Written Answers To Questions
Wednesday 9 March 1988
Mr T D Phung
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he now expects to provide a substantive reply to the representations made on 17 March 1987 by the hon. Member for Woolwich in the case of Mr. T. D. Phung.
I wrote to the hon. Member yesterday.
Mr Truong Nguyen Thanh
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to complete his inquiries into the case of Mr. Truong Nguyen Thanh, originally raised with him by the hon. Member for Woolwich on 1 July 1987.
As I told the hon. Member in my written answer on 2 December 1987 at column 588, further inquiries were needed before this case could be resolved. I much regret that there has been some delay in initiating these. A reply is, however, now awaited from Mr. Truong. I shall write to the hon. Member as soon as the case has been fully considered.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many subject access requests under the terms of the Data Protection Act his Department has received; what was his estimate of this number; whether he is reconsidering the subject access fee charged by his Department as a result; and whether he will make a statement.
During the period 11 November 1987 to 1 March the Home Office received 16 requests for subject access.It was not judged possible to make any firm advance estimate of likely take-up, but there was an indication, on the basis of experience in other European countries, that requests might be in the range of 0·1 to 1·0 per cent. per annum of records held, that is between 5,000 and 50,000 requests a year to be addressed to the Home Office.There are no plans to reconsider the subject access fees charged by the Department.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he will not hold discussions with the Data Protection Registrar to produce a code of practice covering national security purposes as is possible under the terms of part V of the Data Protection Act.
I can see no advantage in a code of practice in this area.
La Belle Discotheque
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Metropolitan police on their discussions with the West Berlin police regarding the statement by the acting head of the United States police in West Berlin, on 14 April 1986, as to the state of alerts in relation to the bombing of the La Belle discotheque: and if he will make a statement.
I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to a similar question from the hon. Member on 7 March, at column 4.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many responses he has received from the voluntary sector to his consultative document on the proposed national unit for disclosure of police information to voluntary bodies concerning those wishing to work with children; and if he will make a statement.
We have received 11 responses from the voluntary sector (including eight from bodies representing a number of voluntary organisations).
Police Cells (Escapees)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the escape of five category A and two remand prisoners from South West London magistrates court cells on 6 March.
The security of prisoners held in police and magistrates courts cells within the Metropolitan police district is the responsibility of the Commissioner. I understand from the Commissioner that on Sunday 6 March, 12 remand prisoners were being accommodated in court cells at South Western magistrates court, where they were the responsibility of one sergeant and three constables. One prisoner was being returned with an escort from the shower room when several prisoners attacked the police officers and succeeded in overpowering them. Seven of the 12 prisoners then escaped from the premises. The escape was discovered at approximately 10 pm when the night duty police officers arrived to relieve their colleagues. The prisoners who escaped included two who were jointly charged with murder, one who was on remand for possession of firearms, three who were on remand in relation to drug offences and one who was on remand for robbery. No category A prisoner was among those who escaped.The Commissioner tells me that the incident is now being investigated by members of the Metropolitan Police Complaints Investigation Bureau and that all divisional chief superintendents have been instructed urgently to review security in police and magistrates courts cells within their divisional territories. The cells at the South Western district magistrates court will not be used for remand prisoners, pending a full review of the security arrangements.I understand that three men, including the two men who escaped having previously been charged with murder, have now been recaptured.
Ruc (Chief Constable)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 10 February, Official Report, column 218, what inquiries he made of persons in (a) Scarborough and (b) Northern Ireland before announcing that the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir John Hermon, was in Northern Ireland throughout 19 May 1986; on what evidence his statement to the House was based; and if he will make a statement.
No inquiries were made of any persons in Scarborough. In Northern Ireland an inquiry was addressed to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. I was informed that Sir John Hermon held a meeting in his office on the morning of 19 May, that he attended a medal presentation ceremony in the afternoon, and that in the evening he had a dinner engagement, all these engagements being in Northern Ireland.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is being done to increase the involvement of the public in crime prevention and to provide information on the steps that can be taken to reduce crime.
Following the recent announcement of the "Safer Cities" programme my right hon. Friend today launched a major publicity campaign aimed at encouraging the public to work with the police to reduce crime. The campaign will cost about £3 million in its first phase, and is designed to run for three years. A free handbook is being made available on request which will give practical advice on a wide range of preventive measures. A copy of the handbook has been sent to all hon. and right hon. Members and placed in the Library.
Prisoners' Grievance Procedures (Review)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons' review of prisoners' grievance procedures will be published; and if he will make a statement.
The report of a thematic review of prisoners' grievance procedures, conducted by Sir James Hennessy before the expiry of his term and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, is published today. I am grateful to Sir James Hennessy and to the inspectorate for the work which went into this review and for a report which I hope will stimulate discussion of this important subject.Sir James Hennessy's principal conclusion is that prisoners' grievance procedures need to be fair, efficient and effective and to inspire confidence among prisoners, staff and the wider community; that the existing procedures do not in all respects satisfy those requirements; and that they need to be overhauled.
Among the specific recommendations in the report are proposals for simplifying the procedures so that, as far as possible, each stage for examining a request or grievance should be exhausted before the next is embarked upon. The report envisages that governors, boards of visitors and the prison department would continue to play a part in the resolution of prisoners' grievances, which however should be distinguished according to whether they are complaints or requests; but it also proposes the establishment of a new prison ombudsman and the discontinuation of prisoners' access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
Other recommendations include a statutory code of prisoners' rights and duties as a long-term aim; the removal of the restrictions on the ventilation of prisoners' complaints; the withdrawal of the disciplinary offences of making a false and malicious allegation and of repeatedly making groundless complaints; improved information for prisoners about the procedures for making a complaint; and the introduction of time limits for replying to complaints and of a requirement for reasons to be given when complaints are rejected.
Before reaching decisions on the recommendations in this report I want to be able to take into account comments from interested individuals and organisations, both inside and outside the prison service. These should reach the Department by 9 June and should be sent to the Head of P3 Division, Home Office Prison Department, Cleland House, Page Street, London SW1P 4LN.
Education And Science
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he envisages any reduction of educational provision for children under five years of age, following the abolition of the Inner London education authority.
Education for under-fives is provided at the discretion of local education authorities, but the inner London councils will be required to set out their proposed provision for this age group in development plans to be published early next year. Any proposals for significant reductions in current provision would be subject to statutory procedures under the Education Act 1980.
Voluntary-Aided And Special Agreement Schools
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what the capital spending allocation for voluntary-aided and special agreement schools was in the London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Hillingdon and Harrow in each of the years 1982–83 to 1988–89; and how much in each case was allocated to Roman Catholic voluntary-aided schools.
Allocation in these years for each of these London boroughs is as follows:
The allocations shown here are those announced before the start of the financial year in question and do not include subsequent revisions.
It is not possible to show separately how much has been allocated to Roman Catholic voluntary-aided schools.
Nottinghamshire Education Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has received a request for a meeting from the Nottinghamshire education committee with regard to its capital allocation; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has received no such request.
City Technology Colleges
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether any of the proposed city technology colleges will be supported by funds from the tobacco industry; and if he will make a statement.
The companies which have announced their intention to sponsor a city technology college include Hanson plc, which has interests in the tobacco industry among a number of others.
