Written Answers To Questions
Tuesday 1 May 1990
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is considering any research in developing a diagnostic test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in live cattle.
On the advice of the Tyrrell committee, MAFF funds studies at the central veterinary laboratories, Weybridge, on the clinical features in cases of BSE with particular emphasis on methods of early diagnosis. Further studies at this laboratory and at the neuropath-ogenesis unit in Edinburgh on the genetics, molecular biology and chemical pathology of BSE are also funded by MAFF because of their potential for development of diagnostic tests.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will indicate by number the method of disposal of bovine spongiform encephalopathy infected cattle slaughtered during the current year.
The information for 1990 is not yet available.The information for 1989 is as follows:
|Method of disposal||Number|
|Retained for research||10|
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the date of birth of the youngest confirmed cases of BSE to date.
The youngest confirmed case of BSE was 22 months old and was born on 18 November 1987.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will list the location of those abattoirs used for the slaughter of equines which are export-approved, and their owners or operators; and when such export approval was given.
There are five abattoirs licensed for the slaughter of equines which are export-approved. I shall write separately to the hon. Member.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has on the extent of the bycatch of non-target fish in drift-nets on United Kingdom boats.
Precise information on the level of non-target fish bycatches in our drift-net fisheries is not readily available. However, through the appropriate choice of mesh size and net placement our fishermen are known to ensure selective fishing achieving a relatively clean catch of the target species.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there are any plans to establish an observer programme to investigate the incidental capture of non-target species, particularly birds and marine mammals in United Kingdom drift-nets.
We have no plans for a scheme that would involve observers being placed on fishing boats. The drift-net fisheries around the UK are relatively small scale and in the main targeted on herring and salmon. The accidental catch of birds or marine mammals is not judged to be a frequent or significant occurrence. There is no evidence that these fisheries are threatening the survival of any species.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the location of the work of the Intervention Board.
Ministers have approved in principle the Intervention Board's proposal that a third of the agency's functions, consisting of its external trade work and administrative support, should be relocated in Newcastle, in order to relieve its staff shortages in Reading. About 350 posts will be transferred. In deciding upon Newcastle, where the agency already has facilities, Ministers and the agency were satisfied that there are good recruitment and career prospects, and that satisfactory office accommodation, housing, communications and other facilities are available. Subject to the necessary resources being available, the transfer of work will begin as soon as accommodation can be obtained and be made ready and essential data links installed. After a suitable period at this new site, the agency's experience there will be reviewed and a further report made to Ministers.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of the prison service remand sector he expects to be in the hands of the private sector by 1992;(2) how many remand prison establishments he anticipates being privatised by 1992.
We are not yet in a position to make a further announcement of decisions concerning private sector involvement in the remand system, but hope to be able to do so soon.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the percentage of black prison officers currently serving in British prisons.
Of the 32 per cent. of prison officer grades who responded to the voluntary survey of ethnic origin, 0·43 per cent. identified themselves as black. A primary objective of the current recruitment campaign for prison officers is to increase the number of new entrants from the ethnic minorities: the initial results are encouraging.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was (a) the average number of prisoners held in United Kingdom prisons during the years(i) 1974, (i) 1979, (iii) 1984 and (iv) 1989 and (b) the average number of full-time prison staff employed during this period.
The readily available information is given in the table.
|Average population for prison service establishments in England and Wales and average number of staff1 in prison service employment in selected years.|
|Number of persons|
|Average number of staff3||19,225||22,414||26,739||31,863|
|1 Comprising outstation and headquarters staff.|
|2 Including police cells.|
|3 Including part-time staff each of whom is counted as a half: disaggregation would involve disproportionate cost.|
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of prisoners (a) serving sentences in United Kingdom prisons during the last five years for which figures are available and (b) held on remand pending trial or pending sentence.
Information for England and Wales was published in tables 3 and 4 of Home Office statistical bulletin "The Prison Population in 1989" (issue 12/90), a copy of which is in the Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average number of monthly overtime hours worked by prison staff during the last five years for which figures are available.
"Fresh start" ended overtime working for prison officers; in 1986–87, the last full year they worked overtime, the average number of monthly overtime hours worked was 69. Figures are not held centrally for previous years. There are no central records of overtime for prison staff in other grades.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his programme to (a) refurbish existing prisons and (b) build new prisons.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Bruce) on 30 April 1990 at column 395.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were accepted for settlement in the United Kingdom in 1989.
The provisional figure for the number of persons accepted for settlement in the United Kingdom in 1989 is 48,600. More details are published in table 3 of Home Office statistical bulletin issue 8/90 "Control of Immigration: Statistics—Fourth Quarter and Year 1989", a copy of which is in the Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the time taken to process renewal applications for television licences and to cash cheques; and if he will make a statement.
We do not maintain separate records of representations about the time taken to process renewal applications or to cash cheques, and the information requested could not be provided without disproportionate cost. We believe the number of any such representations to be small.There were some delays in processing new and renewal applications for the concessionary television licence by the National Television Licence Records Office following the change in the regulations in 1988. In some cases cheques became time expired before eligibility could be established and the licence issued. Now that the backlog has largely been cleared and new internal procedures introduced, it is far less likely that such problems will recur.
Crown Prosecution Service
To ask the Attorney-General what performance indicators are used by the Crown prosecution service; and if he will make a statement about the performance of the Crown prosecution service to date.
The 31 areas of the Crown prosecution service have compiled performance statistics on a monthly basis since October 1986. Separate records are maintained for magistrates court and Crown court cases. The records include the number of defendants in respect of whom cases have been:
(a) Average processing delay—defendant cases on hand at the end of a period divided by defendant cases finalised in the period. (From this figure the time it would take to deal with the cases currently on hand can be calculated).
(b) Acceptance rate—the proportion of defendant cases received from the police for prosecution that are accepted at initial review.
(c) Prosecution rate—the proportion of all cases finalised that have been prosecuted in the courts.
(d) Conviction rate—the proportion of all defendant cases proceeding to prosecution that result in a conviction. (A conviction is a guilty plea to one or more charges where no trial is held or a conviction after trial on one or more contested charges).
(e) Dismissal rate—the proportion of all contested defendant cases that are dismissed.
(f) Judgment quality—the proportion of all contested defendant cases proceeding that arc dismissed on an application that there is "no case to answer".
(g) Adverse cost rate—the proportion of cases prosecuted where costs are awarded against the CPS.
(h) Efficiency rates—
(i) acceptance review—the number of cases reviewed per half-day lawyer session; (ii) court and court-related work—the number of cases accepted at initial review finalised per half-day lawyer session.
(i) acceptance review—resource cost (staff and other costs) per case reviewed; (ii) court and court-related work—resource costs (staff and other costs) per defendant case finalised after acceptance at initial review.
(a) Average processing delay—defendant cases on hand at the end of a period divided by defendant cases finalised during the period. (b) Conviction rate—the proportion of trials resulting in a conviction. (A conviction is a guilty plea to one or more counts where no contested trial is held or conviction after trial on one or more contested counts.). (c) Acquittal rate—the proportion of contested trials resulting in an acquittal. (d) Judgment quality—the proportion of contested trials resulting in a judge directed/ordered acquittal. (e) Adverse cost rate—the proportion of defendant cases finalised (including cases committed by the Magistrates for sentence or appeal) that result in the award of costs against the CPS. (f) Efficiency—the number of cases finalised per CPS staff half-day session. (g) Unit costs—the resource cost (staff and other costs) per case finalised.
Note: The figures produced for the ratios at (f) and (g) above make some allowance for cases transferred between Areas.
The Crown prosecution service has been a success and has demonstrated that it has been a success. The creation of the service has brought the desired degree of independence of the prosecutor from the investigator, consistency of prosecution policy and decision-making and accountability.
To ask the Attorney-General if he will state (a) the proportion of alleged crimes referred to the Crown prosecution service involving racial harassment in each year since its creation,(b) how many were proceeded with and (c) how many resulted in convictions.
