Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 17 May 1990

The Arts

Bands

To ask the Minister for the Arts what financial support (a) the Arts Council and (b) regional arts associations have given to (i) brass bands and (ii) silver bands in each of the last 10 years.

This information is not held centrally. However, both the Arts Council and the regional arts associations are active in supporting the work of brass and silver bands where a professional input is involved. In particular, the Arts Council will consider applications for financial assistance under its music for small groups programme.

National Finance

Manufactured Goods

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on action he proposes to reduce the deficit in trade in manufactured goods.

The deficit in trade in manufactures will fall as domestic demand and capacity pressures ease and exports increase. There are clear signs that this is happening; in the first quarter of 1990 the volume of exports of manufactures—less erratics—was 9½ per cent. higher than in the same quarter a year earlier, while imports were only 1 per cent. higher.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average public expenditure per capita paid for out of national taxation for each citizen of (a) the United Kingdom and (b) Northern Ireland.

Public expenditure is financed from a number of sources including taxation, national insurance contributions, borrowing, interest and dividend receipts and local authorities' revenue collection. There is, generally, no direct linkage between specific areas of expenditure and sources of revenue. Consequently, information is not available in the form requested.Information on per capita general Government expenditure in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, financed from all sources including local authority revenue collection, was given in the reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wrye Forest (Mr. Coombs) on 19 December 1989,

Official Report, columns 179–90.

G7 Countries (Interest Payments)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list how much gross domestic product is used for scheduled interest payments (a) in the public sector and (b)in the private sector of the G7 countries.

United Kingdom sector net interest payments and GDP data are published in the CSO "Blue Book", 1989 edition. General Government net interest payments are published in the CSO's "Financial Statistics". Data on sectoral net interest payments and GDP for the other G7 countries are published by the OECD in "National Accounts volume II, 1975–1987".

Civil Service Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the number and percentage of the total of (a) pensions in payment to retired civil servants, (b) pensions to be paid to existing civil servants on retirement which are/will be (i) uprated in line with prices each year and (ii) uprated by any other formula.

There are 385,395 pensions in payment to retired civil servants, plus a further 117,905 dependants' pensions. The numbers of pensions in payment is expected to show some increase for the next 10 to 15 years. All civil service pensions, in common with other public service pensions, are uprated annually in line with prices.

Ec Finance Ministers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his recent meetings with other European Community Finance Ministers.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer regularly meets his Community counterparts at the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers, the last meeting of which took place in Luxembourg on 23 April. My right hon. Friend made a statement in the House about the outcome on 25 April, Official Report, column 238.In addition, my right hon. Friend sees his European colleagues for bilateral discussion from time to time, most recently Sr Carli, the Italian Minister of Finance, on 30 April in Rome.

Petrol Prices

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it remains Government policy that unleaded petrol should cost significantly less than the leaded variety.

Civil Service Costs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total cost of civil service support for the Financial Secretary on the occasion of the debate on the private Member's motion on Monday 14 May.

Ministers generally receive support for debates from the civil service on matters of fact and Government policy. Separate costings are not available.

Economic Statistics

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, further to his statement to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee on 3 April, he can now announce his plans to improve the quality of economic statistics.

I have arranged for the Central Statistical Office to take further steps to improve the quality of statistics in three areas—services, companies and balance of payments. My aim is to introduce these changes as quickly as possible so that some results will begin to appear in the figures as early as the end of this year. This is a development made possible by last summer's reorganisation of the CSO which was undertaken to enable improvements to be made to economic statistics.On services, I propose that extensions are made to quarterly inquiries of turnover in the services industries, and that more information on external trade in services is collected on a quarterly basis. On company statistics, I propose to obtain more quarterly information on capital expenditure, stockbuilding and profits. On balance of payments (and other financial) statistics, I propose that the quarterly direct investment inquiry should be expanded, and that more information be collected about United Kingdom companies' financial transactions with domestic and overseas residents. Because of the severe problems with balance of payments statistics, I have asked the CSO to undertake a thorough review over the next 12 months of the way in which these statistics are collected and compiled.In addition, I have asked the CSO, in consultation with the appropriate bodies, to consider the case for wider use of statutory surveys. This should improve the quality of statistics by increasing response rates. It should also ensure that the burden on businesses is shared more fairly.

Home Department

Prison Disturbances

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cellular spaces were destroyed during the recent prison disturbances.

A total of 1,908 inmate places were lost during the recent prison disturbances at Bristol, Cardiff, Dartmoor, Glen Parva, Long Lartin, Manchester, Pucklechurch and Stoke Heath, of which 561 have now been brought back into use.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the findings of Lord Justice Woolf's inquiry into the recent prison disturbances.

I have not asked Lord Justice Woolf to report by any particular time, but I know that he attaches importance to delivering his report to me at the earliest possible date.

Deportations

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deportations have taken place from the United Kingdom under regulations which relate to the cases of Messrs Alexander and Oladehinde since his Department lodged its appeal; and if he will make a statement.

The divisional court decided on 21 February 1990 that members of the immigration service could not exercise deportation powers on behalf of the Secretary of State. This decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal on 15 March and an appeal has been made to the House of Lords. Despite the Court of Appeal judgment, the immigration service has not exercised the relevant powers since 21 February and action on outstanding affected cases has been suspended since that date. No affected deportation orders have been enforced since 21 February, although 34 people concerned have opted to leave the country under the voluntary supervised departure arrangements.

Electoral Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances citizens of Namibia enjoy the right to vote in United Kingdom elections.

Namibia joined the Commonwealth on 21 March 1990 and those of her citizens resident in the United Kingdom will become eligible to register as electors here once an Order in Council is made adding Namibia to the list of Commonwealth countries in schedule 3 to the British Nationality Act 1981.

Football

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, further to his reply of 8 May, Official Report, column 21, if he will make a statement on the meeting with representatives of the Football League and the Football Association.

On 8 May I met at my request representatives of the Football Association and the Football League. I told the football authorities that it was unacceptable that they should ignore advice from a chief officer of police that a particular fixture ran a high risk of serious disorder. I indicated that it was their public duty to act on such advice. The Football League representatives accepted that they had been wrong to ignore the advice from the Dorset police on the Bournemouth v. Leeds United fixture on 5 May.The Football League agreed to work out urgently with the Association of Chief Police Officers effective arrangements for obtaining police advice about the scheduling of fixtures and to act upon it on all occasions.

Extradition

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many United Kingdom citizens have been sought for extradition by foreign powers in the latest available year; and into what categories of alleged offence they fell.

