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Written Answers

Volume 164: debated on Thursday 11 January 1990

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 11 January 1990

Transport

A45 Highway

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the approximate number of cars, heavy goods vehicles and passenger service vehicles that he estimates have used the A45 highway between Cambridge and the Haven ports of Ipswich and Felixstowe during each of the past 10 years; and how many he expects to use this stretch of road over the next 10 years.

The estimated annual average daily flow of vehicles on the A45 between Cambridge and the Haven ports of Ipswich and Felixstowe in 1988 is as follows:

Number
Heavy goods vehicles4,500
Cars and taxis14,500
Buses and coaches100
Estimates of traffic levels on individual roads are made annually but the margins of error are too great to allow growth trends to be deduced.No specific forecasts have been made for growth of traffic on this road. It is forecast by my Department that traffic in Great Britain will grow by between 20 and 35 per cent. betweeen 1990 and 2000.

Shipping Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents have taken place during the last 12 months around the coastline of Great Britain, that have involved (a) United Kingdom registered vessels and (b) foreign registered vessels; and what are the comparable figures for (i) five years and (ii) 10 years ago.

The information is only available for United Kingdom vessels on a worldwide basis. The numbers of accidents to United Kingdom registered vessels worldwide for 1979, 1984 and 1988 (the latest year completed statistics are available) are 421, 261 and 178 respectively. The information in respect of accidents to foreign registered vessels around the coastline of Great Britain is not kept in statistical form and is not therefore readily available.

Solar-Powered Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he has made any study of the contribution that could be made to the reduction of carbon dioxide releases from transport from the introduction of solar-powered cars;(2) what research his Department has initiated to evaluate the potential for solar-powered cars for short urban journeys.

The Department keeps in touch with the various developments world wide on applying solar power to transport. At present the potential for solar powered cars to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United Kingdom is small.

Car Alarms

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce legislation to ensure car alarms automatically switch off 10 minutes after activation.

Car alarms are already required by regulations to stop emitting continuous noise after five minutes. Limiting the time of intermittent sounding of alarms would have to be agreed in the European Community. We propose to seek Community agreement for tighter standards for car alarms.

A1

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what ongoing monitoring of the condition of the recently resurfaced stretch of the A1 in west Yorkshire, immediately to the north of its junction with the M62, will be undertaken by his Department.

The condition of the A1 is monitored regularly. The Department has initiated a regime of surveys and inspections to ensure that safety and structural integrity are monitored.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who were the analysts responsible for sampling and testing materials used in the major resurfacing work recently undertaken on the A1 in west Yorkshire immediately to the north of its junction with the M62.

Under the Department's specification, the onus for bulk testing falls upon the contractors. Certificates of compliance are issued to the engineer who also arranges check tests. The engineer's analysts were Messrs. Sandberg of 40 Grosvenor gardens, London, SW1W 0LB.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who were the contractors responsible for the major resurfacing work undertaken on the A1 in west Yorkshire immediately to the north of its junction with the M62.

The contractors were Tilcon Ltd., of Cleckheaton road, Low Moor, Bradford, BD12 0QH.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what period the contractor responsible for the resurfacing work undertaken recently on the A1 in west Yorkshire immediately to the north of its junction with the M62 will remain responsible for its condition.

The contractor will be responsible for the work for a period of 12 months from the issue of the certificate of completion on 15 December 1989.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the materials used during the major resurfacing work recently completed on the A1 in west Yorkshire immediately to the north of its junction with the M62 were properly tested and sampled; and with what results.

All materials were sampled and tested in accordance with the Department of Transport specification for highway works. Results showed that the requirements were satisfied.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made off the adequacy of the supervision of the contract for the major resurfacing work undertaken on both carriageways of the A1 in west Yorkshire immediately to the north of the junction with the M62.

The works were supervised by Frank Graham and Partners as the Department's agents for maintenance works in this area. There is no reason to doubt that the contract was adequately supervised in accordance with the agreement between the Department and Frank Graham and Partners.

Two-Point Rollers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his Department's policy towards the use of two-point rollers on motorway and major trunk road resurfacing work.

The method of achieving the Department's specification for highway works is a matter for the contractor concerned.

M65 Extension

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received representations from (a) the Lancashire Trust for Nature Conservation, (b) the Council for the Protection of Rural England and (c) Save the Heart of Lancashire, opposing the M65 extension.

Representations have been received from all three organisations. These will be put before the inspector at the public inquiry which is due to commence on 13 February.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the estimated indirect costs in improvements to connecting roads and other areas to be borne (a) by his Department and (b) Lancashire county council, as a result of the construction of the M65 extension.

The cost of alterations to side roads directly affected by the M65 Blackburn southern bypass is included in the capital cost of the scheme. Improvements to other local roads are a matter for the Lancashire county council, as highway authority, to consider.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the estimated direct cost to be borne by his Department of the M65 extension proposal.

Roads For Prosperity

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he is yet in a position to give a precise date when the full roads report, referred to in paragraph 32 of the White Paper, Roads for Prosperity, will be published.

Greater Manchester Relief Road

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates consultants were appointed for each section of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road.

The information is as follows:

M6 to M56: 8 June 1988.
M56 to M62: 12 October 1989.
M62 to M66: Preliminary investigations into this section of the relief road are being carried out by consultants who were appointed on 14 October 1987 to advise on the widening of the M62 motorway between junctions 12 and 18.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the estimated construction cost of each section of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road at prices consistent with those indicated in the White Paper, Roads for Prosperity.

The estimated construction cost of each of the three sections at November 1987 prices is as follows:

  • M6 to M56: £45 million
  • M56 to M62: £105 million
  • M62 to M66: £150 million

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the next stage in the public consultation process for the proposed section one M6 to M56, of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road.

Public consultation has just ended. We are now considering all the comments received. The next formal stage will be the announcement of a preferred route as a basis for orders under the Highways Acts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the attendance by interested persons at each of the public consultation meetings regarding the proposals for section one M6 to M56 of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road.

Fifty representatives of local authorities attended a preview of the public exhibition; 1,272 members of the public attended the exhibition which was held over three days.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when it is anticipated that section three M62 to M66, of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road will be open for public consultation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the current plan for the greater Manchester western and northern relief road, as indicated in the White Paper, Roads for Prosperity, was first conceived, and what is the date envisaged for the completion of its construction.

The greater Manchester western and northern relief road was conceived in its present form in 1988 during our review of trunk road needs leading to the publication of the 1989 White Paper "Roads for Prosperity". It is too early in the planning process to say when construction might be completed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the consultants' brief for the centre section of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road allows for access and egress to be provided at the A57.

Connection to the A57 is not specifically provided for in the consultants' brief. This will be a matter for consideration when the consultants report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with which organisations his Department has had consultations regarding the greater Manchester western and northern relief road, prior to and since the publication of the White Paper, "Roads for Prosperity".

Twenty-six organisations have been consulted about proposals for the section of the greater Manchester western and northern relief road between the M6 and M56 motorways. These are listed as follows:

  • Cheshire County Council
  • Macclesfield Borough Council
  • Trafford Borough Council
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Countryside Commission
  • Nature Conservancy Council
  • National Trust
  • Manweb
  • British Geological Society
  • British Gas
  • British Coal
  • North West Water Authority
  • CEGB
  • Cheshire Constabulary
  • Warrington Borough Transport
  • Shell UK
  • British Telecom
  • Norweb
  • British Waterways Board
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • Devaway Travel
  • Cheshire Bus
  • Starling Travel
  • Crosville Motor Services Ltd.
  • Smith Shearing Ltd.