House Of Commons
To ask the Lord President of the Council, how many (a) water closets for (i) men and (ii) women and (b) urinals there are in the Palace of Westminster.
The information requested, for the Commons area of the Palace of Westminster, is as follows:
|Toilet facility||Number of locations|
|Urinals1 and water closets for men||38|
|Water closets for women||15|
|1 Urinals alone are provided in 2 locations.|
Select Committees (Visits)
To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what was the cost of (a) home and (b) overseas visits by each Select Committee since 1979; how many members were involved in each visit; and if he will make a statement.
All the information requested for Sessions 1985–86 and 1986–87 is contained in the Sessional Select Committee Returns for those years; costs of home and overseas visits in sessions 1979–80 to 1984–85 are set out in the Sessional Returns, but the number of Members involved in each visit in those years could be discovered only at disproportionate cost; information about the anticipated cost of overseas travel by Committees in the current session was given in my reply to a question by the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) on 29 February at columns 642–4; the other information requested for this Session is not yet available, but will be included in the Sessional Return for this session.
Combined Heat And Power
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his Department's policy with regard to the provision of urban sites suitable for combined heat and power stations.
It is for the promoters of urban combined heat and power schemes to obtain suitable sites for CHP stations and to secure the necessary planning consent.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his Department's policy with regard to the encouragement of the further development of combined heat and power district heating in Britain.
My Department has provided substantial funding towards studies to evaluate the feasibility of combined heat and power-district heating. It is now for the private sector to take its further development forward.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what uranium not covered by either bilaterial or multilateral safeguard arrangements has been imported for civil use into the United Kingdom since 1979; and if he will name the countries of origin of such uranium.
None. All civil nuclear material in the United Kingdom is subject to our safeguards agreements with Euratom and the IAEA.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what specific provisions exist in each of the current safeguards arrangements covering uranium to ensure that uranium imported into (a) the United Kingdom, and (b) the European Economic Community remains within the safeguardable nuclear cycle; and what is the practice of (a) Her Majesty's Government and (b) Euratom with regard to weight-for-weight direct substitution of safeguarded uranium within the agreed safeguards arrangements.
[holding answer 26 February 1988]: All uranium imported into the United Kingdom for civil use is subject to Euratom safeguards and the terms of the United Kingdom-Euratom-IAEA safeguards agreement. In some cases it is subject to special safeguarding obligations agreed between the supplying country and the Community.
Euratom accepts exchanges of safeguards obligations between nuclear material on the basis of strict equivalence in quantity and quality.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if there are any contractual arrangements currently in force that permit the import or retention of spent nuclear fuel and attendant radioactive wastes to remain in the United Kingdom which are not covered by a return to sender clause.
Since 1976, BNFL's contracts for the reprocessing of overseas spent fuel have contained options for the return of wastes. The Government intend that these options should be exercised, and that the wastes should be returned. BNFL has a number of reprocessing contracts with overseas customers which were signed before 1976. Those contracts do not contain return of waste options, but wastes from them will represent no more than 10 per cent. of total waste arisings in the United Kingdom by 2000. No facilities in addition to those needed for the disposal of United Kingdom wastes should be required.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current budget for housing construction and sewage systems within the Gaza strip of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; what were the equivalent figures for each of the last five years; and what were the contributions to these budgeted figures from (a) the United Kingdom, (b) each of the other four permanent members of the Security Council, (c) Saudi Arabia, (d) Kuwait and (e) Iraq.
The UNRWA has not been involved in the construction of housing or sewerage systems in Gaza for many years. The agency has undertaken a modest programme of essential maintenance of shelters for special hardship families and a limited amount of surface drain construction in the eight Gaza camps. Expenditure on these programmes for the period 1983–88 is as follows:
|Shelter maintenance US dollars||Surface drains US dollars|
United Nations Children's Fund
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of Her Majesty's Government's total multilateral aid budget was contributed to the United Nations children's fund in each year since 1978.
The information is as follows:
Percentage of gross public expenditure on multilateral aid contributed to UNICEF
The 1987 percentage is not yet available.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was Her Majesty's Government's contribution to the United Nations children's fund (general resources and special appeals) in each year since 1978 at current and outturn prices.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on 21 October 1987 at columns 745–6.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's percentage share of total contributions to the general resource fund of the United Nations children's fund in the latest available year.
Our share of total contributions to the general resources fund of the United Nations Children's Fund was 4·24 per cent. in 1986, the latest available year. The figure is taken from UNICEF's report "Contributions from Governments and Other Sources to General Resources and for Specific Purposes in 1986" a copy of which was placed in the Library in October 1987.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information is available as to the total value to United Kingdom companies of contracts awarded to supply goods and services to the United Nations children's fund for each year since 1982.
The following are the latest UNICEF figures available:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of Her Majesty's Government's contributions to multilateral aid agencies was made (a) by automatic subscription and (b) by voluntary contribution, in each since 1978.
The information in the table covers contributions from the aid programme to United Nations development agencies, international financial institutions, the European Community and Commonwealth aid programmes defined as follows:
Percentage of total multilateral contributions (as defined above)
Figures for 1987 are not yet available.
Note: Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding.
To ask the Attorney-General what prosecutions (a) are currently taking place, (b) are currently being considered and (c) have been completed in the last year which involve allegations of abuse of the police national computer or any other police computer; and if he will make a statement.
No separate records are kept by the Crown Prosecution Service of prosecutions involving allegations of abuse of police computers, and accordingly it is not possible to give an accurate answer to the hon. Member's question.
To ask the Attorney-General how many subject access requests under the terms of the Data Protection Act the Lord Chancellor's Department has received; what was his estimate of this number; whether he is reconsidering the subject access fee charged by the Department as a result; and whether he will make a statement.
The Lord Chancellor's Department has received 700 subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1984, all but one of which came from members of staff. No estimate had been made of the likely number of requests. No fee is currently being charged by the Department and no change is being considered.
"My Country Right Or Wrong"
To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on his decision to apply for the lifting of the interim injunction against the transmission of the first episode of the BBC programme "My Country Right or Wrong".
When the Government had reason to believe that the Radio 4 series "My Country Right or Wrong" would include interviews with members and former members of the security and intelligence services, the Government asked the BBC to give details of what would be broadcast from those interviews. The BBC refused to provide that information and so the Government sought and obtained an interlocutory injunction in order to uphold the duty of confidentiality owed by such persons. When in the course of the court proceedings the BBC provided a transcript of the first episode, the Government were able to consider what was to be broadcast from those interviews and concluded that it was no longer necessary for the broadcast of that episode to be restrained by the injunction. The Government were not able to agree to the lifting of the injunction as a whole because the BBC has still refused to disclose what other material from those interviews it is proposed to include in future broadcasts.
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many subject access requests under the terms of the Data Protection Act his Department has received; what was his estimate of this number; whether he is reconsidering the subject access fee charged by his Department as a result; and whether he will make a statement.
My Department has received one request for subject access, under the terms of the Data Protection Act, and did not attempt to estimate the number of requests which might be received. At present there are no plans to reconsider the level of subject access fees.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether civilian air traffic control will continue to be carried out at RAF Boulmer; and whether he will make a statement.