The United Kingdom does not distinguish between extradition requests in respect of its own nationals and nationals of other countries. For this reason, the nationality of those whose return is sought is not centrally recorded.During 1989, extradition proceedings were commenced against 35 individuals in England and Wales. The offences were as follows:

OffenceNumber of applications
Murder1
Armed robbery1
Theft5
Burglary2
Robbery4
Obtaining property by deception2

Offence

Number of applications

Forgery3
Fraud8
Embezzlement2
Parental kidnapping1
Indecent exposure1
Handling stolen goods1
Drugs10

In some cases, extradition was sought for more than one offence.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many extraditions have been applied for by the United Kingdom in the latest available year; and into what categories of alleged offence they fell.

In England and Wales during 1989, extradition applications in respect of 29 individuals were made to foreign and Commonwealth countries. The alleged offences were as follows:

OffenceNumber of applications
Murder2
Armed robbery1
Assault1
Malicious wounding1
Theft12
Burglary2
Obtaining money/property by deception8
Forgery3
Fraud3
Receiving/handling stolen goods3
Deception1
Bankruptcy1
False accounting1
Procuring the execution of a valuable security1
Perjury1
Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice1
Evasion of liability by deception1
Drugs5
In some cases, extradition was sought for more than one type of offence.

Women Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women prisoners from Her Majesty's remand centre Pucklechurch the prison department has failed to produce in court on the due date following their removal to Her Majesty's prison Holloway after the disturbances in April 1990.

Of the 44 female prisoners temporarily transferred from Her Majesty's remand centre Pucklechurch to Her Majesty's prison Holloway on 23 April as a result of the disturbances, five were not produced in court on the due date because of difficulties in arranging escorts over the long distances involved.All the women have now been transferred back to Her Majesty's remand centre Pucklechurch and arrangements have been made with the courts concerned to produce those not produced on the original due date.

Smoke Alarms

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to require every home in the United Kingdom to be fitted with a functioning smoke alarm; and if he will make a statement.

We would not anticipate legislation for this until at least the outcome of current research is known. Meanwhile, we are encouraging the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms on a voluntary basis. Since 1987, the proportion of homes with smoke alarms installed has increased from about 9 to 38 per cent.

Sex Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what consultations took place with interested parties in the county of Gwent before a decision was taken to move prisoners into the county who have been convicted of sex offences;(2) what additional security precautions, including recruitment of additional staff, have been taken following the decision to move into Gwent certain prisoners who have been convicted of sex offences.

The role of Usk has recently been changed to that of an adult training prison. I have written to my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Sir J. Stradling Thomas) explaining the position and officials have written in similar terms to local authorities and other interested parties.In its former role, Usk held those convicted of a wide range of offences, including sex offences. A prisoner's present and past offences are among the factors taken into account in assessing his security requirements and, therefore, the establishment to which he will be allocated.Some work to upgrade physical security at Usk has already been completed. Other measures have been identified and work will be completed as soon as possible. The number and type of prisoners held there are within the capacity of existing staffing levels and appropriate to the general security standard of the establishment.

Birmingham Pub Bombings

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 May, if a copy of the Devon and Cornwall report will be made available to solicitors for the men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings.

No. The report will be confidential. Its purpose will be to assist me in reaching a decision on whether to take any action to intervene in the safety of the convictions in the light of the representations I have received.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 May, whether the West Midlands chief constable will comment on the findings of the Devon and Cornwall inquiry when he submits the report to the Home Secretary.

This will be a matter for the chief constable of the West Midlands police once he has had an opportunity to consider the report of the Devon and Cornwall police's inquiry.

Mrs Khadija Bi

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a decision is going to be taken on the application of Mrs. Khadija Bi, whose date of birth is 1 January 1936, and family to join Mr. Sadiq Hussain (Ref: H 155772/HUL 30/90) who was interviewed in Hull on 20 February last.

The application is currently being considered by the immigration department and a decision will be reached shortly.

Security Vetting

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list by year for the last 10 years the number of people for which his Department is responsible who have been negatively vetted;(2) if he will list by year for the last 10 years the number of posts for which his Department is responsible that required negative vetting.

It is not our practice to give detailed information about security vetting procedures.

Strangeways Prison

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the future of Strangeways prison, Manchester.

[pursuant to the reply, 8 May 1990, c. 28]: After reviewing a range of options, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has concluded that the redevelopment of Her Majesty's prison Manchester should be based on a major refurbishment of the inmate accommodation—including the installation of integral sanitation—and the provision of a range of new and improved supporting facilities. This approach offers, we believe, the best prospect of bringing the accommodation at Her Majesty's prison Mancheser back into use as quickly as possible, so as to end the use of police cells and ease pressures on other parts of the prison system in the north, while at the same time seizing this opportunity to make much-needed improvements in conditions and facilities at Manchester.About 970 places should be available within three years. Of these, over 300 places—in the remand wings—should all be available after about a year. The need for remand places in the north-west is, however, so great that the main part of the remand centre—K wing, the least damaged of the wings—will be repaired and brought back into use within 4 or 5 months, albeit without installing integral sanitation at this stage. It will be used with the places in the undamaged hospital to provide accommodation for up to 200 inmates who would otherwise be in police cells. Additional security will be provided, as will opportunities for education, religion, and physical education.The programme of work is estimated in all to cost over £60 million at outturn prices. It will be undertaken to stringent timings and management contracting will be used to assist in this.Discussions will now commence with all the interested parties including the board of visitors, Her Majesty's prison Manchester and the trade unions on the detailed arrangements to be made within the framework which I have set out, including their operational consequences and arrangements for dealing with commitments to courts in the Manchester area.Other measures will, however, be needed at other establishments in the north, and we shall be discussing these with boards of visitors and trade unions at the establishments concerned.

Prime Minister

European Political Union

Q12.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions she has had with other Heads of Government on the name of a politically unified Europe; and what has been the result.

Hungary

Q29.

To ask the Prime Minister what action Her Majesty's Government are taking on the recommendations of Professor Paul Hare, of Heriot-Watt university, in relation to encouraging British financial institutions to counteract Hungarian over-dependence on financial institutions in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, by British participation in the Hungarian economy and by linguistic, scientific and marketing practice assistance; and if she will make a statement.

British financial institutions' involvement in the development of the Hungarian economy is a matter for their commercial judgment. The Government's know-how fund is available for projects in Hungary including linguistic and marketing training. The Export Credits Guarantee Department is now considering applications for investment insurance in eastern Europe.

Cyprus

Q55.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list the issues concerning Cyprus that she discussed with the Prime Minister of Turkey during her recent visit to that country.