Regional Road Construction Units

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date the regional road construction units were abolished.

Environment

Agricultural Land

74.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much agricultural land was released for residential development in 1988 and in 1978.

My Department's land use change data show that in 1988 the Ordnance Survey recorded 3,700 hectares of land in England as changing from agricultural to residential use. Figures for 1978 are not available in this series. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope), gave my hon. Friend some MAFF data for earlier years, including 1978 on 14 December 1988 but the two sets of data are not directly comparable.

Standard Spending Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in rank order those local authorities whose 1990–91 standard spending assessments are less than 5 per cent. more than their 1989–90 grant-related expenditure assessments, showing their standard spending assessment, grant-related expenditure assessment and the percentage variation.

I have today laid before the House the population report (England), the revenue support grant report (England) 1990–91, the revenue support grant distribution report (England) and the revenue support grant transition report (England). I have also laid the special grant report which makes provision for paying three special grants: towards community charge preparation costs in 1989–90; for areas of low rateable values for 1990–91 and for inner London education, also for 1990–91. Together these form the basis of the local authority grant settlement for 1990–91.In all, local authorities will receive £23·1 billion of external support in 1990–91, an increase of 8·5 per cent. over the comparable figure for 1989–90. Of this, £9·490 billion will be revenue support grant. In order to ensure that authorities have adequate cash flow at the start of the new system, I propose to pay £2·373 billion (25 per cent) of this grant in April and May. This is about £800 million more than they might have expected to receive in these two months—a considerable cash flow advantage.I have considered carefully the representations made to me about the consultation proposals issued in November. I have decided to confirm, and to embody in these reports, the main the proposals which I described in my statement on 6 November and put forward in the consultation paper. These proposals were the result of extensive work and discussions with the local authority associations. They are based on total standard spending of £32·8 billion and aggregate exchequer finance of £23·1 billion. This gives a community charge for standard spending of £278.The standard spending assessment (SSA) methodology set out in the distribution report is substantively the same as that in the draft report issued on 6 November. I have, however, incorporated a revised formula for the highways maintenance SSA which properly reflects my desired treatment of winter maintenance.As I proposed in November, there will be an area safety net giving protection against losses of more than £25 per adult, measured on the basis of various assumptions and definitions set out in the transition report. This will be paid for by gaining areas deferring part of their gain for a year.I have placed in the Library a revised version of the exemplifications issued on 6 November.The community charge figure shown in table 2 of the exemplifications is not a prediction of what the community charge will be in each area. It is my calculation of what the charge would be if each authority sought to raise from its residents an amount consistent with its behaviour in 1989–90 and with total standard spending of £32·8 billion for 1990–91. I intend that this assumed charge will also be used for the purposes of the transitional relief scheme.There are a number of reasons for the differences between these figures and those published on 6 November. I have made a charge to the highways maintenance SSA; I have also been able to incorporate later figures for 1990–91 credit approvals in the capital financing SSA; I have also incorporated a better figure for budgeted expenditure by the receiver for the Metropolitan police district. There have been a few other minor changes to SSA data.As I foreshadowed in November, grant entitlements, business rate income, safety nets and charge levels have been affected by the replacement of the population figures used earlier, based on data from the registrar general, by figures based on information from authorities' own charge registers, in accordance with the population report.Authorities will now have all the information they need to press ahead with their budget setting and charge setting. These tables show that with the amount of external finance available to them the average community charge need be no more than £278, although of course charges will vary around that figure, as table 2 shows. The actual charge levels will depend on authorities' own decisions on spending and service provision.I firmly believe that authorities should be able to keep their spending down in line with TSS of £32·8 billion. If they do not, the extra spending will fall on community charge payers and will have to be justified to them. I hope that charge payers will take the opportunity of the introduction of this much more accountable system to take a good look at what their authorities are spending. It is right that where this is more than the SSA, charge payers should be able to seek an explanation. And it is right that authorities should bear in mind the effects on charge payers when they make their budget decisions.I will write to my hon. Friend.

Disabled Facilities Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he intends to begin consultations on regulations concerning the proposed test of resources for disabled facilities grants under the Local Government and Housing Act 1988;(2) which organisations he plans to consult on regulations concerning the proposed test of resources for disabled facilities grants under the Local Government and Housing Act 1988.

Draft regulations on the test of resources for the new disabled facilities grant are currently being prepared. I propose to consult the local authority associations, professional institutions interested in housing, and bodies representing the views of disabled people.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he anticipates that Peat Marwick McLintock will report on its study into the administrative costs of the community charge transitional relief scheme.

I expect Peat Marwick McLintock to report soon on the costs of setting up and administering the community charge transitional relief scheme.

Common Land

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what steps he intends to take to ensure that registered commons in England and Wales, which have no registered common rights or only one right, are not deregistered;(2) whether he will introduce legislation to safeguard common land.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 27 November 1989 to my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr), Official Report, Vol. 162, column 89.

Homelessness

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has recently consulted any housing pressure groups on the problems of homelessness and what solutions were discussed.

Following publication of our review of the homelessness legislation, we have continued to visit and consult voluntary organisations concerned with the relief and prevention of homelessness and the local authority associations. We have discussed the whole range of issues involved, but one of our main concerns has been to make progress with implementing the conclusions of our review.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will commission a study into the effect of controlled tenancies on homelessness;(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of planning regulations and rent controls on homelessness.

The Housing Act 1988 is designed to encourage the supply of privately rented accommodation through deregulation of new tenancies. At the same time the Government are committed to retaining the rights of existing tenants with regulated tenancies. We will commission any necessary research on the effects of the Act in due course and continue to investigate and consult on the effect of planning regulations.

Environmental Matters (Information)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Billericay of 14 December 1989, Official Report, column 754 if Her Majesty's Government intend to take additonal powers to require companies and individuals to provide information on environmental matters.

In terms of the United Kingdom's contribution to the proposed European Environment Agency, Her Majesty's Government do not intend to take additional powers to require companies and individuals to provide information on environmental matters. The aim, shared by our Community partners, is to improve the co-ordination and comparability of existing information in a spirit of free co-operation to inform and support Community environmental policy. Any requests by the agency for new information will be subject to contractual agreements between the agency and the relevant contributors or individuals involved.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report those local authorities in England which have not submitted their waste disposal plans to his Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many waste disposal authorities in England have now deposited waste disposal plans with his Department, pursuant to the Control of Pollution Act 1974, and how many have not yet done so.

Forty-four authorities have now submitted either completed or draft plans while 15 single or groups of authorities have yet to submit a plan in any form. These 15 are listed below:

  • Essex
  • Nottingham
  • Shropshire
  • North London WA
  • City of London
  • City of Westminster
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Bexley
  • South London Waste Disposal Joint Committee (London Borough of Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton and Sutton)
  • Greater Manchester WDA
  • Barnsley
  • Doncaster
  • Rotherham
  • Sheffield
  • West Midlands Joint Committee (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton District Councils)
I am considering further steps to ensure completion of the remaining plans.