The responsibility for the provision of air traffic control services rests jointly with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Defence. I understand from the authority that the civil element of the joint air traffic control unit at RAF Boulmer is to close on 1 October 1988, and the civil air traffic control tasks undertaken by the unit will be transferred to other centres.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received from the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise; and what reply he is sending.
The Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise wrote to my right hon. Friend on 29 February about air safety. I will send the right hon. Gentleman a copy of the reply.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if any studies have been conducted by his Department into the environmental contamination implications of an aeroplane carrying plutonium canisters to or from Dounreay nuclear power development establishment crashing into the sea between Caithness and the Orkneys.
The evidence submitted by British Nuclear Fuels to the European demonstration reprocessing plant (EDRP) inquiry at Dounreay showed that in the event of an air crash in the sea there would be no release of radioactivity.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many voyages take place each month of ships transporting plutonium from or to the Dounreay nuclear power development establishment via the Minches to or from British Nuclear Fuels plc's Sellafield site.
These movements are in full compliance with national regulations based on the recommendations of the International Maritime Organisation, which do not depend for their effectiveness on a particular route, and do not require individual authorisation. I understand that since the start of this traffic in June 1981 there have been 21 movements of plutonium nitrate from Dounreay to Sellafield, the
|(a) Expenditure on maintenance1of national roads 1979–80 to 1987–88|
|(£ million cash)|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||7||10||20||25||24||27||17||27||45|
|Total for England||82||104||157||193||179||212||182||2253||282|
|Total for United Kingdom||144||170||250||277||280||313||307||378||410|
|1 Maintenance covers structural, routine and winter maintenance of the carriageway (excluding bridges), both capital and current. (A different capital/current distinction applies to local roads expenditure).|
|2 Provisional outturn.|
|3 Estimated outturns.|
|4 All roads in Northern Ireland.|
|(b)Expenditure on maintenance1of local roads 1979–80 to 1987–88|
|(£ million cash)|
discharged flasks being returned to Dounreay by the same route. Certain categories of waste are also transported from Sellafield to Dounreay by sea.
Second Severn Crossing
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the second Severn crossing.
The consultants for the project—W. S. Atkins and Partners and G. Maunsell and Partners — are making good progress. A public exhibition has been held at nine different centres on both sides of the estuary and consultations are now under way with affected parties. These consultations will continue during the coming months. The consultants are proceeding with the further technical investigations needed. We hope to be in a position to finalise the proposals in 18–24 months.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what programmes are being initiated to improve road quality standards throughout the United Kingdom; and if he will provide a table listing expenditure figures for all regions from 1979 to the latest available date.
[pursuant to his reply, 7 March 1988, c. 105–7]: The following tables should have been included.
|Yorkshire and Humberside||—||—||—||103||105||106||115||110||138|
Total for England
Total for Great Britain
1 Maintenance covers current expenditure and consists of structural, routine and winter maintenance of the carriageway (including bridges in England). (A different capital/current distinction applies to national roads).
2 Figures by English region are not readily available for these years.
3 Budget figures for England and Scotland.
4 Provisional outturn.
5 Estimated outturn.
Middle East (Ministerial Visits)
To ask the Prime Minister whether she will list all planned official visits by Ministers to (a) the state of Israel and (b) member countries of the League of Arab States during the current year.
A number of visits are under consideration, but details have yet to be finalised.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much is the total amount spent on the nationalised industries since 1958 by way of purchase, subsidy, written-off loans and any other similar costs, and interest; and what has been the average rate of return on capital invested over that period.
Nationalised industries have not always been distinguished from other public corporations in available statistical sources. Over the period 1958 to 1987 inclusive, £71 billion in today's price was spent on purchase (£4 billion), grant subsidies (£44 billion) and written-off loans (£23 billion) for those public corporations which have at some point been defined as nationalised industries. The average real rate of return, after subsidies, on capital employed in all public corporations over the period 1958 to 1986 inclusive was approximately one half of 1 per cent. per annum.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates will be the deficit in manufactured trade in 1988; and what percentage change this represents on the 1987 figure.
My right hon. Friend will be making a new forecast at Budget time.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the rise in productivity in (a) nationalised and (b) private industry since 1979.
I refer the hon. Member to table 4.7 of the White Paper, "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1988–89 to 1990–91" (Cm. 288-I).
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cigarettes were released for home consumption during the six months following the last Budget and the previous two periods of six months; what estimates he has made on the effect on cigarette sales if he had raised cigarette tax in line with inflation; and if he will make a statement.
The figures requested are as follows:
|Clearances of cigarettes for home consumption|
|April to September 1986||37|
|October 1986 to March 1987||58|
|April 1987 to September 1987||41|
Economic And Finance Council
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Economic and Finance Council meeting on 7 March.
The European Community's Ecofin Council met in Brussels: I represented the United Kingdom.The Council established the draft Community budget for 1988 and reached agreement on a provisional draft intergovernmental agreement. The Italian delegation made it clear that in the forthcoming discussions on the new own resources decision it will continue to argue that the GNP-based financing of the United Kingdom's abatement should be brought to account against the new fourth own resource (thus in effect increasing the proportion of the budget which would be financed in accordance with VAT shares) rather than (as proposed by the Commission) within the VAT ceiling.The draft budget proposals for expenditure remain as set out in my written answer on 24 February, at columns
194–6. The budget total remains at 44·7 billion ecu (£31·0 billion) for commitment appropriations and 43·4 billion ecu (£30·1 billion) for payment appropriations. Provision for the United Kingdom's abatement is 2·387 billion ecu (£1·656 billion).
The provisional and indicative amount which member states would contribute under the intergovernmental agreement has been reduced slightly, from some 7·7 billion ecu to some 7·647 billion ecu (£5·304 billion), with a United Kingdom contribution of 1·263 billion ecu (0·876 billion). This extra financing would be partially offset by smaller VAT payments, leaving total extra financing, compared with the maximum amount available under the existing own resources ceiling, of about 5·4 billion ecu (£3·7 billion) after allowing for a surplus of 0·5 billion ecu (£0·3 billion) carried forward from 1987. As before, all sterling equivalent figures are calculated at the rate of 1·4417 ecu to the pound used by the Commission in its latest budget proposals.
Over lunch the Council considered preparations for the forthcoming discussions on budget discipline with the European Parliament, which were foreshadowed in paragraphs Al4 and 15 of the consolidated conclusions of the Brussels European Council (SN 461/1/88).
The Council heard a presentation by the president of the European Court of Auditors of the court's report for 1986. I emphasised the importance which the United Kingdom attaches to obtaining better value for money from Community expenditure. I welcomed the increasing attention which the court is giving to fraud in the Community and I also encouraged the Commission to bring forward cost-effective proposals for combating fraud. The Council approved a resolution recommending that the European Parliament should grant the Commission a discharge on implementation of the 1986 budget.
