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Written Answers

Volume 80: debated on Wednesday 12 June 1985

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 12 June 1985

Prime Minister

European Court Of Human Rights

asked the Prime Minister whether she will introduce legislation to restrict the powers of the European Court of Human Rights as regards United Kingdom law such that it has no status with regard to political as distinct from purely legal issues; and if she will make a statement.

The United Kingdom has signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It would not be practicable or possible, to distinguish between judgments of the European Court which the United Kingdom has, under the convention, an obligation to abide by. Amendments to the convention, including any affecting the role of the European Court, need to be agreed by the contracting parties and could not be imposed by domestic legislation.

Chinese Prime Minister (Meeting)

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on her recent meeting with the Prime Minister of China.

[pursuant to her reply, 1 June 1985, c. 263]: At my first round of talks with Premier Zhao Ziyang on 3 June we signed two bilateral agreements, on economic co-operation and on co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We discussed a range of bilateral questions, including the ratification on 27 May of the joint declaration on the future of Hong Kong, and also a number of international issues. At our second round on 6 June we discussed economic co-operation and trade. Our exchanges were valuable and wide-ranging and reflected the new climate of our relations following the agreement on Hong Kong.

Attorney-General

Judges And Magistrates (Remarks)

asked the Attorney-General what complaints have been received by the Lord Chancellor during each of the past 10 years alleging racially offensive remarks by judges, magistrates or members of tribunals.

The information requested cannot be provided in relation to recent years except at disproportionate cost, and with regard to earlier complaints is not available. My right hon. and noble Friend The Lord Chancellor will be writing further to the hon. and learned Member.

Housing Executive (Payments To Contractors)

asked the Attorney-General whether any report has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning the overpayment of a contractor by the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland.

In 1985 the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland received one report from the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary of a police investigation into allegations of overpayment of a contractor by the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland. He has directed that there should be no prosecution on the basis of that report.

Overseas Development

Ethiopia And Sudan (Food Aid)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has anything to add to his answer of 8 May, Official Report, column 426, regarding the amount of food aid promised by the European Community and the United Kingdom to Ethiopia and Sudan for 1985 and the amount so far delivered.

The revised and updated figures are:

Tonnes of wheat or wheat equivalent
EthiopiaSudan
1.European Community
Commitments271,000123,000
Deliveries✶124,00057,000
2.United Kingdom
Commitments15,000†50,000
Deliveries15,00050,000
✶Includes deliveries from commitments made in 1984 and 1985.
†;This corrects the figure given to you on 8 May (Col. 426) and does not indicate any further commitment.
I announced on 10 June, in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) at column

638, that we stand ready to provide up to 10,000 tonnes more bilateral food aid when we are satisfied about the arrangements to be made for its transportation and distribution in Ethiopia.

Nicaragua

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer on 3 June, Official Report, column 9, when he expects to decide on the case of a probationary clerical officer in the Overseas Development Administration, alleged to have released to the press a classified Government paper relating to Nicaragua.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General informed the House on 11 June in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) at column 395–96, he has decided that no prosecution should be brought against Mr. Dennis. Mr. Dennis has now been dismissed from the public service.

Transport

Commercial Vehicles (Overloading)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give, by region and for the years since 1980, the number of convictions for overloading of commercial

Overloading Convictions: Licensing Authorities (October to September)
Traffic AreaReport Year
1979–801980–811981–821982–831983–84 1st 6 months
North Eastern (Newcastle)152277323587419
North Eastern (Leeds)520644292260132
NorthWestem139119294823307
West Midland7991,048914821301
Eastern (Nottingham)330367410628262
Eastern (Cambridge)9898891,1091,065496
South Wales147135453358166
Western264257282362177
South Eastern284201287423367
Metropolitan1,0148841,4491,322674
Scottish113361282258222
total4,7515,1826,0957,0073,523

M11 (Link Road Proposals)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he now expects to announce his decision on the Ml 1 link road proposals; and in what way the decision will be announced.

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Transport hope to issue their joint decision letter next month.

Motor Cycle Noise

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the recent European Commission report and recommendations on the reduction of motor cycle noise.

Explanatory memorandum 9148/84 dated 13 November 1984 set out our comments on the proposals by the European Commission to reduce noise from new motor cycles. Recent amendments by the Commission to its original proposals do not alter the proposed maximum permitted noise levels. In our view these are too high, especially for machines of up to 125 cc.

Professionally qualified lawyers in the civil service 1985
Full-time equivalents
Grade or Equivalent✶
DepartmentGrade1Grade2Grade3Grade4Grade5Grade6Senior Legal AssistantPrincipalLegal AssistantAll
MAFF12718230
Charity Commission11713224
Crown Estate Office11
Customs and Excise1212501681
Employment Group1419226
Environment and Transport11823437
Office of Fair Trading12429
FCO3298224
Health and Social Security1412411068
Home Office1245214
Registry of Friendly Societies134
Inland Revenue131333656

vehicles under Regulation 150 of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1978 made under section 40(5) of the Road Traffic Act 1972.

The number of convictions for overloading by each of the Department's traffic areas are contained in the annual reports of the licensing authorities. They are:

National Finance

Civil Service (Lawyers)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many professionally qualified lawyers are at present employed in the Civil Service in a capacity relevant to their profession; in which Departments; and on what grades or remuneration.

No information is held centrally on either the professional qualification of civil servants or the exact nature of their work. There are however, certain posts in the open structure in other grades where a legal qualification is required and whose members are engaged in legal work.The table shows the distribution of such staff by department and by grade (or equivalent). In addition, there are professionally qualified lawyers elsewhere in the Civil Service who may be engaged on legal work. This information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost and effort.

Grade or Equivalent*

Department

Grade1

Grade2

Grade3

Grade4

Grade5

Grade6

Senior Legal Assistant

Principal

Legal Assistant

All

Land Registry114482386
Lord Chancellor's Department†;2419206611422148
Law Officers' Department11349
Director of Public Prosecutions1131151875
Trade and Industry131631657
Treasury Solicitor's Department117319711148
Welsh Office139114
Scottish Office111028242
Scottish Courts Administration3912
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service12242994656212
Lord Advocate's Department145111
All42259221935650201771,188

* Certain posts attract a higher salary than the official maximum for the grade or grade level.