I discussed with President Ozal prospects for the future of the Cyprus intercommunal talks. Mr. Ozal reaffirmed his Government's support for the United Nations Secretary-General's good offices mission and said that Turkey accepted the common objective of a bizonal and bicommunal state in Cyprus.

Scottish Constitutional Convention

Q138.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will accept an invitation from the hon. Member for Falkirk, East in his capacity as joint chairman of the Scottish constitutional convention to address the convention at its July or September meetings.

Image Building

To ask the Prime Minister whether she will review the official guidance for the Government information service that image building, whether explicit or implied, is not acceptable.

Government Employees

To ask the Prime Minister what are the rules governing the procedures under which personnel employed by Her Majesty's Government speak to hon. Members.

Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the policies and actions of their Departments, and will usually wish to be present at briefings of Members when policy issues are involved. Briefings of Members by civil servants on factual matters may be undertaken at the discretion of Ministers. On next steps agencies, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) on 15 May, Official Report, column 374–75.

Security Vetting

To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement as to the difference between (a) positive and (b) negative vetting.

It is not the normal practice to give detailed information about vetting procedures.

Jordan (Arms Purchases)

To ask the Prime Minister what undertakings were given by Jordan during her negotiations with King Hussein on the Jordan defence package about the forwarding of arms, ammunition and equipment to Iraq.

It is customary to include provisions restricting transfer in any major arms sales agreement.

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what financial agreements were considered during her negotiations with King Hussein on the Jordanian defence package;(2) whether her office authorised the preferential interest rates accorded to Jordan in the financing of the purchase of arms and ammunition under the Jordon defence package.

The financial arrangements governing defence sales of this kind are a matter of commercial confidence.

Engagements

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 17 May.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 17 May.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 17 May.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 17 May.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 17 May.

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with President Mubarak of Egypt.

Health

Syringes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health why he has decided to exclude one third millilitre syringes from the list of items available on prescription.

One third millilitre syringes have recently been introduced into the market in this country. Our view is that there is insufficient clinical demand for this product to be included in the list of appliances GPs may prescribe. We are keeping the matter under review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) one third millilitre syringes, (b) one half millilitre syringes and (c) one millilitre syringes were issued on prescription for 1989, 1988, 1987 and 1986.

One third millilitre syringes have never been available on general practitioners' NHS prescriptions. Disposable syringes in one millilitre and one half millilitre sizes for use with U100 insulin became prescribable on 1 September 1987. Estimated prescribing figures in England are:

PeriodSizeTotal
1987
1 September to 31 December0·5ml10 million
1mlNot available
1988
January to December0·5ml27·3 million
1ml4·9 million
1989
January to June
(latest available data)0·5ml13·9 million
1ml5·4 million

Dukeries Community Hospital

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will be able to announce the start of the new Dukeries community hospital.

Hospital building is a matter for the relevant regional health authority. I therefore suggest that my hon. Friend contacts Sir Michael Carlisle for the information he seeks.

Abortion

To ask the Secretay of State for Health what instructions or advice his Department has issued to National Health Service hospitals concerning abortions after the 24th week of gestation.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 22 March at column 730.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many notifications of abortions from 1989 have been received by the chief medical officer of the Department of Health six months or later after the abortion took place;(2) what action his Department takes in cases where notifications of abortions are received by the chief medical officer later than the time specified by abortion regulations.

The provisional data available suggest that in 1989 a total of 323 notifications were received six months or more after the month of termination. All notification forms are scrutinised by staff authorised by the chief medical officer. Where the forms received appear clearly to have been sent later than the period specified in the regulations, without a reasonable explanation, the matter may be taken up with the doctor concerned.

Hearing Aids

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether deaf children are required to insure commercial hearing aids supplied by the National Health Service.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health gave to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) on 1 May at column 538.

Hepatitis

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has of the number of professional people and workers who are at risk in contracting hepatitis B as a result of their duties; and what approximate percentage have been inoculated against it.

Hepatitis B can be contracted in many ways in private life as well as through professional activity. For this reason, it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the numbers of professional people and workers at risk of contracting the disease as a result of their duties. The incidence of hepatitis B in both the general public and public service workers has declined markedly from a total of 1,785 laboratory reports in 1985 to 644 such reports in 1988.Professional people considered at risk may have been vaccinated either through occupational health services or by their general practitioners, and it is not possible therefore to estimate the percentage who have received vaccination.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure that all who are at risk through their work in the public service have been given adequate warning about hepatitis B and information as to how they can obtain inoculation against it.

Departmental advice regarding hepatitis B vaccination is contained in the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation's memorandum "Immunisation against Infectious Disease". A new edition of this memorandum will be published this month, copies of which will be placed in the Library. The potential risks arising from work in the public service have been drawn to the attention of the relevant occupational health services whose responsibility it is to assess those who may be considered for vaccination.

National Health Service Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many expressions of interest have been made for hospitals to opt out of existing arrangements within the National Health Service; and if he will make a statement.

A total of 193 units have expressed an interest in NHS trust status, including a number with more than one hospital.

Health Link Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what considerations led his Department to cease to sponsor the health link worker for the Chinese community in Birmingham; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons he has decided to withdraw funding for a health link worker with the Chinese community in Birmingham from 11 July; and what steps he is taking to ensure the continuation of this service.

As part of the "Helping the Community to Care" initiative, the Department of Health funded a health link worker post within the Birmingham Chinese community centre for the years 1988–89 and 1989–90. As with all these schemes, central funding for this project was planned to last for a limited period.

Nurses (Training)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has approved the implementation of Project 2000 nurses training in any additional schools of nursing.

I am pleased to announce that approval has been given today to implementation of Project 2000 in 14 more schools of nursing during 1990–91, subject to the necessary educational approval being obtained from the English national board. They cover the following 30 health districts:

  • Lancaster; East, South and West Cumbria
  • Harrogate and Northallerton
  • North and South Lincolnshire, Nottingham, and Central Nottinghamshire
  • West Suffolk
  • Hillingdon
  • Barking, Havering and Brentwood
  • Canterbury and Thanet, South-East Kent
  • Croydon, Merton and Sutton
  • Southampton and South-West Hampshire
  • East and West Berkshire
  • Cornwall and Plymouth
  • Herefordshire, Kidderminster, Worcester, and Bromsgrove and Redditch
  • South Sefton, Southport and Formby
  • Salford, Bolton
In addition, I am able at this stage to give approval in advance to implementation in 1991–92 for three further schools, covering a further five health districts:

  • Shropshire, Staffordshire
  • City and Hackney
  • Stockport and Glossop

The total funding to be made available by the Department for the implementation of Project 2000 in 1989–90 and 1990–91 will be approximately £38 million.