Increase in income after tax (£ per week) compared with indexation in 1988–89 for married man with two children
Multiple of average earnings
|Increase derived from:|
|(i) 1p cut in basic rate||0·46||1·07||1·69||2·91||3·60||3·60||3·60|
|(ii) 5 per cent. increase in income tax thresholds||0·99||0·99||0·99||0·99||3·90||10·69||10·69|
|(iii) Increase in child benefit|
(a)£3·40 per week2
(b)£2·15 per week3
|(iv) reduced rate band of 25 per cent. on first £3,400 of taxable income||0·93||1·31||1·31||1·31||1·31||1·31||1·31|
|(v) reduced rate band of 20 per cent. on first £850 of taxable income||1·14||1·14||1·14||1·14||1·14||1·14||1·14|
The Council reviewed the economic situation in the Community and agreed that there was no need to change the policy guidelines set out in the 1987–88 annual economic report adopted last December.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table setting out for a two-child family on (a) half average earnings, (b) three quarters average earnings, (c) average earnings, (d) one and a half average earnings, (e) twice average earnings, (f) five times average earnings and (g) 10 times average earnings, the increase in net income derived from (i) a 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax in 1988–89, (ii) an increase in personal allowances, over and above indexation, incurring the same cost as (i), (iii) an increase in child benefit incurring the same cost as (i), both assuming and not assuming similar increases in the supplementary benefit children's rates, (iv) the introduction of a reduced rate tax band of 25 per cent. at the same cost as (i) showing what band of income the reduced rate would cover, and (v) the introduction of a reduced rate tax band of 20 per cent. at the same cost as (i), showing what band of income the reduced rate would cover.
[holding answer 18 February 1988]: The effects of the proposed changes on a one earner, two child, family are shown in the table. The table contains information based on direct revenue or expenditure cost in a full year at 1988–89 levels of income, based on projections from the 1984–85 survey of personal incomes in line with forecasts in the Autumn Statement. On this basis, each of the measures would cost £1·4 billion in a full year—that is the full year figure underlying the first year cost of a 1p cut in the basic rate of income tax, £1·25 billion, shown in the Autumn Statement. The income tax changes are compared with the 1987–88 tax regime indexed to 1988–89 according to the statutory provisions. The income tax calculations assume that all personal allowances and higher rate thresholds would increase by the same percentage and disregard any changes in social security income-related benefits to which the family may be entitled. It has also been assumed that the only tax relief or allowance available to the married couple is the married man's allowance and that the wife has no earnings.
1 Average earnings assumed to be £244·7 per week, an increase of 6·5 per cent. on 1987–88 in line with the assumptions used by the Government Actuary for reviewing national insurance contributions (paragraph 3.02 of the Autumn Statement 1987).
2 Assuming no change in income support rates.
3 .Assuming a corresponding change in income support.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much in real terms the average annual tax payments of a man with no allowances and reliefs other than the married man's tax allowance earning (i) £5,000, (ii) £10,000, (iii) £15,000 and (iv) £20,000 has increased or decreased since 1978–79.
[holding answer 23 February 1988]: The information is given in the table. The calculations have been made by comparing the tax liabilities under the 1987–88 income tax regime with those under the 1978–79 regime indexed to 1987–88 according to the statutory formula.
|Reduction in income tax liability under 1987–88 tax regime|
|Annual earnings||As percentage of liability under 1978–79 indexed tax regime|
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why notices of coding for the tax year 1988–89 are being sent out in advance of the new rates of tax being known.
[holding answer 29 February 1988]: Notices of coding for the tax year 1988–89 have been issued where, because of changes in taxpayers' circumstances, the taxpayers' codes for the year commencing on 6 April 1988 differ from the code for the current year 1987–88. Apart from prefix F codes, changes to rates of tax do not normally cause any revision to be made to a taxpayer's code. They merely affect the amount of tax to be deducted by the employer in applying that code.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost in the 1988–89 financial year of introducing a reduced rate tax band of (a) 25 per cent. and (b) 20 per cent. on the first £1,500 of taxable income; and what would be the effect on the net income of (i) a single person, (ii) a couple where the wife is not working and (iii) a couple where the wife is working and paying tax.
[holding answer 3 March 1988]: The full-year cost at forecast 1988–89 income levels of introducing a reduced rate of income tax of (a) 25 per cent. and (b) 20 per cent. on the first £1,500 of taxable income would be £690 million and about £2·5 billion respectively. The estimates are based on a projection of the 1984–85 survey of personal incomes and are therefore provisional.The net gain to a basic rate taxpayer is given in the table. For the purposes of the calculations the 1987–88 income tax regime has been indexed to 1988–89 in accordance with the statutory provisions.
|Single||Wife not working||Wife with earnings liable at basic rate|
|(i) reduced rate 25 per cent. on the first £1,500||0·58||0·58||1·15|
|(ii) reduced rate 20 per cent. on the first £1,500||2·02||2·02||4·04|
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which of the last 10 years changes in the dollar/ European currency unit exchange rate have had a European Community budget effect of more than 400 million European currency units; and if he will make a statement.
[holding answer 7 March 1988]: The Commission has estimated that, in 1988 prices, a 5 per cent. movement in the dollar/ecu exchange rate has an effect of some 400 million ecu on the European Community budget.The frequency of changes of this magnitude is sensitive to the precise periods compared. On the basis of annual averages, however, the year-on-year change in the dollar/ ecu exchange rate has exceeded 5 per cent. in most years since 1978, the exceptions being 1980 and 1985. In three years the dollar depreciated by more than 5 per cent., whereas in four years the dollar appreciated by more than 5 per cent.
Ammunition (Scorriton Down)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why live ammunition was stored at Scorriton Down in the Dartmoor national park; what precautions were taken to protect it; how much was stored there; when the theft was discovered; and if he will make a statement.
Scorriton Down lies in an area used extensively for military training during the second world war. The range was closed in 1947 and clearance work lasted until 1949, at which time the land was returned to the owners. Since the equipment used to locate the munitions at that time was not as effective as its more modern counterparts, some items remained undetected until the discovery last year of some live ammunition. The Royal Engineers were then called upon to conduct what has proved to be a lengthy clearance operation.During the course of this clearance operation foolhardy members of the public have, quite contrary to common sense, and at considerable risk to themselves and others, deliberately dug up and removed four items of old
|Ministry of Defence United Kingdom based civilian staff|
|1 January 1988||1 January 1980||1 January 1979|
|Number of staff||Percentage of total||Number of staff||Percentage of total||Number of staff||Percentage of total|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||5,893·0||4·1||7,834·0||3·6||7,749·0||3·4|
munitions. These stolen items have since been recovered and destroyed, along with all other munitions found on the site to date.
In the light of this incident the Army is reviewing its operating procedures. Pending the outcome of this review, clearance work on Scorriton Down has ceased and the police have been informed of this. I shall write further to my hon. Friend once the review of procedures is complete.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of staff within his Department are located within each region outside London; what percentage this constitutes of staff within his Department; and what were the comparable figures in absolute and percentage terms in 1979.
It is not possible to distinguish Ministry of Defence employees employed in London from those in the rest of the south-east prior to 1980. The following table gives the number of full-time equivalent civilian staff, excluding casual staff, employed on 1 January for 1979, 1980 and 1988 in each economic planning region of England, separating London from the rest of the south-east in 1980 and 1988, in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and overseas and at sea.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the location and status of all buildings within his Department located in London and the annual cost of rents, rates and maintenance of each.
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer to his question to the Secretary of State for the Environment on 2 March 1988, at column 584. In the case of the Ministry of Defence, the Department occupies accommodation in 39 properties on the Civil Estate in the Greater London area, ranging from its main HQ building in Whitehall through sites, for example at Stanmore and Chessington, to the archives at Hayes and stationery store at Wandsworth.