† Includes the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD), Law Commission, Public Trustee Office and parliamentary counsel. LCD provides the civil service support staff for parliamentary counsel, although the cost of parliamentary counsel themselves is financed jointly by the LCD and the Cabinet Office.

Sources:

Annual Post Return, 1 April 1985.

senior Open Structure List, April 1985.

Mandate, 1 January 1985.

Centrally Managed Staff Records, June 1985.

Asset Sales (Fees And Commissions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in the Official Report all the fees and commissions paid to primary underwriters, sub-underwriters, financial advisers, legal advisers and stockbrokers in respect of all the sales of previously publicly-owned enterprises from 3 April 1984 to date; and if he will name each firm concerned.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Sedge field (Mr. Blair) on 24 May 1985, at column 562, which covers all public share sales since 3 April 1984 other than the 1985 sale of shares in British Aerospace. Details for that sale in respect of the headings specified by the hon. Member are given in the table:

Firm
CompanyBritish Aerospace 1985
Primary UnderwritersKleinwort, Benson Ltd., Lazard Bros. &
Co. Ltd., Hill Samuel & Co. Ltd.,
Morgan Grenfell & Co. Ltd., J. Henry
Schroder Wagg & Co. Ltd.
Sub-UnderwritersVarious*
Financial advisersLazard Bros. & Co. Ltd.
Legal advisersSlaughter & May
AuditorsPeat, Marwick Mitchell
StockbrokerHoare, Govett Ltd., Cazenove & Co,†;
Total fee/Commission
(£000 including VAT)9,982‡
*Too numerous to list.
†;Allotment commissions were payable to stockbrokers and other intermediaries in respect of successful applications bearing their stamps. The estimated costs of such commissions are included in the provisional total shown and the names of the firms involved are too numerous to list. ‡Estimated: Expenditure on fees and commissions is provisional pending final settlements.

Demergers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions demergers under the provisions of schedule 18 to the Finance Act 1980 have been (a) applied for and (b) approved by the Board of Inland Revenue.

At the beginning of June 1985, 749 applications for clearance under schedule 18 to the Finance Act 1980 had been received by the Inland Revenue, of which 117 were subsequently withdrawn on the applicants' own initiative and another 22 are still being considered. Of the 610 applications which have been settled, clearance has been given to 505 (82 per cent).

Capital And Income (Distribution)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, pursuant to the answer of 3 June, Official Report, column 70, concerning the distribution of capital and income, he will publish such information as he has available in a form as near as possible to that requested.

The available information is on the distribution of capital holdings and capital transfer tax liability by range of net capital value, and of capital gains tax liability by range of chargeable gain. It is published annually in "Inland Revenue Statistics", copies of which are in the Library. These statistics are derived from assessments of capital transfer tax and capital gains tax which do not contain information about income.

Bank Of England Printing Works, Loughton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the effect of the introduction of the £1 coin on employment at the Bank of England printing works in Loughton; to what extent any redundancies have been voluntary; and whether there is to be any redeployment of Loughton personnel elsewhere in the bank's service.

[pursuant to his reply, 11 June 1985, c. 401]: Some 200 staff have left the Bank of England's printing works without replacement during the last two years, in the main as a result of the decision to introduce the £1 coin and to cease issuing the £1 note. Over half of this reduction was achieved through the operation of a voluntary selective severance scheme, the remainder through natural wastage. As the staff concerned were involved with the production of bank notes—printers, guillotine operators, examiners etc.—there was no scope for their redeployment elsewhere in the Bank of England.

Home Department

Closed Circuit Television Cameras

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many closed circuit television cameras the Metropolitan police have for the surveillance of people in public places; how many of these are permanently fixed; where each one is located; how many of the overall total are located within the Lambeth police district; how many of the Lambeth cameras are permanently fixed; and where each of them is sited.

Police Vehicles (Accident Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the number of accidents involving police vehicles in the Northumbrian police authority area in the last 10 years in which there has been (a) injury and (b) death, and the total number of resultant deaths.

The information requested is only available for the years from 1979 onwards. This information is set out in the table.

Accidents involving Police Vehicles where injuries resultedFatal accidents involving Police vehiclesTotal number of deaths resulting
19794500
19803233
19813900
19824211
19832012
19841000
1985✶100
✶To 1 June.

Private Acts Of Parliament And Byelaws (Reviews)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department reviews proposals for local authority private Acts of Parliament and byelaws with a view to preventing additional burdens being placed on small businesses.

yes, if the proposals relate to matters for which my right hon. and learned Friend is responsible. Additionally, in relation to byelaws for which the Home Secretary is the confirming authority, very careful consideration is given to any representations received from the business community.

Hard Drugs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if there are any plans for negotiations to take place for a multilateral extradition treaty to cover offences related to the supply and traffic of hard drugs.

The United Nations is currently consulting member states on the matters which might be included in a proposed new international convention on drug trafficking; extradition is among the topics under consideration.

Data Protection Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide his latest estimate of the total cost to (a) the borough councils in Greater London, and (b) all United Kingdom local authorities of complying with the Data Protection Act.

The estimate given during the passage of the Data Protection Bill indicated that £9 million to £11 million might be incurred by local authorities and public bodies in implementation costs in each of the first two years, with running costs at around £13 million in the first full year of operation, reducing thereafter. Estimates of likely costs to individual local authorities are not available centrally and could not be obtained without disproportionate expense.

Libyan People's Bureau

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, pursuant to the Minister of State's reply to the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton, 13 May, Official Report, column 11, regarding Mr. Salah Najem and the Libyan People's Bureau and the subsequent letter dated 4 June, he wishes to make any corrections to the answer of 7 May, Official Report, columns 329–31, regarding persons in the bureau at the time of the murder of WPC Fletcher.

Mr. Salah Najem was in the bureau at the time of the shooting, but left it soon afterwards. He was arrested and interviewed by the police, but after being eliminated from their inquiries was released.The question asked by my hon. Friend on 7 May related to those Libyans who were required to leave the United Kingdom between 17 and 27 April 1984. Apart from those who were deported, those required to leave were those who were in the bureau at the time of the break in diplomatic relations. Mr. Salah Najem was not in that category, and was not required to leave. I regret that the first sentence of the answer referred to was incorrect in suggesting that all those in the bureau at the time of the shooting were required to leave. The position is explained in more detail in my letter of 4 June to my hon. Friend, a copy of which is in the Library.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has as to which European Economic Community countries provide for (a) citizens and (b) settled persons to bring in (1) husbands, (2) wives, (3) fiancés and (4) fiancées as of right.