Multiple Births

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the findings of the national study of triplets and higher order births will be published.

Benzodiazepines

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he intends to contra-indicate benzodiazepines for pregnant women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much industry contributed to helping those addicted to benzodiazepines to withdraw from them in the last year for which figures are available.

Vaccinations

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money was spent on vaccinations at GPs' surgeries in 1989.

Figures are not available on a comprehensive or consistent basis. The cost of item of service payments to GPs for vaccination and immunisation in the general medical service in financial year 1989–90 was £41 million. The basic ingredient cost of prescriptions for vaccines written by GPs and dispensed by community pharmacists and dispensing doctors in calendar year 1989 (financial year figures are not yet available) was £26 million; this excludes the cost of dispensing fees, and takes no account of discount, container allowance or VAT. These figures do not include the cost of vaccines which GPs obtain from health authorities or from any other source, information on which is not held centrally.

Energy

Ukaea Chairman

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what will be the salary of Mr. John Maltby as part-time chairman of United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

The salary of Mr. John Maltby as part-time chairman of the UKAEA will be £50,000 per annum.

Electricity Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what assessment he has made of the probable rise in electricity prices for large electricity-intensive industries, when the transitional price-cap expires;(2) what assessment he has made of the effect on the electric arc steel-making industry of the ending of the qualifying industrial users schemes;(3) what assessment he has made on the effects on heavy industry of the ending of the qualifying industrial users schemes;(4) what representations he has received about the ending of the qualifying industrial users schemes for intensive industrial electricity consumers.

Future prices to large users are a matter for negotiation between customer and supplier. It would be premature to try to predict the outcome of those negotiations. Privatisation is benefiting such customers by enabling them to seek competing bids for supply. Many have already succeeded in negotiating price reductions. Disputes between regional electricity companies and customers may also be referred to the Director General of Electricity Supply.

Education And Science

Local Management Of Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to the reply of 14 May, if he will name the local education authority which has sought to defer the implementation of LMS.

Rothera Point

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment he has made of the implications for wildlife from the construction of the airstrip at Rothera Point.

An assessment of the implications for wildlife from the construction of the airstrip is given in the final comprehensive environmental evaluation published in September 1989 by the Natural Environment Research Council, prior to placing the contract for the construction. This document was referred to in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) on 19 October 1989, Official Report, column 189, and a copy is in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many seals are killed each year by personnel at the British Antarctic Survey station on Rothera point; how many deaths are classified as intentional, and how many as accidental; what is the purpose of the intentional deaths; what is the explanation for the accidental deaths; and if he will make a statement.

No accidental seal deaths have ever been reported from Rothera. Meat from some 140 seals is however used annually to feed about 30 sledge dogs at the Rothera base. There is full compliance with the agreed measures for the conservation of Antarctic flora and fauna of the Antarctic treaty.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the origin of the materials being used to construct the British Antarctic airstrip at Rothera point; and if he will make a statement.

The origin of materials being used to construct the airstrip at Rothera point is given in the final comprehensive environmental evaluation published in September 1989 by the Natural Environment Research Council, prior to construction. A copy of the report is in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what company is constructing the British Antarctic strip at Rothera point; on what basis the contract was awarded; and what safeguards exist in the contract relating to environmental protection.

Pelly Construction Company of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada is constructing the airstrip at Rothera. The contract was awarded by competitive tender and in consideration of experience, expertise and cost. Environmental safeguards were incorporated into the tender exercise and thence into the contract. They are given in the final comprehensive environmental evaluation published in September 1989 by the Natural Environment Research Council, prior to construction. A copy of the report is in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussions he has had with other countries in respect of measures to ensure environmental protection in connection with the operation of the British Antarctic airstrip at Rothera; and if he will make a statement.

A draft comprehensive environmental evaluation for the Rothera airstrip was circulated to all Antarctic treaty consultative parties for comment in 1989 —as well as to environmental, non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has a provisional estimate of the number of aircraft likely to be using the British Antarctic airstrip at Rothera.

A provisional estimate of the number of aircraft likely to be using the Rothera airstrip is five, all operated by the British Antarctic Survey in support of its science programme. I would also refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave on 11 May, Official Report column 243, on the use of the airstrip.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what precautions have been taken to prevent fuel spills at the British Antarctic airstrip being built at Rothera point; and if he will make a statement.

Precautions to prevent fuel spills at the Rothera airstrip are given in the final comprehensive environmental evaluation published in September 1989 by the Natural Environment Research Council, prior to construction. A copy of the report is in the Library.The fuel handling and emergency containment facilities are designed to Canadian Arctic standards. Facilities will exist to contain any spillage considered likely to result from national operations.

Educational Performance

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what work is being undertaken or supported by Her Majesty's Government (a) to compare educational performance with that of other OECD countries and (b) to compare levels of performance after the introduction of the national curriculum with those before.

The Government are participating in a current OECD project which aims to develop a set of educational indicators applicable to the education system of all OECD member countries. The School Examinations and Assessment Council has a remit to analyse national curriculum assessment data, and will be considering how to compare these with earlier performance, particularly at age 16.

Ryrie Rules

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice he has given polytechnics on privately funded projects in the light of the retirement of the Ryrie rules.

The provision of advice to polytechnics and colleges funded by the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council is a matter for the council. The PCFC is encouraging institutions to seek a variety of sources of funding for capital projects and, subject to investment appraisal, gives priority to projects where substantial external funding has been raised.

Thalassaemia

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much money was spent nationally on research in thalassaemia for each of the last 10 years.

The Medical Research Council is the main Government agency for the promotion of medical and related biological research in this country. The council's total expenditure on research projects which could in whole or part be related to thalassaemia in the last 10 years is as follows:

£000's
1979–80211
1980–81489
1981–82697
1982–83611
1983–84666
1984–85681
1985–86906
1986–871,042
1987–881,057
1988–891,154
Figures for 1989–90 should be available in July. Research on thalassaemia may have been undertaken by university departments and medical schools with support from the University Funding Council (UFC) block grants and by health authorities; but information on this is not collected centrally. Charities may also be spending money on research into thalassaemia.

British Antarctic Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science who has been appointed as environmental officer for the British Antarctic Survey; and what matters were of consideration in deciding the appointment.

Mr. Shears will take up his post on 4 June 1990. The requirement of the post was a minimum of a good honours degree in the environmental sciences and a minimum of four years' postgraduate experience in aspects of environmental management, including waste management, and conservation. Relevant postgraduate qualifications were also sought. Normal Civil Service Commission procedures were followed in making the appointment.