The Crown prosecution service does not maintain statistics regarding cases involving racial harassment and accordingly the information requested can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
To ask the Attorney-General how much information is passed to victims of racial harassment by the Crown prosecution service in cases where it does not decide to proceed.
Home Office circular 20/1988 stressed the importance of sympathetic treatment of victims and keeping them informed of the progress and outcome of investigations. This guidance is applicable to all categories of crime including those involving racial harassment. It has recently been reinforced by the promulgation of a victim's charter.Under the working arrangements between the police service and the Crown prosecution service, it is the police who are the point of contact with the victims. The Crown prosecution service supports the principles of the victim's charter and recognises the importance to the victim of understanding what reasons have operated where a case is discontinued or a plea of guilty to a lesser offence than that charged is accepted. It is the policy of the Crown prosecution service that its staff should, so far as practicable, consult the police on taking such decisions. This should ensure proper understanding themselves and that they are in a position to explain the outcome of proceedings to the victims.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the cost of the carpeting, furnishing and general refurbishment of the former Crawfordsburn hospital when it was being used as a temporary office for the North Down and Ards unit of management of the Eastern health and social services board.
A total of £18,650.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the principal factors which account for the annual average cost per inmate in Northern Ireland prisons being the highest in the United Kingdom.
The custody of large numbers of paramilitary-type prisoners requires additional measures of security and control.
Dhss Staff (Annual Reporting)
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the revised annual reporting system for Department of Health and Social Services staff in Northern Ireland came into operation; since when the system for such staff has been monitored; and on what dates any changes were made in the monitoring system.
[holding answer 27 April 1990]: The new staff reporting and appraisal system was introduced to the Northern Ireland civil service in stages from 1 April 1987, and for Department of Health and Social Services staff from June 1988. The system has been monitored from the outset.The Department of Finance and Personnel is reviewing the system.
Mr Martin Galvin
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will raise at the next meeting of the Anglo-Irish Conference the decision of the Government of the Republic of Ireland to award Irish citizenship to Mr. Martin Galvin, fund raiser for Noraid, and the consequent raising of the ban on his admission under EEC rules.
[holding answer 30 April 1990]: I understand that Mr. Galvin was registered as a citizen of the Republic of Ireland in 1986 in accordance with that country's law. This fact was one factor, among others, in the reconsideration of the previous (1984) decision to exclude him from the United Kingdom under the Immigration Act 1981. Should circumstances change, it remains open to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to reimpose a ban as necessary. We have no plans to raise the matter in the intergovernmental conference.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what research has been carried out to establish the incidence of health complaints among farm workers working with pesticides; and if he will make a statement.
The Health and Safety Executive publishes annual reports which detail incidents investigated by HSE inspectors which involve misuse of pesticides and allegations of ill-health arising from them. These reports are held in the House of Commons Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when the employment service's scrutiny into the reasons for drop-outs in employment training will be published.
I have received the report of the efficiency scrutiny of take-up of Department of Employment group programmes, which addresses among other things the reasons for drop-out from employment training. I am currently considering my response to the report.
Environmental Protection Training
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment has been made of environmental protection training needs; and if he will make a statement.
The Department of Employment Training Agency is currently funding a study to examine the labour market and skills implications of increased environmental awareness. The study will focus on air and water pollution and solid waste management. A report will be available in the summer.
Training Agency Staff
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish details for each of the Training Agency area offices of the percentage of staff who are registered disabled.
The information is not available for Training Agency area offices. The percentage of staff in each of the 10 Training Agency regions who were registered disabled at 31 January 1990 is as follows:
|East Midlands and Eastern||2·6|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||2·2|
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether, when an unemployed claimant who is a quarterly attender has his benefit suspended for not actively seeking work, he automatically loses his quarterly attender status.
The employment service became an executive agency on 2 April 1990. The employment service's chief executive, Mr. Mike Fogden, will be replying in writing to the hon. Lady.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which 10 skill centres are to be sold to Astra Training Services Ltd.; and what price has been agreed.
My right hon. and learned Friend announced on 13 February 1990 at column 141 that terms of sale had been agreed with Astra Training Services Ltd. for the businesses at 46 skill centres, plus the skill centre training agency's head office, mobile training service, sales teams and colleges, and that the sale of these training businesses would involve a payment of some £11 million from the Government to Astra.The 10 skill centre sites referred to in my earlier reply on 27 March 1990 at column
158 are sites where a training business purchaser is to be granted a lease. At seven of the 10 sites a lease is to be granted to Astra; these sites—are Cardiff, Deptford, Leeds, Leicester, Slough, Swindon and Wakefield. At the remaining three sites-East Lancashire, Ipswich and St. Helens—a lease is to be granted to the consortium headed by Mr. Christopher Lakin.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Bradford, South of 23 April, Official Report, column 99, at what stage of negotiations following the receipt of bids for skill centres it was decided that £11 million should be given to Astra Training Services; and what steps were taken to ascertain whether other bidders would revise their positions in the light of the sum being offered.
The payment of £11 million from the Government to Astra Training Services Ltd. represented Astra's assessment of the costs of turning around a business which is currently unprofitable and creating training businesses with good prospects of viability. Deloittes, in conjunction with my Department's other advisers, evaluated all the offers and made recommendations to my Department. The Government decided that the Astra offer, including the £11 million payment, met the Government's six objectives for the sale (a copy of which was placed in the Vote Office on 13 February 1990) more fully than competing offers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether the three civil servants concerned have assumed full-time duties with Astra Training Services Ltd.; and what are the redundancy terms which apply to them.
The three civil servants concerned in the management buy-out of the skills training agency assume full-time duties with Astra Training Services Ltd. on 1 May 1990. Redundancy terms were not appropriate as they transferred their employment under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981.
Action For Jobs
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what were the main headings of expenditure on action for jobs in addition to expenditure on television advertising and printed material in 1987–88.
The main headings of expenditure on action for jobs in 1987–88, in addition to television advertising and printed material, were press, radio and outdoor advertising, regional campaigns, exhibition material and research.
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many exemptions from any provisions relating to mines safety have been granted to British Coal by the mines inspectorate in each year since 1979.
The total number of exemptions and consents granted by the Health and Safety Executive mines inspectorate from 1987–88 are as follows:
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total sum to be expended by his Department on the finance of training in the current year; and by what percentage this has changed in real terms over the past five years.
[pursuant to his reply, 5 April 1990, c. 817]: I regret that the figures for expenditure given in the table accompanying my original reply were incorrect, being shown in millions, instead of billions. The correct figures are set out in the table:
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy which agencies have been chosen to carry out the electricity privatisation advertising campaign.
The Department and the regional electricity companies are currently in the process of selecting an advertising agency to carry out a campaign to inform the public of the flotation of the distribution companies. An announcement of the successful candidate will be made in due course.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his current estimate of the cost of the electricity privatisation advertising campaign.
It is too early to make a reliable estimate of the cost of the advertising campaigns to inform the public of the flotations of the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. The full costs of the privatisation, including advertising costs, will be made available to Parliament in the normal way.
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is offering to store spent research reactor Fuel for overseas customers.
The Government are aware of the difficulties currently faced by many operators of research reactors around the world in managing their spent fuel. These reactors are used for a variety of technical and medical research.The Government will not allow spent fuel from overseas customers to be disposed of in the United Kingdom. However, they are content for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKA EA) to reprocess such fuel, provided that any reprocessing contract includes options for the return of waste. It would be the Government's intention that such options would be exercised and wastes returned. If, for whatever reason, the fuel were not reprocessed, it would have to be removed from the United Kingdom within a strictly defined time limit. Reprocessing and storage must be in accordance with the requirements of the relevant regulatory authorities.
Acceptance In Lieu
To ask the Minister for the Arts whether he will list the objects and property accepted in satisfaction of inheritance tax and capital transfer tax during the financial year ended 31 March; if he will specify (a) the amount of tax satisfied in each case,(b) whether any offers of objects carried conditions as to destination,(c) the dates in each case of the recommendations received by him from the Museums and Galleries Commission for the acceptance of objects, (d) the total for the financial year of the tax thus satisfied and (e) the means by which that total has been covered in the public accounts; and whether a press notice will be issued by the Office of Arts and Libraries comprising the information given in his reply.