Rechem International

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce his decision on the appeal by Rechem International against the licence conditions imposed by Hampshire county council.

The appeal is being considered in the light of the exchange of representations, now completed, and the recent report of a site visit by an official from the Department.

"Closer To The People"

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received the report prepared by the National Association of Local Councils and the Association of District Councils, entitled "Closer to the People"; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has received the report. He has made it clear that major changes to the structure of local government are not on the Government's agenda.

Subsidence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by location for (a) Severn-Trent Water and (b) Yorkshire Water, the number of subsidence claims that are outstanding with British Coal and the value of the claim against each location.

Single-Tier Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce a single tier of local government in the near future; and if he will make a statement.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the output figures for (a) private industry and (b) public sector dwelling-units constructed in England and Wales for 1960, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985 and 1988.

Housebuilding completions in England and Wales are given in the table:

Thousands
Private enterpriseHousing associationsLocal authorities, new towns and government departments
1959146·51·1101·8
1960162·11·7105·5
1967192·94·8165·2
1970162·18·2136·9
1974129·69·4102·1
1978134·621·697·8
1979125·317·378·1
1980115·920·278·5
1985140·611·924·4
1988170·69·916·8

Greenhouse Effect

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received any recent report on the contribution made to the greenhouse global warming effect from (a) leaks and (b) deliberate venting to the atmosphere of natural gas from the United Kingdom's domestic, commercial and industrial uses.

Estimates of emissions of methane from gas leakage and oil and gas venting were formally made on a national basis for the first time in 1989 and will be published in the Department's annual "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" early in 1990.

Sheltered Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many units of local-authority-provided sheltered accommodation for the elderly currently exist in England.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 December 1989 to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) [Official Report, vol 164, columns 332–33].

Protection Of Archives

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how he intends to review his procedures on the protection of archives in the light of the accidental destruction of 12,000 archive files held by his Department.

A review of our procedures and practices is being undertaken with the assistance of the Public Records Office.

Landfill Sites

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much of the special capital allocations set aside by his Department in order to deal with the problems of gassing landfill sites have so far been taken up by local authorites.

A specific capital allocation for England of £33 million for remedial works in 1990–91 was announced on 15 November by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Local authorities will shortly be invited to make bids. Five million pounds was also reserved for urgent remedial work in 1989–90 but was not taken up.

Land Tenure

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals have been made by the European Commission for the harmonisation of the systems of land tenure in the Community; and what response Her Majesty's Government have given.

Revenue Support Grant, Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the recent ministerial meeting with representatives of Leicestershire county council to discuss the county's revenue support grant allocation; what response the Under-Secretary of State made to the representations by the county council that the standard spending assessment was less than the uplifted grant-related expenditure assessments; and what action he has taken since the meeting in that regard.

The representatives of Leicestershire county council were provided with an explanation of the factors which led to significant differences between the county's grant-related expenditure assessment and its proposed standard spending assessment for 1990–91. All the representations made have been carefully considered by my right hon. Friend before he took his decisions on the settlement.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in calculating the standard spending assessment for Leicestershire for the purposes of revenue support grant, he took account of the authorised increase in police manpower for the county in 1990–91; and whether he will make a statement.

Each authority's police component of its standard spending assessment (SSA) is its share of the total the Government are allowing nationally for the police service. In deciding this total my right hon. Friend took account of the increase in police manpower authorised for 1990–91. Each authority's share has been calculated in proportion to its police establishment as approved by the Home Secretary as available at 29 September 1989.

Sport And Active Recreation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is (a) the estimated total cost and (b) the estimated cost to public funds of the review group for sport and active recreation provision in the inner cities including the cost of the report published in December 1989; and what is (i) the estimated total cost and (ii) the cost to public funds of the report.

[holding answer 8 January 1990]: The estimated total cost of the review of sport and active recreation in the inner cities, including the cost of publishing the review report, is £80,500, of which £62,500 will be met from public funds and £18,000 from private sector sponsorship. The review group concluded that existing resources need to be targeted more effectively, with the private sector playing a greater role in partnership with the public and voluntary sectors. The Government will be giving careful consideration to appropriate follow-up action and are encouraging other organisations to do likewise. The cost implications of the report will depend on the way in which all these organisations decide to take forward implementation and are therefore not quantifiable at this stage.

Single European Market

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the changes in responsibility and activity of local authorities in consequence of the EEC's 1992 measures.

[holding answer 10 January 1990]: Local authorities will be affected across a wide range of their activities by the completion of the internal market in 1992, which is aimed at removing physical, technical and fiscal barriers to trade in goods, services, capital and the movement and employment of people.

Local Government International Bureau

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what contact he maintains with the Local Government International Bureau of 35 Great Smith street, London SW1; and if any public funds are made available by Her Majesty's Government and by the EEC to that body for its information programme on the 1992 programme or for any other purpose.

[holding answer 10 January 1990]: My Department has frequent contacts with the Local Government International Bureau. Various central organisations serving local government, including the bureau, are part-funded by grants deducted from the total of revenue support grant which the Government make available to local authorities. I understand that the bureau also receives some European Community funds in support of its activities.

Pollution Inspectorate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take in respect of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution in response to the MINIS 10 report.

MINIS provides an annual system for determining aims and objectives, setting targets and reviewing performace for each major activity undertaken by my Department. I shall be reviewing the performance targeted in Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution MINIS 10 in MINIS 11, which is now commencing.

English Heritage

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will provide a list of all those documents belonging to English Heritage which have been destroyed as a result of a clerical error.

English Heritage and my Department are looking into this matter and will inform the hon. Gentleman of the outcome of our review.

Overseas Development

Malawi

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs further to his answer of 27 November, Official Report, column 91, if he will provide a breakdown of the use to which British aid to Malawi was put (a) in 1987 and (b) in 1988.

Following is the further information requested. Figures are calculated on the same basis as for my previous reply.

United Kingdom aid lo Malawi 1987 and 1988
£'000
19871988
Project Aid2,3426,144
Aid and Trade Provision1,6571,410
Programme Aid5,69910,273
Debt Relief1,8741,822
Food Aid883
Disaster Relief11295
Technical Cooperation8,0049,934
19,58730,761

Source: British Aid Statistics.

The Arts

Unesco Convention

To ask the Minister for the Arts in the light of the representations of the Society of Antiquaries on the theft and sale of works of art, whether he will now sign the UNESCO convention.

I am not convinced that signing the UNESCO convention would help to overcome the particular anxieties of the Society of Antiquaries.

Works Of Art (Export)

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement on the referral to the review committee on the export of works of art of the case of the 340 million-year-old Bathgate paleontological finds.

[holding answer 8 January 1990]: The Bathgate fossil, popularly known as "Lizzie the Lizard", was referred to the reviewing committee on 8 December 1989. However, it was subsequently decided that fossils are not covered by the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1987 (SI 1987 No. 2070) and the Department of Trade and Industry notified the interested parties on 21 December to this effect.

Defence

Hms Talent

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the accident which caused a spillage of cooling liquid from the nuclear submarine HMS Talent at the VSEL shipyard in Barrow on 4 December; what volume of radioactive liquids were released; and what were the health implications for Royal Naval personnel and the general public in south Cumbria.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the spillage of contaminated cooling liquid from HMS Talent at the VSEL shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness; what precautions were taken; what health risks arose; and whether any civilian or service personnel were treated in hospital.