Apart from meeting their European Community obligations I understand from the information currently available that, of the European Community countries, Denmark, France and Greece make statutory provision for the admission of husbands and wives to join spouses who are either nationals of those countries or permanent residents; in the case of Belgium, any EC national has the right, to be joined by his or her wife or husband. The other countries make varying administrative arrangements for the admission of husbands and wives. No country appears to make specific statutory provision for the admission of fiancés and fiancés.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many hon. Members have 100 or more stops outstanding on immigration cases;(2) what is the average length of time over which a stop operates in advance of a decision being made on a particular immigrant.

The relevant information is not recorded centrally and cannot therefore be provided without disproportionate cost.

Tamils

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Indian authorities with regard to the settlement of Tamils wishing to leave Sri Lanka.

None. This is primarily a matter for the Governments of India and Sri Lanka. I understand that the Indian authorities have admitted some 100,000 Tamils from Sri Lanka.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Sri Lankan authorities with regard to the safe return of Tamils who have arrived in the United Kingdom.

My right hon. and learned Friend has had no such discussions, but our high commission is in close touch with the Sri Lankan Government on this matter. On 31 May President Jaywardene gave our high commissioner at Colombo a formal personal assurance that no Tamils returned to Sri Lanka would be harassed or persecuted in any way.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Tamils who have arrived in the United Kingdom since 1 May have subsequently left the United Kingdom.

Of those Tamils who arrived in the United Kingdom after 21 April, and who on arrival sought political asylum or temporary refuge, and were refused entry, 16 had left the united Kingdom up to and including 4 June.

Diminished Responsibility

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to seek to change the law relating to the special verdict, disability in relation to trial and diminished responsibility recommendations, as recommended in the report of the committee on mentally abnormal offenders (Cmnd. 6244) 1974.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no present plans for legislation on these matters.

Prison Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) murderers of police and prison officers, (b) sexual or sadistic murderers of children and (c) people who have committed murder by shooting in the furtherance of theft were in prison on the most recent convenient date.

[pursuant to his reply, 12 February 1985, c. 96]: On 31 December 1984 there were 31 persons in prison department establishments in England and Wales who had committed murder by shooting in furtherance of theft.

Scotland

Public Inquiry (Edinburgh)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received the report of the public local inquiry held in Edinburgh on 20 May; and if he will make a statement.

I received the report of the local inquiry on 4 June. Having considered the report carefully, I am satisfied that the City of Edinburgh district council is in default of its statutory duties under sections 23A of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1972 and section 108(2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, namely, to limit the amount of contribution out of their general fund to the estimated housing revenue account for the year 1985-86 to an amount not exceeding £2·824 million and to determine such district rate as will provide sufficient moneys to meet such part of the total estimates expenses to be incurred by the authority during the year 1985–86 as falls to be met out of moneys raised by rates.Accordingly, I have today made an order under section 211 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 requiring Edinburgh district council to remedy its default within 21 days by revising its estimated housing revenue account so as to budget for a rate fund contribution within the limit set, and also by reducing the district rate by at least l·8p in the pound, and to take all necessary steps to give full effect to these decisions. Copies of the inquiry report and of the default order have been placed in the Library of the House.The l·8p in the pound reduction now required is in addition to a reduction of 5·2p in the pound which I have proposed in terms of section 5 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966 on the grounds that Edinburgh district council's planned non-housing expenditure for 1985–86 is excessive and unreasonable.

Broadleaved Woodlands

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) on how many occasions in the year to 31 March the Forestry Commission issued felling licences which permitted felling of broadleaved woods, without there being conditions attached for the replanting solely of broadleaved trees; and what area of woodland this involved;(2) on how many occasions in the year to 31 March officials from his Department confirmed to the Forestry Commission that a proposal to clearfell a broadleaved woodland and convert it to agricultural land would make a significant contribution to the viability and economy of the agricultural holding concerned.

Agricultural Engineering Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of his Department's recent paper entitled "A Strategy for Agricultural Research and Development," he will make a statement indicating the amount of funds to be allocated to the agricultural engineering industry in Scotland and the source of those funds.

My Department's strategy paper has been distributed widely as a consultation document and no decisions will be taken about the allocation of public funds for research and development in agricultural engineering work, or in any other subject area, until I have had the opportunity to consider responses to the paper. A further paper will be produced later this year outlining detailed proposals.I have no plans to allocate any funds to the agricultural engineering industry.

Veterinary And Agricultural Advisory Services

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement concerning the main aspects of the administration of the veterinary services in Scotland.

Apart from services provided by private veterinary practitioners, the veterinary services in Scotland have two elements, the veterinary investigation service and the state veterinary service. The veterinary investigation service comprises part of the advisory service provided by the Scottish agricultural colleges. Overall responsibility for the state veterinary service rests on a Great Britain basis with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but the service also advises me on those animal health matters for which I have statutory responsibility.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to carry out a review of (a) the veterinary investigation services in Scotland and (b) the agricultural advisory services in Scotland.

The financing and management of the advisory services (including the veterinary investigation service) provided by the three Scottish agricultural colleges are currently being reviewed in the light of the Government's decision announced in the public expenditure White Paper published in January 1985 to reduce the level of public funding of the advisory services in 1987–88, and any further review would not be appropriate at this stage.

Metallic Marker Pens

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has over the use in schools in Scotland of metallic marker pens with gold and silver lettering that contain xylene/xylol; and if he will make a statement.

I have no information about the extent of the use of such pens in Scottish schools.

Caravan Sites

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will use his powers under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 to ensure that electrical installations on caravan sites conform to satisfactory standards.

Advice on electrical installations will be included in revised model standards for caravan sites which my right hon. Friend intends, after appropriate consultation, to specify later this year under section 5(6) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Such standards are not prescriptive; and it will remain the responsibility of licensing authorities, in the light of any standards specified under the Act, to decide what conditions to attach to site licences, and to ensure that these are enforced.