[ holding answer 30 April 1990]: The information that the hon. Member requests is as follows:
|Item||Tax satisfied £||Date MGC recommendations received|
|1Collection of Coins||418,429·20||6 January 1989|
|1Painting by Rubens||169,852·48||26 January 1988|
|1Portrait of Sir Alexander Carew||103,976·42||8 April 1989|
|1'"Quai a Pontoise" by Pissarro||73,040·00||20 June 1989|
|Islamic tiles||42,000·00||8 August 1989|
|"Farm Cart with Horse in Harness" by Constable||50,025·00||25 April 1989|
|1Collection of modern paintings||82,742·00||6 October 1989|
|Harpsichord||25,276·95||16 October 1989|
|1Woodcut by Munch||57,539·00||25 May 1989|
|1Painting by Beechey||151,489·00||23 November 1989|
|"Richmond pres Londres" by Corot||361,500·00||19 January 1990|
|1Painting by Van der Heyden||2,800,000·00||15 January 1990|
|1Painting by de Heere||527,898·00||3 October 1989|
|1Two portraits by Gainsborough, one by Rubens and a landscape by Seghers||6,650,000·00||15 January 1990|
1 carried conditions as to their destinations.
The total tax satisfied in the financial year 1989–90 was £11,513,768·05. A total of £1 million was charged to the vote for royal palaces, royal parks, historic buildings, ancient monuments and the national heritage (class X, vote 4) and £10,513,768·05 was charged to the vote for arts and the heritage (class XIII, vote 2).
Press notices have already been issued announcing the acceptance of all these items.
To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will give the target reductions for energy consumption in the building occupied by the offices for which he is responsible.
[ holding answer 30 April 1990]: The Office of Arts and Libraries' aim is to reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent. over the next five years.
To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will give the energy consumption, broken down by fuel, of the buildings occupied by the offices for which he is responsible, for the latest year available.
[holding answer 30 April 1990]: The latest breakdown of energy costs of the Office of Arts and Libraries' accommodation is for 1989–90, and as follows:
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
Mr Nelson Mandela
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans to meet Mr. Nelson Mandela to discuss reform in South Africa.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs hopes to meet Mr. Mandela shortly to discuss how the process of peaceful change in South Africa can best be taken forward.
Single European Market
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to discuss arrangements for 1992 with other EEC Foreign Ministries.
Her Majesty's embassies in EC member states regularly and frequently discuss single market issues with their host Foreign Ministries. The Foreign Affairs Council next meets on 7–8 May, and the International Market Council on 14–15 May. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I regularly discuss the single market in bilateral meetings with other EC Foreign Ministers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of South Africa; and if he will make a statement.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 4 April.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's policy on the future status of Lithuania.
The people of Lithuania have made clear their wish to determine their own future. We are urging, and will continue to urge, the Soviet authorities and Lithuanians to begin purposeful negotiations aimed at a settlement acceptable to both sides which will satisfy the aspirations of the Lithuanian people.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with other EEC member states concerning action to be taken in support of self-determination for Lithuania.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EC member states in Dublin on 21 April. They issued a joint statement which was conveyed to the Soviet Government and to the Ukranians, and was published. The text is as follows:
The Secretary of State and his colleagues reviewed the situation during the informal EC summit on 28 April.The Community and its member states express their serious concern at the economic measures recently introduced by Moscow in relation to Lithuania. They believe that measures of a coercive nature can make no contribution to the search for a solution through dialogue. They underline the obligation to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid actions that can only lead to a further deterioration of the situation. They are firmly of the view that an outcome acceptable to all must be sought and that this is possible only by means of discussion. They call on all concerned not to carry through measures which are in consistent with this objective. In view of their serious concern at these developments, the Community and its member states intend to keep the situation and its policy implications under continuous review. A Working Group meeting for this purpose will be held in the near future.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise at the next United Nations Security Council the possible breach of the arms embargo to South Africa in the light of the alleged export of listed biological weapons, including Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley Fever by the United States of America to South Africa.
No. We are not aware of any such allegations.
Business Expansion Scheme
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average time taken by the district valuers of the Board of Inland Revenue to agree asset valuation for business expansion scheme purposes, following the receipt of a full valuation report from the company concerned.
District valuers are normally expected to report agreed values within 13 weeks of receiving instructions from the inspector of taxes, unless there are particular difficulties.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the reasons for the delay of the district valuation inspector of the small business in agreeing the valuation and definition of the case of the Swan Valley Railway (Holdings) plc for business expansion scheme purposes following agreement from Her Majesty's inspector of taxes (Kidderminster) in January 1989 that all assets except bridges would be regarded as plant and machinery.
I assume that my hon. Friend intends to refer to the Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) plc. The valuation of this case is taking longer than usual because the nature of the property makes the process particularly complex.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the information he has on tax and mortgage reliefs which operate in each European country to the benefit of house buyers.
The available information is as follows. All amounts have been converted to sterling using the latest available purchasing power parities.
Costs of acquiring a residence, including interest: on mortgages, is deductible up to AS 40,000 (£1,466) per year. This is increased by AS 40,000 for a married taxpayer who is the sole earner in a household and by AS 5,000 (£183) for each dependent child.
Mortgage interest is deductible up to the amount of imputed taxable income from owner-occupation. There is an additional deduction for mortgage interest in respect of newly built properties.
Mortgage interest is partly deductible from earned income. By 1992 interest will be deductible only to the extent of imputed taxable income from owner-occupation.
Mortgage interest is deductible up to a limit of Mk 25,000 (£2,352).
A tax credit is given, for the first five years of a mortgage, equal to 25 per cent. of annual interest up to a limit of F 15,000 (£1,217), increased by F2,000 (£162) for each dependent child. In respect of new dwellings bought or constructed the limits are increased to F30,000 (£2,433) for a married couple and by F2,000 (£162) for the first dependent child, F2,500 (£203) for the second dependent child and F3,000 (£243) for the third and each subsequent dependent child.
A taxpayer who buys or builds a home may deduct from annual taxable income over a period of eight years 5 per cent. of the purchase price or construction cost, up to a maximum of DM 15,000 (£3,722) per year. There is a further deduction of DM600 (£149) per year for each child living in the household.
Relief is given up to a limit of 80 per cent. of the lesser of the amount of interest actually paid and 1£2,000 (£1,639), increased to 1£4,000 (£3,278) for a married couple.
There is a tax deduction of 22 per cent. of interest expenses of house-buyers. This is reduced to 10 per cent. on that part of such expenses which exceeds the difference between aggregate net income and the upper limit of the first income tax bracket. The first income tax bracket is 10 per cent. on net income up to L6,000,000 (£2,504).
Mortgage interest is deductible up to LF30,000 (£488) annually, increased by LF30,000 for a spouse and LF30,000 for each dependent child.
Mortgage interest is deductible in full.
Mortgage interest is deductible in full.
Mortgage interest is deductible provided that the total deduction claimed for such interest, life insurance and education costs for dependent children does not exceed Esc. 105,000 (£692) for single taxpayers and Esc. 210,000 (£1,384) for married taxpayers.
Mortgage interest is deductible from the imputed income from owner-occupied property.
Mortgate interest is deductible in full for local income tax and for the basic national income tax (maximum rate 17 per cent.) but not always in full for the supplementary national income tax (maximum rate 25 per cent.).
Mortgage interest is deductible in full for federal tax.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amounts have been collected to date in respect of value added tax arising from commercial consumption of gas, coal, and electricity, respectively; and what estimate he has made of the likely future annual equivalent income from each source.
Value added tax has not yet been imposed. The standard rating of non-domestic fuel and energy supplies from I July of this year is expected to yield £170 million in a full year mainly from the public sector. Most businesses will be able to deduct the VAT on fuel supplied to them as input tax. Separate estimates are not available for gas, coal or electricity.
