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Written Answers

Volume 489: debated on Thursday 29 October 1987

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Written Answers

Security Service: Allegation By Mr Allason

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the statement by Mr. Rupert Allason, MP, in his book that four clandestine GCHQ operators working under Cable and Wireless cover were killed by Turkish terrorists in 1972 is correct; and if so on what authority the operation took place; and whether any changes have been made to ensure that no further such incidents have occurred or will occur.

It has been the practice of successive governments not to comment on matters relating to security and intelligence.

Vietnamese Refugees: Conference Proposal

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress is being made towards the convening of an international conference to resolve the problems of refugees from Vietnam.

While we keep proposals for such a conference under review, we believe that progress is best achieved at present through our discussions with UNHCR and the main resettlement countries.

Vietnamese Refugees In Hong Kong: Resettlement

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many Vietnamese refugees in the closed camps in Hong Kong have been accepted for resettlement by other countries, following their announcement of 8th May 1987 that 468 close relatives would be coming to the United Kingdom.

A total of 689 refugees have left Hong Kong camps for resettlement since 1st June 1987. Of this number, 415 were from the closed centres.

Bulgarian Bonds: Repurchase

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is now the position in respect of bond claims by United Kingdom nationals against the Government of Bulgaria.

The British Government and the Bulgarian Government signed an agreement on 16th September relating to final repurchase of certain bonds of foreign public loans of the Principality of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Bulgaria held by United Kingdom nationals.In accordance with the agreement the Bulgarian Government have nominated the National Westminster Bank to repurchase from persons who were United Kingdom nationals on 16th September 1987 the following bonds at the following rates:

LoansNominal value of BondPayment
6% State Mortgage Loan 1892Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
5% Bulgarian State Gold Loan 1902Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
5% Bulgarian State Gold Loan 1904Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
4½% Bulgarian State Gold Loan 1907Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
4½% Bulgarian State Gold Loan 1909Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
6½% Bulgarian State Loan 1923Fr Fr 500Fr Fr 35
7% Settlement Loan 1926
Sterling Issue£ Sterling 100£ Sterling 40
US dollar issueUS Dollars 500US Dollars 35
7½ Stabilisation Loan 1928
Sterling issue£ Sterling 100£ Sterling 40
US Dollar issueUS Dollars 500US Dollars 35
French IssuePoincaré Fr 2,500Fr Fr 175
5% Bulgarian Loan 1896Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
5% Loan Municipality of Sofia 1906Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
5% Loan Municipality of Varna 1907Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35
4½% Loan Municipality of Sofia 1910Gold Francs 500Fr Fr 35

and so in proportion for bonds denominations.Copies of the offer and the appropriate Form of Acceptance may be obtained from the paying agent: National Westminster Bank plc, Stock Office Services, National Westminster House, Station Way, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1JE.The offer remains open for acceptance until 15th October 1989.

Russian Bonds: Settlement Of Claims

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress is being made in implementing the Foreign Compensation (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (Distribution) Order 1987.

Excellent progress is being made. Of the 4,582 bond claims submitted to the Foreign Compensation Commission, 3,265 (71·3per cent.) had already been registered by 9th October; 304 claims (6·6 per cent.) had been withdrawn by the claimants; 204 claims (4·5 per cent.) had been refused registration because the claims did not meet the terms of the order, and 810 claims (17·7 per cent.) remained to be registered (or rejected). Of the 2,308 property claims, 1,667 claims had been matched against claims on the Register of Russian claims. Six hundred and forty-one claims are currently unmatched, although some of these could turn out to be valid.As a result, my right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State has directed that the Foreign Compensation Commission should on 30th October make an interim payment of 10 per cent. of the value assigned to a bond to all persons whose claim in respect of a bond had been registered on 9th October and that a like payment should be made as soon as possible thereafter to those whose claims in respect of bonds were registered after 9th October. This is the most substantial interim payment ever made by the Foreign Compensation Commission.Evaluation of property claims, where the commission must exercise its judicial discretion, is more complex. But the commission is making every effort to expedite the process with the objective of making a final payment to all claimants in 1989.

Patent Office

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is still the Government's intention to make the Patent Office a statutory non-departmental public body.

Since the Government first took the decision to hive off the Patent Office in January 1986, the patent business of the Patent Office has shown a further marked decline. This reflects a continuing loss of work to the European Patent Office (EPO) on a scale exceeding that foreseen earlier. In the light of this development, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster commissioned a review of the future of the Patent Office, led by two independent industrialists advised by a firm of management consultants. They concluded that, notwithstanding the other business in trade marks, service marks and designs, and the possibility of some small amounts of non-statutory business, the Patent Office as a whole would not be viable in the longer term as a free standing body, given the continuing loss of its core patent business. In the light of this advice we have decided not to hive off the Patent Office but to retain it as part of my department.Patents will continue to be available in the United Kingdom, but there may come a point in the future when it is advantageous and cheaper for all UK applicants to follow the EPO route as the costs of the EPO fall with rising volumes and the costs of the UK office rise as volumes continue to fall. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster asked my officials to seek discussions with the European office about ways in which this continuing transfer of patent work can be most effectively accomplished in the interests of all Patent Office users.

Taxi Licences: Dot Circular 3/85

Regina v. Reading Borough Council, ex parte Egan, steps will now be taken to withdraw or amend Department of Transport Circular 3/85.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport
(Lord Brabazon of Tara)

It is our intention to issue a circular in the near future withdrawing the advice, given in Circular 3/85, that a council which was unsure of the state of demand in its area could grant a proportion of applications for new taxi licences, deferring consideration of the remainder until the effects of granting the first tranche could be assessed.