National Curriculum

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he plans to accept the advice given to him by the National Curriculum Council on core skills for 16 to 19-year-olds.

I have today written to the National Curriculum Council (NCC), endorsing in principle the list of core skills it proposes, namely:

  • communication
  • problem solving
  • personal skills
  • numeracy
  • information technology
  • modern language competence.
I have also written to the School Examinations and Assessment Council (SEAC), asking it to use the list as the basis of further work. The NCC advised that the first three core skills should be built into all AS and A-levels, and that the remaining three should be built into syllabuses where this does not distort the nature of the subject. I have asked SEAC to advise me by the end of July on the practicability of building in the various core skills in this way. There must of course be no question of compromising the academic standards of AS and A-levels.I have also commended to SEAC the idea, put forward by the NCC, that the themes of social and economic understanding, scientific and technological understanding and aesthetic and creative understanding should be included as guiding principles for those who design syllabuses at AS and A-level.The NCC's report comments on how attainment in the core skills might be described; how it might be assessed and reported; and how credit transfer might be developed. These are all issues on which I have already invited advice from SEAC. I have therefore asked SEAC to comment on those sections of the NCC report when it gives its advice in July.Finally, NCC stresses in its report that the core skills it has identified are suitable not only for those taking AS and A-levels but for all young people aged 16 to 19. I have accordingly, with the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, asked the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ), in consultation with the further education unit (FEU) and SEAC, to consider the applicability of the NCC list of core skills to vocational qualifications and report on this before the end of July.

Northern Ireland

Bomb Damage

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Housing Executive carries out emergency repairs to (a) executive homes and (b) private properties following damage by terrorist bombs.

Assistance is available under the first-aid repair scheme for householders whose dwellings have been damaged as a result of terrorist activity. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive operates the scheme for public sector housing. The Department of the Environment at present deals with privately owned residential properties.The Housing Executive maintains a 24-hour emergency call-out service which renders immediate remedial work to weatherproof all dwellings, public and private, as a result of criminal damage.

Harbour Road, Ballyhalbert

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of road safety precautions along Harbour road, Ballyhalbert, County Down; whether local residents have expressed any concern about danger from traffic; how close the traffic is to the front doors of homes along this section of road; how wide is the carriageway; what evidence he has of traffic driving on the existing footway; and whether he has any proposals to widen Harbour road.

No specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of road safety precautions along Harbour road at Ballyhalbert, County Down. Correspondence from a resident expressing concern about danger from traffic is currently being investigated. Traffic on the carriageway is separated from the houses by a 1·5 m wide strip at road level. There is no evidence of traffic driving on the footway on the shore side of the road. There are no plans at present to widen Harbour road.

Sewage Station, Portavogie

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals he has to replace the foul sewage station on the foreshore at Portavogie, County Down; and if he will make a statement.

The sewage pumping station at New road, Portavogie, will be converted to an underground macerator station later this year.

Gas Pipelines

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many kilometres of mains gas pipeline is still considered serviceable of the remaining mains gas distribution network in Northern Ireland.

No repairs or maintenance works have been carried out on the mains gas distribution network since the closure of the former town's gas undertakings, so considerable degeneration in the former network can be assumed. Its precise condition could not be determined without a detailed and expensive technical investigation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will consult the Manx Government regarding their participation in any future project to pipe gas from Morecambe bay through the Isle of Man to South Down in Northern Ireland.

Consultations with the Manx Government are a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, but no such project has been proposed.

General Medical Practices

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many general medical practices have withdrawn from the health centres at (a) Bangor, (b) Lisburn, (c) Limavady and (d) Coleraine; how many practices remain at each of these four centres; from which other health centres general medical practices have withdrawn; and whether there are any plans to extend existing health centres or to provide new health centres for general medical practices.

[holding answer 14 May 1990]: The numbers of general medical practices that withdrew from the four health centres during the past three years and the numbers now remaining are shown in the table:

BangorColeraineLimavadyLisburn
Practices withdrawn3100
Practices remaining6238

The numbers that withdrew from other health centres in the same period are:

Practices withdrawn:

  • Cookstown 1
  • Moneymore 1

There are no plans to extend existing or to provide new health centres to accommodate additional general medical practices. The improvement or extension of facilities at existing health centres is a matter for the appropriate health and social services board.

Overseas Development

Vietnamese Boat People

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to tackle the root causes of the departure of boat people from Vietnam; what role non-governmental organisations can play in this; and if he will make a statement.

I welcome the recent UNHCR initiative aimed at tackling the root causes of the migration of Vietnamese boat people through intensified nongovernmental organisation (NGO) activity. In response, I am pleased to announce the setting up of a special scheme to support NGO activities in those parts of north Vietnam from which boat people have predominantly come in recent years. Under the special scheme, ODA will meet 80 per cent. of the costs of agreed humanitarian and economic projects put forward by British NGOs in the target areas. A sum of £1 million has been set aside to support these projects, separate from and additional to the allocation of £20 million for projects worldwide under the joint funding scheme.Though most of the population in the camps is from the north, not all boat people come from the north. Indeed, two thirds of arrivals in Hong Kong this year have come from the south of Vietnam. I have therefore decided to add Vietnam to the list of countries participating in the general joint funding scheme, under which the ODA meets 50 per cent. of the costs of agreed NGO projects. The details of the new scheme will be discussed with British agencies at working level shortly. I am confident that we shall receive a good response.

Environment

Farmers (Compensation)

53.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to review the arrangements governing the compensation paid to farmers for the compulsory purchase of land and buildings.

Compensation for all types of interests in compulsorily purchased land and buildings is based on their market value. Those affected are also reimbursed their costs arising from the compulsory purchase. In addition farmers may be entitled to farm loss payments to help them start farming on unfamiliar land. These arrangements are all under review. Our consultation paper on land compensation and compulsory purchase legislation, issued in March 1989, contained proposals for improvements, including proposals relating to farm loss payments. We plan to introduce legislation on these proposals when the parliamentary timetable permits.

Bellwin Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, for each event which led to the activation of the Bellwin scheme since 1 April 1989, he will list the qualifying local authorities and the total grant aid paid to each of them.

Activations of the Bellwin scheme for England since 1 April 1989, with the exception of those for the flooding in the Severn valley and Maidenhead, have applied to all local authorities. Whether an authority qualifies for grant will depend on whether its eligible expenditure exceeds its threshold. Because the earliest deadline for the submission of claim forms is 30 June 1990 there is as yet no information on how many authorities will claim or how much grant will be paid.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what study he is making of the problems of leakage of polychlorinated biphenyls from hydraulic irrigation made available to him by Dr. Chris Mason of the Department of Biology in the university of Essex, and consequent dangers to others.