Association For The Monetary Union Of Europe
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Association for the Monetary Union of Europe receives any European Economic Community funding for its work; and whether conferences organised by this body are in any way supported by British funding.
The Association for the Monetary Union of Europe does not figure on the Commission's register of organisations receiving Community funding in 1989; and Her Majesty's Government do not support it in any way.
Chessington Computer Centre
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Government have for the future of the Chessington computer centre.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in consultation with the Minister of State, Privy Council Office, has decided that the Chessington computer centre will become a "next steps" agency. The centre provides a wide range of payroll, financial accounting and personnel record services to central Government and non-departmental public bodies. Executive agency status will allow the centre to develop its business on sound commercial lines, and help the centre to deliver its services more efficiently and effectively.
Dr Gerald Bull
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions Customs and Excise has had with the Belgian police about the activities of the late Dr. Bull.
[holding answer 30 April 1990]: In the light of the criminal charges laid against an individual on Wednesday 25 April and in the light of the continuing investigations by Customs and Excise, it would be inappropriate to give any further information on these matters.
Trade And Industry
Iraq (Arms Component Exports)
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what was the Government's shareholding via British Steel in Sheffield Forgemasters when the order for the Iraqi gun was first placed with Forgemasters;
(2) on what date his Department first became aware that the Iraqi export order was for military equipment;
(3) whether any inquiries were made to the Export Credits Guarantee Department in respect of the Iraqi gun export order.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what shareholdings nationalised industries have held in the companies presently under investigation by the Customs and Excise Department for exporting pipework and ancillary equipment to Iraq with potential military uses; and if he will set out (a) when such shareholdings were taken up and (b) when they were divested, in each case.
In the light of the criminal charges laid against an individual on Wednesday 25 April and in the light of the continuing investigations by Customs and Excise, it would be inappropriate to give any further information on these matters.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the dates when the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sir H. Miller) contacted his Department regarding export orders for Iraq; what was the subject of the hon. Member's representation on behalf of Walter Somers; and if he will also state the response of his Department.
[holding answer 23 April 1990]: In the light of the criminal charges laid against an individual on Wednesday 25 April and in the light of the continuing investigations by Customs and Excise, it would be inappropriate to give any further information on these matters.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the implications for free trade and enterprise between states in western and eastern Europe that will result from the recent agreement at the conference on security and co-operation in Europe.
The Government are very pleased that the 35 participating states at the recent Bonn CSCE intersessional conference on economic co-operation in Europe were able to reach consensus on an ambitious concluding document. In this document, all the participating states made commitments to expand economic co-operation and to enhance the growth of their economies.The document also contains important commitments by the countries of central and eastern Europe to fully embrace domestic and international policies to promote the creation of free and competitive market economies where prices are based on supply and demand and where the performance of their economies relies primarily on the freedom of individual enterprise. These mark a further and significant step forward in the economic reform process which should lead to the creation of conditions likely to foster increased economic and industrial co-operation between the east and the west.The Government are also pleased that the active participation in the conference of representatives of the business community produced many helpful comments and suggestions to encourage greater economic and industrial co-operation. My Department is holding a meeting on 11 May for United Kingdom business participants in the conference and for others who were unable to attend. Among other things we hope to see an exchange of views on the ways in which my Department may be able to help British business take forward any contracts or opportunities identified at the conference, including the use of the various bilateral and multilateral assistance schemes for the countries of central and eastern Europe.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to encourage a joint review with industry of the environmental protection training needs of the work force; and if he will make a statement.
There are no immediate plans for such a review. However, environmental education and training are among the wide range of matters being considered in the context of the forthcoming White Paper on the environment.
Yorkshire And Humberside Partnership
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will list the members and their organisations who belong to the Yorkshire and Humberside partnership scheme;(2) what has been achieved to date by the Yorkshire and Humberside partnership scheme.
The organisations represented are: CBI Yorkshire and Humberside, the Association of Yorkshire and Humberside Chambers of Commerce, TUC Yorkshire and Humberside, the Yorkshire and Humberside Development Association, and the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Association. It is up to these organisations to decide which individual should represent them on any particular occasion. I would refer the hon. Member to the organisations involved for information on the achievements of the partnership.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria are used to determine what constitutes a weapon, in respect of weapons export restrictions.
[holding answer 23 April 1990]: The definition of a weapon for this purpose is that contained in the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1989 as amended.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what criteria the export of pipes and tubes were covered by the export control orders in 1988.
The Export of Goods (Control) Order 1987 (S.I. 1987, No. 2070) listed goods subject to control in 1988.
Radar Transmitter, Pembrokeshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors dictated the location of the proposed over-the-horizon radar transmitter on the site of the former St. David's airfield, Pembrokeshire.
The principal factors dictating the location of the proposed over-the-horizon radar transmitter were the need for it to be situated on broadly the same latitude as the receiver but separated by a substantial distance; and the need to ensure that, together with the safety exclusion zone that surrounds it, it could be comfortably accommodated within the boundary of an existing MOD site without affecting other activities at that site. After a survey of 166 possible sites throughout the United Kingdom, St. David's airfield was selected as the only suitable location for the transmitter, in conjunction with the only suitable location for the receiver at Blakehill radio station, Wiltshire.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who will supply the transmission equipment for the proposed over-the-horizon radar transmitter on the site of the former St. David's airfield, Pembrokeshire.
The equipment for the trial of an over-the-horizon radar in the United Kingdom will be supplied by the United States Government.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there will be any radioactive emissions from the proposed over-the-horizon radar transmitter on the site of the former St. David's airfield, Pembrokeshire.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has concerning the interference to the operation of the United States Air Force base at Robins air base, Georgia, by the installation of an early-warning radar station in the vicinity; and what steps he will take to ensure that his proposed installation of an over-the-horizon radar transmitter on the site of the former St. David's airfield, Pembrokeshire will not similarly affect the operation of RAF Brawdy and the United States naval facility at Brawdy.
The operation of the United States Air Force base at Robins air base, Georgia, is a matter for the United States Government. I understand, however, that the function and characteristics of radars situated in the vicinity of Robins air base are completely different from those of the planned over-the-horizon radar transmitter to be sited at St. David's airfield. The Ministry of Defence is satisfied that the installation of this radar will have no adverse effect on operations at RAF Brawdy.
Challenger 2 Tank
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) of 5 April, Official Report, column 838, when he expects to announce the results of his assessment of the milestone 2 report received from Vickers Defence Systems on the Challenger 2 tank.
I hope to make an announcement shortly.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements exist to permit relatives of (a) Regular Army personnel and (b) Territorial Army personnel serving in the Falkland Islands on tours of (i) six months or less and (ii) more than six months to be flown on military flights when spare seats are available; and what charge is made.
Spouses and dependants of Regular Army personnel serving married accompanied tours of 12 months' duration in the Falkland Islands are entitled to fly on indulgence terms to the United Kingdom and return, where seats are available on RAF flights.In addition, spouses and dependants of Falkland islanders serving elsewhere are similarly entitled. The cost of an indulgence passage is £68 adult return, children under 12 travel at half fare, infants under two travel free.In the unlikely event of a Territorial Army soldier serving a temporary engagement in a 12-month accompanied tour in the Falkland Islands, his family would be entitled to the same indulgence concessions as a Regular Army counterpart.
Local Government Finance
To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the introduction of the community charge in England.
The vast majority of charging authorities in England have now sent out their bills net of both community charge benefit and transitional relief. I congratulate local authority chief finance officers on the work that they have done in meeting their billing deadlines. I deplore the decisions of those local authorities that have set excessive charges.
To ask the Prime Minister if she has recently held discussions with Chancellor Kohl and other NATO state leaders concerning the subject of membership of NATO for a unified German state.
When I met Chancellor Kohl on 30 March, we agreed it was very important that a united Germany should be a b of NATO. This matter will be further discussed at NATO meetings this summer.
