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30 Nov 1994 : Column WA37

Written Answers

Wednesday 30th November 1994


Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Technical Commission has started to identify those people in need of resettlement under the Accord, due to come into force once a peace agreement is signed. Further work is, however, needed to assess the scale of the problem. It should then be possible to decide the level of funding required.


Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have received no recent information about the fate of Raoul Wallenburg. A Swedish/Russian commission was set up in 1991 to investigate the full facts surrounding Mr. Wallenburg's disappearance. We assume the Swedish Government will publish any further details about Mr. Wallenburg's fate which may be uncovered by the commission.


Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Commission's subsidiarity report to the December 1993 Brussels European Council included a substantial programme for the repeal and simplification of existing legislation. As the progress report which the Commission will present to the Essen European Council shows, a start has been made on this work in 1994, and we look forward to further progress under the new Commission. We think it essential that the subsidiarity principle is properly respected in all Community business, including future legislation. We welcome positive evidence of this in the report to Essen.

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Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they remain opposed to the creation of a federal structure within the European Community or the European Union.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Yes.


Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the eligibility criteria for overseas posts funded by the Overseas Development Administration are derived from the rules governing entry to the United Kingdom Civil Service (HL Deb, 12th October 1994, column WA117) given that the circumstances are quite different and the result may be an inability to engage the most suitable person and whether they will consider this policy.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Aid personnel employed by ODA are Crown Servants, and the recruitment criteria which apply to such appointments are therefore based on the rules governing entry to the Home Civil Service. This policy provides access to a pool of qualified applicants which meets the requirements of the programme. It does not preclude selection from a wider area in those exceptional cases where we are unable to identify candidates of a sufficiently high calibre from the traditional field.


Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many requests have been made to the Inland Revenue Department for access to information about the whereabouts of particular persons, as permitted under the Child Support Act 1991.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The total number of requests for information received by the Inland Revenue under the Child Support Act 1991 and Child Support (NI) Order 1991 in the period from 1st April 1993 to 28th October 1994 was 112,337.


Lord Kilmarnock asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will revise the Inland Revenue Occupational Pension Schemes Practice Notes IR 12 (1991), whereby a member of a pension scheme without dependants, suffering from AIDS and with short life expectancy, is prevented from commuting his pension unless he obtains a medical certificate stating that he will unquestionably die within twelve months.

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Lord Henley: A change of this kind would not be consistent with the purpose of the occupational pension scheme tax reliefs.


The Lord Bishop of Norwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total amount of VAT from all sources recoverable in 1993.

Lord Henley: HM Customs and Excise made VAT repayments totalling £25,307.8 million to traders whose tax liability was negative for the period covered by the return during the financial year 1993–94.


The Lord Bishop of Norwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total amount of VAT recoverable in 1993 (a) through repairs to parish churches in England; and (b) through repairs to historic buildings in England other than parish churches.

Lord Henley: The information sought is not available.

However, parish churches are not normally liable to VAT registration and therefore it is unlikely that any VAT was recovered. Certain historic houses and cathedrals are registered for VAT and are able to reclaim VAT in proportion to their taxable supplies, but their VAT returns do not show this detail.


The Lord Bishop of Norwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is responsible for the maintenance of parish churches of historic and architectural importance in the member states of the European Union and what level of VAT is charged for church building repairs in those countries.

Lord Henley: In the United Kingdom the primary responsibility for the care of churches of the Church of England and the Church in Wales rests with the parochial church council. English Heritage provide grant assistance for structural repairs to historic parish churches through their Church Grants Scheme. Parish churches of the Church of Scotland are maintained either by the relevant congregational board or by the Church of Scotland Trustees. In some member states of the European Union churches are owned by the state and maintained by them. In some others their upkeep is provided for by the levy of a church tax.

The rate of VAT charged for most building repairs in member states of the European Union countries is shown in the table as follows:

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Per cent.
Belgium 20.5
Denmark 25
France 18.6
Germany 15
Greece 18
Ireland 21
Italy 19
Luxembourg 15
Netherlands 17.5
Portugal 16
Spain 15
United Kingdom 17.5

There is no information available on whether any member state gives special treatment or lower rates for churches.


Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the number of staff in post in central government departments on 1st October 1994.

Lord Henley: On 1st October 1994 there were 523,981 permanent staff in post in central government, the lowest for 55 years. This is a decrease of 9,370 during the last six months and over 40,000 since April 1992.

An analysis showing staff in post by department has been placed in the Library.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary of State for Defence in his recent visits, (a) to Israel and (b) to the United States discussed collaboration between the United Kingdom and Israel or between the United Kingdom and the United States, in the production of anti-missile systems (anti-ballistic, anti-cruise, anti-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, etc.) and other counter-proliferation equipment, either in the context of the United States "Counter-Proliferation Initiative" or otherwise, as reported in Aviation Week, 3rd October 1994, and if so to what effect.

Lord Henley: The Secretary of State had wide ranging discussions in his recent visits to both Israel and the United States. The topic of Theatre Missile Defence was discussed in general terms during the US visit and it was noted that Alliance co-operation was an important aspect. This discussion was not specifically in the context of the US "Counter-Proliferation Initiative".

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decisions the Secretary of State for Defence has taken with regard to British funding and development of counter-proliferation weapons and equipment; whether either of the two consortia that the Ministry of Defence has asked to tender for studies into the desirability of such developments has

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    yet reported to him; and if so to what effect, and at what cost to the tax-payer.

Lord Henley: The decision to award a contract for a prefeasibility study to a consortium led by British Aerospace was announced to Parliament on 18th October. The study will be conducted over the next 18 months and will examine our national options and help inform future policy decisions, including whether the United Kingdom has a requirement for ballistic missile defence. In addition, the United Kingdom is participating actively in an assessment of the implications for NATO of the risks posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their associated delivery means. The primary focus will remain on prevention, but the Alliance will also consider defence measures against proliferation should prevention fail. Decisions on the funding and development of counter-proliferation weapons and equipment, including, as necessary, ballistic missile defence, will be taken in the light of both the NATO study and our own national assessment.

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