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3 Apr 1995 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 3rd April 1995

Turkey: Proposed Customs Union

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether and to what extent the European Union has taken into account Turkey's 150 per cent. per annum inflation rate, high burden of debt and depreciating currency, in the current negotiations concerning a Customs Union.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union agreed the terms of Customs Union with Turkey, which should assist Turkey to develop a stable modern economy, and provide a growing market for the EU. It will also strengthen our links with this important partner in a volatile region. The matter has yet to be discussed and agreed by the European Parliament.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Legislative Review

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Written Answers of 1 March (WA 97) and 20 March (WA 55), when the review of legislation in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands began.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: As I informed the noble Lord in my Written Answer on 14 March (col. WA 40), the review of legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands has yet to commence, pending the possible inclusion in the constitutions of both territories of a Bill of Rights.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 20 March (WA 55), in what respect a review aimed at enhancing the protection of human rights in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands was relevant to the decision taken in January 1986 to end access to the European Commission and Court of Human Rights by individuals complaining of breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights by the public authorities of those territories.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is our intention that the review of legislation will enable the re-acceptance of the right of individuals in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands to petition the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights.

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The European Movement: Grant

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the answer of Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 20 March (WA 56), they are prepared to consider applications from other all-party groups concerned with European affairs for one-off grants of £10,000 to help attract corporate sponsorship; and, in particular, whether they will consider with care such applications from groups promoting ideas more closely aligned to declared government policy than those of the European Movement.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Yes. We are prepared to consider applications, but have not made any such grants since 1993.

Mr. Mordechai Vanunu

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the United Nations concerning the imprisonment of Mr. Mordechai Vanunu; whether they were involved in his arrest; if not, whether they can explain the circumstances leading up to his arrest and, if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We were not involved in the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu. Although there is no evidence that any UK law was broken in the arrest, we have raised Mr. Vanunu's case, on humanitarian grounds, with the Israeli Government.

Civil Service Year Book

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept that the 1995 edition of the Civil Service Year Book contains numerous errors; and, if so, whether they consider that this edition meets the high standards expected of the Civil Service, and what steps they will take to ensure that the next edition is more accurate.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The 1995 edition of the Civil Service Year Book was published by HMSO on behalf of the Cabinet Office, and is the most comprehensive so far produced. The wide-ranging information provided by government departments and agencies was validated as far as possible, and professionally edited. Nevertheless, HMSO acknowledges that there are some inaccuracies in this complex directory.

HMSO intends to enhance its database software and style rules in order to minimise the risk of inaccuracies and improve the standard of presentation of future editions. Meanwhile, it would be pleased to hear of any specific errors which need to be corrected for the next edition.

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Education Staff: Asbestos-related Illness

Lord Chapple asked Her Majesty's Government:

    1. How many claims for compensation have been made by—


    (a) teaching staff


    (b) non-teaching staff against local education authorities in respect of asbestos-related illnesses;

    2. How many claims are still outstanding; and

    3. How many teachers have died as a result of developing asbestos-related illnesses.

Lord Lucas: Information on the number of compensation claims made against local education authorities in respect of asbestos-related diseases is not held centrally.

Between 1982 and 1991, the latest year for which figures are available, 52 death certificates mentioning mesothelioma recorded teaching as the last full-time occupation of the deceased. There is normally a long latency period between first exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma. It is seldom less than 15 years and can be as long as 60 years. It is likely that in many of the cases mentioned above exposure to asbestos did not take place in the last full-time occupation. In addition, it is estimated that about 100 cases of mesothelioma a year are not attributable to exposure to asbestos.

Records of deaths attributable to asbestos-related diseases other than mesothelioma do not record the occupations of the deceased.

Similar data for 1992 and later years are expected to become available towards the end of 1995, when the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' new database becomes fully operational.

Tourism: Tax Revenue

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much United Kingdom businesses engaged in tourism pay in annual taxes (including VAT, PAYE, National Insurance and Corporation Tax).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Tourism will have an impact on the tax revenues raised from a wide range of different industries. No precise estimates are available.

Barings

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether and, if so, under what provision of law the Bank of England has informed either the new owners of Baring Brothers & Co Ltd or other interested banks that certain directors of Barings are not to be appointed as directors nor employed in any capacity until conclusion of the investigation by the Board of Banking Supervision into the collapse of Barings.

3 Apr 1995 : Column WA4

Lord Henley: The Bank of England has not done so.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedures (if any) the Bank of England is required to follow in satisfying themselves as to the "fit and proper" qualities of the directors of Baring Brothers & Co Ltd.

Lord Henley: The Banking Act does not prescribe procedures which the Bank of England is required to follow when monitoring the "fit and proper" qualities of directors of authorised institutions, but guidance on how the Bank interprets these criteria is given in the Statements of Principles which it publishes.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Bank of England has required the resignation of any of the directors of Baring Brothers and Co Ltd, the merchant bank, and, if not, why not.

Lord Henley: The Bank of England has not required the resignation of any of the former directors of Baring Brothers & Co Ltd. Pending the outcome of the current investigation into the Barings collapse, the Bank of England's view is that it is premature to consider whether or not such action would be appropriate.

Chief Charity Commissioner

Lord Denning asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer of Baroness Blatch on 20 March (WA 59), what was the nature of the competition, as a result of which the Chief Commissioner was appointed; and, in particular, to whom it was open, who were those who competed and who made the appointment.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Chief Charity Commissioner was recruited through a competition open to anyone who wished to apply, advertised in the national press. Government Departments were also advised of the competition by HM Treasury. One hundred and one applications were received, from which six candidates were short-listed for interview. Candidates put themselves forward for such posts on the understanding that their applications are treated in confidence. It is not the practice to make public details of candidates who are not appointed.

The appointment was made by warrant signed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the recommendation of a selection panel chaired by the First Civil Service Commissioner.


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