To ask the Prime Minister what topics were discussed during her visit to Turkey on 25 April by her or her officials with Turkish Government Ministers or their officials.
I had wide-ranging discussions with President Ozal and Prime Minister Akbulut. The topics covered included east-west issues, the middle east, Cyprus, human rights and bilateral matters.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will provide the final figures for 1989–90 and the estimates for 1990–91 for the total cost to public funds of all her offices, duties, accommodation and expenses.
The final figure for the cost of all my offices in 1989–90 is not yet available. The estimated total cost for 1989–90 is £7,291,493. The estimated total cost for 1990–91 is £7,442,3641
1Salaries and wages, notional pension liability, administration costs, and the grant in aid to the Chequers Trust are included. My salary as a Cabinet Minister is also included. My pay and allowances as a Member of this House are excluded.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will provide the final figures for 1989–90 and the estimate for 1990–91 for (a) the cost of maintaining and running 10 Downing street and additional costs at Chequers, (b) the grant in aid to the Chequers Trust and (c) the costs on a consistent basis and expressed at constant 1984–85 prices.
Final figures for 1989–90 are not available. The latest estimates of the figures requested are:
|(a) Costs of maintaining and running 10 Downing street and additional costs at Chequers123|
|(b) Grant in aid to the Chequers Trust|
|(c) Costs at (a) and (b) in 1984–85 price terms 4|
|1 The figures include costs at both 10 Downing street and Chequers; the information is not available by location.|
|2Salaries and wages, notional pension liability, administration costs, the costs of office services and the grant in aid to the Chequers Trust are included. The Prime Minister's salary is excluded.|
|3 These totals are calculated on a consistent basis with the total for 1986–87 in sub-paragraph (a) of the reply to the hon. Member on 23 October 1987 at column 846. If office services costs are excluded (to produce a figure consistent with those at sub-paragraph (c) of that reply) the estimated totals are:|
|4 Constant costs have been calculated using the Treasury's GDP deflator for 1988–89 rebased to 1984–85.|
|6 At 1984–85 prices.|
To ask the Prime Minister how much was (a) spent on official hospitality in No. 10 Downing street during 1989–90 and (b) met by her office.
Final figures for 1989–90 are not yet available. The latest estimate of expenditure by my office on official hospitality at 10 Downing street and Chequers is £27,344.
To ask the Prime Minister what was the total cost of her recent trip to Bermuda to meet President Bush; how many staff accompanied her; what were their functions; and who was the flight carrier.
The figures for the total cost of my meeting with President Bush in Bermuda are not yet available. I was accompanied by two officials and 17 support staff (mostly security and communications personnel). The flight was by an RAF VC10.
To ask the Prime Minister how many journalists accompanied her on her recent trip to Bermuda using official transport; and what was the charge per capita.
Twenty journalists travelled with me. Information on the charge per capita is not yet available.
To ask the Prime Minister what was the total figure for travel costs for her and her staff in 1988–89 and 1989–90.
The total cost of my travel and that of my staff in 1988–89 was £925,150. Final figures for 1989–90 are not yet available. The estimated cost is £896,103.
To ask the Prime Minister what was the staff complement of No. 10 Downing street in 1989–90; and how many staff were registered disabled.
The total staff complement of 10 Downing street in 1989–90 was 68. None was registered disabled.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 1 May.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 1 May.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 1 May.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 1 May.
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be having further meetings later today.
European Council Meeting, Dublin
To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Newham, South on 24 April, Official Report, column 132, she will seek the consent of the President of the European Council to place any papers relating to or for discussion at the 28 April meeting of Heads of State and Government in the Library.
[holding answer 30 April 1990]: The Commission papers on German unification and on Community relations with central and eastern European countries, which were considered by the special Dublin meeting of Heads of State and Government, have been placed in the Library, together with the Presidency's conclusions.
Education And Science
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what encouragement and support is being offered by the Government to research being undertaken in the United Kingdom into the causes, effects and treatment of asthma.
The Medical Research Council, the Government's main agency for the promotion of medical and related biological research in this country, is always willing to consider soundly based proposals for research funding in competition with other applications. In 1988–89, the last financial year for which figures are available, the council spent £756,000 on research projects which are in whole or in part relevant to asthma. In addition to this, university departments and medical schools, with support from University Funding Council block grants and health authorities, may be undertaking relevant research but information on this is not collected centrally.
City Technology Colleges
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list for each of the city technology colleges (a) the amount of private capital promised and (b) the amount of private capital so far received.
The information that the hon. Member requests is listed in the table:
|CTC||Amount of private sponsorship promised||Amount of private sponsorship received|
|£ million||£ million|
|1 Includes estimated value of site.|
School Trips (Charges)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the first year's experience of the new arrangements regarding charges for school visits or expeditions.
My right hon. Friend has commissioned a sample survey to take place during the current term, which will look at the pattern of relevant school activities since April 1989 and investigate the reasons for any changes. The results of this survey and other monitoring will be available later this year.
University Science Departments
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to meet vice-chancellors to discuss the future of science departments in smaller universities.
My right hon. Friend has no such plans. This is a matter for individual universities and the Universities Funding Council.
Schools (Local Management)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from Lancashire on local management of schools and its application in the county.
My right hon. Friend has received no further representations from Lancashire LEA since the authority's scheme for local management of schools came into force on 1 April 1990.
Schools (Building And Repairs)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from local education authorities for additional resources to deal with new school building and repair to existing schools.
My right hon. Friend has received a number of letters and other requests from local education authorities for additional resources to the annual capital guidelines he announced on 20 December 1989.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he intends to review the progress of the Education Reform Act in improving the standards of education delivered.
The objective of the Education Reform Act, particularly chapter 1, is to raise standards in schools so that pupils are better fitted to meet the demands of adult life and work. Her Majesty's inspectorate and local education authority inspectors and advisers have already begun to monitor the quality of teaching and learning within the new statutory framework. In due course, as the national curriculum assessment arrangements become established, it will also be possible to monitor trends in the results achieved by pupils at each stage.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received regarding expenditure on education in Avon; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has received in the last month or so a small number of representations about expenditure on education in Avon.
"Financial Times" Conference
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representation his Department had at the Financial Times conference on industry and the environment held in London on 23 and 24 April.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's intention in respect of the Horne report recommendations.
The Government intend to bring forward a Bill at a suitable opportunity to implement those recommendations of the Horne report which require primary legislation, as outlined in the consultation document issued by the Department of Transport in May 1989.
Merchant Navy Training
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in furthering training for the Merchant Navy under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act; to what extent financial assistance has been made available for such training; and to what extent available finance has not been taken up.
Since the launch in November 1988, 773 new recruits have joined the Government assistance for training scheme. Up to £2·5 million was made available during the first year and £3·5 million has been earmarked for the scheme in a full year. The actual spend during the first year was £900,000 and the spend last year was £1·6 million. Expenditure levels are expected to rise as more trainees come into the scheme.
Industrial Development Grants
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list in the Official Report the grants made by his Department under section 13 of the Industrial Development Act 1982 showing the value of the grant as a percentage of the whole project cost.
[ holding answer 30 April 1990]: Section 13 of the Industrial Development Act 1982 enables Ministers to make grants towards improvements to "basic services" in assisted areas which will facilitate developments that will create new jobs for local people.In my Department, this is mainly used to make grants towards the cost of access and distributor roads for new industrial estates, but other developments may also be considered for grant assistance. Grant is usually paid at a rate of 30 per cent. of eligible expenditure. If a project is partly funded by a grant from the European regional development fund, Industrial Development Act grant is payable only on the balance of the cost.
The following table names the schemes which were formally approved for grant in 1989, gives the total cost of the road works, the amount of IDA grant awarded and the grant as a percentage of the total cost.