There are 98 sites on the Defence Estate in the Greater London area, excluding married quarters, residences and recreation grounds, ranging from service careers information offices to airfields as at RAF Northolt and Army garrisons as at Woolwich.
Gurkhas (Gold Recovery)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to seek the recovery of gold taken from former British Gurkha soldiers in Calcutta in 1987 by the Indian customs service.
We are in active discussion with the relevant authorities in India on ways of recovering the gold and on the question of documentation which would enable British Gurkhas to take gold through India en route for Nepal without risk of further such incidents. In the meantime we are seeking to ensure that those Gurkhas who were affected do not suffer hardship as a result of the temporary loss of their gold.
British Forces (Germany)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list for each year since 1979 (i) the total cost of British forces based in Germany, (ii) the amount chargeable to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and (iii) the amount paid by that Government; what is the current outstanding amount owing; and if he will make a statement.
The estimated costs of British Forces Germany, excluding equipment, are as follows:
Aldermaston (Weapons Development)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any work has been carried out at Aldermaston on new weapons, details of which have not yet been reported to Parliament; and if he will make a statement.
I have nothing to add to my answer to the hon. Member on 21 January, at column 774.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what specific arrangements are made to safeguard the public against the effects of incidents involving British nuclear submarines which could lead to the release of radioactive material when any visit is undertaken to the port of Cardiff;(2) what steps are taken to ensure the safety of the general public when incidents occur which could involve
the release of radioactive material from British nuclear submarines
(a) at any time, (b) during entry or leaving port and (c) while in port.
Safety schemes, detailing procedures and protective measures to be implemented in the unlikely event of an accidental release of radioactive material from a submarine are drawn up to cover the areas of all naval bases and other berths used by such vessels in the United Kingdom. These are produced in consultation with the appropriate local authorities, emergency services and other civilian agencies with a direct involvement, all of whom hold copies. The combined Barry and Cardiff special safety scheme covers the arrangements for Cardiff.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many incidents involving British nuclear submarines have resulted in the release of radioactive material since 1978; and whether any of these occurred in Cardiff or in the Bristol channel;(2) how many incidents involving nuclear submarines and their reactors have occurred since 1978; and how many fell into each of the categories of mechanical problems, operator error or electrical faults;(3) how many incidents involving the reactors which power Britain's nuclear submarines occurred between 1962 and 1978 in Cardiff or within 10 miles of Cardiff;(4) how many incidents involving the release of radioactive materials from British nuclear submarines occurred in Cardiff or the Bristol channel, between 1962 and 1978.
It is not our general policy to discuss matters affecting the operation of Her Majesty's submarines. However, maintenance, operating and safety standards are exacting, and, as a consequence, there has never been an incident involving such submarines where there was any radiological hazard to service men, base personnel or members of the public.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many port visits in the United Kingdom have been made (a) by British nuclear submarines and (b) other nations' nuclear submarines in each year since 1962; and how many of these have been to Cardiff in each year.
Visits of United Kingdom nuclear powered submarines to non-naval ports since 1970, when records have been kept, are as follows:
|Hull (to 1981)||8|
|Barry (to 1978)||4|
"Giants Of The Glens"
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will obtain for his departmental library a copy of the transcript of the Channel Four television programme, "Giants of the Glens", broadcast on 13 February; and if he will make a statement.
No. The Channel Four television programme, "Giants of the Glens", concerned hydroelectric power in the north of Scotland and is thus a matter for the Secretary of State for Scotland.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what projects have been carried out, or are planned, to produce heavy water in Scotland for military purposes; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Kurt Waldheim
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the nature of the report naming the then Lieutenant Waldheim as a wanted German Army intelligence officer; and if he will consider releasing it.
As I announced on 29 February, at columns 420–21, a comprehensive review of the results of the Ministry of Defence's earlier investigation into the fate of captured British service men and the involvement, if any, of the then Lieutenant Waldheim has been set in hand. However, I am anxious that the review should be able to proceed without diversion of effort into questions of the release of individual documents. It would conflict with the proper conduct and progress of the current review to release documents piecemeal in advance of the final report. It is important that the review team should not be pressed for comments of detail on matters which are being comprehensively addressed in the course of the review and which will be covered in its report.With regard to the document naming Lieutenant Waldheim, to which my hon. Friend refers, I wish to correct the mistaken suggestion that this is a wanted list, in view of speculation that has arisen since it was referred to by the International Commission of Historians (ICH).This document was mentioned by the commission in the following terms:
"The Commission also made enquiries regarding a CIA file of 26 April 1945 which according to report contained certain information on Lieutenant Waldheim. Although we were refused access to that file which even now is still a classified document the extract that we were given to look at and that we were assured was the only one relating to Waldheim contained only a personal description of Waldheim. That description is part of a list of a great number of Wehrmacht officers in the Ic Branch".
I can confirm that the document to which the Commission refers was simply a record of a routine interrogation report dated 26 April 1945 on the details of individuals who happened to be known to a German officer. It was not a wanted list as has been alleged in some newspapers. In this interrogation report one of the names mentioned is that of the then Lieutenant Waldheim. The relevant verbatim extract from this document is as follows:
"236 Ob.lt. WALDHEIM
Subordinate officer to WARNSTORFF in SALONIKA.
Height: ca 1·82
Age: ca 28"
The interrogation report contains no other reference to the then Lieutenant Waldheim.
We will consider the possibility of releasing particular documents when the review team's findings are published.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make statement about progress on the ALARM project.
Following British Aerospace's decision to adopt a new motor for the air-launched anti-radar missile — ALARM — negotiations were concluded last November between the company and my Department for the continuation of the project. I am glad to be able to say that the company is now satisfied with its work on proving the new motor. As a consequence, under the terms of last November's agreement, a revised contract came into effect on 29 February 1988 providing for the project to continue, with responsibility for success placed on the company under tight fixed price conditions.
Nato (Merchant Shipping Needs)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether NATO has yet launched its proposed study into the Alliance's ability to meet its needs for merchant shipping in times of emergency or war; and when he expects the study to be completed.
I have been asked to reply.NATO is proposing to invite tenders from consultants to carry out the study under the organisation's international competitive tendering procedure. I under-stand the aim is to complete the study by September 1989.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress to date in implementing the mandatory United Nations Security Council resolution requiring a cease-fire in the war between Iran and Iraq; what is the latest estimate available to him of the number of deaths in this conflict, including civilian deaths; and how many are believed to have died as a result of the use of chemical weapons officially banned by international agreements.
Despite the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General, Security Council resolution 598 remains unimplemented after seven months. The Security Council is therefore actively working on enforcement measures to be applied to the recalcitrant party.It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Iraqi and 500,000 Iranian troops have been killed so far, together with a total of some 200,000 civilians. The number of deaths directly attributable to the use of chemical weapons is not known.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what current steps he is taking, through diplomatic contacts, to bring about the release of Mr. Terry Waite and other British hostages still imprisoned by Arab terrorists; and whether he is pursuing diplomatic initiatives through the United Nations Security Council.
Her Majesty's embassy in Beirut is very active in trying to obtain information about the disappearance and whereabouts of all British hostages held in the Lebanon. We have repeatedly called upon Governments or organisations with influence over the hostage-takers to use their influence to secure the release of all those held. We are also in regular contact with other Governments, including members of the United Nations Security Council, who might be able to help.