There was a leak of coolant water from HMS Talent at Barrow, at 4.40 am on 4 December. The level of radioactivity in the water was extremely low. The coolant was being pumped to an external tank when a pipe split and approximately 140 litres were released into the dock. There was no danger to the submarine's reactor. Monitoring of the water in the dock failied to detect any radiation above the normal background and there are no health implications for either Royal Navy personnel or the general public. The incident has been fully investigated and appropriate action taken.

Ambulances

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces ambulances based overseas have been withdrawn from service, and used in the ambulance dispute in the United Kingdom; what countries they came from; and where they were deployed.

Transport Of Nuclear Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from members of the public and local organisations about the transport of nuclear weapons through the Doncaster metropolitan borough council area; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of no recent representations on this subject received by my right hon. Friend.

Search And Rescue Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will institute an inquiry into the incident on 3 January when a search and rescue helicopter from HMS Gannet diverted to Glasgow in the course of a rescue mission in order to pick up a television crew before proceeding to the search area.

The circumstances of the incident have been investigated. On Thursday 4 January, a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet was asked to assist a mountain rescue team with a preplanned search operation for three civilians lost on Ben Nevis. Shortly before departure, an ITN camera team asked HMS Gannet if they could be picked up at Glasgow airport and be taken along to film the search. Since Glasgow was on the direct flight path from HMS Gannet to Ben Nevis, authority for this was given with the agreement of the rescue co-ordination centre at Pitreavie on the conditions that carrying the camera team would in no way prejudice the helicopter's ability to carry out its task and that its rendezvous with the mountain rescue team at Fort William would not be delayed beyond the agreed time of 0830. There was considered to be sufficient flexibility in the flight plan for this to be possible and the commitment to pick up the ITN crew was undertaken on this basis.

However, in the event, a radio breakdown delayed the departure from HMS Gannet and the helicopter was some 45 minutes late on arriving at Fort William. The embarkation of the ITN crew at Glasgow airport added only marginally to the delay as weather conditions on the route taken were significantly better than on the normal, coastal route to Ben Nevis. The search was successful and the three civilians were recovered by the helicopter.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards search and rescue helicopters carrying journalists and television crews while flying rescue operations.

Our policy is to consider favourably such requests from the media, but only on the condition that their carriage in no way prejudices the rescue mission.

Raf Molesworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of RAF Molesworth.

RAF Molesworth has been placed on a care and maintenance basis since the USAF 303rd tactical missile wing was disbanded in January 1989.The base was specially developed in 1985–87 to house the ground-launched cruise missiles of the 303rd tactical missile wing. Both the military and domestic infrastructure remain in excellent condition and there are a number of specialist facilities on the base which it would be difficult and expensive to remove. Some of these facilities are subject to inspection by the Soviet Union for the next 11 years under the terms of the INF treaty. However, the INF treaty does not prohibit the use of former GLCM bases for other military purposes.The Government have been discussing with the United States and NATO authorities alternative military roles for RAF Molesworth which would make good use of the existing facilities while remaining consistent with the terms of the INF treaty. As a result of these discussions the Government have agreed that, subject to the normal planning procedures, the United States European Command may develop the site as its joint analysis centre. The role of this unit is to process and analyse military information from a variety of sources for the benefit of the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.The joint analysis centre will be constructed on a fresh site within the base at RAF Molesworth and will not be subject to Soviet inspection. Major construction work is planned to start in 1991 and completed in 1995. In addition, many of the existing facilities at the base will be modified to support the joint analysis centre and this work is planned to start shortly.Eventually some 700 United States personnel, some of whom are currently located at RAF Alconbury and some in West Germany, will be assigned to Molesworth. This is a similar number to those stationed at the base with the 303rd tactical missile wing.In addition, certain buildings at RAF Molesworth will be converted to accommodate the Northern region command centre, the wartime headquarters for the United States Third Air Force, while other buildings will be used for administrative purposes as an annex to RAF Alconbury. The Government consider that these developments will make optimum use of a valuable military installation for the benefit of the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.

Raf Greenham Common

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the extinguishment of commoners' rights at RAF Greenham Common.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman) explained on 29 April 1988, col. 310, it had been decided to negotiate fair compensation for the legal extinguishment of the rights of common over land owned by the Ministry of Defence at Greenham and Crookham commons, which the Department intended to pursue under the provisions of the Defence Act 1854. There is no general right of access for the public over this land; and the only people enjoying such rights are the 64 commoners. However, in view of the commoners' concerns about the loss of these rights, the Ministry of Defence has since been discussing with them a compromise solution which would have preserved their rights over a substantial area of the base while meeting essential legal and defence requirements. If the commoners would agree not to exercise their rights over the remainder of the area for as long as the base is required for defence purposes, my Department would be prepared only to extinguish their rights over those parts of the base upon which development for defence purposes has already taken place or might take place. This would leave a substantial area of the Ministry of Defence land in question subject to common rights.Such an arrangement could be put into effect only if agreed by all the commoners and the Department has been anxious to give the commoners every opportunity to consider the proposal. However, more than a year has passed since the original offer was made, and the commoners were informed on 14 December 1989 that there would be no alternative but to proceed as originally proposed unless they had all signed the agreement by 5 January. On that date three of the 64 registered commoners had failed to sign the agreement and we have regrettably been forced to conclude that agreement on the basis of the compromise solution to full extinguishment will not be possible. The Ministry of Defence now, therefore, intends to proceed with the legal formalities to extinguish all rights of common over the MOD property on both commons.This action is being taken to remove a legal obstacle to construction on MOD property. It is legally quite distinct from the question of the legality of the bye-laws at RAF Greenham Common which is being pursued separately through the courts. No decisions have yet been taken on any alternative roles for the base once the cruise missiles are withdrawn, but RAF Greenham Common has been designated as a NATO standby operating base for many years and we envisage that this role will continue.

Energy

Civil Plutonium

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if, in formulating his response to the Energy Committee report on British Nuclear Fuels plc Report and Accounts 1987–88, paragraph 6, page vi, on the safeguards arrangements for civil plutonium, he took into account the proposals set out in the closing submission by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND-5) to the Hinkley C inquiry.

My Department took into account all relevant information before preparing its response.

Oil Exports (South Africa)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the scope for co-operation with the United Nations monitoring group covering oil shipping to South Africa.

The United Kingdom opposed the 1986 United Nations General Assembly resolution which called on the Security Council to introduce a mandatory oil embargo against South Africa and established the oil shipment monitoring organisation. Our policy is unchanged.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will place in the Library the United Kingdom's guidelines prohibiting crude oil exports to South Africa.

The Government have made clear to companies exporting North sea crude oil that they expect them to do so in the markets of our European Community and International Energy Agency partners, or where there is an existing pattern of trade. South Africa does not come within any of those categories. The guidelines were announced by the then Secretary of State for Energy on 31 January 1979 [Official Report, col. 461].