Grant/ total cost
|Hownsgill Industrial Estate||234||35|
|Lambton Street Industrial Estate Access Road||260||35|
|Shidon Access Road, All Saints Industrial Estate||31||5|
|Tower Road, Glover Industrial Estate, Washington (2 applications)||224||67||30|
|Heighington Lane Improvement||1,160||157|
|Heighington Lane Estate Road (2 applications)||937||126|
|Seaham Grange Spur Road||102||14|
|South Church Enterprise Park (phase 3)||122||17|
|Cul de sac off Walton Road, Pattinson Industrial Estate||58||17||30|
North West Region
|Chester Business Park||830||250||30|
|Chester West Employment Park||266||40|
Yorkshire and Humberside Region
|Warren Road Link, Sawcliffe Industrial Park||359||108||30|
|Road No. 2, Sawcliffe Industrial Park||55||17||30|
|Rook Lane/Dudley Hill Access Road, Bradford||93||28||30|
|Spring Ram Roundabout, Gelderd Road, Birstall||602||172||29|
|Norquest Industrial Park, Birstall||410||94||23|
|Development at Gelderd Road, Birstall||485||94||19|
|North East Sector Industrial Access Road, Scunthorpe||974||287||29|
|Aldwarke Lane Improvements, Rotherham||5,915||1,764||30|
West Midlands Region
|Block 6, Townsend Drive, Attleborough Industrial Estate||94||28||30|
|Westward Heath Business Park Phase 3||833||116|
|Brockyard Road Improvement (Phases 2 and 3), Walsall||502||66|
|Woodend Lane, Fradley near Lichfield||103||19||18|
|Morgans Access Phase 2, Ashmore Lake Industrial Estate||30||9||30|
|Extension to Liberty Way, Nuneaton||137||41||30|
East Midlands Region
|Hinckley Fields Industrial Estate Phase 1||911||111|
South West Region
|Tolvaddon Industrial Estate||358||54|
1 Indicates partly funded by ERDF grant.
|All figures rounded to the nearest whole number.|
Statutory Sick Pay
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what adjustments to the arrangements for statutory sick pay he is considering following the determination of the discrimination case in the West German labour court.
None. I assume that the hon. Member's question refers to a recent finding relating to part-time workers under German sick pay schemes. Part-time workers in the United Kingdom qualify for statutory sick pay under the same rules as full-time workers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of his Department's local offices in the midlands region spent less than their full social fund allocation for grants in the financial year 1989–90
Details of annual social fund budget allocations and expenditure for grants in respect of each social security region and local office are placed in the Library.
Community Charge Rebate
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how much it would cost to assess wives separately from husbands for the purpose of community charge rebate;(2) how much it would cost to provide separate assessment for the community charge rebate for those wives with one or more children under the age of five.
I regret that the information requested is not available.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the cost of changing the deemed interest rate on savings to 12 per cent. for the purposes of calculating community charge rebate.
The cost of changing the tariff income from £1 per week for every £250 of savings over £3,000 to £1 per week for every £433·33 of savings over £3,000 would be £50 million for community charge benefit in 1990–91.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much extra money would be raised if the upper earnings limit on employees' national insurance contributions were to be abolished.
I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Paice) on 18 April at column 894.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the new leaflet for 16 and 17-year-olds, announced in November, will be available.
A new leaflet for 16 and 17-year-olds (leaflet IS26) has been launched today.The new leaflet will give up-to-date and clear information on the benefit provisions for this age group. It will be issued to all DSS local offices, unemployment benefit offices, jobcentres and careers offices. In addition, the leaflet will be sent to various other groups involved with young people, for example voluntary bodies, the probation service and secondary schools.In developing the leaflet we have consulted a number of outside organisations including NACAB, Barnardo's, National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations, National Children's Home, the Scottish Council for the Single Homeless and the Children's Society. I am grateful for the help and advice that these bodies have provided. I am confident that this new leaflet will give 16 and 17-year-olds the information they need in deciding whether they should claim income support.I have placed a copy of the leaflet in the Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of the increase in the number of persons living in families with incomes below supplementary benefit level, on supplementary benefit and up to 110 per cent., 120 per cent. and 140 per cent. of supplementary benefit level between 1979 and 1985 can be attributed to real increases in the level of supplementary benefit.
[holding answer 15 February 1990]: The available estimates are as follows:
|Persons in families:||Percentage of 1979–1985 increase attributable to increases in the rate of Supplementary benefit scale rates:|
|on Supplementary Benefit (SB)||30|
|on SB or with incomes below:|
|100 per cent, of SB level:||50|
|110 per cent, of SB level:||45|
|120 percent, of SB level:||50|
|140 percent, of SB level:||60|
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will ban all use of peat by his Department; whether he will formulate a national peatlands conservation policy; and if he will make a statement.
Peat is used to only a very limited extent by the Department. Alternatives will continue to be considered whenever appropriate but there are no plans at present to introduce a total ban. On the wider issue, I have nothing to add to the answer given by the hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside on 27 April 1990.
Local Government Finance
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has as to the level of community charge set by each Welsh county and district council in 1990–91; what is the standard spending assessment; and which political party holds the most seats on each authority.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) on 3 April, which indicated the community charges set by Welsh local authorities and the standard spending assessments attributed to them. The detailed political composition of Welsh councils is given on page 704 of the "Municipal Yearbook 1990".
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has as to the policy of each Welsh district council with regard to the level of multiplier for the standard community charge in respect of second homes.
The information is not yet available. I intend shortly to collect information about the use made by charging authorities of their discretion to specify property classes and maximum multipliers for the standard charge. This will include information about second homes.
Local Authority Debt
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total amount of debt incurred by each Welsh county and district council for the lastest year for which figures are available.
Information on total debt incurred by each local authority in any one particular financial year is not held centrally. Information on outstanding loan debt at 31 March of each year is, however, available and figures relating to 31 March 1989 are set out in the table:
|Total outstanding loan debt at 31 March 1989|
|Alyn and Deeside||35,871|
|Vale of Glamorgan||57,669|
|Dyfed Powys Joint Police Authority||4,041|
|North Wales Joint Police Authority||1,720|
|South Wales Joint Police Authority||6,060|
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give details of the main achievements of his Department since June 1987.