Middle East (Christian Worship)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will give details of the arrangements made by Her Majesty's ambassador in Saudi Arabia, and by the British interests section in the embassy of the protecting power in Libya, for British subjects who wish to attend Christian worship at Easter, in the light of the ban on holding public Christian services in those countries.
The Saudi Arabian Government confirmed recently that Christians are permitted to worship individually according to their conscience. Her Majesty's ambassador in Riyadh has not made any special arrangements for British nationals to attend Christian worship at Easter.British nationals in Tripoli may attend the weekly religious services at either the Anglican, Roman Catholic or Non-Conformist Union church, and there is also a Roman Catholic church in Benghazi. The Anglican chaplain in Tripoli makes fortnightly visits to the 500-strong British community in Marsa A1 Brega and he also regularly visits the Anglican community in Benghazi.
Middle East (British Citizens)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the number of British citizens currently in (a) Libya and (b) Syria; and what were the equivalent figures before Her Majesty's Government broke off diplomatic relations with those states.
There are estimated to be about 3,250 British citizens currently in Libya and 300 in Syria. The corresponding figures before we broke off relations with those states were 8,250 and 300.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan regarding their treatment of their Ahmadi community.
We regularly make known to the Pakistan Government the extent of concern expressed in this country over the situation of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will issue a corrected series of the retail prices index for all items and for all items less housing costs for each month from February 1986 until October 1987 inclusive, to take account of the error in the retail prices index.
No. It has always been the practice not to revise the retail prices index once it has been published, as doing so would create serious problems for some users. This practice was endorsed by the Retail Prices Advisory Committee in its latest report (Cmnd. 9848, July 1986) and I see no reason to change it.Extra payments have been made to pensioners in recompense for their small losses at the time of pensions uprating and to ensure that the Exchequer has not benefited from the consequent social security under payment.
Professional And Executive Recruitment
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what professional advice he has received about options for transferring Professional and Executive Recruitment out of the public sector.
I announced on 2 December the appointment of Lloyds merchant bank to advise me on the options for transferring PER out of the public sector.There is extensive private sector provision in the activities which PER provides on a fee-charging basis. It is the Government's view that activities of a clearly commercial nature are better conducted in the private sector.I have now received Lloyds' advice, which recommends that PER should be transferred out of the public sector through a sale by tender. This recognises, I believe, that the current PER operation is essentially a commercial recruitment business and that it will have the opportunity both to realise its full commercial potential and to develop better in the private sector.The Government intend therefore to proceed with privatisation. I have asked Lloyds merchant bank to conduct the necessary preparatory work over the next couple of months, with a view to offering PER for sale, through a private tender process open to all interested parties, at the earliest opportunity.I am keen that PER's staff should have every chance to benefit from the wider opportunities that privatisation will open up for PER. I shall therefore offer all PER's established staff the option of accepting voluntary secondment arrangements. When PER transfers to the private sector, staff who have opted for these arrangements will remain in the business as civil servants on secondment for a limited period on favourable terms. Staff who do not opt for voluntary secondment will be redeployed within the Department of Employment group prior to privatisation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the current estimates and projections of the population of working age of (a) men aged 16 to 64 years and (b) women aged 16 to 59 years, by standard region including Greater London for 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987 and 1988.
[pursuant to his rely, 23 February 1988, c. 86]: I regret to say that an error has been discovered in some of the information which was supplied to my Department for use in my earlier reply. The figures affected are the estimates of the population of working age in Greater London. The correct figures are:
|Men aged 16 to 64 years|
|Women aged 16 to 59 years|
Source: Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will issue guidance to chief constables to the effect that no alterations to firearms certificate should be made as a matter of general policy until such time as the Firearms Bill has been enacted and the compensation measures contained therein have been agreed by Parliament; and if he will make a statement.
No. Under the Firearms Act 1968, the chief constable has a duty to satisfy himself that an applicant for the issue or renewal of a firearm certificate has a good reason for having in his possession, or for purchasing or acquiring, the firearm or ammunition in respect of which application is made, and can be permitted to have it in his possession without danger to the public safety or to the peace. A person aggrieved by the refusal of a chief constable to grant or renew a certificate may appeal to the sheriff.
Family Planning Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future level of provision of family planning services in Scotland.
It is for individual health boards to determine, within the resources available to them, the most appropriate pattern of provision of family planning services in their respective areas.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many abortions were carried out in the Strathclyde region for each of the last five years, broken down by (a) age of women and (b) period of gestation.
The information is given in the table.
|Abortions in Strathclyde region 1982–86|
Period of gestation—weeks
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of amniocentesis tests undertaken in Scotland, for the most recent years for which the information is available.
I regret that the information requested is not held centrally.
Spent Fuel Reprocessing
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if there will be any requirement on the Scottish power industry to renegotiate after privatisation the contracts with British Nuclear Fuels plc for spent fuel reprocessing.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what requirements will be laid upon the Scottish electricity companies to participate in United Kingdom Nirex Ltd. under privatisation plans.
Details have yet to be considered, but present expectations are that the SSEB's shareholding in United Kingdom Nirex Ltd. will pass to the successor operator of SSEB nuclear power stations.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to the present underwriting arrangements in respect of a major incident at a nuclear power plant in his preparation of plans for privatising the electricity supply industry.
Arrangements under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 will continue after privatisation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what valuation will be put on (a) unreprocessed spent nuclear fuel, (b) uranium arisings, (c) plutonium arisings, and (d) nuclear waste arisings from South of Scotland Electricity Board nuclear fuel reprocessed at Sellafield, under privatisation;(2) what valuation will be put on low and intermediate level nuclear wastes at South of Scotland Electricity Board plants under privatisation.
It is too early to say what the valuation of these materials will be at the time of the privatisation of the electricity supply industry.
Hip Replacement Operations
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average waiting time for a hip replacement operation using private beds in National Health Service hospitals in each health board area.
[holding answer 8 March 1988]: The information requested is given in the table. Figures are for 1985 (which is the latest year for which information is available) and for the four health board areas in which hip replacements are carried out on private patients in National Health Service hospitals.
|Health board||Number of cases||Mean wait (in days)|
Glasgow Royal Infirmary
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which departments of Glasgow Royal infirmary are currently issuing letters to general practitioners stating that patients cannot be given out-patient appointments due to lack of medical staff; how many of these letters have so far been issued; and if he will make a statement on the effects of these shortages on patient care.
[holding answer 3 March 1988]: In my reply of 24 February, I explained to the hon. Member the temporary difficulties being faced by the ophthalmology department at the Glasgow Royal infirmary. During this period about 180 letters were sent to general practitioners. As I indicated in my earlier reply the Greater Glasgow health board had taken steps to overcome the difficulties at the Department. I regret the inconvenience caused to the patients concerned.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if, for 24 February, he will give the total number of operations postponed in Scottish hospitals, the number in each health board and the number in each specialty in each health board;(2) if he will give the total number of operations performed in Scottish hospitals on 24 February, the number in each health board and the number in each specialty in each health board.
[holding answer 3 March 1988]: Health boards report that 792 operations were performed in Scottish hospitals on 24 February and that 818 were postponed because of industrial action on that day. (The latter figure differs from that given in reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) on 1 March because Argyll and Clyde health board's return erroneously included 80 operations which were in fact lost on other days; the remaining small difference is due to health boards revising their preliminary estimates.) Operations were postponed in seven out of the 15 health boards. Details are given in the tables.