United Kingdom petroleum product exports to South Africa (by volume and value)
Volumes (metric tonnes)Value (£'000s; current prices)
198519861987198811989198519861987198811989
Motor spirits and light oils2919157813·810·151·216·31·1
Kerosenes and medium oils141118·51·61·92·0
Gas oils2063243603,9327,84676·0109·8113·2742·41,528·9
Fuel oils240·41·05·6
Lubricants17,1656,8856,2185794345,863·82,733·52,305·5517·5329·5
Petroleum jellies and waxes832741,14880840272·0192·8716·9506·5323·7
Mineral tars and oil derivatives449706131194102152·6309·881·2133·581·4
Pitch and pitch coke12010·44·01·9
Petroleum bitumen and bituminous mixtures4,23811,77710,528109341,830·53,924·03,053·875·530·6
TOTALS22,18520,00818,5485,6318,8188,017·97,286·66,331·21,993·72,295·2
1 January to July only.

Source: Overseas Trade Statistics

National Energy Foundation

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the outcome of his meeting with the director and trustees of the National Energy Foundation on 20 December 1989.

I had a most interesting and useful meeting with representatives of the National Energy Foundation. Among the topics discussed where the foundation's plans for the development of an energy rating

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what factors have affected the time taken by his officials to investigate the alleged breach of the United Kingdom's guidelines prohibiting crude oil exports to South Africa by the tanker Almare Terza;(2) when his officials started their investigation into the alleged breach of the United Kingdom's guidelines prohibiting crude oil exports to South Africa by the tanker Almare Terza; and when he expects this investigation to be completed.

Some progress has been made in following the chain of events. Investigations into complex matters of this sort necessarily take time to complete and it is not possible to put a date on the completion of these inquiries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what steps he takes to monitor United Kingdom involvement in oil shipping to South Africa.

My Department receives notification of every cargo of exported UKCS crude oil, including the name of the ship, the date of departure, and intended destination. However, it is not possible for me to monitor accurately the final destination of every barrel.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what were for each year since 1985 the volume and the value of petroleum products exported to South Africa, broken down by type of petroleum product.

Exports of petroleum products to South Africa since 1985 were as follows:system for housing (which would indicate the energy efficiency of houses by means of a rating scale) and proposals for a national energy centre at Milton Keynes.I welcomed the opportunity to discuss the foundation's plans, and look forward to a constructive working relationship between the foundation and my Energy Efficiency Office.

Electricity Bills

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) how estimated electricity bills to domestic consumers are calculated;(2) if he will give for each year since 1979 and for each area board the number of electricity bills to domestic consumers which have been estimated;(3) if he will give for each year since 1979 and for each area board the number of complaints from domestic consumers about estimated electricity bills;(4) if he will give for each year since 1979 and for each area board the number of electricity bills to domestic consumers which have recorded credits due to overestimation in the use of electricity in previous bills.

These are matters for the electricity supply industry. I will ask the chairman of the Electricity Council to write to the hon. Member.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a decision is to be taken by the post in Islamabad on the application of Mr. Rashad Mahmood, who was born in 1968, Ref. IASP/P/40627; serial No. 81159, to join his wife in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

In accordance with the guidelines on the handling of representations by Members of Parliament in immigration cases, issued to Members on 14 December 1988, I have referred the question to the correspondence unit of the migration and visa department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The hon. Member will receive a reply from the unit as soon as possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the post in Islamabad adopted a policy of expediting settlement applications in cases when DNA test results were positive and there were no other factors affecting an application being considered; and if he will make a statement.

In Islamabad, or at any other overseas post where a DNA test is undertaken, first-time applicants producing DNA-positive evidence are dealt with in their turn in the queue. As I stated in my letter of 21 December 1989, re-applicants producing DNA-positive evidence are fast-streamed when:

  • (i) there is no issue to address other than confirmation of the claimed relationship, for example, in right-of-abode cases; or
  • (ii) proof of relationship confers British nationality on other members of the same family; in such cases, in order to keep families together, applications for entry clearance and British passports are considered at the same time.
  • Where, however, other requirements of the immigration rules need also to be satisfied, such as support and accommodation, re-applicants will continue to wait their turn in Q4.These arrangements have been in force since the early part of last year.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the post in Islamabad received instructions to issue a passport to Shamim Ayaz, Ref. H 162359; Imm/15031, enabling him to join his father in the United Kingdom; how many times Shamim Ayaz has been invited to call at the post in Islamabad; why he has not, to date, been issued with a visa; and if he will make a statement.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department on 8 January to the hon. Member.

    Radioactive Waste

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are for the disposal of radioactive waste arising from the joint Hong Kong-Guangdong nuclear power plant at Daya Bay.

    These are matters for the Chinese authorities. Nevertheless, I understand that the intention is for there to be initial treatment and storage on-site followed by transfer off-site to permanent storage or disposal facilities.

    Refugees

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of British aid for refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border is spent on employing protection officers under the auspices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to prevent refugees being disturbed by political or military groups.

    It is not possible to identify the percentage of British aid for refugee camps spent on employing protection officers. UNHCR has responsibility for two refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border and employs 12 officers who carry out protection and other duties. Funding for these officers comes from the general pool of UNHCR money.

    Human Rights

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information on the human rights situation in other countries is regularly compiled by his Department; and whether such information is made public.

    We compile a wide range of information on such situations on a continuing basis.We do not publish all the information that we collect. Much of its is, in any case, already publicly available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what training on details of international human rights standards and on the monitoring and assessment of the human rights situation in the country in which they are working is given to British diplomats overseas.

    Before a posting overseas, diplomats are given comprehensive briefing on all aspects of life in that country, including the human rights situation. In addition, officers whose duties specifically include human rights issues get more detailed briefing, including from non-governmental organisations.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether British embassies and overseas missions are required to report regularly to his Department on the human rights situation in their country.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether military and police training given by Britain to other countries always includes training in the protection of human rights.

    Respect for human rights is fundamental and underlies all British police and military training. It is therefore integral to the training of overseas students.

    Hong Kong

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Chief Police Officer in Hong Kong sought permission from the Governor and Ministers of Her Majesty's Government in advance of using force and tear gas on Vietnamese on Lantau island, in the Crown Territories of Hong Kong after Christmas.

    The operation was carried out only after protracted efforts by the Hong Kong Government and UNHCR and voluntary agency staff to persuade the boat people to allow the camp to be searched for weapons. When it was clear that the boat people would not co-operate, those in charge of the operation were authorised to use the minimum force necessary to ensure its success. Over 700 home-made weapons were subsequently found.

    Trade And Industry

    British Steel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent communications he has had with the chairman of British Steel; and if he will make a statement.

    In the past few months, I have had communications with the chairman of British Steel in connection with a number of European issues affecting the steel industry, including the Community's voluntary restraint agreement with the United States of America and about British Steel's proposed acquisition of C. Walker and Sons.

    Mergers And Acquisitions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made in removing the barriers to British firms seeking to pursue mergers and acquisitions within the European Community.

    At the December Internal Market Council the Commission undertook to bring forward proposals by the end of March 1990 for the reduction and elimination of a range of practices that serve as barriers to takeovers. The Council undertook to examine the proposals in due course, taking particular account of the objective of completing the internal market. The DTI has commissioned and published a report by Coopers and Lybrand—which is available in the Library—which sets out the range of barriers that need to be addressed.

    Passenger Liners

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many passenger liners are currently being built in the member countries of the EEC; and if he will publish a list of the number of such vessels ranging in displacement from 3,500 tonnes upwards that are due to be launched in 1990, indicating in each case the countries where they are being built.