Legal Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what response he has sent to Brodie Whyte and Whitten, West Lothian solicitors, on the paper they sent to him on the operation of legal aid procedures.

None. The comments submitted by Messrs. Brodie, Whyte and Whitten on our consultation paper on legal aid in Scotland, along with other such comments, will be taken into account in our review of the present arrangements.

Forestry Commission

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it his policy that the Forestry Commission should consult local authorities on all occasions when grant aid or felling licences for broadleaved woods are being considered to ensure that those woodlands are correctly identified and appropriately treated.

No. The extent of consultations is a matter of agreement between the Forestry Commission and the individual local authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will advise the Chairman of the Forestry Commission to review the "Broadleaves in Britain Review of Policy" so that the commission will consult the Nature Conservancy Council over felling licence and grant aid applications for all ancient woodlands as recommended in paragraph 145 of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology report on Scientific Aspects of Forestry in 1980.

No. Arrangements for consultation were agreed between the Forestry Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council in 1974 and subsequently confirmed in 1983, under the terms of a ministerial direction issued to the Forestry Commissioners. My right hon. Friend considers these arrangements to be perfectly adequate.In the context of its review of broadleaves policy, the Forestry Commission is discussing with the Nature Conservancy Council and the countryside commissions the publication of guidelines on the management of various categories of broadleaved woodlands, including ancient woodlands, which the Forestry Commission would take into account both in its own operations and in considering applications for grant-aid or felling permission from private woodland owners. This is in line with the recommendation at paragraph 145 of the Select Committee's report.

Students (Aberdeen)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what reply he has given to the letter from the Aberdeen university student representative council on the subject of an additional allowance for students attending the university.

The points made by the Aberdeen University Students' Representative Council have been noted, but there is no possibility of any special arrangements being introduced for Aberdeen university students at the present time as the awards settlement for the forthcoming academic session has already been announced. The Government are about to engage in consultations on the future of the system of financial support for students in the United Kingdom and the particular circumstances of students undertaking higher education courses in Scotland will be taken into account. A reply on these lines was sent by the Scottish Education Department to the Aberdeen University Students' Representative Council on 11 June.

Cash Limits

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he plans to make any changes in the cash limits for 1985–86 which are within his responsibility.

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate the cash limit on Class XV, vote 15, Education, Arts, Libraries and Social Work, Scotland, will be increased by £1,463,000 from £146,869,000 to £148,322,000. The increase is required to reflect the enactment of the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, establishing a board of trustees of the national museums of Scotland, who will be responsible from 1 October 1985 for the administration of the Royal Scottish Museum and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. Under the terms of the Act, payment to the new board will be by means of grant-in-aid from class XV, vote 15.Subject to parliamentary approval of the revised Estimates this increase will be offset by reductions in the cash limits for class XV, vote 19 by £511,000 from £1,155,000 to £644,000 and for class XV, vote 24 by £952,000 from £102,075,000 to £101,123,000 and therefore does not involve any increase in the public expenditure planning total.

Education Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how Scotland's spending on education, expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product, compares with Western European countries; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 20 May 1985, c. 292]: In 1983–84 expenditure on educational services in Scotland, including universities was £1,785 million, representing 8·3 per cent. of the provisional gross domestic product for Scotland. The latest available information in respect of a range of European countries is given in the table:

Expenditure on Education as percentage of gross domestic product
CountryPer cent.Year
Austria5·91982
Belgium5·91981

Country

Per cent.

Year

Denmark7·41981
Finland5·51981
France5·01981
Germany, Federal5·01981
Republic
Greece2·21979
Ireland7·31981
Italy5·81981
Luxembourg6·61981
Netherlands6·81981
Norway8·51980
Portugal4·51981
Spain2·61979
Sweden8·81982
Switzerland5·11981

Employment

Skillcentre, Middlesbrough

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what satisfactory alternative training provisions is now available in the Middlesbrough area consequent upon the closing of the Middlesbrough skillcentre.

The skillcentre training agency will transfer all the training currently provided at Middlesbrough to Billingham skillcentre which is only 6 miles away and draws trainees from a similar catchment area.In 1984–85 the Manpower Services Commission provided 1,896 training opportunities for adults in Cleveland. The programme is planned to expand to 2,325 opportunities in 1985–86; and to between 3,600 and 4,100 in 1986–87. There is a wide range of training providers who can deliver these opportunities.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many members of the staff presently employed at the Middlesbrough skillcentre will be retained within the Manpower Services Commission.

Middlesbrough skillcentre currently employs 24 permanent staff. Their future employment within the Manpower Services Commission depends on the individual effect of the various personnel measures now being taken to reduce staff numbers in the skillcentre training agency. A precise assessment of numbers being retained is not yet available.

Job Release Allowance

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe on 21 May, Official Report, column 390, if he will state (a) the conditions of entitlement to job release allowances payable for more than one year and the percentage by which the allowance for a single person was uprated in April and (b) the conditions of entitlement to job release allowances payable for less than one year and the percentage by which the allowance was uprated in April; and if he will make a further statement.

The conditions of entitlement to a job release allowance, whether for less than a year or more than a year, are that participants comply with all the rules of the scheme at the time they enter the scheme, that their employer undertakes to replace them with an unemployed person and that for any week for which they receive the allowance they do not receive any benefit that is incompatible with the allowance nor any earnings or payments in kind in excess of £4, after deducting any necessary expenses connected with work. The taxable allowance is paid to those who at the time of entry could on the basis of their age have an entitlement to receive the allowance for over a year; the tax-free allowance to those whose entitlement to receive the allowance could, on the basis of their age, not be for more than one year.As I announced in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) on 15 March 1985, at columns 316–17, all job release allowances would be increased with effect from 8 April 1985. The revised rates announced were such that, net of tax, those entitled to the taxable allowance would receive on average broadly the same amount as those entitled to the tax free allowance.

Wales

Coal Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate his Department has made of (a) the number of jobs likely to be lost in the Welsh coalmining industry in 1985 and 1986; and (b) of the number of jobs likely to be created in Wales by National Coal Board (Enterprise) Ltd.

