Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 6th February 1992.
Mr. Molyneaux : To ask the Prime Minister if he will indicate the provisions (a) under which the EC could propose an increase in the VAT rate in the United Kingdom and (b) under which the United Kingdom may veto the proposal.
The Prime Minister : No such proposal exists. Under the provisions of article 99 of the treaty of Rome, the Commission of the European Community could, in theory, propose for example, a minimum standard rate higher than that in the United Kingdom. However any such proposal, in common with all fiscal matters under article 99 of the treaty, would be subject to unanimity and thus the United Kingdom retains an absolute right of veto.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the President of Peru on biodiversity in the Peruvian rain-forest and its protection.
The Prime Minister : I discussed with President Fujimori the forthcoming UN Conference on Environment and Development. I emphasised the importance we attach to effective conventions on climate change and biodiversity, as well as an agreement on principles for the sustainable use and management of all types of forest.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister if Her Majesty’s Government will make a study of the differences in United Kingdom and Italian practice in the use of regional funds, such as RECHAR.
The Prime Minister : Members of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Community visited Italy in October 1991 during their inquiry into EEC regional development policy. Their report has been published and is available in the Library.
Italy is not eligible for RECHAR.
Communist Party (Meetings)
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all meetings by (a) Ministers and (b) officials of Her Majesty’s Government with (i) Ministers, (ii) diplomats and (iii) other Communist party officials of the former Soviet Union since May 1979 in (1) the United Kingdom and (2) elsewhere; and what were the purposes of the ministerial and diplomatic meetings.
The Prime Minister : Detailed information of this kind is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. There are, however, frequent contacts with Ministers and officials of the former Soviet Union at all levels on questions of mutual interest.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will obtain for the library at 10 Downing Street a copy of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs topical paper No. 5 (1991), “Conversion : Economic Adjustments in an Era of Arms Reductions” (Volume II).
The Prime Minister : The publication is available from the United Nations documents section in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from where copies will be obtained as required.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 6 February.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today.