Health Boards where operations were postponed on 24 February because of industrial action
Argyll and Clyde
|Ear, nose and throat||—||19|
Ayrshire and Arran
|Ear, nose and throat||3||4|
|Ear, nose and throat||10||—|
|Ear, nose and throat||2||23|
|Ear, nose and throat||—||10|
|Ear, nose and throat||17||34|
|Accident and emergency||7||—|
|Ear, nose and throat||16||—|
Health boards where no operations were postponed on 24 February because of industrial action
Borders Health Board
Dumfries and Galloway
|No operations were performed on 24 February as it was not an operating day|
1 24 February was not an operating day.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the effect on industry in the north-west of the proposed uniform business rate.
Had the unified business rate been implemented in 1987–88 it could have saved businesses in the north-west £180 80 million, 18 per cent. of their present rate bills. These savings would be in addition to the further benefits which the 1990 revaluation is expected to bring to the region. Overall these changes should provide a major boost to the economy of the north-west. The future index-linking of rate increases to no more than the rate of inflation will ensure that this is a continuing benefit. These benefits for businesses would not be at the expense of community charge payers. The new grant arrangements we propose, together with the distribution of the national non-domestic rate income, would have allowed all authorities to provide a standard level of service at the same level of community charge, £178 in 1987–88.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many members of staff within his Department are located within each region outside London; what percentage this constitutes of staff within his Department; and what were the comparable figures, in absolute and percentage terms in 1979.
The following tables show the numbers of staff in my Department located within each of the Department of the Environment and Property Service Agency regional areas' outside the London regional area at 1 February 1988, together with the percentages which those numbers represent of my total staff:
|Department of the Environment|
|Yorks and Humberside||126||0·4|
Properly Services Agency
|North West (including some staff in Northern Ireland)||1,385||4·3|
In addition there were 1,981 (6.1 per cent.) staff in Scotland, 1,227 (3–8 per cent.) in Wales and 504 (1.6 per cent.) abroad.
Figures for 1979 were:
Department of the Environment
|Yorks and Humberside||247||0·5|
Property Services Agency
|North West (including some staff in Northern Ireland)||2,551||4·9|
There were 3,253 (6·3 per cent.) staff in Scotland, 1,995 (3·7 per cent.) in Wales and 802 (1·6 per cent.) abroad.
1 The joint Department of the Environment/Department of Transport regions and the PSA regions cover different areas.
These figures cannot be compared directly with those for 1988 as there have been major organisational changes since 1979 including privatisation and hiving-off of functions.
Council House Sales
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the number of council homes sold in the East and West Lindsey district council areas; and how many applications to buy are currently being processed.
The numbers of sales from April 1979 to September 1987 reported by each English local authority appear in the table placed in the Library on 2 March 1988 in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry). East Lindsey has reported a further 45 sales in the quarter ended December 1987. East Lindsey is currently processing 222 applications for the right to buy and West Lindsey 131.
Inner City Regeneration
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what his Department has spent since 1979 on grants to private sector companies to aid inner city regeneration.
Expenditure by my Department on grants to private sector companies to aid inner city regeneration totals approximately £150 million since 1979.
Inner Area Programme
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultation procedures his Department recommends prior to inner area programme proposals being approved by local authorities.
The ministerial guidelines for the urban programme suggest that the local private sector and local voluntary sector should be consulted on the scope and content of inner area programmes (IAPs). The IAP strategy statement should give an account of the consultation. The form of consultation procedures is a matter for the local authority's discretion.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met the chairmen of water authorities in England and Wales; and what matters were discussed.
Pursuant to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 11 February to the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) at column 298, I have also met the chairman of the Water Authorities Association and two of his fellow chairmen on 24 February to discuss a range of issues relating to the privatisation of the water authorities.
Housing Defects Legislation
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any proposals to introduce legislation to amend the rules in the housing defects legislation, which determine whether eligible owners receive reinstatement grant or repurchase; and if he will make a statement.
We have been consulting local authority associations, home owners groups and other interested bodies on the suggestion that "test d" of section 538(1) of the Housing Act 1985 be dropped. That test requires an authority to repurchase if the direct cost of that is any less than the alternative cost of housing defects grant.In the light of consultees' responses, which generally supported the change, 1 have decided that "test d" should be removed from section 538(1) and we will shortly be laying an appropriate order before Parliament to achieve that. The order must be affirmed by resolution of both Houses, but I hope that it will be possible to have it in operation by June. This change will not affect the Act's other "value for money" test which will continue to require an authority to satisfy itself that reinstatement is justified, having regard to the likely freehold value of the property after repair.Removal of "test d" will give local authorities and home owners some welcome additional flexibility. As things stand, owners have to have their homes repurchased, even where they and the authority would prefer repair, whenever the cost of repair would exceed that of repurchase, even when the margin is very narrow. This change will allow repair where there is agreement this makes sense and is in accordance with the Act's other value-for-money test ("c").Section 538(4) of the Act provides that such an order does not affect an application for assistance made before the order comes into force. However it is open to owners, if they choose, to withdraw their existing applications and then submit fresh ones, if they wish to take advantage of this change. Owners who are interested in this may therefore wish to discuss the position with their local authority.
European Regional Development Fund
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the annual European regional development fund infrastructure grant available for national programmes and integrated development operations applications in the north-west region; and if he will make a statement.
In co-operation with the local authorities and other public bodies, the Government will be submitting to the European Commission applications for the north-west region. These are being prepared in the expectation that ERDF aid of up to £60 million annually will be available for such programmes in that region. On this basis the Merseyside integrated development operation, the Manchester-Salford-Trafford integrated development operation and the Mersey basin II national programmes will be seeking an average annual ERDF grant of £25 million, £20 million and £15 million respectively. In addition, authorities may continue to submit separately applications for infrastucture projects which are not included in the programmes.These figures compare favourably with total ERDF grants of £51·6 million committed to the region in 1987, of which £19·8 million was for local authorities. Decisions on actual grant awards are, of course, made by the European Commission.
Local Authorities (Receipts)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the information he has collected on the accumulated capital receipts held by local authorities at the end of 1986–87.
My Department has now received accumulated capital receipts returns for 1986–87 from 97 per cent. of English local authorities. On the basis of these it is estimated that at the end of 1986–87 local authorities in England held accumulated receipts giving rise to spending permission in later years of £9·4 billion. Some of these receipts were notional, such as leasing disposals. The cash from much of the remainder had been used for such purposes as repaying debt and financing capitalised housing repairs. After allowing for such factors, only £5·3 billion out of the £9·4 billion spending permission could be converted to cash.I have today placed in the Library, a table showing for each local authority which has provided a return
(a) the accumulated receipts giving rise to spending permission and (b) the amount which could be converted into cash.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many views and proposals on the role and composition of bodies appointed by him or by departments subject to his direction and control have been received from the Government of the Irish Republic under article 6 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement; how many recommendations for appointments have been put forward; how many offers or approaches have been made; and how many such offers have been accepted.
