Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 23rd January 1996.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made as to the number of asylum seekers who are abusing their position in the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister: The level of abuse of the asylum procedures is very high. Last year only 5 per cent. of asylum applicants were granted refugee status under the 1951 United Nations convention on refugees and 79 per cent. of applicants were refused outright. The great majority of Home Office asylum decisions are upheld on appeal by independent adjudicators; last year, only 3 per cent. of such appeals were allowed. The Government are taking measures across a broad front to deter abusive asylum claims and to strengthen the procedures for determining applications.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements have been made for the retention of assessments drawn up of Opposition policies in advance of general elections; and what facilities for the public inspection of these records are available.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 22 January 1996]: Departments are asked from time to time, under Governments of any party, to provide factual costings of the policies of the Opposition. Such costings form part of departmental files and are not subject to any special access arrangements.
Political Honours Scrutiny Committee
Dr. Wright: To ask the Prime Minister who are the members of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee; when they were appointed and by whom; and what is the term of their appointment.
The Prime Minister: The current members, my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Pym, the right hon. Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and the right hon. Lord Thomson of Monifieth, were appointed by Order in Council on 9 November 1992. They were appointed on my advice following consultations with the right hon. Members for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) and for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown). The Order in Council provides that the committee is appointed for the duration of office of the present Government.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will require the 2001 census to ascertain proficiency in (a) all indigenous languages of the United Kingdom and (b) in major European Community languages.
The Prime Minister: No final proposals will be made until 1998 in the light of cases made for all potential questions. However, little need has been stated for information from the census on proficiency in European Community languages and it seems unlikely that there will be a question about this. Some needs have been expressed for extensions to the questions on indigenous languages asked in Wales and Scotland in the 1991 census, and these are being considered.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will require the 2001 census to ascertain the extent of proficiency in the Welsh language in all nations of the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister: The matter is under consideration. No final proposals will be made until 1998 in the light of the cases made for all potential questions.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will establish an office in Wales to oversee the conduct of the 2001 census.
The Prime Minister: By statute it is the duty of the Registrar General to make the arrangements for taking the census throughout England and Wales. The Registrar General is, and will be, working closely with the Welsh Office in planning and co-ordinating the proposed 2001 census.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will require the 2001 census forms in Wales to be published in a bilingual Welsh-English form.
The Prime Minister: In the 1991 census in Wales, bilingual English-Welsh publicity material was distributed and the census form itself was available in Welsh as well as in English. The acceptability, effectiveness and practicability of a bilingual census form are under consideration.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if Her Majesty’s Government have yet decided the future of HMY Britannia after decommissioning in 1997; whether any replacement vessel is to be acquired; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister: A number of suggestions have been made about the future of HMY Britannia and these are being considered. The Government are also considering the question of whether to replace Britannia. An announcement will be made in due course.
Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 23 January.
The Prime Minister: This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.