Neither I, nor my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, have any record of receiving copies of a report from Dr. Mason on the problems of leakage of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from hydraulic irrigation pumps.My officials have written to Dr. Mason to obtain a copy of the report and when I have studied it, I shall write to the hon. Member.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research is available to him on the concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls in large oily fish favoured by marine mammals.

Marine mammals show considerable variation in their feeding patterns and movements as illustrated in research on seals monitored around the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth and commissioned by my Department from the Natural Environment Research Council's sea mammal research unit. In some localities, marine mammals show a preference for oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sandeel.As part of their general monitoring programme of commercial 'species consumed by humans, both the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and in Scotland, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries monitor PCB levels in herring and mackerel. These show generally that concentrations of lipophilic contaminants such as PCBs are higher in the tissues of oily fish than in other fish with a lower natural lipid content, but not so high in edible tissues as to affect human health. As yet no comparable data are available for sandeels, but DAFS is currently considering new work on the food chains of marine mammals and this will address in particular the bio-accumulation of persistent organochlorines such as PCBs.

Dangerous Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has concerning the number of successful prosecutions mounted under the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989; how many dangerous dogs have been destroyed under the provisions of section 1(a); how many owners have been disqualified from having custody of a dog under section 1(b); and what advice he is giving to local authorities on the operation of the Act.

I have been asked to reply.There are no statistics yet available for the number of successful prosecutions mounted under the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. This Act extended the powers available to a court on a complaint under section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 together with additional rights of appeal and enhanced penalties. It is not possible from the information held centrally to isolate such penalties from others under section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871.Guidance on the Dangerous Dogs Act was given in Home Office circular 63/1989, copies of which were placed in the Library on 9 August 1989.

Action For Cities

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what level of investment the Government plan for the inner cities under the action for cities programme in the current year.

Spending under the action for cities initiative is planned to be about £4 billion in 1990–91, compared with just over £3 billion in 1988–89 and just under £3·5 billion in 1989–90.

Rates (Hammersmith)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the average capital value rates bill on a property worth (i) £50,000, (ii) £80,000 and (iii) £100,000 in Hammersmith in 1990–91 assuming such a system had to raise the same amount of revenue as the community charge.

Figures placed in the Library on 4 April show illustrative levels of capital value-based rates in 1990–91 were such a system to be used to raise the same amount nationally as the community charge. The implied bills in Hammersmith and Fulham for properties worth (a) £50,000, (b) £80,000 and (c) £100,000 are £868, £1,389 and £1,736 respectively.

Housing (Disabled People)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received a copy of Shelter's report entitled, "Our Homes, Our Rights—Housing, Independent Living and Physically Disabled People; and if he will make a statement.

The report is based on a survey of 21 local authorities in England and Wales.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he has set for exemption from payment of the community charge by people with acquired brain damage; what guidance has been issued to general practitioners in this respect; and if he will make a statement.

A person is exempt from the personal community charge on the ground of severe mental impairment if he or she is entitled to one of a number of qualifying benefits and is in receipt of a certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating that he or she is severely mentally impaired. For the purposes of the community charge legislation, a person is severely mentally impaired if he or she has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning, however caused, which appears to be permanent.Guidance to general practitioners has been issued in a circular letter from the Department of Health, dated 3 November 1989. A further letter of guidance will be issued shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met representatives of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities to discuss local government finance.

My right hon. Friend met representatives of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and other local authority associations on 27 March. They discussed the community charge and other issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment in how many local authority areas single prisoners who maintained unoccupied property would be liable to pay standard community charge at greater than a multiple of 0.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average level of community charge, discounting the safety net, in inner London in boroughs that were (a) Conservative controlled and (b) Labour controlled before 3 May.

Conservative controlled—£227. Labour controlled—£516. The figures are based on charges at 1 April 1990.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the average capital value rates bill on a property worth (i) £50,000, (ii) £80,000 and (iii) £100,000 in London in 1990–91 assuming such a system had to raise the same amount of revenue as the community charge.

Figures placed in the Library on 4 April show illustrative levels of capital value based rates in 1990–91 were such a system to be used to raise the same amount nationally as the community charge. The implied average bills for inner and outer London are:

Value of property £Inner London £Outer London £
(i) 50,000743507
(ii) 80,0001,189811
(iii) 100,0001,4861,014

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next plans to meet representatives of the local authority associations to discuss the relative effects of a tax on property values and the community charge.

We have no plans to discuss a tax on property values with representatives of the local authority associations.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what a person on average male earnings would pay in local income tax in 1990–91 in order to raise the same amount of revenue as the community charge in London.

The level of local income tax payable by a person on average male earnings would depend on the precise way in which such a system were introduced and on the precise tax allowances which were available. Illustrative figures exemplifying possible local income tax rates and the bill payable with a taxable income of £12,800 were placed in the Library on 4 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to replace the community charge with a tax based on property floorspace.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the local authorities in England which within the consideration given in regard to the determination of the standard spending assessment for 1990–91 emerged as more socially deprived than Rotherham.

[holding answer 14 May 1990]: The main measure of relative social deprivation within standard spending assessments is the all ages social index which is used in the assessment of the standard spending assessment elements for all other services and for other social services. The composition of this index is described fully on page 24 of the Revenue Support Grant Distribution Report (England) which was approved by the House on 18 January. The following authorities are those which have higher scores on this index than Rotherham:

Authorities with all ages social index scores greater than Rotherham's

  • Avon CC
  • Barking and Dagenham
  • Barnet
  • Barrow in Furness
  • Bath
  • Bedfordshire
  • Berkshire CC
  • Birmingham
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton
  • Bournemouth
  • Bradford
  • Brent
  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Burnley
  • Bury
  • Calderdale
  • Cambridge
  • Camden
  • Cannock Chase
  • Carlisle
  • Cheltenham
  • Chester
  • Cleveland CC
  • Corby
  • Cornwall CC
  • Coventry
  • Crewe and Nantwich
  • Croydon
  • Darlington
  • Derby
  • Derwentside
  • Devon CC
  • Doncaster
  • Dover
  • Durham CC
  • Ealing
  • Easington
  • East Staffordshire
  • East Sussex CC
  • Eastbourne
  • Enfield
  • Exeter
  • Gateshead
  • Gillingham
  • Gloucester
  • Gravesham
  • Great Grimsby
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Greenwich
  • Hackney
  • Halton
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Haringey
  • Harlow
  • Harrow
  • Hartlepool
  • Hastings
  • Havant
  • Hillingdon
  • Hounslow
  • Hove
  • Humberside County Council
  • Hyndburn
  • Ipswich
  • Isles of Scilly
  • Islington
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Kent County Council
  • Kerrier
  • Kettering
  • Kingston upon Hull
  • Kingston-upon-Thames
  • Kirklees
  • Knowsley
  • Lambeth
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Lancaster
  • Langbaurgh-on-Tees
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Leicestershire County Council
  • Leominster
  • Lewisham
  • Lincoln
  • Liverpool
  • Luton
  • Manchester
  • Medina
  • Merton
  • Middlesbrough
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newark and Sherwood
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Newham
  • North Bedfordshire
  • Northampton
  • Northamptonshire County Council
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth
  • Oldham
  • Oxford
  • Pendle
  • Penwith
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Preston
  • Reading
  • Redbridge
  • Redditch
  • Restormel
  • Richmond-upon-Thames
  • Rochdale
  • Rochester upon Medway
  • Rossendale
  • Rugby
  • Rushmoor
  • Salford
  • Sandwell
  • Scunthorpe
  • Sefton
  • Sheffield
  • Shepway
  • Slough
  • South Shropshire
  • South Tyneside
  • Southampton
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Southwark
  • St. Helens
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunderland
  • Swale
  • Tameside
  • Thamesdown
  • Thanet
  • Thurrock
  • Torbay
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Trafford
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • Walsall
  • Waltham Forest
  • Wandsworth
  • Watford
  • Wear Valley
  • Wellingborough
  • Westminster
  • Weymouth and Portland
  • Wirral
  • Wolverhampton
  • Wrekin
  • York

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his reply of 9 May, how much of the additional £2·5 billion in budgeted receipts for local authorities in the current financial year over the last financial year will be received by authorities which at the time of setting the community charge were under (a) Labour control, (b) Conservative control, (c) Liberal Democrat control and (d) under no outright control.

[holding answer 16 May 1990]: A breakdown of the £2·5 billion estimate is not possible on information currently available. The increases in demands and precepts in 1990–91 over the estimated equivalent figures for 1989–90 uprated by 8·1 per cent. are as follows:

Political control of authorityIncrease in £ million
Conservative690
Labour790
SLD or Liberal30
No overall control420
Other10

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any estimate of the percentage of the additional £2·5 billion in budgeted receipts for local authorities in the current financial year over the last financial year which will (a) be used to build up reserves which were depleted in the last financial year and (b) be spent upon services.

[holding answer 16 May 1990]: Local authorities as a whole are budgeting to draw down about £500 million from reserves in 1990–91.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the increase per capita in the level of community charge paid by residents in an area if their local authority were to increase by £1 per capita its total revenue; and what comparative increase would be borne by payers of the uniform business rate in the same area.

[holding answer 16 May 1990]: Local authorities have a number of ways of increasing their revenue, not all of which increase the community charge in their area, and none of which impacts directly on payers of the uniform business rate.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proportion of the grant settlements for Westminster city council for the year 1990–91 related to a calculation of needs.

As for all other charging authorities, the RSG entitlement for Westminster is calculated on the basis of the Revenue Support Grant Distribution Report (England), approved by the House on 18 January, and is related to the assessment of the cost of providing a standard level of service. In Westminster's case, this amount is reduced by the £75 per adult contributions of the safety net.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he plans to increase central Government assistance to local authorities to reduce the community charge.

We will be taking decisions on the amount of central Government support to local authorities in the next few months. The detail of the revenue support grant settlement for 1991–92 will be the subject of consultation with the local authority associations in the autumn.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the average capital value rate bill on property worth (i) £50,000, (ii) £80,000 and (iii) £100,000 in England in 1990–91 assuming such a system had to raise the same amount of revenue as the community charge.

Figures placed in the library on 4 April show illustrative levels of capital value-based rates in 1990–91 were such a system to be used to raise the same amount nationally as the community charge. The implied average bills in England for properties worth (i) £50,000, (ii), £80,000 and (iii) £100,000 are £528, £845 and £1,056 respectively.

Tenants' Choice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the initiatives taken on and the level of resources committed to promoting tenants' choice.

The Department carried out a national publicity campaign to make tenants aware of their rights and opportunities under tenants' choice at the time of its introduction in March 1989. This cost £524,000. It was followed in March this year by a regionally based publicity campaign, costing £130,000, in some areas where awareness of tenants' choice remained relatively low. Last week, I launched a series of four explanatory videos about tenants' choice, which the Housing Corporation will make available to interested groups of tenants. These cost £120,000. Further publicity may be undertaken later this year. The Housing Corporation also provides advice and information to tenants as part of its day-to-day work on tenants' choice.

Lake District

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department has any plans to extend the environmentally sensitive areas programme currently in operation in the Lake district.

There is no such programme currently in operation in the Lake district.

Farmland (Conversion)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the progress of the pilot scheme administered by the Countryside Commission in which farmers are paid to convert land for wildlife or recreational use.

The countryside premium scheme which was launched last June is currently operating on a pilot basis in seven counties in eastern England. Under these arrangements farmers who have taken land out of agriculture production under the set-aside scheme administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, agree to take prescribed measures to manage the land in ways which will be beneficial to wildlife, the local community and the landscape. I have been delighted with the response to the scheme so far. In less than a year since the scheme was launched agreements have been signed with 115 farmers covering nearly 15 per cent. of the land eligible for the premium scheme.

Landfill Sites

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will identify those landfill sites which his Department considers represent a threat to the environment; what remedial action is required; and what action he is taking to ensure the safety of these sites.

Responsibility for assessing environmental threats associated with individual landfill sites rests with the appropriate waste disposal authorities, working in conjunction with the National Rivers Authority and Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. It is for the authorities concerned to decide upon appropriate remedial action in each case. For the particular problem of landfill gas, the Government have made special provision of £33 million in the form of supplementary credit approvals for 1990–91, to allow authorities to undertake remedial work on those sites where problems have been identified.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the special waste disposal facilities operational in the west midlands area.

This information is not held centrally. It is the responsibility of waste disposal authorities to make details of disposal site licences available for public inspection. I understand that the west midlands hazardous waste unit, based at Walsall, should be able to provide the information the hon. Member seeks.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give an estimate of the volume of (a) household waste, (b) industrial waste and (c) special waste produced in the west midlands area and disposed of in the west midlands area for each of the next five years.