There have been several discussions through the Intergovernmental Conference about the role of a number of public bodies in Northern Ireland. The Irish side has to date suggested 39 people who might be considered for public appointments in Northern Ireland; these names include 19 people who were already on the central appointments unit's list; 12 people suggested by the Irish currently hold a total of 20 public appointments.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how the sum of £50 is arrived at as an offer of compensation based on site value in an area scheduled for redevelopment, for a property yielding £16 per week rental income; and if he will re-examine the level of compensation currently offered in respect of some properties in Agnes street, Carrickfergus.
The redevelopment area referred to was vested under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.The housing order directs that when assessing compensation on the acquisition of a house, classified as unfit for human habitation and incapable of being rendered fit at reasonable expense, then the value to be ascertained is the site value on the assumption that all buildings are removed and available for redevelopment within the building byelaws in force at the date of vesting. In these circumstances, the structure on the site and the rental income generated from that structure are not relevant.The £50 offer of compensation represented an assessment of the value of a small site in Carrickfergus at 3 July 1986 (the operative date of the vesting order).A claimant in any case is under no obligation to accept when he believes the compensation offered is unrealistic. Recourse may be made to the Lands Tribunal for Northern Ireland.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will introduce amending legislation to ensure that owners of properties denied access to home improvement grants for a prolonged period because of pending proposals for redevelopment by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will receive fair compensation for property acquired through voluntary negotiation or after a vesting order.
Compensation for property acquired by the Housing Executive is governed by current values in an open market determined on the basis of either the value of the houses or of the sites cleared of all buildings as appropriate under the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. Consideration is being given to amending legislation which would abolish the site value rule in article 91(1) of the 1981 order.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will undertake to place before Parliament the progress reports that he will receive from the chairman of NI 2000.
No, not as a matter of course.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many subject access requests under the terms of the Data Protection Act his Department has received; what was his estimate of this number; whether he is reconsidering the subject access fee charged by his Department as a result; and whether he will make a statement.
The Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Departments have received a total of 20 subject access requests. The estimate for the first year was 3,800 requests. Subject access fees have not been reconsidered.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to the proposals put forward by the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on new procedures to deal with the withdrawal of ACE funding from organisations on grounds of security; and if he will make a statement.
I have considered carefully the proposals put forward by the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions but I am satisfied that for security reasons it would not be possible to adopt them.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to adopting new procedures, which will include the right of reply, when decisions are being made on the possible withdrawal of ACE funding from organisations on grounds of security; and if he will make a statement.
I am satisfied that the current arrangements are appropriate in these cases and have no plans to change them. Where funding is withdrawn the organisation concerned is advised that the action taken is in accordance with the Government's stated policy. Representations can be made to the Government by aggrieved bodies and these are considered in light of the circumstances in each case.
Free School Meals
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether free school meals will be available to the children of those receiving family income supplement on 11 April; and if he will make a statement.
As family income supplement ends on Sunday 10 April 1988 and family credit will be introduced from Monday 11 April 1988, free school meals will not be available to these children on 11 April 1988. To ensure, however, that families do not lose out at this time a transitional payment of family credit, which includes an amount for school meals, will be made on 12 April 1988. This will be in addition to a second payment, covering the period from 12 April to 18 April, which will be paid on Tuesday 19 April 1988.
Ruc (Chief Constable)
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the official engagements for 19 May 1986 of Sir John Hermon, Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
The Chief Constable's arrangements are matters for him.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir John Hermon, was in touch by telephone at any time on 19 May 1986 with Mr. James Anderton, chief constable of Manchester, or any of the other senior police officers meeting at the Royal hotel, Scarborough, on that date; and if he will make a statement.
I have no knowledge of such matters.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will answer the question from the hon. Member for Upper Bann which was tabled for answer on 18 February relating to the composition and membership of public bodies in Northern Ireland.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make it his policy to seek to end exports from the United Kingdom to Libya, in view of the recent arms discoveries in Northern Ireland believed to have originated in Libya.
I have been asked to reply.No. We do not operate economic sanctions against Libya, and British firms remain free to use their own judgment on whether to trade with Libya. We do not, however, actively promote trade with Libya. Nor is there any question of the Government issuing licences for defence exports to Libya or of resuming diplomatic relations whilst Libyan involvement in terrorist activity and support for the IRA continues.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance has been given by the Government of France in establishing the quantity of illegal arms shipped to Irish Republican terrorists.
I have been asked to reply.There has been full co-operation between the French Government and ourselves on all aspects of the Eksund case. As the matter is now the subject of French judicial proceedings, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will indicate the type and calibre of firearms most commonly used by the Irish Republican Army in attacks on the security forces and the type and calibres of the firearms most commonly used to assassinate members of the security forces when off duty.
I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on 7 March 1988, at columns 73–74.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information he has as to how many persons resident in Northern Ireland have obtained a Great Britain driving licence by submitting an accommodation address in England, Scotland or Wales at which they can be contacted in each of the last three years.
I have been asked to reply.This information is not available.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if Northern Ireland residents who have had a Northern Ireland driving licence revoked can obtain a driving licence in Great Britain without disclosing details regarding the loss of a Northern Ireland driving licence.
I have been asked to reply.A Northern Ireland licence holder could not obtain a full British driving licence in these circumstances.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement outlining the staffing arrangements for the social fund, indicating the numbers and grades or titles of officers at each social security office, with an outline of their respective roles.
[holding answer 8 March 1988]: The arrangements are currently being finalised but broadly speaking, staff engaged on single payments work will be allocated to social fund work from April 1988. Work to determine the mix of grades and the distribution of these staff to each social security office is under way. Job descriptions have been agreed with the departmental trade union side but further discussions are needed on the specific grades and numbers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will describe the procedures for appealing or requesting a review of a decision by a social fund officer; what provisions have now been made for such procedures; and what requirements, rights or other factors must be considered in reviewing a decision by a social fund officer.
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[holding answer 8 March 1988]: The procedure for making applications for review of determinations by social fund officers is set out in the Social Fund (Application for Review) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1988 (SR1988 No. 20) which comes into operation on I 1 April 1988. Briefly, the application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision having been issued and the reason for the application must be stated.Applications for review will be considered within the social security office by the social fund officer who made the original decision and by a senior officer. If the applicant remains dissatisfied the decision will be reviewed by a social fund inspector who will operate independently from the social security office.In reviewing a decision a social fund officer must have full regard to all the circumstances which existed at the time of the original decision together with any new evidence or relevant change of circumstances.
Royal Ulster Constabulary
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many serving members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been charged with murder or manslaughter since 1969;(2) how many serving members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been convicted of murder or manslaughter since 1969, giving the name and date in each case.
[holding answers 29 February 1988]: Statistics prior to 1977 are not readily available. Since 1977 four serving members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been charged with murder and two with manslaughter. One officer has been convicted of manslaughter. It is not the practice to disclose details of individual cases.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many firearms and of what types have been (a) stolen and (b) recovered from (i) the Regular Army, (ii) the Ulster Defence Regiment, (iii) the Royal Ulster Constabulary and (iv) the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years for which figures are available.
[holding answer 26 February 1988]: The information is as follows:
Light Machine Guns
1. Recoveries indicated in 1983 refers only to those weapons stolen in 1983 and not before.
2. Recoveries indicated from 1984–87 are in respect of recovery of weapons stolen in the years 1983–1987.