Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 11th December 1992.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all Next Steps agencies currently operating and all new agencies expected to be introduced before the end of 1993.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. Full information on all existing agencies and currently announced candidates was included in the NextSteps Annual Review 1992, published on 2 December (Cm. 2111), a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
EC Council Agendas
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Prime Minister if he will ensure that the agenda for each meeting of the EC Council is published in detail at least seven days in advance, and that this information is made available to hon. Members.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. The monthly business statement printed in the Official Report gives details of all forthcoming Council meetings that month and the items likely to be on the agenda of each.
This generally provides a reliable guide, particularly on the main issues to be discussed, although the final agenda may be subject to change up to the day of the meeting itself.
Council of Europe and WEU
Sir John Hunt : To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the information bulletin on the activities of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. I have done so today.
EC Regional Funds
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has held with his counterparts in the European Council on the possible ways of disbursement of funds under the proposed committee on the regions to be established under the treaty of European Union.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. Article 198(a) of the Maastricht treaty makes it clear that the Committee of the Regions is an advisory body. It will therefore have no responsibility for disbursing funds.
Disclosure of Information
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the treaty on European Union in regard to its proposals to increase provisions for prohibition on the disclosure of information from the institutions of the European Community.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. The Maastricht treaty says nothing on the question of disclosure of information. A declaration adopted at Maastricht calls on the Commission to report to the Council of Ministers on measures designed to improve public access to information held by Community institutions.
In February 1992 the Commission proposed a Council regulation on the security of classified information. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the hon. Member on 7 July, the Government consider the draft regulation in its present form to be unworkable.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister what offer of help in Somalia his Government have made in the light of President Bush’s offer of military intervention on the subsequent decision of the UN Security Council.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. We are providing two RAF C130 transport aircraft, accompanied by supporting personnel, to the unified military task force in Somalia. On 4 December, my noble Friend Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, the Minister for Overseas Development, announced a further £4.5 million of bilateral humanitarian aid to Somalia for immediate disbursement once conditions permit. This brings United Kingdom aid to Somalia this year to nearly £31.5 million, including our share of EC aid.
Ministers (Legal Costs)
Mr. Morley : To ask the Prime Minister what assessment is made of value for money provided by the level of legal charges to Ministers in connection with personal matters where part of the costs are met from public funds; and if he will make it his policy to limit reimbursement of expenses in such cases to the limits applied by taxing authorities in legal aid cases.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. The Government are always concerned to ensure value for money in all their activities.
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn : To ask the Prime Minister what advice is given to ministers concerning appropriate standards of dress for Ministers representing Her Majesty’s Government in acts of remembrance for service men and women killed on active service.
Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply. There is no general guidance. The normal practice is for Ministers to follow whatever indication is given by the organisation responsible in each case.