Regional estimates are not held centrally. It is for waste disposal authorities in preparing and reviewing waste disposal plans under section 2 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, to include future estimates of the kinds of quantities of controlled waste arisings and disposals in their area based upon relevant survey work. I understand that the west midlands joint committee is currently preparing a revised plan for its area.

Smoke Alarms

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for making smoke alarms mandatory.

A consultation paper containing proposals for amendments to part B, "Safety in Fire", of the Building Regulations 1985 was issued in March this year. It includes a proposal that new dwellings not protected by an automatic fire detection and alarm system should be provided with one or more self-contained smoke alarms. Comments on the proposals in the consultation paper have been invited by 30 June.

Otters

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the threatened extinction of the otter.

A major national otter survey, covering 8,606 sites in England, Scotland and Wales, was carried out in 1977–79, and repeated in 1984–86. The repeat survey showed a higher percentage of sites with otters present, indicating likely population recovery in particular in Wales, Scotland and the south-west, north-west and Welsh borders of England. Between the two surveys, legal protection for the otter was introduced and the use of organochlorine insecticide was reduced. These two positive factors seem likely to have contributed to the apparent recovery in distribution.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research is available to him on the damage caused to otters' wombs by polychlorinated biphenyls.

I am not aware of any study which directly links exposure to PCBs to damage to otters' wombs. However, several studies have been reported which may be indirectly related to the effects of PCBs on the reproductive performance of otters. These are reviewed in a draft environmental health criteria document which will be published by the International Programme on Chemical Safety. The relevant section of the draft has been prepared by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (NERC) under contract to my Department and as part of the United Kingdom contribution to the international programme.

Ivory

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has received from the records of trade in ivory maintained by his Department in accordance with article VIII.6 of CITES in terms of the impact in the United Kingdom of the ban on ivory trade.

None. In accordance with normal practice, records of trade in ivory in 1990, which are being maintained under article VIII.6 of CITES, will not be collated until early 1991.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what details he possesses in his Department of tradeable ivory currently held in the United Kingdom.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside on 1 May 1990, Official Report, column 504.

Leaded Petrol

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is undertaking to establish the incidence of motor vehicles being converted back to be able to run on leaded petrol; and if he will make a statement.

Discussions with motoring organisations following a recent press story produced no evidence to suggest that readjustment to leaded tune is widespread. A minority of cars—their number diminishing all the time—cannot be adjusted to run on unleaded petrol. This is made clear in the Department's booklet "Adjust to Unleaded", and in information diseminated by the vehicle and petrol trades. In all other cases, however, provided that the manufacturer's guidance is followed by competent mechanics, I am confident that motorists will encounter no problems in using unleaded petrol. They will, of course, both contribute to an important environmental improvement and save money by doing so.

Endangered Species

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what applications for exemption under article 6.1(a) of EC regulation 3626/82 have been considered by his Department in each of the last three years; and how many were granted.

This information is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Housing Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many organisations, funded under section 73, have had such funding stopped; if he will list the names of these organisations; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) on 11 May 1990, Official Report, column 245.

Nature Conservancy Council

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is yet able to respond to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on the Government's proposals for the future of the Nature Conservancy Council.

I have today written to Lord Flowers, conveying the Government's response to the Select Committee's most helpful report. A copy has been placed in the Library of both Houses.

City Grant

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library a copy of the application for city grant by 3Ds Ltd.

[holding answer 15 May 1990]: No. Information presented by developers in city grant applications is commercially confidential.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the application for city grant was received for the west end development in Bradford from 3Ds Ltd.; how much grant is being requested; what assessment has been made of the application; when a decision is likely to be made; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 15 May 1990]: The application for city grant from 3Ds Ltd. for the west end development in Bradford was received on 3 April 1990. The information presented in this application is commercially confidential. The application will be dealt with in the normal way and a decision made as quickly as possible.

Peat

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific guidance has been circulated to local authorities and Government Departments regarding suitable alternatives to peat, if he will list the local authorities to which his Department has given guidance on this subject; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 14 May 1990]: My Department has not circulated any specific guidance to local authorities or other Government Departments on this subject. However, advice on peat alternatives has been provided to some local authorities on a contractual basis by the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In addition the Forestry Commission's arboricultural advisory and information service, which is funded by the Department, is preparing a note on "Organic Soil Amendments" in relation to amenity tree planting. This note will report the results of recent research carried out for the Department and is likely to indicate that the money traditionally spent on bulky organic matter, inluding peat, to establish trees would often be better spent on thorough site preparation and post-planting care. This note will be available to local authorities. Finally, I refer the Member to the concluding paragraphs of the debate on peat resources which took place in another place on 9 May. Lord Reay set out the Government's position in his concluding speech on that debate.

Norman Shaw North (Heating)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why the heating system was on full strength in Norman Shaw North on Monday 23 April; what was the outside temperature for the main part of the day; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 3 May 1990] The highest outside temperature recorded on the roof of the Palace of Westminster on 23 April was 17·2 degrees centigrade. The heating was still on then because neither the House authorities nor the Parliamentary Works Office considered that the weather had settled sufficiently for the boilers to be shut down. Once the boilers have been shut down it is not possible to reheat the building quickly when there is a subsequent drop in temperatures. The situation was reviewed on 30 April and the boilers were then shut down for the summer.

Community Charge

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from parish councils following the introduction of the community charge about the loss of business rate and the exemption of overseas service personnel from the community charge; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 4 May 1990]: My right hon. Friend has received many representations from parish councils about the treatment of business rates under the new system. He has received a few about the exemption from liability to pay the community charge of overseas service personnel.

Commercial Rateable Values

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the anticipated time period for settling an appeal on new commercial rateable values to be completed by the valuation and community charge tribunal for (a) the York area and (b) England; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 4 May 1990]: The length of time will depend on when the proposal to alter the rating list is lodged, whether the ratepayer is able to reach agreement with the valuation officer without recourse to the valuation and community charge tribunal, and, if he is not, on how complex the matter is and on the volume of appeals in the area concerned.

Sewage Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Government have any plans to implement programmes encouraging alternative sewage sludge disposal methods.

The development and operation of alternative sewage sludge disposal methods are a matter for the water service companies themselves. Several novel methods of water or sewage treatment are currently being looked at and the Government encourage this development of new and innovative technology to deal with sludge disposal.

House Of Commons

Mineral Water

To ask the Lord President of the Council what steps he is taking to review the sale of Perrier water in the House.

None. New production Perrier water will continue to be available on demand in the Dining Rooms.

To ask the Lord President of the Council what information he has about illness among hon. Members following purchase of sparkling mineral water in the House of Commons.