    Twenty four passenger ships—other than ferries—were on order books of EC shipyards at the end of the third quarter of 1989. The other information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Engineering Industry

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new jobs have been created in the engineering industry in the west midlands since 1986.

    There are no official statistics available to show the extent of job creation in the engineering industry over the period in question. Since the beginning of 1986, however, a total of 944 offers of regional selective assistance have been made to engineering companies in the west midlands and those are expected to lead to the creation of 20,000 new jobs.

    Securities And Investments Board (Chairman)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet the chairman of the SIB; and what will be discussed.

    [holding answer 21 December 1989]: My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of the Securities and Investments Board as frequently as is necessary. I expect to meet him shortly when a range of topics concerning the regulation of financial services will be discussed.

    Internal Market

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the number of European Community directives issued consequent to the decisions to complete the internal market by 1992; and what is the number of such directives passed into the domestic law of each member state respectively as at 31 December 1989.

    [holding answer 8 January]: By 31 December 1989 the Council had adopted some 140 directives in the context of the Commission's programme for completing the single market, of which 77 are required to be in force in member states. Details on the state of implementation of those 77 measures in the individual states was given in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell), Official Report, 9 January, columns 600–08.Since publication of that answer the following directives have been implemented in the United Kingdom:

  • (i) Tractors and Agricultural Machines: Implementation of Dir 74/150, weight dimensions etc Dir 89/173.
  • (ii) Other Items: Cosmetics Dir 88/667.
  • British Flag

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many vessels of more than 10,000 tonnes displacement now operate under the British flag.

    I have been asked to reply. At the end of November 1989, the numbers of vessels of more than 10,000 deadweight tonnes registered under the British flag were:

    Number
    United Kingdom registry111
    Isle of Man or Channel Island registries43
    Dependent territory registries269

    House Of Commons

    Letter Board

    To ask the Lord President of the Council what is his estimate of the cost incurred by the House of hon. Members having to use franked envelopes to communicate with colleagues when they have reached their limit of six unposted letters on the Members' letter board; whether he will consider establishing a more convenient and inexpensive system; and if he will make a statement.

    It is not possible to estimate the cost of postage incurred by hon. Members who wish to communicate with their colleagues other than by means of the letter board. The efficiency of the letter board system depends on a limit of acceptance of six letters daily from each hon. Member. I have asked the authorities of the House to discuss alternative distribution systems with the hon. Member.

    Mail

    To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will introduce a system for delivery of post for those hon. Members requesting it to a central location in the various outbuildings of the Palace of Westminster for collection on Monday to Friday.

    Mail for hon. Members may be redirected by the House of Commons post office to the parliamentary outbuildings on application to the Postmaster, but this service would result in a delivery some hours later than mail is available at the House post office. Alternatively, correspondence may be addressed direct to the oubuildings and the full addresses of individual buildings are available from the Postmaster. The policy for the distribution of mail within the precincts is a matter for consideration initially by the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee of the Services Committee and the hon. Member may wish to write to the Chairman about it.

    Attorney-General

    Sunday Trading

    To ask the Attorney-General if he has received any representations following the European Court of Justice decision on Sunday trading made on 23 November 1989; and if he will make a statement.

    I commonly receive representations from diverse sources on the enforcement of the legislation relating to Sunday trading, and I have continued to receive such representations since the European Court of Justice gave its judgment in case 145/88 on 23 November 1989.The task of interpreting the judgment of the European Court of Justice now falls to the national courts both in the case in which the judgment has been given and in any other cases to which it may be relevant. I understand that a very large number of cases were adjourned to await the decision of the European Court. The way is now open for those cases to proceed to a conclusion.A duty to enforce the Sunday trading legislation was expressly imposed on local authorities by section 71 of the Shops Act 1950. I said in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on 17 April 1989 that in my view local authorities did not cease to be bound by that duty while the decision of the European Court was awaited, and they continue to be under that duty now that the decision of the European Court has been given.

    Employment

    Employment Growth

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps his Department is taking to help increase the net contribution to employment growth among firms with between 20 and 50 employees.

    The Government's policy is to create a beneficial climate for small businesses generally, mainly by encouraging conditions of fair competition and minimising regulation, and by providing a complementary range of fiscal, financial and advisory measures.Within this policy, my own Department's services include the loan guarantee scheme, action to improve Government purchasing opportunities, the small firms service and a wide range of training schemes for small businesses. All these services offer particular benefits to firms with growth potential, including those with more than 20 employees.Among the training schemes the new business growth training programme, introduced in April last year, contains a number of options which are particularly relevant to this group and which are designed to help them plan and manage their growth.I have also taken action to alert small business organisations to recent research published by my Department showing a relatively poor job creation record by firms employing 20 to 49 staff. These firms face substantial market, management and technological challenges which they can meet more successfully with the support of the network of organisations representing or providing a service to small businesses.

    Overseas Spending

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what estimate he has as to the amount spent overseas by United Kingdom residents during 1989; and what was the figure for the previous 12 months.

    It is estimated that United Kingdom residents spent £8,370 million overseas during the first 10 months of 1989, the latest period for which estimates are available. During 1988 as a whole, United Kingdom residents spent an estimated £8,228 million overseas.

    Health And Safety Executive

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of its planned programme of basic inspections the Health and Safety Executive area offices (a) 01 south-west, (b) 02 south, (c) 03 south-east, (d) 05/06 London north and south, (e) 07 East Anglia, (f) 08 northern home counties, (g) 09 east midlands, (h) 10 west midlands, (i) 11 Wales, (j) 12 Marches, (k) 13 north midlands, (l) 14 South Yorkshire and Humberside, (m) 15 West and North Yorkshire, (n) 20 Scotland east and (o) 21 Scotland west have achieved in the half year from I April to 31 October 1989.

    The plan of the Health and Safety Executive's factory inspectorate is based on proportions of time to be spent on different aspects of its work. The information requested is given in the table:

    Preventive inspection visits made as a percentage of the total number of visits it was estimated would be carried out in the half year 1 April 1989 to 30 September 1989
    AreaPer cent.
    01 South West88·6
    02 South106·4
    03 South East107·5
    05/06 London North and South79·8
    07 East Anglia93·8
    08 Northern Home Counties80·3
    09 East Midlands103·5
    10 West Midlands109·5
    11 Wales99·6
    12 Marches108·8
    13 North Midlands89·7
    14 South Yorkshire and Humberside87·5
    15 West and North Yorkshire93·9
    20 Scotland East98·1
    21 Scotland West75·1

    Training And Enterprise Councils

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the establishment of a training and enterprise council in Hampshire.

    An application for development funding of a TEC in Hampshire was approved on 12 July 1989. The TEC board is working on the corporate plan and I expect the TEC to he fully operational in the summer of 1990.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration he has given to ensuring that training and enterprise councils are not financially disadvantaged by taking on disabled people who may have greater difficulty in meeting outcome targets.

    The number of people with disabilities who have special training needs will be an important consideration when a TEC's funds are agreed. The difficulties that some people with disabilities may face in achieving outcomes will be taken into account when targets are negotiated.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration he has given to the establishment of a national training and enterprise council to meet the specific needs of disabled people.

    I have no plans to establish a national training and enterprise council to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. Every TEC will be required to set out in its plans how it intends to meet the needs of people with disabilities in its area.

    Redundant Mineworkers' Payments Scheme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what were the numbers and percentages of unemployed persons removed from all English and Welsh unemployment registers as a result of changes that took effect in August 1989 in the redundant mineworkers' payments scheme, by region.

    The latest estimates of the number of mineworkers who have decided to take advantage of the change in the redundant mineworkers' payment scheme are given in the following table. There has been little or no effect in the Greater London, south-east, East Anglia, and south-west regions.

    RegionEstimated effect1Percentage effect2
    West Midlands5000·3
    East Midlands4,5004·3
    Yorkshire and Humberside3,5002·0
    North West5000·2
    North2,0001·5
    Wales5000·5
    1 These estimates are derived from latest available information and are subject to revision·
    2 Using August 1989 unadjusted unemployment totals

    Ko Hsuan School, North Devon

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many work permits have been issued to foreign nationals to work at the Ko Hsuan school in Chawleigh, North Devon.

    Earnings

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of national average earnings was earned by the lowest paid decile of workers in each decade since 1960; and what are the comparable figures, so far as available for (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) the United States of America, (d) Sweden, and (e) Japan.

    The available information for Great Britain is published in table 15 of part A of the NES reports for 1979 and 1989, copies of which are in the Library. Comparable data for the other countries are not available.

    Education And Science

    National Curriculum

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of documents relating to the national curriculum are issued on recycled paper.

    National curriculum subject orders and associated documents under section 4 of the 1988 Education Reform Act are published in ring-binders made of recycled paper. The Department is continuing to look for opportunities for using recycled paper.

    Supply Teachers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to remove the discretion by local education authorities in England and Wales as to the scale point used in the payment of supply teachers.

    Education Support Grants

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the increased volume of underspending on education support grants 1988–89 shown in Class XII Vote 1; and what changes have been made for 1989–90 and 1990–91.

    The size of each year's Vote for education support grants (ESGs) depends not on the overall total for that year's ESG programme, but rather on the amount of grant still to be paid in respect of previous years' ESG programmes as well as the amount expected to be paid within the financial year on the current year's programme. The size of the underspend on a given year's Vote will reflect both the success of local education authorities in submitting grant claims promptly, and the size of successive ESG programmes. To increase the proportion of grant paid during the financial year in which the expenditure is incurred, authorites will from this year on be invited to submit, before the end of the financial year in question, a claim for expenditure incurred during the last quarter, 50 per cent. of which may be paid before the year end.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish a list of those local education authorities which, in respect of education support grant claims for 1988–89 (a) have claimed significantly less than the maximum allocated amount for that year or (b) have not yet made either final claims for all quarters of 1987–88 or a provisional end-of-year claim, showing for each of (a) and (b) the amount underspent or apparently unclaimed.

    It is for individual local education authorities to determine whether they wish to claim all the education support grant (ESG) allocated to them. Among the 90 authorities in England who have to date submitted final claims for the 1988–89 programme, the average rate of claim is over 90 per cent. of expenditure approved. But 15 of those authorities have claimed grant on less than 85 per cent. of expenditure approved. The details are:

    Amount of approved expenditure not spent
    LEA£
    Barnet132,138
    Enfield268,731
    Haringey156,627
    Newham160,300
    Birmingham417,246
    Walsall152,365
    Sefton241,707

    LEA

    £

    Tameside146,750
    Wigan286,400
    South Tyneside257,770
    Berkshire394,718
    Buckinghamshire299,131
    Devon427,668
    Kent591,877
    Lincolnshire235,627

    In addition, seven local education authorities have not yet submitted a final claim. They are:

    Amount of approved expenditure on which grant has not yet been claimed

    Local education authorities

    £

    Merton97,459
    Waltham Forest175,655
    Leeds392,800
    Hertfordshire765,707
    Norfolk367,590
    Northamptonshire999,860
    Oxfordshire384,519

    All authorities have now submitted final claims for 1987–88.

    Teacher Training Grants

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the increased volume of underspending on in-service teacher training grants 1988–89 shown in Class XII, Vote 1, 12; and what changes have been made for 1989–90 and 1990–91.

    Vote provision for the local education authority training grants scheme, which was introduced on 1 April 1987, is for the payment of grant to local education authorities in response to claims submitted by those authorities in respect of training that they have provided. Vote provision for this purpose in 1988–89 was £130 million, expenditure was £89·2 million and the underspending was £40·8 million. The corresponding figures for 1987–88 were provision, £105 million, outturn £79·4 million and underspending £25·6 million.The underspend in 1987–88 resulted from local authorities submitting claims later than expected outside the year to which they related. This was also the case in 1988–89 when, in addition, authorities were late in submitting audit certificates for 1987–88 without payments for claims under the 1988–89 programme submitted after 1 October 1988 could not be made.The provision for 1989–90 is £130 million. Late claims for previous years of the scheme will continue to be paid from the Vote provision as soon as possible after their submission. No changes have been made to the arrangements for payments in 1989–90 and no decision has yet been taken on the arrangements for 1990–91.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish a list of those local education authorities which in respect of in-service teacher training grant claims for 1988–89 (a) have claimed significantly less than the maximum allocated amount for that year or (b) have not yet made either final claims for all quarters of 1987–88 or a provisional end-of-year claim showing for each of (a) and (b) the amount underspent or apparently unclaimed.

    The following LEAs underspent by 5 per cent. or more in 1988–89:

    Local Education AuthorityTotal amount unclaimedUnderspend as percentage of total maxima
    Bromley183,00016·7
    Haringey1421,31544·5
    Kent534,0009·0
    Liverpool1497,40020·9
    Oldham152,5285·0
    Walsall176,5555·9
    1 provisional end-of-year claims only.
    Newham has not yet submitted an end-of-year claim for 1988–89; the total amount yet to be claimed is £371,889.There are no authorities that have not yet made either final claims for all quarters of 1987–88 or a provisional end-of-year claim for that year.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what amount and proportion of the 1987–88 Vote provision for the in-service teacher training grant scheme realted to (a) areas of national priority and (b) areas of local priority; what amount and proportion of claims made for 1987–88 relate to each of (a) and (b); what further information is available as to the breakdown of expenditure claims between separate national priorities; and if he will make a statement;(2) what amount and proportion of the 1988–89 Vote provision for the in-service teacher training grant scheme related to

    (a) areas of national priority and (b) areas of local priority; what amount and proportion of claims made for 1988–89 relate to each of (a) and (b); what further information is available as to the breakdown of expenditure claims between separate national priorities; and if he will make a statement.

    The level of Vote provision in 1987–88 was based on an estimate of the likely claims by local education authorities under the local education authority training grants scheme in 1987–88, and the in-service teacher training grants scheme, which preceded the local education authority training grants scheme, for the years prior to 1987–88. The level in 1988–89 was based on a similar estimate covering that year and previous years. Because Vote provision is calculated to meet local authorities' overall claims, no further breakdown is made between the areas of training to which the claims relate, such an analysis could be made only at disproportionate cost. Local authorities have been told that delays in submitting claims will be taken into account in setting their allocations of grant for future years.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the expenditure on in-service teacher training grants 1988–89 shown in Class XII Vote 1, 12 includes any amount relating to late claims made for 1987–88; and if he will make a statement.

