]

Ms Armstrong: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has no function in relation to the work of auditors appointed by the independent Audit Commission.

Planning Inquiries

Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the average time taken between the completion of a planning inquiry and the announcement of the inspector's decision within the south-west region. [84220]

Mr. Caborn: Such information is available only for Planning Appeals made under S78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In the last year April 1998 to March 1999 the average time taken for cases in the south-west region decided by the Secretary of State was 27 weeks compared with a national average of 34 weeks.

Rents

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what were the average rents in each year since 1989 for (a) local authority properties, (b) housing association properties and (c) private properties. [84047]

Mr. Raynsford: The average weekly rents for England are as set out. These averages take no account of differences in the size, age or location of dwellings covered under the three tenures.

£

YearLocal authorityHousing association (3)Private
1989-9020.86n/an/a
1990-9123.92n/a40
1991-9227.5929.62n/a
1992-9330.8434.34n/a
1993-9433.7038.1761
1994-9535.7940.7165
1995-9638.4144.0070
1996-9740.1746.7476
1997-9841.1849.7179

(3) Housing association rents are at 31 March in each year. The series above runs from 31/3/92-31/3/98.

Source:

LA: DETR Housing Subsidy claim forms.

HA: annual Housing Corporation HAR 10/1 and RSR.

Private: 1990, Survey of Private Renters. Other years, DETR Survey of English Housing--like all estimates from sample surveys, these figures are subject to sampling variability. \


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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Community Legal Service

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department when he proposes to publish the Community Legal Service consultation document. [83822]

Mr. Hoon: I expect to publish the document shortly.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Serious Fraud Office

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the current caseload of the Serious Fraud Office. [83889]

The Solicitor-General: The current caseload of the Serious Fraud Office is 66 active cases. Caseload figures for the three previous financial years, as set out in the SFO Annual Reports, are as follows: 70, 82 and 78 (for 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 respectively).

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

EU Fraud

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) discussions he has had and (b) proposals his Department has put forward at Council of Ministers' meetings in respect of EU fraud; and if he will make a statement. [77775]

Ms Quin: [holding answer 19 March 1999]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Treasury on 19 March 1999, Official Report, column 858-59.

European Commission

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 20 January 1999, Official Report, column 505, for what reason he has not received from the European Commission the information requested by the hon. Member for Ludlow on 13 January. [81980]

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 20 January 1999, Official Report, column 505, on the European Commission, what steps he has taken to secure the information requested from the European Commission. [82179]

Ms Quin: I have written to the right hon. and hon. Members. A copy of these letters has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the proposals which he has made at the Council of Ministers for the reform of the European Commission. [82482]

Ms Quin: The UK has shared with partners a number of specific reform ideas aimed at making the Commission more efficient, transparent and accountable. These include changes to Commission internal management structures,

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personnel policy and financial control. Some progress has already been made. For example, the Council is expected shortly to approve plans for an independent fraud investigation office within the Commission, the make-up of which will owe much to UK ideas.

EU Council Meetings

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the average proportion of the agenda for European Union Council meetings attended by his Ministers which change in the period between his monthly announcement of the proposed agenda and the actual meeting. [82296]

Ms Quin: The agendas for EU General Affairs Councils (GACs) are subject to changes in the run-up to the meetings: Ministers often need to react quickly to events. Over the last six months, I estimate that the agendas for the GACs have changed by up to 50 per cent. between the monthly announcements and the actual meetings.

As part of the Parliamentary process, my department provides the Scrutiny Committees with updated agendas for the GACs two weeks in advance of the meetings, which are updated thereafter if there are further significant changes.

EU Treaties

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish as a single paper the texts of the revised Treaties on European Union and the European Community as coming into effect on 1 May together with all the protocols and declarations contained in their component treaties and showing for each article therein references to earlier numbered Articles related to those now current. [83819]

Ms Quin: I refer my hon. Friend to Command Paper CM 3780, presented to Parliament by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in October 1997. The consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union begins on page 110, that of the Treaty establishing the European Community on page 130. This text also includes references to the previous numbering of articles.

Peacekeeping (UN)

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 5 May 1999, Official Report, column 421, on UN peacekeeping, if he will list the cases which have arisen, other than in Kosovo, when in the light of all the circumstances a limited use of force has been deemed justifiable under international law in support of purposes laid down by the Security Council. [84066]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: A limited use of force was deemed justifiable in support of the purposes laid down by the Security Council but without the council's express authorisation in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq shortly after the Gulf War. The No Fly Zones were established in 1991 (northern Iraq) and 1992 (southern Iraq) in support of UNSCR 688 which called on Iraq to end its brutal repression of the civilian population: coalition aircraft help protect the interests of the Shias in

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the south and the Kurds and other minorities in the north by ensuring Iraqi aircraft cannot fly below the 33rd or above the 36th parallel.

Military Exports (Yugoslavia)

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of British military equipment exported to Yugoslavia since 1989 on the present conflict. [80160]

Mr. George Robertson: I have been asked to reply.

Since the introduction of UN and EU arms embargoes in 1991 we have no evidence of UK companies, either directly or through intermediaries, supplying the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with any military equipment prohibited by the embargoes. Details of military equipment exports during the period 1 January 1989 to July 1991, when the EU embargo was applied, were published on 16 February 1993, Official Report, columns 124-32, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith). These included military aircraft component spares, which were short term consumable items and are unlikely to still be in service. We assess that they have had little direct impact on operations.

Radar equipment and spare parts to support the civil/military radar system were also supplied. Many of these assets have been attacked and damaged or destroyed by NATO air-strikes. We believe that some UK supplied equipment is continuing to contribute to Serbia's remaining air surveillance capability.


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