Unemployment in Wales has fallen for 46 consecutive months (to March 1990), currently standing at 83,900 (6·4 per cent.), compared to 152,700 (12·3 per cent.) in May 1987—a drop of 68,800 (5·9 percentage points). The current rate of 6·4 per cent. is lower than the EC average and many of the UK's main European competitors. It is also the lowest rate since May 1980. The current total of 83,900 is the lowest since July 1980. At December 1989, the civilian work force in employment in Wales stood at 1,215,000, the highest ever.Over 50,622 people have started training on employment training since the programme was launched in September 1988. A total of 53,972 young people have entered YTS since May 1987. We continue to provide a YTS place for every young person who seeks one.The White Paper, "Training for Employment", published in December 1988 set out a framework for modernising and developing our training system. To assist me in meeting this challenge I set up the training, enterprise and education advisory group. One of its main tasks has been to advise on the establishment of training and enterprise councils in Wales. TECs are an exciting development which offer the prospect of a move to a locally planned and delivered training strategy. We now have a complete network of TECs in development covering the whole of Wales and I expect these to be operational by the end of the year.Development funding has been awarded to compacts in south Glamorgan, mid and west Glamorgan and Clwyd.Since 1 June 1987, a total of 295 inward investment projects have been secured for Wales promising some 25,000 new jobs and involving a capital investment of some £1·75 billion. Among the largest projects are those announced by Ford, Bosch, TSB and National Provident Institution. As part of the inward investment effort, I and the Minister of State have between us undertaken 11 visits overseas.Since my appointment in June 1987, nearly 3,500 offers of grant assistance have been made to businesses in Wales. Payments of nearly £97 million have been made with related additional/safeguarded employment of over 20,000. It is expected that over 72,000 jobs will actually be created or safeguarded by projects which have been grant-aided under regional incentive schemes.In recent weeks a co-operation agreement has been signed with Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany's most dynamic region. This will enable a great deal of activity to take place in the fields of company collaboration, inward investment and joint research which will bring considerable benefit to Wales in the years to come.Since I became Secretary of State, the Welsh Office has greatly increased its emphasis on helping business in Wales to export. This initiative has been highlighted by three successful export missions led by myself and by the Minister of State to the Soviet Union (1988), Spain and Portugal (1989) and Saudi Arabia (1990). The last of these alone netted orders worth £7·5 million for the Welsh companies participating.At £150 million the Welsh Development Agency's budget for 1990–91 is the highest ever in both cash and real terms and is over 50 per cent. above the 1987 level.Nearly £99 million at today's prices has been committed to the land reclamation programme in Wales over the past three years. The programme is one of the largest and most sustained in Europe and will see the eradication of almost all visually intrusive dereliction in Wales by the mid-1990s.Expenditure on the Welsh Development Agency's property development activities has also more than doubled since 1987 to £72 million in 1990–91. Over 1 million sq ft of new factory floor space has been provided in each of the last three years capable of accommodating up to 9,000 jobs. Factory lettings have also been at record levels with over 2 million sq ft let each year. Over the same period the private sector has also provided 715,000 sq ft of development on agency sites.Welsh businesses have responded extremely well to Enterprise Wales, since its launch in January 1988. The consultancy grants available under the initiative have proved particularly popular with nearly 1,800 projects commissioned so far.In addition, a number of other initiatives have been taken to strengthen Welsh industry. These include the craft initiative and the "Wales Land of Quality" emblem to promote a coherent image of Wales and its products at home and abroad. To date more than 100 companies have adopted the emblem.Since Cardiff Bay development corporation was established in 1987 to regenerate the former commercial centre of the city the Government have made available, or have announced, over £150 million of grant in aid to enable the corporation to achieve its task. To date the corporation has acquired over 500 acres of land; completed detailed area planning briefs for key locations; commissioned detailed design of the barrage across the harbour mouth; made available a prestigious 120 acre site for business, industrial and leisure-related development and undertaken a large number of environmental, infrastructure and community schemes.In June 1988 I launched a massive three-year programme of action designed to improve economic, environmental and social conditions in the south Wales valleys. Expenditure in key activities involving the promotion of investment, the creation of jobs and environmental improvement in the valleys is expected to total some £500 million over the first three years of the programme. This is expected to stimulate private sector investment of up to £1 billion. I can confirm that unemployment in the valleys fell by some 10,600 between June 1988 and March 1990, at a faster rate than in Wales or the United Kingdom as a whole. In June 1989 I announced the extension of the valleys programme for a further two years until the end of 1992–93.As work progresses in completing the £550 million project to dual the A55 from Bangor to Chester, major opportunities for growth and development are emerging. I highlighted this in the document "A55—The Road of Opportunity", published in December 1989, which set out the framework for a whole range of policies and proposals that will further benefit north Wales. The Government will continue to encourage a positive response from the public and private sectors to ensure that the development opportunities are taken to enhance economic, social and cultural life in north Wales.Since 1987–88 there have been 34 approvals totalling £14·123 million of urban development grant throughout Wales. This represents some £66·309 million of private investment and is expected to create a total of 2,300 permanent and 1,180 temporary jobs. In addition, around 448 residential units will be provided.Since April 1989 there have been 14 urban investment grant approvals totalling £7·631 million of grant. This represents some £24·065 million of private investment and is expected to create 935 new permanent jobs together with 455 temporary construction jobs. Some 200 residential units will also be provided.The £29·187 million allocated under the urban programme for the current financial year represents a 26 per cent. increase over that allocated in 1987–88 (£23·1 million) and 19 per cent. above the £24·5 million allocated in 1988–89.A £33 million European regional development fund (ERDF) programme for mid-Glamorgan has been successfully completed and another worth £108 million for Dyfed, Gwynedd and Powys is well under way. Two further integrated development operation programmes (ERDF and European social fund) for Clwyd and industrial south Wales worth £23 million and £59 million respectively have recently been approved by the Commission and are now being implemented.Recently, 11 areas in south Wales were accepted by the European Commission as eligible for the RECHAR initiative, which is to provide £225 million across the Community over four years to aid areas with recent large numbers of job losses in coal mining. The list of eligible areas, which was announced on 19 April, includes the majority of the Welsh candidate areas the Department initially proposed.Grants totalling some £1·4 million have been awarded to firms in Wales for the marketing and processing of agricultural produce under European Community regulations 355/77.On 1 January 1988 the designated Cambrian mountains environmentally sensitive area (ESA) was extended by some 80,000 hectares and some 39,700 hectares of the Lleyn peninsula was designated as an ESA. The scheme aims to promote the co-existence of conservation and efficient farming in areas of national environmental significance perceived to be at risk from increasingly intensive methods of production.The reform of the sheepmeat regime agreed at the July 1989 Agricultural Council represented a good deal for Welsh sheep producers. The new regime provides them with a clear basis for the future and improves their competitive position with their continental counterparts and prospects for exporting.In 1989 we took full advantage of devaluation of the green pound and paid the suckler cow premium at the highest permissible rate, including the maximum top-up from national funds. As a result, the rate was increased from £33·40 to £47·43 per cow (42 per cent.). This was worth £7·7 million to producers in Wales in the 1989–90 scheme year.Over 50,300 home improvement grant schemes for private sector dwellings have been completed since June 1987 with a value of £160 million. In the same period £246 million has been spent on the renovation of local authority housing stock.Since June 1987 more than 7,800 dwellings in Wales have been improved under enveloping schemes at a cost in excess of £62 million.Since the valleys action programme was launched in June 1988 targets for the number of homes in enveloping and block schemes have been exceeded—2,656 in 1988–89 against a target of 2,000 and 2,749 in 1989–90 against a target of 2,500.The new renovation grant regime arrangements which I have introduced will ensure that assistance goes to those in greatest need. To get the new system off to a good start I have already announced that £75 million has been allocated and that additional resources will be made available to district councils in Wales should that be necessary.I have now incorporated our very successful priority estates programme in our new housing options Wales (HOW) programme which was announced in January. It is a package of measures designed to support improvements in local authority housing management, to focus upon service improvement and customer care, and to provide new opportunities for tenants' groups. It includes a new small grants scheme to fund people and projects developing better service delivery; a training and information service, and, prospectively, the reestablishment, with a new remit and better support, of the housing management advisory panel for Wales.At the end of last year I launched, through the Development Board for Rural Wales, an experimental flexi-ownership scheme, which enables the board's tenants to buy their homes at a weekly outlay broadly the same as their existing rent. On 11 April the first two families in Wales bought their homes under this scheme.
Tenants' choice is now in force in Wales, providing an important new right for council tenants. Housing for Wales will work to ensure that those who wish to exercise this right have every opportunity to do so.
The National Health Service in Wales is treating more patients than ever before. The successful introduction of general management into the National Health Service in Wales has now been completed and effective mechanisms for manpower resource planning, education, training and management have been established.
In 1988 a corporate management programme for the National Health Service in Wales was produced and published and the Welsh health planning forum was set up. The forum has produced a "Statement of Strategic Intent and Direction for the National Health Service in Wales".
Two treatment centres have been established to shorten hospital waiting times; one at Bridgend for hernias and varicose veins, and one near Cardiff for hip and knee replacements.
The new Prince Philip hospital, Llanelli, has been completed along with major development schemes at the Llandough, Morriston, and Royal Gwent hospitals, at a capital cost of £55 million (cash prices).
Improvements in regional services have included a new bone marrow tissue typing laboratory in Cardiff; a new paediatric cardiac unit at the University Hospital of Wales (to be completed this year); two new subsidiary renal units at Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil; and the provision of computerised tomography scanners in various locations throughout Wales.
Substantial progress has been made under the all-Wales strategy for the development of services for people with a mental handicap, supported by significant increases in funding.
In June 1989 the mental illness strategy was launched to promote a more responsive, locally and community-based service for treating and supporting mental illness sufferers.