    Yes. A total of nearly £5 million expenditure relating to late claims for local education authority expenditure in 1987–88 was included in the expenditure for 1988–89.

    Ko Hsuan School, North Devon

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will instigate an investigation into the operation, teaching curriculum, and control of students at the Ko Hsuan school in Chawleigh, north Devon.

    The proprietor of the Ko Hsuan school has already been asked for a full explanation of the events leading to the death of one of its pupils, and of all facts and circumstances relating to those events. My right hon. Friend will decide in the light of the response what further action, if any, may be appropriate.

    Independent Schools

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what powers he has to investigate and to control the teaching curriculum, teaching methods, staff qualifications and control of pupils at independent schools.

    My right hon. Friend has powers under section 71 of the Education Act 1944 (as amended) to serve a notice of complaint upon the proprietor of an independent school if he is satisfied that a school is objectionable on certain specified grounds. These include instances where efficient and suitable instruction is not being provided or the proprietor or any teacher is not a proper person.Failure to comply with a notice of complaint will cause the school to be deleted from the register of independent schools. It is an offence to act as proprietor of or a teacher in an independent school while disqualified by an order made by the Secretary of State following a notice of complaint. A school has a right of appeal to the independent schools tribunal against a notice of complaint.In addition, under section 77(2) of the Education Act 1944, my right hon. Friend may also cause a special inspection of any school to be made whenever he considers such an inspection to be desirable.

    National Finance

    Private Medical Insurance

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the cost to the Exchequer of tax reliefs on private medical insurance.

    The 1989–90 Financial Statement arid Budget report estimated that the cost of tax relief for private medical insurance for those aged 60 and over will be about £40 million in 1990–91.

    Philip Core

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the outcome of the investigation by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise of the material they intercepted belonging to the late Philip Core; and where are its present whereabouts.

    Goods imported into the United Kingdom by post for Mr. Philip Core were intercepted and examined by Customs. They contained a book and photographs which were considered to be obscene under section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act 1876 and accordingly they were seized as forfeit. Mr. Core appealed against seizure and condemnation proceedings were instituted under schedule 3 to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. On Thursday 9 November 1989, condemnation proceedings were commenced in Wells Street magistrates court, but adjourned until 20 November for consideration of certain legal points.Sadly, Mr. Core died on 13 November and, at the adjourned hearing on 20 November, it was disclosed that he had died intestate. The case was adjourned to 11 January 1990 when it will be decided whether Mr. Core's administrators wish to continue the proceedings.In accordance with normal practice, the offending material is still in the possession of Customs pending the outcome of court proceedings.

    Commercial Borrowing

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to bring down the cost of commercial borrowing by smaller business industry and home owners.

    The Government will not reduce interest rates until that can be safely done without risk to inflation. Everyone has far more to fear from a resurgence of inflation than from a period of higher interest rates.

    Retail Prices Index

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the latest retail prices index figure; what percentage of this covers the mortgage interest element; what were the comparable figures in 1975 and 1976; and if he will make a statement.

    The table summarises the information requested:

    All-items RPI annual inflation rate per cent.Contribution of the mortgage interest payments component to the RPI inflation rate per cent· points
    November 19897·72
    November 197615·0¼
    November 197525·2Not available

    Taxation

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will investigate the extent of tax avoidance and evasion through the creation of business transactions carried out solely or mainly for tax reasons between United Kingdom based trusts, companies and individuals and trusts and companies based in (a) Jersey, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Netherlands Antilles, (e) the Cayman Islands and (f) Liechtenstein during the last five years;(2) if he will make it his policy to review all high court cases involving the Inland Revenue in seeking to recover £1 million or more of tax revenue and to bring in legislation to prevent the loss of such tax revenue where it has been lost as a result of transactions created between United Kingdom based companies, trusts and individuals

    and companies or trusts or individuals based in

    (a) Jersey, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Netherlands Antilles, (e) the Cayman Islands and (f) Liechtenstein;

    (3) if he will publish an annual table of information about tax avoidance and tax evasion by United Kingdom based trusts, individuals and companies through transactions created with trusts and companies in (a) Jersey, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Netherlands Antilles, (e) the Cayman Islands and (f) Liechtenstein;

    (4) if he will set up a system requiring the prior notification to the Inland Revenue of business transactions between United Kingdom-based trusts, companies and individuals and trusts and companies based in (a) Jersey, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Netherlands Antilles, (e) the Cayman Islands and (f) Liechtenstein;

    (5) what proposals he has to prevent tax revenue being lost to the Exchequer through the use of business transactions created solely or mainly for tax reasons between United Kingdom-based trusts, individuals and companies and trusts and companies in (a) Jersey, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Netherlands Antilles, (e) the Cayman Islands and (f) Liechtenstein;

    (6) if he will make it his policy to bring forward amendments to company law to prevent tax avoidance and evasion by United Kingdom companies through the creation of business transactions solely or mainly for tax purposes with companies, trusts and individuals based in (a) the Cayman Islands, (b) the Netherlands Antilles, (c) Guernsey, (d) the Isle of Man, (e) Jersey and (f) Liechtenstein; and if he will make a statement.

    [holding answer 10 January 1990]: The Inland Revenue devotes substantial resources to countering tax avoidance and evasion including the kind of offshore transactions involving tax havens to which the questions refer. Where appropriate the Government would not hesitate to bring forward such further legislation as was found to be necessary.To require general notifications of business transactions with tax havens would, however, impose a substantial and unreasonable burden on business.

    Northern Ireland

    Eastern Health Board

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much of the additional £50,000 allocated by the Eastern health board to the North Down and Ards unit of management was intended for the wages of home helps and how much for the salaries of clerical and administrative staff.

    The allocation will be used to provide an additional 15,000 home help hours in a full year. None of it will be used for the salaries of either clerical or administrative staff.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northen Ireland what effect he estimates the appointment of a manager for each unit of management in the Eastern health board area will have on the cost of administration and the numbers of staff.

    As part of the management restructuring exercise being undertaken by the Eastern health and social services board the present 14 units of management are being reorganised to form nine units with effect from 1 April 1990. A unit general manager has been appointed to each and the cost of the introduction of the new structures will be met within the board's overall provision for management costs.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the number of full-time clerical and administrative staff employed by the North Down and Ards unit of management of the Eastern health and social services board in the years 1986–87 to the present day; and what was the total cost of their salaries and associated expenses.

    The information requested in respect of clerical and administrative staff in the North Down and Ards unit of management is in the table:

    YearNumber1Salaries2£000's
    1986–87113701·7
    1987–88129916
    1988–891311,028·1
    1 Full-time administrative and clerical staff.
    2And related expenses.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the salary of the new post of manager of a unit of management in a health board; and what was the salary payable to the person who was previously in charge of a unit of management.

    The unit general manager grading structure provides for five grades based on the unit's estimated revenue expenditure and on the presence or absence of teaching responsibilities. The flat rate salaries range from £22,150 to £31,020 in addition to which discretionary awards of up to 15 per cent. on basic salary, and performance related pay are available. As these are new posts and units were previously managed by a unit management team acting collectively, no direct comparison with previous post holders is possible.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will set out the job description agreed by the Eastern health and social services board for the position of manager of units of management.

    I have arranged for a copy of the job description, which is considerably detailed, to be sent to the hon. Member.