Edwards: The National Coal Board and the mining unions met earlier this week to discuss the general situation of the south Wales coalfield. Future manpower levels will depend on decisions yet to be taken.In the short time since it was set up, NCB (Enterprise) Ltd. has already committed just over £0·6 million in support of local agencies in south Wales concerned with job creation and has also itself made loans totalling more than £0·3 million to specific projects offering the prospect of over 300 jobs. Its activities will continue to complement the economic development function of the Welsh Development Agency.

Trade And Industry

Nissan

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has received any representations from the Nissan company concerning the availability and quality of British-manufactured automotive components.Mr. Butcher: No.As envisaged in the agreement with Nissan, my Department has maintained close contact with the Company to ensure the successful implementation of the project. Discussions have been held regularly on all aspects of the operation including the developing relationship between Nissan and the United Kingdom components industry.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he is satisfied that the Nissan company will be able to achieve the agreed 80 per cent. local content for vehicles produced at its north-east assembly plant.

I have no reason to doubt the Company's ability or intention to attain the agreed local content levels.

A statement on the agreement with Nissan, including the local content levels to be achieved in the event of the company proceeding to full scale manufacture, was made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 1 February 1984 at column 265.

Consumer Protection

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many prohibition orders have been issued under the Consumer Protection Act 1978 since its enactment; on what dates they were issued and for what products; and if he will make a statement;(2) how many prohibition notices have been issued under the Consumer Protection Act 1978 since its enactment; on what dates they were issued and for what products; and if he will make a statement.

No prohibition orders or notices have been made under the Consumer Protection Act. Eight ordes and two notices have been made under the Consumer Safety Act, and I will send the hon. Member a list.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has as to the number of products which may be used by children which contain chemicals classified as dangerous under the Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984; and if he will make a statement.

No comprehensive survey of such products has been made but the following products intended for use by children contain or use chemicals classified as dangerous:

  • Model Steam engines.
  • Modelling glues and paints.
  • Mercury maze puzzles.
  • Chemistry sets.
  • Other types of marker pen.

Metallic Marker Pens

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if Her Majesty's Government will introduce regulations under the Consumer Protection Act 1978 to require that metallic marker pens that contain xylene/xylol are prominently marked "Totally Unsuitable for Children"; and if he will make a statement.

I do not propose to introduce regulations as I do not believe they are necessary. Importers have agreed to add suitable warning labels voluntarily.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations he has received in respect of hazards arising from metallic marker pens.

I have received nine complaints that these pens have caused adverse effects, mostly headaches. In addition I have received some 20 inquiries arising from the warning labels on some brands of metallic marker pens.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what discussions have been held with importers of metallic marker pens that contain xylene/ xylol over warnings that these pens can be dangerous and that the chemical is classified under the Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984; and if he will make a statement.(2) what discussions have been held with importers in Scotland of metallic marker pens that contain xylene/xylol over warnings that these pens can be dangerous and that the chemical is classified under the Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984; and if he will make a statement.(3) what discussions have been held with importers in Wales of metallic marker pens that contain xylene/xylol over warnings that these pens can be dangerous and that the chemical is classified under the Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984; and if he will make a statement.(4)what discussions have been held with importers in Northern Ireland of metallic marker pens that contain xylene/xylol over warnings that these pens can be dangerous and that the chemical is classified under the Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984; and if he will make a statement.

I have asked seven importers, all who are based in England, to add a warning, "Ensure adequate ventilation in places of use." They have all agreed to do so.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the volume and value of metallic marker pens imported into the United Kingdom in each year since the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act 1978; what were the originating states; and if he will make a statement.

Complete figures are not available. However since 1980 four firms have imported at least 8 million pens between them, all from Japan, with a value of the order of £3 million.

Strategic Defence Initiative

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he has taken to warn commercial participants in the United States strategic defence initiative programme of the legal problems which may arise from United States contracts under the United States Export Administration Act.

The United States strategic defence initiative programme and its implications are still under consideration by the Government. Prospective commercial participants are likely to be aware already of the jurisdictional claims made in US export legislation and the Government's views on such claims. As with commercial contracts in general, however, it will be a matter for the companies concerned to seek their own legal advice before deciding whether or not to enter into agreements.

United States (High Technology)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the impact in the United Kingdom of the United States COCOM regulations of 29 April on purchasers of United States technology, and vendors of United States technology in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The position should not be affected. The COCOM controls are not intended to prevent the flow of technology from one member state to another.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints or representations he has received relating to United States extraterritorial activity in the United Kingdom high technology industry since 1983; and if he will make a statement.

Since 1983, my Department has received representations concerning some 15 cases arising from United States claims to apply their laws extraterritorially to companies in high technology industry in the UK.

Tobacco Industry (Alternative Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what policy he has followed to attract alternative employment to areas where tobacco products are manufactured, but where employment is reducing due to a sustained reduction in demand for tobacco products; and if he will make a statement.

Tobacco products are manufactured in many parts of the UK but a major part of the industry is in areas where unemployment is above the average. My Department provides resources on a substantial scale under various schemes of assistance in the regions. Our recent overhaul of regional policy has targeted the main areas of need more accurately in order to get the maximum benefit from these resources.

Brewing And Tobacco Industries

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what efforts he has made to prevent European competitors in the brewing and tobacco industries from taking up marginal surplus capacity in their domestic industries and dumping the resulting products on the British market in a price competitive manner.

If the hon. Member has any evidence of unfair trade practices contrary to the rules of the European Community I will be glad to consider it in collaboration with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who has responsibility for the brewing industry. I will be glad to advise the industries on how to take the matter up with the Commission if the evidence justifies it.

Ibm (Correspondence)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many copies of the letter from IBM of 22 December 1983 regarding the movement of advanced IBM machines within the United Kingdom his Department has received; and how many complaints relating to the letter, or similar letters, he has received.

Several copies of the IBM letter have been received from a number of sources but there have been no complaints of practical difficulties arising from its provisions. I am not aware of any other letter containing similar provisions.

Shipbuilding Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many British warship yards he estimates the existing domestic ordering requirements alone can support; and what estimate of domestic warship-building capacity and foreseeable domestic warship-building demand is available to him.

The number of warship yards necessary to meet domestic ordering requirements depends on various factors including present work force, availability of further labour, the availability of physical assets, the types of vessels ordered and, given the specialist capability of the yards, the distribution of orders between the yards. Therefore there can be no firm estimate of domestic warshipbuilding capacity. Domestic warshipbuilding demand depends on the Ministry of Defence's ordering programme, details of which are made available to the House from time to time.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimates he has for the size of the British merchant shipbuilding industry over the next 15 years.

My right hon. Friend has no such estimates. The future of the merchant shipbuilding industry in Britain depends primarily on the state of the international market and the degree to which our shipbuilders are competitive within that market.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors he takes into account when preparing estimates of the future size of the domestic warship building market.

The future size of the domestic warship building market will depend on the Ministry of Defence's ordering programme and the industry's success in winning warship export orders.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his policy towards attracting alternative employment to shipbuilding communities; and what specific examples of the results of that policy he can cite.

In addition to national schemes of advice and assistance operated by the Department of Trade and Industry firms in shipbuilding areas located within the assisted areas are eligible for regional aid, and the EC has designated a number of areas affected by shipbuilding closures in which funds are available to encourage alternative employment.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his policy towards financial subsidies to privatised British warship yards competing for types of work currently carried out in British merchant shipbuilding yards.

The policy towards financial subsidies for shipbuilding will be closely linked to the new regime for the shipbuilding intervention fund which has still to be approved by the European Commission.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has regarding, average wage rates in the shipbuilding industry for the United Kingdom and for major shipbuilding countries including Japan, South Korea, China and Brazil, respectively.

I have been asked to reply.Information about the wage rates of workers covered by the national shipbuilding and shiprepairers agreements in Great Britain is given in "Time Rates of Wages and Hours of Work", pages 39 to 41, published by the Department of Employment, a copy of which is available in the

Library. Information about the 1985 agreements has not yet been included in this publication, but the main details are given in the table.

Shipbuilding and Shiprepairers agreements 1985.
Agreement I* £Agreement II* £
(a)National Weekly Minimum Time Rates
Fully skilled classes who have
completed their apprenticeship84·2596·20
Semi-skilled classes74·3084·97
Unskilled classes66·9072·16
(b)Minimum Weekly Earnings Level†
Skilled classes125·75
Unskilled classes97·80
* I—British Shipbuilders, operative from 1 April 1985.
II — Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Independent Association, operative from domestic settlement dates on or after 1 January 1985.
‡ For a normal week of 39 hours.
The corresponding figures for the other countries requested are not readily available. However, some indication of the level of wages in similar types of activity can be drawn from the information covering manufacture of transport equipment, a broader category which includes shipbuilding, which is given for countries including Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong in the International Labour Office's "Year Book of Labour Statistics" (table 17B), a copy of which is also in the Library.

British Overseas Trade Board

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons the support of the British Overseas Trade Board was withdrawn from British companies exhibiting at the 1985 autumn fair at Frankfurt; how many companies were promised support; what was the anticipated cost of the support; how such notice of withdrawal was given; and how many complaints have been received by his Department or the British Overseas Trade Board.

Eastern Imports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if there is any evidence to indicate that imports from the near and far east to the United Kingdom are proportionately higher than in other European Community countries.Mr. Channon: OECD trade statistics indicate that in 1983 7½per cent. of the imports of the other European Community countries came from the near and far east, compared with 11½ per cent. for the United Kingdom.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has yet received the report of the team which has been reviewing the management and organisation of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

I have now received the review team's report. I have made arrangements for this to be published today and copies have been placed in the library of the House. The report is wide-ranging and makes a number of recommendations on how the Department's operations could be made more businesslike and provide an improved service to exporters. I am now considering the report and will announce the Government's conclusions in due course.

Fairey Engineering Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current status of the permission given to Fairey Engineering Ltd. to tender to refurbish a research nuclear reactor near Santiago; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 11 June 1985, c. 400]: 1 understand that the refurbishment of the Lo Aguirre research reactor has been postponed indefinitely by the Chilean authorities in the light of the recent earthquake in central Chile.

Environment

Oldham (Infrastructure)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has replied to the letter containing a resolution on the subject of spending more on the infrastructure sent to him on 25 April by the Oldham metropolitan borough council.

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will be replying to this letter shortly.

Local Government Finance

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the terms of reference of the Widdicombe inquiry into local government finance include consideration of the employment by local authorities of commercial polling organisations to carry out political canvassing in their areas.

The terms of reference of the Widdicombe inquiry include the need to clarify the limits and conditions governing discretionary spending by local authorities. I hope my hon. Friend will submit evidence of any abuses to the committee.

Council House Sales

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the total capital receipts to date from the sale of council houses and other domestic accommodation.

During the period April 1979 to December 1984, English Local Authorities and new towns received an estimated £47 billion through initial payments and mortgage repayments relating to council house sales.

Water Authorities (Privatisation)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the water authorities following the dispatch of his consultation letter about privatisation.

Responses to the discussion paper have been received from the water authorities collectively through the Water Authorities Association, from the Water Companies Association and from seven individual water authorities. I discussed possible privatisation with the chairman and other representatives of the Water Authorities Association on 6 June.

52.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his policy for the privatisation of water authorities.

I informed the House on 7 February at column 1144 that the Government would be examining the possibility of a measure of privatisation in the water industry. On 1 April, we sent the chairmen of the water authorities a discussion paper and I discussed their response with some of them on 6 June.We shall be making a further announcement in due course.

Wildlife And Countryside Act

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about progress in processing the footpath provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The Ramblers' Association is monitoring the implementation of the rights of way provisions in Part III of the Act on behalf of the Countryside Commission. Its first report, covering the period to the end of 1984, is expected shortly.

Rate Capping

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has about the amount spent to date by (i) all local rate-capped authorities and (ii) the city of Leicester on anti rate-capping propaganda campaigns; and if he will make a statement.

I do not have precise information, but Leicester and other rate-capped authorities have clearly been spending considerable amounts of ratepayers' money on anti rate capping propaganda. In Leicester's case I understand that up to £150,000 may be spent this year on such campaigning.

Private Rented Accommodation

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if it is intended to bring forward legislation to make new tenancies in the private sector free from security of tenure and rent regulations.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to introduce legislation to deregulate private rented housing.

I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson).

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to exempt new private lettings from the provisions of the Rent Act.

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson).

Central Berkshire Structure Plan

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to receive from Berkshire county council its revised proposals for the central Berkshire structure plan.

I understand that Berkshire county council is at present considering the response to the public consultation on its revised structure plan proposals. I am sure they are aware of the need to decide as soon as possible what proposals to submit to me so that its structure plan policies can be brought up to date.

Norman Shaw Building (Lift)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions since its installation the new lift in Norman Shaw south building has been out of commission.

28, of which half were in the one-year guarantee period. A fault affecting the motor protection relay, which is thought to have been the main cause of these breakdowns, has now been discovered and rectified.

By-Elections (London)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he was consulted by the Greater London council about its proposals to expend money on the forthcoming by-elections.

Sulphur Dioxide Emissions

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest estimate for the fall in the volume of sulphur dioxide emissions in the United Kingdom over the next decade.

Total emissions of sulphur dioxide were 3·7 million tonnes in 1983 (the latest figures available). The Department of Energy estimates that, depending on the assumptions made, total emissions will be in the range of 3·4 million to 4·2 million tonnes in 1990 and 3·1 million to 4·5 million tonnes in 2000.

Anti-Fouling Paints

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has had about his Department's proposals to ban the use of anti-fouling paints containing tributyltin on vessels under 12m; and if he will make a statement.

Public consultation on the proposals ended on 14 May and the comments received are now being considered.

City Of Manchester (Boundary)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received any proposals recommending the extension of the boundaries of the city of Manchester so as to incorporate parts of the parliamentary constituency of Bury, South.

No.My right hon. Friend does not expect to receive any proposals from the Local Government Boundary

Commission until some time after it reviews Manchester city's and Bury's administrative boundaries. That review will not commence before 1 April 1987, as explained in my answer of 19 November 1984, at column

33.

Shorthold Tenancies

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the number of shorthold tenancies granted since 1980.

Over 5,000 shorthold tenancies were created in 1981, the first year after shorthold was introduced. Information about shortholds created since 1 December 1981 is not available because the compulsory rent registration requirement for new shortholds was lifted outside London on that date.

Local Government Expenditure

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has taken any recent action to implement the recommendations of the Audit Commission's report on capital spending in local government.

Before the report was published, the Government were already engaged in discussions with the Local Authority Associations about the future of the system for controlling local authority capital expenditure. I have welcomed the report as a very useful input to that work, which is still going on.

Trees (Destruction)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any reasonably accurate means of estimating the number of trees destroyed in the last five years.

There are no comprehensive statistics available for tree loss over the last five years. My Department's current research study on monitoring landscape change should provide information on trees in hedges and woodland.

Refuse Collection

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities in England have put their refuse collection out to private contract.

This information is not collected centrally, but a list of bodies using private sector contractors, published in the magazine "Contract Services", includes 18 local authority refuse collection contracts.

North Of England County Council Association (Report)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has now had the opportunity to study the North of England County Council Association sixth state of the region report, published in January; and if he will make a statement.

I have studied this report. I shall be meeting representatives of the association in the near future to discuss various issues arising from the report.

Council House Sales

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council houses have been sold in England since May 1979.

From April 1979 to March 1985 about 665,000 dwellings were sold by local authorities and new towns in England. The figure for Great Britain is about 775,000.

"Coal And The Environment"

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the progress being made on the recommendations in Cmnd. 8877 entitled "Coal and the Environment"; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. Regular meetings are held with the NCB and local authority associations to review the White Paper commitments and I am satisfied with the progress that is being made.

Islington

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will review his decision to penalise the borough of Islington in the 1985–86 rate support grant settlement.

Proposals for implementing holdback of block grant for 1985–86 will be contained in a rate support grant supplementary report which I hope to lay before the House for approval next month.

Urban Programme

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to complete his consideration of the future of the traditional urban programme scheme.

45.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to change the method of treatment of urban programme expenditure in relation to general local government expenditure controls.

Derelict Land

40.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current annual cost to his Department of grants made to local authorities to reclaim derelict land.

In 1984–85 grant totalling £64·5 million was paid to local authorities in respect of approved derelict land reclamation schemes in England.

Rate Rebates

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the total number of domestic hereditaments in England and the number of people receiving rates rebates.

The total number of domestic hereditaments in England at the beginning of 1984– 85 was 18 million. Based on local authority returns, the number of rate rebate recipients in that year is estimated to be 6·15 million.

Mobile Homes (Rents)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the introduction of rent regulations on the pitch rents of mobile home owners; and if he will make a statement.

We have received various representations from residents suggesting that pitch rents for mobile homes should be subject to some form of rent regulation.We do not consider that statutory control of pitch rents is either appropriate or desirable. It would not be in tne interests either of residents or site owners. Just as rent control has affected adversely the supply of the private rented housing, so it would lead to a decline in the number of mobile home sites. The Mobile Homes Act 1983 contains important safeguards for residents on pitch rents without imposing unreasonable restrictions on site owners. I believe that it strikes a reasonable balance.

Local Authorities (Housing Policy)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the report published by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities on "Housing and Race: Policy and Practice in Local Authorities", a copy of which has been sent to him.

I welcome the Association's initiative in producing the report. I hope that local authorities will heed its advice and recommendations, and will be discussing it with them at the next meeting of the Housing Consultative Council.

Gleneagles Agreement

44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the implications for the Gleneagles agreement of the declaration of intent by all sports associations in South Africa, a copy of which has been sent to him.

Whilst the Government welcomes the principles behind the declaration of intent, it can have no implications for the Commonwealth statement on apartheid in sport. The statement, which represents the consensus view of the Commonwealth, is a reaction to the South African Government's system of apartheid, which is not affected by the declaration.

Sites Of Special Scientific Interest

46.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, over the past two years, how many sites for which sites of special scientific interest designation was applied for were destroyed before statutory protection was in force.

I am advised by the Nature Conservancy Council that since 1 April 1983 some 27 proposed sites of special scientific interest have been damaged following the issue of the NCC's notice of intention to notify the site. In only two of these cases does the NCC consider that the scientific interest of the whole of the site has been completely destroyed.

Improvement Grants

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what responses he has received to his consultative document on improvement grants.

51.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received so far on the Green paper on home improvements.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham).

Local Authorities (Expenditure)

49.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the latest projections for revenue spending of local authorities for the current financial year.

We have information on the 1985–86 budgets for most authorities. In aggregate, authorities are overspending their targets by just over £200 million or by 1 per cent. This is the lowest overspend since targets were introduced four years ago. Ratepayers are reaping the benefit, with rate increases in single figures for the third year in succession.During the 1960's and 1970's local authority current expenditure grew relentlessly in real terms by about 3½ per cent, per annum. Under this Administration, growth has been reduced to under 1 per cent. per annum. This year, budgets show that authorities are planning for no growth at all.

Water Industry

50.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many water industry consumer consultative committees supported the Government's policy on charges by the water industry for 1985–86.

Only some of the water authority consumer consultative committees have made their views known to my right hon. Friend. Of those that did so, some appreciated the need for higher investment but none welcomed higher charges.

Local Government Finance

53.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he is next due to meet representatives of the local authority associations to discuss issues of local government finance.

I expect to chair the next meeting of the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance on 23 July.

Local Government Reform

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the proposed timetable for establishing the residuary bodies under the Local Government Bill.

London Residuary Body

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has appointed the chairman of the London Residuary Body proposed under the Local Government Bill.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on 5 June, at columns 163–65.

Radioactive Waste

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Government will conduct a public investigation into all methods of radioactive waste management.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys MÔn (Mr. Best) on 6 June 1985 at column 206.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the approximate volume of (a) low-level radioactive waste and (b) intermediate level radioactive waste arising from each stage of decommissioning and dismantling a typical Magnox nuclear power station in clearance to a green field state.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) on 3 June 1985 at column 38.

Home Improvement And Repair

57.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to increase the proportion made to secure the improvement and repair of the national housing stock.

Gross housing provision in England in the current year is £3,051 million, of which a substantial part will be spent on improving and repairing the housing stock.The Government have published a Green Paper (Cmnd. 9513) outlining their proposals for improving the condition of private sector housing in England and Wales. My Department has also asked local authorities to report on the condition of their housing stock, and results are expected in July.

Football Ground Safety

Mr. Parry asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Football League concerning safety at football grounds.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement about recent discussions he has had concerning safety of sports grounds.

A working group has been set up under my chairmanship to consider the implications of the extension of designation under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 to divisions 3 and 4 of the Football League. It is composed of representatives of the Football Association, the Football League, the Football Trust, the Football Grounds Improvement Trust, the Pools Promoters' Association, the Sports Council, the Scottish Office and the Welsh Office. The group first met formally on 23 May.

At its next meeting on 19 June the group will be considering a report from FGIT based on surveyors' visits to all English and Scottish League grounds. This subject was also discussed when I met the Football League together with the Football Association on 17 May.

I have also met the chairman and Secretary of the Rugby League and asked them to report on what the implications would be of the extension of designation under the Act to divisions 1 and 2 of the Rugby League.

I understand that Mr. Justice Popplewell, who is chairing the inquiry established by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, will be seeking evidence from a number of sports governing bodies.

Planning Regulations (Small Businesses)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those planning regulations which prevent individuals from starting small businesses in their homes.

Sections 22(1) and 23(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 provide that planning permission is required for a material change in the use of a building. However, non-material changes of use and uses ancillary to the main use are free from control. Whether any particular change of use is material is a matter of fact and degree. Where planning permission is required, local authorities should always grant permission, having regard to all material considerations, unless there are sound and clear-cut reasons for refusal.

Rag Flock And Other Filling Materials Act 1951

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any early plans to introduce amendments to the Rag Flock and Other Filling Materials Act 1951.

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to do so, but will continue to seek a suitable opportunity for such amendment.

St Barnabas Community Centre, Bristol

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received any applications for funding under the inner city programme to deal with the problems arising from defective features and facilities at St. Barnabas community centre, St. Paul's, Bristol.

No. However, following recent discussions, in which representatives of Avon county council and the St. Paul's Community Association participated, an application for £45,839 capital grant under the 1985– 86 urban programme, to provide equipment and furniture for the St. Barnabas community centre, is being reformulated to cover work to one of the buildings involved.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set up an inquiry into the design and consultation about St. Barnabas community centre, St. Paul's, Bristol, funded under the inner city programme by his Department.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current total cost to the inner city programme funds of St. Barnabas community centre, St. Paul's, Bristol.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultation took place between his Department and community interest groups before approving the funding for St. Barnabas community centre, St. Pauls, Bristol.

The need for a community centre in St. Pauls was identified in one of several reports prepared jointly—following the disturbances in the area in April 1980—by Avon county council, Bristol city council and the Bristol council for racial equality It was one of the topics discussed when a deputation from these bodies met Ministers, led by the then Secretary of State for the Home Department, in July 1981. Support for the project in principle was agreed at that time. Where a project is funded under the urban programme, it is for the applicant authority, rather than the Department, to consult interested community groups.

Disabled People (Accommodation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was, for each of the last three years for which figures are available, the number and total value of adaptations to the accommodation of disabled people funded by each district and borough council.

The numbers of dwellings for disabled people which each English local authority reported renovating and the numbers for which grants were paid to private owners and tenants in the years 1981, 1982 and 1983, appear in "Local Housing Statistics" in issues 62, 66 and 70, respectively. Estimates for England as a whole of the cost of the local authority renovations in the financial year 1981–82 and in each quarter from the second quarter of 1983 appear in table 2.16(a) of the quarterly "Housing and Construction Statistics" No. 20, as do the amounts of grants paid in the three years 1982 to 1984. Copies of all these publications are in the Library. The corresponding costs and grants paid information for individual local authorities is not in a readily available form.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to enable complementary information to be gathered concerning expenditure by local authority housing and social services departments on adaptations to the accommodation of disabled people; and if he will make a statement.

My Department collects information on the conversion and improvement of local authority dwellings which make them suitable for the disabled, as well as information on grants paid for the renovation of dwellings for disabled persons under the Housing Acts. This information is published each quarter in table 2.16 of "Housing and Construction Statistics Part 2", copies of which are available in the Library.Information on expenditure by local authority social services departments on adaptations to the accommodation of disabled people is collected by the Department of Health and Social Security.

Building Regulations

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he proposes to take to simplify further the building regulations.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further steps he proposes to take to lessen the burden on the construction industry and its customers of the present system of building controls.