Significant progress has also been made under the initiative on the care of the elderly in Wales in stimulating service providers to review their methods. Approval has been given for the funding of 60 demonstration projects, a number of which involve partnership between the statutory and voluntary sectors.
Current expenditure on education, excluding school meals and milk, was 13·6 per cent. more in real terms in 1987–88 than in 1979–80. In the same period pupil numbers fell by 14·6 per cent. and the pupil: teacher ratio improved by 5·7 per cent.
Expenditure per pupil thus rose overall from £910 to £1,216·34 per cent. Local authority capital expenditure on education has increased in real terms by 18·9 per cent. This is a significant increase at a time when pupil numbers have been falling and thus the basic need for new schools has been at a very low level.
I have strengthened financial support for the Welsh language. Direct Government financial support has increased by 75 per cent. since 1987 to £5·9 million. In 1988 I established the Welsh Language Board to find practical solutions to the everyday problems facing Welsh speakers.
The Welsh language now has, for the first time, a firm statutory place in the school curriculum for pupils from five to 16 in Wales within the national curriculum. I believe that the decision to include Welsh as part of the national curriculum will have a significant impact on the language for many years to come.
The national curriculum is being introduced progressively into the schools of Wales. Mathematics, science and English have already begun. Welsh and technology will be introduced from September 1990; other subjects in 1991 and 1992.
I have undertaken that the national curriculum should be responsive to the distinctive history and culture of Wales. All national curriculum documentation is being provided in Welsh and English. Separate orders will be made to ensure that children in Wales study Welsh as well as British history.
I have developed an initiative to introduce the teaching of the Japanese language into secondary schools in Wales.
I have had meetings with local education authorities in the valleys programme area to discuss ways of improving links between schools and industry, to ensure that pupils learn about the wide range of employment opportunities available to them.
Schemes for the local management of schools have been formally approved for each of the LEAs in Wales.
The number of students on courses of higher education in the Welsh public sector institutions has risen by 5 per cent. from 14,700 in 1987 to 15,500 today. During the same period the number of students on courses of initial teacher training in Wales rose by 20 per cent. from 2,621 in 1987 to 3,140 today.
I have initiated measures to simplify and improve the planning system and to speed up its operation. while ensuring that it continues to protect and enhance the environment. These have brought about reductions in the time taken for handling inspectors' appeals of nine weeks (inquiries) and five weeks (written representations).
Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments has increased revenue by 41 per cent. and attendance by 8·5 per cent. at ancient monuments in my care during the three-year period ending March 1990.
"Roads in Wales 1989—Progress and Plans for the 1990s", which I published in April, demonstrates that a high level of investment is continuing in roads in Wales. Thirteen trunk road schemes have been completed since June 1987, totalling over 28 miles. Work is in progress on a further 11 schemes comprising about 25 miles. Work has started on four new schemes under transport grant arrangements; three new schemes, all in west Glamorgan, were accepted for start in 1989–90 and the Newbridge/ Maesycymmer improvement in Gwent has been approved for start in 1990–91.
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to revise the planning powers of the national park authorities in Wales to help farmers to diversify; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment and I are reviewing planning policy guidance note No. 7, which describes the contribution that the planning system can make to the rural environment by providing a mechanism for balancing the requirements of development—including fostering the diversification of the rural economy—and the continuing need to protect the countryside in the national parks and elsewhere.
Uniform Business Rate
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the fact that empty properties lent to charities for short periods without charge result in the owner of the property being assessed for the full uniform business rate for the financial year; and if he will make a statement.
I have received no such representations.The owners of unoccupied property are, unless the property is exempt, required to pay rates at 50 per cent. of the liability that would apply if the property were occupied. If a property subject to empty property rates is temporarily occupied for fewer than six weeks, and then again becomes unoccupied, the owners' liability at the concessionary empty property rate continues to apply.
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the financial assistance provided to Pembroke dock by the Welsh Office since 1979.
[holding answer 24 April 1990]:The total financial assistance provided by the Welsh Office and non-departmental public bodies funded by the Department is £19,325,203 made up as follows:
|Urban Development Grant||725,000|
|Coast Protection Act Grants||35,155|
|Industrial Development Act:|
|(i) provision of sewage||7,529|
|Regional Selective Assistance—offers accepted||396,000|
|Regional Development Grant (II)—offers made||4,135,000|
|Regional Enterprise Grants:|
|Investment Grants—offers made||66,000|
|Innovation Grants—offers made||15,000|
|Payments made to South Pembrokeshire District|
|Council for lost rate revenue foregone in the Pembroke Dock sites of the Milford Haven Enterprise Zone||1,737,490|
|European Regional Development Fund||3,025,080|
|Funding for Projects of Regional or National Importance||2,450,000|
|Sports Council for Wales||50,065|
|Housing Corporation/Housing for Wales/Tai Cymru||1,857,744|
|Wales Tourist Board||25,000|
|Welsh Development Agency:|
|Land Reclamation Schemes—Public Sector||1,336,000|
|Land Reclamation Schemes—Private Sector||721,000|
|Rural Conversion Grant||46|
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 3 April, Official Report, column 565, if he will list the 344 short outfalls which discharge to coastal or estuarial waters, together with the local authority environmental health department responsible for each.
Detailed information on the 344 outfalls referred to in my answer of 3 April to the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell), Official Report, column 565, is not held centrally.
Ec Environment Ministers
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what matters were discussed at the meeting of European Community Environment Ministers at Ashford castle on 20 to 21 April.
I represented the United Kingdom at this informal conference.Ministers discussed the implications for the environment of the completion of the internal market and related issues. These included the implications of economic growth, the avoidance of trade barriers, the integration of environmental considerations into other areas of Community policy, and the scope for using economic and fiscal measures as instruments of environmental policy.Community relations with eastern European countries and with EFTA were also discussed. Ministers considered information from the European Commission about the state of the environment in eastern and central Europe, and identified a number of areas for discussion at a meeting with their counterparts from those countries to be held in Dublin on 16 June.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department will be represented at the conference on industrial waste water treatment, to be held in London on 7 to 8 June.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what response he has made to the European Commission proposal for a Council directive amending directive 76/464/EFC on pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment of the Community (COM, final) issued on 8 February.
The Government's response was set out in an explanatory memorandum which was placed in the Vote Office on 19 March.
Local Government Legislation
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further plans he has to introduce local government legislation in this Session; what that legislation will cover; how much of it will be retrospective in effect; and if he will make a statement.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment of 30 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field), Official Report, Vol. 170, column 346.
Un Youth Forum On The Environment
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what involvement his Department will have in the special youth forum on the environment at the United Nations in New York on 11 May.
The Department of the Environment is not involved in the special youth forum. However, this is a United Nations environment programme event and therefore my Department fully supports it.
Environment Conference, York
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he, or any Ministers or officials of his Department, attended the conference on the state of the environment in Yorkshire and Humberside held at York university on 2 April.
The conference was in fact held on 20 April. The Department was not represented. However, my officials are being kept informed of developments by the conference organisers.
Local Government Finance
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the practice of local authorities charging a double standard community charge for owners of second homes; and whether he will consider extending transitional relief to these charge payers who would have been eligible had they been paying a personal community charge.
Charging authorities are required to set a multiplier for the standard charge of either 0, 0·5, 1, 1·5 or 2 times the personal community charge for the area. We have prescribed nine classes of property where no standard charge is payable and two classes of property where the multiplier may not exceed one times the personal charge. In addition local authorities have wide discretion to specify further classes of property in respect of which a different multiplier from the one generally applied may be set. Many authorities have made good use of this discretion. I am concerned, however, that other authorities have not and, if necessary, we will consider further central prescription for 1991–92. I do not think it necessary to extend transitional relief to standard charge properties. However, individuals who are subject to the standard charge may be eligible to receive transitional relief on their personal community charge by virtue of their sole or main residence.
Atmospheric Conditions (Monitoring)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give figures for each region's estimated methane emissions in 1988 by emission source consistent with the United Kingdom figures given in table 2·12 of the latest "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics."