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Written Answers

Volume 281: debated on Wednesday 17 July 1996

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 17 July 1996

Environment

Environmental Information Regulations 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list the organisations subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 1992; and what plans he has to include the water companies under these requirements; [37437](2) if he will make a statement on the application of the Environmental Information Regulations 1992 to water companies. [37436]

My Department issued guidance on the implementation of the Environmental Information Regulations in December 1992. The guidance indicated what types of organisations would be likely to fall within the scope of the regulations, and stated that organisations would need to take a view themselves as to whether they were relevant persons and therefore subject to the requirements of the regulations. It is not for Ministers to interpret the law; in cases of dispute, it is for the courts to decide.

Agenda 21

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list the local authorities which have designated an officer responsible for Agenda 21; [37508](2) if he will list the local authorities which have launched projects on sustainability under Agenda 21; [37510](3) if he will list the local authorities which have carried out environmental audits under Agenda 21; [37509](4) if he will list the local authorities which have adopted an action plan for Agenda 21. [37507]

The Department does not hold this information. Statistical information about Local Agenda 21 is contained in the 1996 survey of Local Agenda 21 activity in local government in the UK. The survey was carried out by the environment resource and information centre, university of Westminster, for the Local Government Management Board, on behalf of the Local Agenda 21 UK steering group. Copies of the survey have been placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress by local authorities on Local Agenda 21. [37506]

Good progress is being made at local level by local authorities in partnership with all sectors of their communities to develop local strategies for sustainable development, through the Local Agenda 21 process. More than 300 local authorities in the UK have embarked on the process and the end of 1996 is the target for production of these strategies.The 1996 Local Agenda 21 survey is based on a 58 per cent. response from 478 local authorities. It shows that more than 90 per cent. of respondents are participating in Local Agenda 21. More than 83 per cent. are committed to produce a strategy document, more than 40 per cent. by the end of 1996.

Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a list showing the number, nature and value of contracts awarded by his Department to Coopers and Lybrand, KPMG, Price Waterhouse, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and Touche, Arthur Andersen, Grant Thornton, BDO Stoy Hayward, Pannel Kerr Forster, and Robson Rhodes and their subsidiaries and associates, during 1995 and 1996. [37324]

The information requested is not held centrally by my Department and is obtainable only at disproportionate cost.

Nuclear Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what factors underlie reductions in stocks of high-level nuclear waste between 1991 and 1994 compared with the period 1986 to 1991, as set out in figure 15 of "The United Kingdom National Environmental Health Plan", Cm 3323. [37387]

The decrease results from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency concentrating by evaporation the high-level waste liquors that it stores at Dounreay.

Enterprise Zones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what benefits accrue to an area from its designation as an enterprise zone; and if he will make a statement. [36070]

The benefits available to businesses during the 10-year life of an enterprise zone are the following: 100 per cent. allowances for corporation tax purposes for capital expenditure on industrial and commercial buildings; exemption from the national non-domestic rate on industrial and commercial property; a simplified planning regime; speedier administration of residual statutory planning controls; exemption from industrial training levies and from the requirement to supply information to industrial training boards; processing of applications for certain customs facilities as a priority, and the relaxation of certain criteria; and the reduction of Government requests for statistical information.Since the EZ scheme was introduced in 1981, the Government have developed a range of alternative schemes to promote regeneration and growth. These are generally better targeted and can be implemented more rapidly than the enterprise zone scheme which, in part as a result of EC regulations, can take up to three years to designate. Enterprise zones can affect economic activity over a wide area through displacement effects and are not the appropriate regeneration measure in most circumstances. In December 1987 the Government announced that the enterprise zone scheme would not be extended other than in exceptional circumstances.

Mineworkers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that mineworkers employed underground by sub-contractors are covered by the same safety regulations as those employed by the mine owner, particularly in relation to free medical checks. [37632]

Mineworkers employed underground by sub-contractors are subject to the same health, safety and welfare provisions as those employed by the mine owner. In particular, it is the duty of any employer of persons at work at a mine, including sub-contractors, to ensure that they are provided with such health surveillance as is appropriate. Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 provides that no employer shall charge any employee for anything provided in pursuance of a relevant statutory provision.

Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the licences issued by his Department; for what purpose they are issued; and what are the administrative costs involved for each. [37626]

Licences are issued by, or on behalf of, my Department in respect of the following:

waste management—to ensure that waste is disposed of, recovered or kept without harming human health or the environment, in accordance with the EC framework directive on waste;
radioactive materials and waste—to control the retention and use of radioactive materials and waste, to safeguard workers, the public and the environment from the detrimental effects of radioactive materials and waste;
water abstraction—to provide for the proper management of water resources;
the control of discharges into water and sewers—to control water pollution;
the operation of potentially polluting processes—to control the emissions from these processes to the air, water and/or land.
the release or marketing of genetically modified organisms—to ensure proper consideration is given to human health and safety and to environmental protection, before GMOs are released into the environment or sold as products;
hazardous substances—to control, and minimise, the risk of accidents resulting from the keeping of hazardous substances at particular locations;
CITES—to control the import and export of endangered species;
birds—to control the killing, taking and sale of birds from the wild;
zoos—to ensure that the Secretary of State's standards of modern zoo practice are met in respect of animal welfare and public safety;
caravan and camping sites—to ensure that sites are properly equipped and run in the interests of occupiers and of general amenity;
navigation—to enable licence holders to use their boats on specified waterways;
asbestos—to control most work with asbestos insulation and/or coating, including stripping and removal;
petroleum—to ensure that petroleum is stored in a manner which minimises danger to workers and the public;
explosives—to help ensure explosives are manufactured and stored in a manner which minimises danger to workers and the public, and to ensure adequate security measures being taken to prevent theft or misuse.
In addition, the Department of the Environment has responsibility for arrangements relating to offshore oil and gas safety cases. To ensure public confidence in these areas of high hazard, safety arrangements must be accepted by the Health and Safety Executive before certain functions may be undertaken for the safe operation of offshore installations and gas transmission systems.HSE has administrative responsibility for nuclear licences and railway safety cases. Ministerial responsibility rests with my right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Transport, respectively.Central records are not maintained to record the administrative costs for the licensing regimes.

Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit he has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37699]

Dogs (Fouling Of Land) Act 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to implement the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996. [38004]

My Department has today invited local authorities and other interested bodies to comment by 13 September on the proposed implementation of this Act. Our aim is that local authorities will be able to use these welcome new powers before the end of this year.I have placed a copy of the consultation documents in the Library.

Water Regulations Advisory Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce the membership of the Water Regulations Advisory Committee; and if he will make a statement. [38218]

Professor John Swaffield of Heriot-Watt university, Edinburgh, has accepted my invitation to chair the Water Regulations Advisory Committee. I have formally appointed Professor Swaffield and 10 members of the committee, whose names appear in the list.The committee's terms of reference are to advise the Secretary of State for the Environment on the requirements of plumbing installations and fittings to be included in regulations made under powers in section 74 of the Water Industry Act 1991 and on other technical matters connected with the regulations.

The regulations will deal with contamination, waste, undue consumption and misuse of water in premises. As part of its remit, the committee will also consider the requirements for water usage by fittings and appliances. This will include advice on such things as WC flush volumes and water used by washing machines and dishwashers.

Membership Of The Water Regulations Advisory Committee

  • Chairman:
  • Prof. J. A. Swaffield
  • Members:
  • Mr. J. A. Andrew
  • Mrs. B. M. Bickley
  • Mr. S. B. Butler
  • Mr. R. F. Clayton
  • Mr. P. Crane
  • Dr. J. Hall
  • Mr. P. W. Herbertson
  • Mr. G. Marsh
  • Mr. J. Roy
  • Mr. M. A. Rymill

Waste Dumping At Sea

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what duty the United Kingdom, as a contracting party to the London convention, has to provide assistance to United Kingdom dependent territories in respect of the dumping of industrial waste in the marine environment. [37575]

I have been asked to reply.The UK ensures that the dependent territories act in accordance with those international obligations, including the London convention of 1972 which the UK has extended to them.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what reports he has received from the Bermudan Government in respect of their plans to dump asbestos waste in a marine site off Bermuda. [37569]

I have been asked to reply.The Governor's office in Bermuda is in close contact with us on Bermuda's plans to dispose of asbestos and has kept us fully informed of the options that the Bermudian Government are considering.

Lord Chancellor's Department

Fraud

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit he has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37703]

No exercise has been carried out within the Lord Chancellor's Department, Court Service or Public Trust Office to detect fraud by cross-checking the Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit. Consequently, no suspensions, dismissals or prosecutions can be attributed to such checks. However, the Chessington Computer Centre, which provides the payroll service to the Department, and the Department of Social Security have arrangements which are designed to ensure that employees claiming benefit can be identified.

Duchy Of Lancaster

Citizens Charter

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he intends to issue guidance for Departments and agencies on redress under the citizens charter. [38390]

The Office of Public Service issued guidance to Departments and agencies today on redress under the citizens charter. This guidance takes into account the views of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and those of the citizens charter complaints task force. It provides a framework for Departments and agencies to enable them to provide quick and effective redress when things go wrong.I am placing a copy of the guidance in the Library of the House.

House Of Commons

Induction Programme

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what arrangements have been put in hand for an induction programme for new hon. Members. [37820]

Since 1994, the Administration Committee has initiated or endorsed a number of measures to aid the induction process of new hon. Members. Such measures include:

  • (a) supporting the use of the Members' handbook: as announced in my reply of 13 December 1995 to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), Official Report, column 659, a revised edition has already been issued, which is also available on the PDVN and on disk;
  • (b) inviting the Board of Management to consider further steps to assist in making new hon. Members aware of the procedures of the House and it services: in response, the Board of Management has produced a video which will be issued to all hon. Members newly elected at the forthcoming general election;
  • (c) concurring with the Information Committee that the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee be permitted to host an exhibition of IT systems in the Grand Committee Room and the Jubilee Room for new hon. Members: the Communications Directorate, the Department of the Library and the Department of the Official Report will take part in this exhibition;
  • (d) endorsing a proposal from the Serjeant at Arms that a temporary reception area be situated in the Upper Waiting Hall after the forthcoming general election to enable new hon. Members and their staff to obtain information and advice on the service provided by his Department.
  • I know that the Departments of the House will also be making their usual arrangements to make newly elected hon. Members aware of the services that they provide. My hon. Friend may wish to consult the Board of Management or individual heads of Departments directly to ascertain what advice and assistance will be provided.

    Treasury

    Personal Savings

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of personal savings are held in (a) retail banks, (b) building societies, (c) life companies, (d) friendly societies and (e) other institutions; and what were the corresponding figures 10 years ago. [36465]

    Details of personal sector financial assets are published in table 9.1J of "Financial Statistics". The information is also held on the Office for National Statistics database which has recently been updated to 1996 Q1, and includes revisions to earlier years' data. These figures will be included in the July issue of "Financial Statistics" which will be published on 19 July. Both sources are available in the Library. There are no separate data for savings with friendly societies, which are included under life assurance and pension funds. Estimates of the percentage of personal assets held in various savings media in 1985 and 1995 are as follows:

    Percentage
    End-years
    19851995
    Deposits with banks9.910.0
    Deposits with building societies16.110.5
    Life assurance and pension Funds45.149.1
    Amounts deposited with building societies have been affected by building societies converting to, and being taken over by, banks.

    Unfunded Pension Liabilities

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that in all future deliberations of pay review bodies the impact of awards on unfunded pension liabilities is considered and disclosed by each body. [36352]

    I have no plans to instruct all pay review bodies to consider and report on the impact of pay awards on unfunded pension liabilities.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will examine the province of Alberta's new accounting treatment and disclosure of unfunded pension liabilities; and if he will adopt a similar system for United Kingdom accounts disclosure. [36353]

    As indicated in my reply to the hon. Member on 15 July at column 371, for each of the main occupational public service pension schemes administered by central Government, a scheme statement will be published as a note attached to the departmental resource account. There is further work to be done on the detail of these statements.

    Personal Debt

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the levels of personal debt in the United Kingdom in each year since 1992. [36272]

    Details of personal sector financial liabilities (debt) are published in table 9.1J of "Financial Statistics". The information is also held on the Office for National Statistics database which has recently been updated to 1996Q1, and includes revisions to earlier years' data. These figures will be included in the July issue of "Financial Statistics", which will be published on 19 July. Both sources are available in the House of Commons Library. The revised figures for personal sector financial liabilities are as follows:

    End-year£ billion
    1992489.9
    1993505.4
    1994528.8
    1995552.6

    Public Sector Assets

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the value of real assets held by the public sector by (a) land, (b) buildings and (c) other. [36578]

    Estimates of real assets held by the public sector grouped by the asset types requested are unavailable. Estimates are available for public sector assets, but with a different grouping of assets, in table 12.12 of "United Kingdom National Accounts", a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library.

    Abortion Statistics

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many abortions have been performed within the North Thames region under the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967; and how many and what percentage of those abortions were performed in an emergency to save the life of the mother. [37010]

    The total number of abortions carried out under the Abortion Act to women usually resident in the North Thames health region1 from 1970 to 19942 was 752,736. During this period 19 abortions— zero per cent. of the total number—were performed in an emergency, certified by the operating practitioner as immediately necessary to save the life of the woman3.

    Notes:

    1 Figures are based, where possible, on 1994 health authority boundaries. Other boundary changes have not been reflected in the figures.

    2 Figures for 1968–69 are not held on a comparable basis.

    3 Abortions performed under statutory ground 5 (1970–31 March 1991) and F (1 April 1991-present) i.e. where in the case of emergency it was necessary to save the life of the woman.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many abortions have been performed within the Northern and Yorkshire region under the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967; and how many and what percentage of those abortions were performed in emergency to save the life of the mother. [36927]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The total number of abortions carried out under the Abortion Act to women usually resident in the Northern and Yorkshire health region1 from 1970 to 19942 was 336,549. During this period, 12 abortions—zero per cent. of the total number of abortions performed—were carried out in an emergency, certificated by the operating practitioner as immediately necessary to save the life of the woman3.

    Notes:

    1 Figures are based, where possible, on 1994 health authority boundaries. Other boundary changes have not been reflected in the figures.

    2 Figures for 1968–69 are not held on a comparable basis.

    3 Abortions performed under statutory grounds 5 (1970–31 March 1991) and F (1 April 1991-present) i.e. where in the case of emergency it was necessary to save the life of the woman.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give a breakdown by gestation of pregnancy of the number of abortions performed in the Northern and Yorkshire region in the latest year for which figures are available. [36929]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The figures presented give a breakdown of the number of abortions performed to women usually resident in the Northern and Yorkshire health region by gestation of pregnancy, for the year 19941, the latest year for which figures are available.

    Gestation of pregnancy in weeksNumber of abortions
    Under 95,220
    9 to 129,103
    13 to 191,735
    20 and over201
    Not stated1
    Total16,260
    1 1994 Abortion Statistics, England and Wales, Series AB no. 21.

    European Monetary Union

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the impact on UK tax rates of UK entry into European monetary union in 1999. [37176]

    It is too early to assess the possible impact of joining a single currency on the UK. A full assessment of the costs and benefits will be carried out nearer the time, when the facts are known. Decisions on fiscal policy, including decisions on rates and levels of tax, must remain a matter for member states. These are at the heart of national politics.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the advantages of monetary union to each member of the EU. [37177]

    It is too early to assess the possible impact of joining the single currency on the UK. A full assessment of the costs and benefits will be carried out nearer the time, when the facts are known. No assessment has been made of other member states' positions.

    Contracts

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a list showing the number, nature and value of contracts awarded by his Department to Coopers and Lybrand, KPMG, Price Waterhouse, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and Touche, Arthur Andersen, Grant Thornton, BDO Stoy Hayward, Pannel Kerr Forster, and Robson Rhodes and their subsidiaries and associates, during 1995 and 1996. [37315]

    During 1995–96 one contract was awarded to KPMG for assistance in the review of pay, grading and appraisal, and one to Coopers and Lybrand in connection with the privatisation programme. No contracts were awarded to any of the other firms during 1995–96, nor have any contracts been awarded to any of the firms this year.I am unable to provide values for the contracts as this information is commercially confidential.

    Income Tax

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the highest rate of tax on income in (a) 1978–79, (b) 1983–84 and (c) 1995–96. [37577]

    The highest rates of income tax were 83 per cent. on earned income and 98 per cent. on investment income in 1978–79, 60 per cent. on earned income and 75 per cent. on investment income in 1983–84 and 40 per cent. and earned and unearned income in 1995–96.

    Trade Unions (Tax Exemptions)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if tax exemptions were claimed by (a) the Joint Industry Board for Electrical Contracting Industry and (b) Scottish Joint Industry Board for Electrical Contracting Industry during the period when they were registered as trade unions. [37560]

    The provision of the details sought would be in breach of the statutory restrictions on the disclosure of information concerning the affairs of taxpayers, companies and other concerns.

    Earnings

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the average hourly earnings of part-time male and female workers working less than 16 hours a week, giving the most recent available figures. [37590]

    Figures from the labour force survey, winter 1995, show that in Great Britain average hourly earnings for part-time males working less than 16 hours per week were £5.73. Average hourly earnings for part-time females working less than 16 hours per week were £5.67.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 2 July, Official Report, column 418, what were the average hourly earnings of (a) men and (b) women with total earnings below the national insurance contribution lower earnings limit. [37587]

    Figures from the labour force survey, winter 1995, shows that in Great Britain the average hourly earnings for males earning less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions were £2.20. Average hourly earnings for females earning less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions were £3.29.

    Unemployment (North-East)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the current unemployment rates in (a) South Tyneside borough council, (b) North Tyneside borough council, (c) Gateshead borough council and (d) Newcastle borough council. [37779]

    Percentage rates of claimant unemployment are not available below the level of travel-to-work area except in the case of unitary authorities.The labour force survey produces unemployment figures based on the internationally standard definition of unemployment recommended by the International Labour Organisation. The LFS shows that in winter 1995–96 the rates of ILO unemployment in the Newcastle and South Tyneside borough council areas were 11.3 per cent. and 15.6 per cent. respectively. This represents the extent of the available information.

    Fraud

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit he has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37710]

    The Treasury responds to inquiries made by the Benefits Agency where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that an individual may be involved in benefit fraud. There have been no such cases among Treasury staff for at least the last five years.

    Customs And Excise National Investigation Service

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the conclusions of the fundamental expenditure review of the investigation division of Customs and Excise national investigation service on (a) the preferred location of the regional office to serve the Hampshire area and (b) the need for a fast response team to serve the Hampshire area. [36946]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The fundamental expenditure review carried out on the investigation and intelligence functions of HM Customs and Excise recommended

    "the creation of a National Investigation Service organised in regions".
    The FER proposed eight or nine regional offices with a headquarters in London, but was not explicit about the location of the regional offices.The FER also stated:

    "The process of "fast response" to detections by AS (Anti-Smuggling) staff will be streamlined to offer the immediate attendance of investigations to add value to every case where possible".

    In the case of the central south coast area of England, the investigative first response team will almost certainly be based in Shoreham.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure has been incurred on seeking office accommodation for a regional office of the national investigation service in Hampshire. [36947]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: No expenses has been incurred in seeking office accommodation specifically in Hampshire. Minimal expenses has been incurred at national and regional level, in seeking options for accommodation to house the NIS staff, including those in the central south coast area.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sum was allocated for the acquisition of offices for a regional office of the national investigation service in Hampshire. [36948]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: No funds were specifically earmarked for any regional office. Implementation of the FER recommendations will take place using funds from the Department's capital allocation.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the proposed location of the nearest regional office and fast response team of the national investigation service to parts of Portsmouth and Southampton. [36949]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The nearest NIS office and first specialist investigator response team will almost certainly be located in Shoreham.

    Euro Coinage

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has estimated the cost to the Exchequer of running the competition for artists to design the reverse side of the eight denominations of the proposed Euro coinage as advertised in the Royal Mint's press release of 5 July. [37059]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The Royal Mint announced on 5 July the launch of the national heat of a EU-wide competition to design the common faces of Euro coins. The competition is not restricted to artists from countries which have said that they intend to adopt the single currency.The total prize money being provided by the Royal Mint will amount to £6,000. In addition, the mint will commission a small number of designers and pay for the production of plaster models. These procedures and the level of prizes and fees are in line with the Royal Mint's normal procedures for selecting coin designs. The total administrative costs of running the competition are estimated to be about £35,000. The prizes for the European final of the competition will be financed from the European Community budget, towards which all European Union countries contribute.

    The Government are committed to full involvement in preparations for economic and monetary union, including preparatory work on the single currency coinage, to protect the interests of the United Kingdom, including commercial opportunities for the Royal Mint and UK coin designers, whether or not the United Kingdom participates in the third stage of economic and monetary union.

    Transport

    Road And Rail Transport (Midlands)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will refer the ownership of road and rail transport in the midlands to the Director General of Fair Trading. [35962]

    My right hon. Friend has no powers to refer matters to the Director General of Fair Trading.

    Bypass Schemes (Yorkshire)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has carried out on the reduction in the number of road accidents resulting from the opening of bypass schemes in Yorkshire in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [36886]

    There have been five studies carried out on bypass schemes on trunk roads that have opened in Yorkshire in the last five years. Each of the studies covered the first year after the bypass opened. The change in the number of accidents following the opening of the bypasses was as follows:

    • A65 Settle and Gigglewick Bypass: -1
    • A65 Addingham bypass: -3
    • A1079 Market Weighton bypass: +9
    • A650 Drighlington bypass: -8
    • A65 Draughton bypass: -1
    The accident record on the Market Weighton bypass primarily reflects problems at one particular junction which were identified and addressed at an early stage.The changes in accidents recorded in these studies in the first year after opening do not necessarily represent the longer-term accident trend on each bypass.It is for local highway authorities to monitor accidents on non-trunk roads. My Department does not hold information on the reduction in the number of road accidents resulting from the opening of local authority bypass scheme in Yorkshire in the last five years.

    Intelligent Transport Systems

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much finance will be invested in the current financial year in the installation of intelligent transport system in the United Kingdom, with particular reference to advanced motorway control technology. [37552]

    I have asked the chief executive of the Highways Agency to write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Thomas McAvoy, dated 17 July 1996:

    The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your recent question regarding the level of expenditure in the current financial year on intelligent transport systems in the United Kingdom, with particular reference to advanced motorway control technology.
    The Highways Agency only keeps information relating to motorways in England. However, we have obtained comparable information from colleagues in the Northern Ireland DoE and the Welsh and Scottish Offices which, taken together, indicate a total forecast expenditure for the United Kingdom in 1996/97 of £75.6m.

    Agency Printing Costs

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the agencies for which his Department is responsible and the costs incurred by each for printing (a) all publications and (b) its annual report in the last year for which figures are available. [37473]

    The costs incurred by each of the Department's agencies in printing (a) all publications and (b) its annual report in 1995–96 are as follows:

    (a)(b)
    ££
    The Coastguard Agency86,6528,330
    Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency108,0598,715
    Driving Standards Agency3,8851,042
    Highways Agencyn/a30,333
    Marine Safety Agency207,8745,313
    Vehicle Certification Agency26,869813
    Vehicle Inspectorate256,54410,178
    Information on total printing costs incurred by the Highways Agency is not available and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Statistical Forms

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the statistical forms issued to businesses by his Department and the number sent out of each. [37474]

    The following regular statistical forms are sent to businesses by the Department of Transport.

    TitleNumber of forms sent in 1995
    Continuing survey of road goods transport20,200
    Continuing international road haulage survey8,420
    Roll-on-roll-off goods vehicles140
    Local bus fares index440
    Public service vehicle operators' return1,930
    Ship owners' capital expenditure and international trade credit93
    Return of port traffic227
    Domestic waterborne freight25
    Overseas airlines' UK expenditure106
    Origins and destinations of UK international trade120,000
    1 This is a periodic survey previously carried out in 1978, 1987 and 1991, and now being carried out in 1996.
    In addition, a number of ad hoc surveys are usually carried out each year. Some will involve the use of a questionnaire, but others will be carried out mainly by personal interview. Numbers of surveys and subject areas covered vary from year to year; however, on average about 12 such surveys are carried out annually, involving contact with about 10,000 businesses.

    Internet

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to ensure that major publications from his Department are accompanied by a simultaneous electronic release of the text on the Internet. [37243]

    My Department is discussing the matter with our main publisher, Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

    Coastguard Service

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the findings of the independent investigation into the Coastguard actions in the Lyme bay canoeing tragedy; and if he will make a statement. [38519]

    In March 1993, four teenagers were tragically drowned in a sea canoeing accident in the Lyme bay area. Mr. John Reeder QC was appointed to conduct a review, the terms of reference of which were:

    "In the light of the COASTGUARD's internal inquiry, the evidence presented to the Lyme Bay trial and the judge's comments in his summing up—
  • (i) to review all of the actions, both internal and external, taken by the COASTGUARD during and subsequent to the tragedy.
  • (ii) to consider how far this action was appropriate and whether any further action was necessary, and
  • (iii) to make recommendations.
  • Consideration under item (ii) should cover the suggestion by Sir James Spicer MP that harbourmasters should be given a more formal role in COASTGUARD'S emergency procedures."
    We have today published Mr. Reeder's findings.Mr. Reeder has produced a thorough and well-researched report of the Coastguard involvement in this tragedy. He reported that no lives had been lost as a result of the Coastguard's actions and that the lessons of the incident had been fully learned. He has endorsed the action taken by the Coastguard agency and other parts of my Department to make sure that all lessons were fully learned. He recommends that no further disciplinary action should be taken.It is right that all concerned should do all that can be done to prevent similar incidents form happening in the future. We have made regulations to seek to improve the safety of activity centres. Thanks to Mr. Reeder's report, we can now be confident that the Coastguard agency has responded fully to the tragedy, and that all necessary steps have been taken to safeguard against similar incidents in the future.Following the incident, the Coastguard agency carried out their own investigation and took appropriate action. Portland Coastguard has since been reorganised and all of the officers involved have been retrained.Mr. Reeder made recommendations on the radio coverage of the area, on the relationship between Coastguard and harbourmasters, and on the Coastguard agency and British Canoe Union's advice on sea canoeing. All his recommendations either have been implemented by the Coastguard agency, or are being urgently addressed.

    Defence

    Epidemiology Research Proposals

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many outline research proposals were received for the epidemiology programme to be initiated by the Medical Research Council at the request of his Department; what proposals in other fields besides epidemiology have been received by the MRC; if there is a deadline; how much of his Department's funding will be made available for these studies; and if he will make a statement. [37430]

    Work on establishing the detailed programme of research into Gulf health issues, which I announced on 30 January, Official Report, columns 607–608, is progressing well. As I announced at that time, the work is being overseen by the Medical Research Council, whose independent supervision of the research programme will ensure an objective, impartial and scientific approach and compliance with the highest professional standards.Following a period of assessment of the most appropriate areas for research, the MRC issued its call for research proposals in scientific and medical journals at the end of May. I understand that it has already received 37 outline proposals for research in a variety of fields. Those have been submitted in confidence, and I am therefore not able to detail the precise areas which they cover. All the proposals are now being thoroughly evaluated by a scientific advisory committee, appointed by the MRC, which includes some of the most eminent medical experts in the relevant fields. The MRC will then invite the most promising applicants to submit substantive proposals by the end of August.The final research programme is expected to include both epidemiological studies to compare the prevalence of illness among Gulf war veterans and similar control groups, including the relative incidence of birth defects among their children, and studies to investigate other aspects of Gulf health-related issues such as any possible interaction between the vaccinations administered to personnel serving in the Gulf and the nerve agent pre-treatment sets, with which they were issued.Final decisions on the research projects to be funded will be made in November. My Department will meet the full costs of those research projects recommended by the MRC as being the most appropriate.We are keeping in close touch with US plans for research in similar fields to ensure that work is not duplicated, and that our respective programmes cover all aspects of this important issue. The US authorities have recently announced their plans for 12 major research studies, one of which is to be undertaken by Dr. Simon Wessely of King's college school of medicine. We will continue to liaise with the US authorities as this work progresses.

    In parallel with the research programmes I have described, we continue to offer assessment and counselling services under the medical assessment programme established in 1993 to all serving and ex-service personnel who may be concerned about their health. Six hundred and thirty-five individual veterans have now been examined on the programme. Additional resources have been made available both to support the clinical programme itself and to develop the comprehensive database necessary for a full analysis of the programme's overall results to date. Group Captain Coker, the principal consultant on the programme, expects to publish a report on his findings to date later this year.

    On the basis of the examination of veterans undertaken so far, there is no evidence that there is any unique syndrome or illness associated specifically with Gulf service. The Government, nevertheless, retain an open mind. The painstaking, detailed approach I have outlined, which will of necessity take time, is soundly and scientifically based, and illustrates our total commitment to the health of our service personnel.

    Trident Programme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 July, Official Report, column 184, how much of the remaining expenditure on the Trident programme will be spent in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the United States of America. [37426]

    The estimated £1.61 billion of remaining expenditure on the Trident acquisition programme is planned to be spent as follows:

    £ million
    UKUSA
    Submarine47512
    Strategic weapons system21495
    Tactical weapons system1681
    Building works11
    Dockyards266
    Warhead/miscellaneous:
    Unallocated contingency120655
    Total1,047563
    1 The apparent variation from the answer given to the hon. Member on 10 July 1996, Official Report, column 184, results from rounding of figures.

    Raf Burtonwood

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of installing new telecommunications equipment at RAF Burtonwood; and if he will make a statement. [37639]

    The cost of installing new telecommunications equipment on the RAF Burtonwood site is a matter for the tenants. No extra costs have been incurred by my Department.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new telephone lines have been installed at RAF Burtonwood this year; and if he will make a statement. [37640]

    Tenants at Burtonwood deal directly with suppliers regarding the installation of any additional telephone lines they may require. My Department does not hold a record of such new installations.

    Defence Police Salaries

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the salaries of the chief constable, Ministry of Defence police, and his deputy will be determined; what performance indicators will be used to determine the level of performance-related elements; and what is the minimum and maximum possible salary in the financial year 1996–97. [37352]

    With effect from 1 April 1996, the salaries of the chief constable and deputy chief constable, Ministry of Defence police, including any elements relating to performance will be determined in line with the provisions applying to the senior civil service.Maximum and minimum values for salaries are as set out in the White Paper "Taking Forward Continuity and Change" and as stated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his reply of 8 February,

    Official Report, columns 294–96.

    Residential Property

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account is taken of military rank or grade in the allocation of military tenants to MOD residential property consisting of detached single storey dwellings. [37561]

    Military rank or grade is taken into account when allocating MOD residential property. This has no bearing, however, on whether the particular properties are detached and single storey in nature.

    Hms Fearless And Intrepid

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if the replacement vessels for HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid will be constructed at the same time; and if he will make a statement; [36951](2) how many months the construction of the replacements for

    (a) HMS Fearless and (b) HMS Intrepid are planned to take; and if he will make a statement. [36953]

    A final decision has yet to be announced concerning the replacements for HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid. A construction programme is dependent upon an order being placed.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessments he has made of the cost of preparing HMS Intrepid to go to sea. [36952]

    The cost of preparing HMS Intrepid for sea from her present material state would be some £1.5 million.

    Army Base Storage And Distribution Agency

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the key targets for 1996–97 for the Army Base Storage and Distribution Agency. [38313]

    The chief executive of the Army Base Storage and Distribution Agency has been set the following key targets for 1996–97:

    Key targetsPerformance output 1996–97
    1. To develop and implement the full ABSDA IS strategy by:
    (a) Implementing the IS strategy by initiating action to make changes to existing systems and to procure IT as appropriate.31 March 1997
    (b) Implement the full corporate MIS throughout ABSDA. (Subject to IS Strategy Study recommendations.)(31 March 1998)
    2. Implement the outstanding DCS 10 recommendations:
    (a) Handback of BAD Bracht site on schedule.30 September 1996
    (b) Closure of Vehicle Depot Ludgershall for operations on schedule.31 March 1997
    3. To meet targets for storage, maintenance and distribution and monitor progress towards achieving standards:
    a. Stores Demands
    Stores and Equipment. To meet the Standard Priority System (SPS) 96 Supply Chain Processing Times (SCPT) for material authorised for issue
    (a) Immediate Priority—Operational Standard Priority Code (SPC) 199 per cent.
    (b) High Priority—Operational SPC 298 per cent.
    (c) Medium Priority—Operational SPC 397 per cent.
    (d) Routine Priority—Operational SPC 495 per cent.
    (e) Immediate Priority—Non Operational SPC 599 per cent.
    (f) High Priority—Non Operational SPC 698 per cent.
    (g) Medium Priority—Non Operational SPC 797 per cent.
    (h) Routine Priority—Non Operational SPC 895 per cent.
    (Operational demands take precedence over all other demands in SPC order)
    Ammunition
    To meet the required Delivery date99.8 per cent.
    Vehicles
    (a) Immediate Priority96 per cent.
    (b) High Priority94 per cent.
    (c) Medium Priority92 per cent.
    (d) Routine Demands90 per cent.
    Petroleum
    (a) Bulk Fuel95 per cent.
    (b) Packed Fuel and Oils/Lubs95 per cent.
    b. To Maintain, repair, refurbish and modify Army ammunition to levels of service agreed with DLSA:
    Maintenance
    (a) Completion by target97 per cent.
    (b) Completion within target cost92 per cent.
    (c) Completion to specified quality98 per cent.
    Surveillance
    (a) Initial acceptance—within 4 weeks of receipt100 per cent.
    (b) Specials—within target date set by DLSA97 per cent.
    Proofing
    Completion to specified quality standard and target dates96 per cent.
    Key targetsPerformance output 1996–97
    4. To deliver special to task and on the job training for Land Command Units Employed in the Base (LUEB).
    (a) To maintain operational and military preparedness.Pass OPEVAL to satisfactory standard.
    (b) To provide training for all soldiers to Army Training Directives (ATD) levels.Pass OPEVAL to satisfactory standard.
    5. To complete the activities and achieve the results laid down in the ABSDA TQ Strategy for each year between 1996–97 to 1998–99.
    (a) 100 per cent. of all managers to be trained.31 October 1996
    (b) All staff to have been trained and operating the Total Quality Leadership process. Mechanisms to be in place to train new employees,(31 March 1998)
    (c) ABSDA TQ to have a positive impact on our customers such that they have an increasing satisfaction and confidence in ABSDA and the Agency confirmed as their preferred supplier.(31 March 1999)
    6. To complete a Competing for Quality (CFQ) programme of ABSDA business.
    (a) Stores Division.(31 June 1998)
    (b) Ammunition Division.(31 December 1997)
    (c) Base Vehicle Depot Ashchurch.(31 August 1997)
    7. Deliver required efficiencies according to DG Log Sp(A)'s Efficiency Plany.2.5 per cent.

    Devonport Dockyard

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what circumstances the United States Government have powers to commandeer assets owned by Brown and Root at Devonport dockyard. [37606]

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Taxi Fares

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on meeting the costs of taxi cab fares in the 1995–96 financial year. [36008]

    University Of Oman

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which officials of Her Majesty's Government were invited to be present at the opening of the university in Oman; and on what date the opening ceremonies took place. [36611]

    The Sultan Qaboos university in Muscat was officially opened on 9 November 1986 by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. We have no details of who was invited to attend or who was present at the opening ceremony.

    Gulf War

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the work of the United Nations Compensation Commission since the Gulf war, with numbers of claims received in each category and funds accumulated in all accounts; and if he will make a statement on the work of the panels of commissioners, with particular reference to British claims. [37511]

    The United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva was established in 1991. More than 2.6 million claims with an estimated asserted value of more than $180 billion have been submitted, and almost 2.2 million of these have already been assessed. Claims have been submitted by individuals, corporations and Governments.Her Majesty's Government have forwarded 4,990 claims from 3,418 claimants. These claims are broken down into the following categories:

    Type of claimTotal number of claims received by UNCCTotal number of claims submitted by UKValue of UK claims in US$
    Category A922,7961,1484,035,000
    Category B5,949258710,000
    Category C417,5572,746122,907,312
    Egyptian Bank transfer claims1.24 million
    Category D9,673381133,253,256
    Category E6,4554571,189,325,112
    Category F212111,237,641
    Totals2,602,6424,990US$ 1,461,468,321
    All category B claims have been assessed and full payment made.The assessment of all category A claims will be completed by October this year. The next instalment of British category C claims are expected to be approved by the governing council in December this year, with the remainder to be completed by the end of 1997.The UNCC is hoping to set up panels of commissioners this summer to start work on categories D, E and F.As at 20 September 1995, the compensation fund had $31,151,700 available to meet running costs and payment of claims; 30 per cent. of the revenue under Security Council resolution 986 will be paid to the UNCC enabling it to make at least interim payments on approved A and C awards.
    19951996
    CompanyNumberValue £AreaNumberValue £Area
    Diplomatic wing
    Coopers and Lybrand3316,1001FMAS0
    KPMG3< 77,440Pay and grading private finance initiative256,000Pay delegation
    Price Waterhouse3394,092Information technology FMAS5462,220FMAS Resource accounting and budgeting
    Ernst and Young17,000Purchase of property0
    Deloitte and Touche01215,000Information technology
    BDO Stoy Hayward3195,000FMAS3102,675Benchmarking efficiency
    Pannel Kerr Forster125,000FMAS278,750FMAS
    Total14994,63213804,645

    Parliamentary Questions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) pursuant to his answer of 22 March, Official Report, column 386, about parliamentary questions, what method would be used by his Department in collating the information requested; [37541](2) pursuant to his answer of 29 March,

    Official Report, column 796, about parliamentary questions, what method would be used by his Department in collating the information requested. [37542]

    Internet

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to ensure that major publications from his Department are accompanied by a simultaneous electronic release of the text on the Internet. [37234]

    Our information section run the award-winning web site "FCO On-Line". The service, which is heavily accessed both in the UK and overseas, carries 800 pages of regularly updated public diplomacy material, including selected major FCO publications.For practical reasons, it is not always possible to place all our publications on the Internet. However, we are always keen to make relevant texts available to a wide audience, either via the Internet or by other means. The FCO web site is at: http://www.fco.gov.uk/

    Contracts

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish a list showing the number, nature and value of contracts awarded by his Department to Coopers and Lybrand, KPMG, Price Waterhouse, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and Touche, Arthur Andersen, Grant Thornton, BDO Stoy Hayward, Pannel Kerr Forster, and Robson Rhodes and their subsidiaries and associates, during 1995 and 96. [37321]

    The table sets out the details of contracts awarded to the above firms in 1995 and 1996 by the diplomatic and aid wings of the FCO.The details of contracts awarded by the aid wing do not include contracts let under the aid programme.

    1995

    1996

    Company

    Number

    Value £

    Area

    Number

    Value £

    Area

    1995–96

    Aid Wing

    Deloitte and Touche530,075Efficiency plan fundamental expenditure review

    1 FMAS = Financial Management and Accounting System.

    2 Approximately.

    Waste Dumping At Sea

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice his Department has given to the Bermudan Government on their plans for dumping of asbestos waste in the marine environment; and if he will make a statement. [37574]

    The UK has provided advice to the Government of Bermuda on their obligation under the 1972 London convention relating to the disposal of waste at sea. The London convention has been extended to Bermuda.Disposal of asbestos waste in Bermudan territorial waters is within the competence of the Government of Bermuda.Since their earlier announcement of the intention to dispose of asbestos waste at sea, the Government of Bermuda have decided further to explore other options for disposal.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his Department's policy on providing advice to United Kingdom dependent nationals on legal issues relating to the dumping of waste at sea. [37568]

    The Government's policy is to ensure that the United Kingdom dependent territories comply with their international obligations, including those relating to the dumping of waste at sea.Advice is provided whenever necessary by the UK to its dependent territories.

    Nuclear Smuggling

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes in policy concerning the detection and deterrence of nuclear smuggling he plans to implement. [36073]

    The UK is actively involved in international efforts to confront the problems of nuclear smuggling. The nuclear safety summit held in Moscow in April agreed a programme for preventing and combating illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. Adherents—the G7 and Russia, plus the Ukraine—agreed to improve co-ordination between their Governments on all aspects of prevention, detection and prosecution of cases involving nuclear smuggling. We strongly encourage other states with an interest in the issue to join, and an international experts meeting dedicated to the implementation of this programme will be held as soon as possible.

    Dependent Countries (International Conventions)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if United Kingdom dependent nations are bound to abide by international conventions to which the United Kingdom has signed up; and what responsibility is held by which United Kingdom authorities for ensuring that they adhere to such conventions. [37566]

    The UK dependent territories are bound to abide by only those international conventions that the UK, in consultation with the territories in question, has extended to them.The Government bear international responsibility for ensuring that the dependent territories comply with the obligations of those international conventions which apply to them.

    Fraud

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit he has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37700]

    We have made no inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking the Department's payroll with details of benefit claimants.We would respond to inquiries made by the Benefits Agency where it had reasonable grounds for suspicion that any individual might have been involved in benefit fraud.

    Overseas Development Administration

    Tied Aid

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list for each of the last three years (a) the top 30 companies receiving bilateral tied aid contracts by value and (b) the top 30 companies receiving contracts as part of the aid and trade provision by value. [36591]

    The number of ATP projects agreed in each of the last three years—1993 to 1995—was five, five and seven, respectively. The companies which won ATP support business as prime contractors on those projects were as follows:

    CompanyATP allocation (£ millions)
    1993
    John Brown Engineering Ltd.10.925
    Siemens Plessey Radar Ltd.4.300
    Humatt Engineering Ltd.2.032
    Cossor Electronics Ltd.1.437
    Transmark0.982
    1994
    Kvaerner Boving Ltd.4.775
    Humatt Engineering Ltd.4.227
    Balfour Beatty Projects and Engineering Ltd.4.121
    Siemens Plessey Controls0.841
    Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners Ltd.0.093
    1995
    GEC Alsthom15.516
    Davy British Rail International Ltd.15.010
    Rolls Royce12.568
    Siemens Plessey8.400
    Serco-IAL Systems Ltd.4.167
    Clough Smith1.601
    Landrover Exports Ltd.1.386
    The ODA is currently compiling data on the top 30 companies receiving bilateral tied aid contracts and will provide an answer shortly.

    National Heritage

    National Lottery

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans she has to ensure an equitable regional distribution of national lottery funds. [37143]

    I want to see the whole country benefiting from the success of the national lottery. With the distributing bodies, we are monitoring the spread of awards across the regions and will take steps to encourage applicants in areas which do not seem to be getting a fair share.

    Contracts

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will list the number, nature and value of contracts awarded by his Department to Coopers and Lybrand, KPMG, Price Waterhouse, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and Touche, Arthur Andersen, Grant Thornton, BDO Stoy Hayward, Pannel Kerr Forster, and Robson Rhodes and their subsidiaries and associates, during 1995 and 1996. [37319]

    The agencies for which my Department is responsible have not let any contracts with the companies listed during 1995 and 1996. However, contracts with the following companies were let by my Department during that period. The contracts were awarded for various policy reviews and to provide management advice.

    CompanyNumber of contractsTotal cost £
    1995KPMG5228,000
    1996Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte and Touche2175,000

    Parliamentary Questions

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) pursuant to her answer of 28 March, Official Report, column 724, what method would be used by her Department in collating the information requested; [37539](2) pursuant to her answer of 26 March,

    Official Report, column 518, what method would be used by her Department in collating the information requested. [37538]

    The examination of more than 4,900 files dating back to April 1992 when this Department was established.

    Internet

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to ensure that major publications from his Department are accompanied by a simultaneous electronic release of the text on the Internet. [37237]

    The Department of National Heritage is reviewing its publication policy with respect to on-line publication. A number of documents are already provided on the DNH web site and the range of documents provided will be developed in the light of experience.DNH is committed to providing official information as widely and readily as possible in line with the Government's open government policy.

    Primary Schools Radio

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment she has made of the impact of the recent withdrawal of the BBC from primary schools radio; and if she will make a statement. [37173]

    In all matters concerning the editorial content and delivery of programming, responsibility rests with the corporation itself. I understand from the BBC that it is not withdrawing from primary schools radio programming. Following consultation, the BBC has opted for an alternative delivery system involving the provision of high-quality educational radio broadcast tape cassettes to primary schools, a move which has been well received by the teaching profession. The BBC continues to broadcast a range of radio services for young children.

    Fraud

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking her Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit she has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37706]

    My Department responds to enquiries made by the Benefits Agency where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that an individual may be involved in benefit fraud. No staff have been suspended, dismissed or prosecuted.

    Ministerial Visits

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on her forthcoming visit to the United States of America. [38421]

    I shall visit Atlanta, Washington, New York and Los Angeles from 18 to 26 July. I am going to Atlanta to support the British team in the 1996 Olympics and to represent the Government at the opening ceremony. I intend to emphasise to the key sporting figures and bodies the Government's overall commitment to sport and our readiness to be actively involved in attracting major sporting events to the UK.The rest of my visit will be devoted primarily to promoting UK competitiveness and encouraging inward investment, particularly in the film and tourism sectors. I shall give the Government's support to the efforts being made by the industries themselves to increase the UK exports of television programmes to the US, to attract US moviemakers to make use of the abundance of talent, expertise and facilities available to them in Britain, and to encourage more American tourists to come to Britain.

    Agency Printing Costs

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will list the agencies for which her Department is responsible and the costs incurred by each for printing (a) all publications and (b) its annual report in the last year for which figures are available. [37461]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: My Department is responsible for the Royal Parks and Historic Royal Palaces agencies. Listed in the table are the costs incurred by each of the agencies for printing all publications, and their annual reports in the last year for which figures are available.

    AgencyAnnual report 1994–95 £Publications 1995–96 £
    Historic Royal Palaces20,226.00708,686.00
    Royal Parks17,409.0043,160.00
    1These figures do not include other associated cost of producing documents, e.g., design and photography. Figures for associated cost could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

    Cairn Gorm Funicular Railway

    To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) if the proposed funicular railway on Cairn Gorm is eligible for grant aid from the Millennium Commission; [37493](2) what are the criteria for judging eligibility for grant aid from the Millennium Commission. [37494]

    [holding answer 15 July 1996]: This is a matter for the Millennium Commission. I shall reply to the hon. Member in my capacity as chairman of the commission and place copies of my reply in the Libraries of the House.

    Attorney-General

    Fraud

    To ask the Attorney-General what inquiries he has undertaken to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit when these exercises took place, and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37716]

    The departments and agencies for which I am responsible conduct checks to ensure that payments are made only to staff currently entitled to be on the payroll. Those departments and agencies do not hold information about individuals claiming benefit and therefore are not in a position to conduct inquiries into benefit fraud. However, they respond to inquiries made by the Benefits Agency where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that an individual may be involved in benefit fraud.

    Social Security

    National Insurance Contributions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the effect on public revenues in a full year of (a) abolishing the 2 per cent. employee national insurance contribution on earnings below the lower earnings limit, (b) levying a 2 per cent. employee contribution on all earnings below the lower earnings limit and (c) levying employer contributions at 3 per cent. on the wages of employees earning less than the lower earnings limit. [34790]

    The estimated effects on national insurance contribution revenue for 1997–98 are:

  • (a) -£1.200 billion
  • (b) +£0.095 billion
  • (c) +£0.145 billion.
  • Source:

    Government Actuary's Department.

    Bates Case

    Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the chief executive of the Benefits Agency was notified of the judgment of 16 May by the House of Lords in relation to the Department of Social Security's appeal in relation to the Bates case; what factors led Mr. Mathison in a letter to the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South dated 30 May, reference DB 220109, concerning Mr. R. W., to indicate that it might be early June before the outcome of his Department's appeal into the Bates case would be known; when the decision of the House of Lords was notified to individual Benefits Agency offices; and what steps have been taken to lessen the time taken by his Department to notify the Benefits Agency of the outcome of appeals to the House of Lords and the time taken by the Benefits Agency to notify its offices of the decisions taken by the House of Lords. [36567]

    The administration of income support is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Brian Donohoe, dated 16 July 1996:

    The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking when the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency was notified of the judgement of 16th May by the House of Lords in relation to the Department of Social Security's appeal in relation to the Bates case; what factors led Mr. Mathison in a letter to the honourable Member for Cunninghame South dated 30th May, reference DB 220109, concerning Mr. R. W., to indicate that it may be early June before the outcome of his Department's appeal into the Bates case would be known; when the decision of the House of Lords was notified to individual Benefits Agency offices; and what steps have been taken to lessen the time taken by his Department to notify the Benefits Agency of the outcome of appeals to the House of Lords and also the time taken by the Benefits Agency to notify its offices of the decisions taken by the House of Lords.
    The Benefits Agency (BA) was informed as soon as possible, on 16 May, after the Department itself had been informed.
    I am sorry that my letter of 30 May stated incorrectly that the House of Lords decision on the "Bate" case had not been issued. As soon as I was aware of this error I wrote to you (on 7 July) to apologise. Steps are being taken to ensure this does not happen again.
    BA district offices had been advised on 15 May that the decision was expected. Once all the implications had been considered, full procedural instructions were issued on 29 May 1996.
    Generally, when a House of Lords judgement affects a Social Security Benefit the Department of Social Security Policy Group are notified of the decision. Policy Group notify the BA who in conjunction with Central Adjudication Services issue appropriate guidance as soon as possible.
    I hope my reply has been helpful.

    Operation Speakeasy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information he has collated regarding the results of Operation Speakeasy; and if he will make a statement. [37062]

    Operation Speakeasy was a pilot freephone fraud hotline which was in operation between 23 October 1995 and 31 January 1996. The pilot ran in four areas: Hull, Stockport, Blackburn/Burnley and Tunbridge Wells. The freephone line was set up for the public to pass information to the Benefits Agency about benefit fraud.Over the period of the pilot, 3,131 telephone calls were received. The value of fraud stopped as a result of information received amounted to £920,000.

    Child Benefit

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to means-test child benefit; and if he will make a statement. [37008]

    We have no plans to means-test child benefit either for 16 to 18-year-olds or for any other age group.

    Child Support Agency

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what items of data are deleted on a Child Support Agency data printout when it is sent to an absent parent; and what are the reasons for each deletion. [37058]

    The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Ms Liz Lynne, dated 16 July 1996:

    I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about data protection issues.
    Prior to the issue of a Data Protection print the Agency deletes any information which relates to an individual other than the client requesting the data print. We are prevented from disclosing this information by the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
    I hope this is helpful.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 27 June, Official Report, columns 228–29, on the Child Support Agency computer system, if he will (a) provide a definition of nationally sensitive or locally sensitive cases and (b) set out the procedures that are followed in designating a case as either nationally or locally sensitive. [37114]

    The administration of the Child Support agency is a matter for the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Ms Liz Lynne, dated 16 July 1996:

    I am replying to the your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency Computer System.
    A case is considered nationally sensitive if it involves a VIP; any person so deemed for security reasons; or a transsexual. Decisions on whether a case is to be marked nationally sensitive are made by a section of the Contributions Agency (CA). This classification is then applied to all the Department's computer systems.
    At present a case is considered locally sensitive if it involves a member of staff, their partner or a relative of either party; a local dignitary; or any person who asks for their case to be treated as sensitive. These criteria have been reviewed recently and the revised procedures are soon to be issued. The revised instructions state that a case should be regarded as locally sensitive if the Parent With Care (PWC) or Absent Parent (AP) is employed by CSA; a close relative (mother, father, brother or sister) of the PWC or AP is employed by CSA; a member of staff has an interest in a case; or the PWC or AP has requested the case to be made sensitive and the manager considers the request to be valid. The classification applies only on the Child Support Computer System (CSCS).
    You also asked about the procedures followed in classifying cases as sensitive. Each Child Support Agency Centre (CSAC) has a nominated manger who is the focal point for sensitive cases.
    If a case is identified as being potentially nationally sensitive, the Manager contacts the appropriate section in CA. If CA accepts the case as nationally sensitive all the Department's computer system are annotated accordingly. The nominated manager maintains a control record showing the case details, and all requests to have access to them. All papers are locked away in accommodation separate from the non-sensitive cases.
    The same procedures are followed for cases designated as locally sensitive except that the decision on classification is made by a CSA manager and the classification is annotated only on the CSCS, not the other Departmental computer system.
    I hope this is helpful.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answers on 27 June, Official Report, columns 228–29, on the Child Support Agency, how many cases have been removed from the Child Support Agency computer system due to the process of archiving or weeding out data. [36842]

    The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Ms Liz Lynne, dated 16 July 1996:

    I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency Computer system.
    Your question is worded only slightly differently from the series of questions asked by James Pawsey MP, to which I replied recently. No complete cases have been removed from the Child Support Agency Computer System due to the process of weeding or archiving data. The process leaves a basic record on the system to show that there has been contact with the person concerned.
    I hope this is helpful.

    Funeral Expenses

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the expenditure from the social fund in respect of funeral expenses in Wales for each of the last three years. [37607]

    The administration of the social fund is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

    Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Rhodri Morgan, dated 16 July 1996:

    The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking if he will list the expenditure from the Social Fund in respect of funeral expenses in Wales for each of the last three years.
    The information you requested is shown in the table:

    Funeral payment expenditure in Wales

    Year

    Expenditure

    1993–944,026,281.25
    1994–953,942,311.77
    1995–963,032,421.64

    Figures are provisional and subject to change. I hope you find this reply helpful.

    Benefits Offices

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all benefits offices indicating the owner of the freehold, the owner of the lease, and the length of lease, and the annual cost to his Department. [37548]

    The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows:

    Freehold ownership of the Government's civil estate is vested in the Secretary of State for the Environment.

    Information regarding the ownership and cost of individual leasehold properties is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    The total annual cost to the Department is currently £200.5 million.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Department began its review of the relocation of Highgate and Finsbury Park benefits offices; when the offices were relocated; and what was the cost of the relocation. [37547]

    The Department began its review in the mid-1980s. Finsbury Park benefit office moved out of Archway tower in November 1992 and Highgate benefit office moved out in March 1995. The estimated cost of the total relocation project was £216 million, which resulted in net estimated savings of £43 million.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when a lease was first taken out on Archway tower, London N19, by his Department, what was its length; what has been the total payment to date; and what are the projected future payments on this building. [37546]

    The property was acquired in 1974. Historic costs are not readily available because of variations in rent. rates and other costs over the term of the lease. Current holding costs are around £1 million per annum and the lease expires in 2009.

    Licences

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the licences issued by his Department; for what purpose they are issued; and what are the administrative costs involved for each. [37627]

    From time to time, this Department deposits data from surveys it has commissioned in the Economic and Social Research Council data archive at the university of Essex. The archive is licensed to provide access to the data for the purposes of academic research. The administrative costs to the Department are small.The Information Technology Services Agency of the DSS may license external suppliers who are providing various services to use certain departmental assets such as IT software. Details of the administrative costs involved could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Social Fund

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he intends to publish his annual report on the social fund for 1995–96 and the Social Fund Commissioner's annual report; and if he will make a statement. [37972]

    The Secretary of State's annual report on the social fund for 1995–96, Cm 3320, was published today and has been laid before Parliament. The report records that the gross budget allocated to the discretionary part of the fund on 1 April 1995 was £406 million, an increase of £53 million on the budget set at 1 April 1994. For the current year, we have increased the gross discretionary budget by £13.5 million to £419.5 million.Total gross expenditure in 1995–96 was £534 million, £83 million higher than in 1994–95 and was the highest annual level of expenditure since the fund was set up in 1988. This included over 2 million non-repayable grants and interest-free loans worth £401 million and funeral, maternity and cold weather payments worth £133 million.Cold weather payments were increased from £7 to £8.50 on 1 November 1995. Over 7 million payments were made to around 3 million people at a cost of £62 million.As part of the aim of eliminating abuse, changes to the funeral payment scheme came into effect on 5 June 1995 to ensure that only those with good cause for taking responsibility for a funeral were eligible for help. In addition, a ceiling was placed on the amount payable to cover specified funeral directors' charges. The number of funeral payments had nearly doubled between 1988–89 and 1994–95, but expenditure had more than trebled. The new arrangements continue to provide for a dignified funeral but at the same time protect public funds. Expenditure on funeral payments has reduced from £63 million in 1994–95 to £49 million in 1995–96.The social fund continues to play an important role in supporting mainstream social security provision, in providing a varied and flexible response to the individual needs of applicants and in offering the taxpayer value for money.

    1994–95
    ForcesTotal police vehicle accidentsTotal police accidents arising from pursuits and emergency callsPolice fatal injuryPolice serious injuryCivilian fatal injuryCivilian serious injury
    Avon and Somerset6081700101
    Bedfordshire113200000
    Cambridgeshire124500000
    Cheshire166730100
    City of London56140001
    Cleveland1641080003
    Cumbria160290011
    Derbyshire281580000
    Devon and Cornwall383530001
    Dorset119540202
    Durham1761050001
    Dyfed Powys143200001
    Essex87n/an/an/an/an/a
    Gloucestershire15820000
    Greater Manchester9204260204
    Gwent13990000
    Hampshire5001150000
    Hertfordshire258100300
    Humberside243690002
    Kent938270000

    The Social Fund Commissioner's annual report has also been published today and copies have been placed in the Library.

    Home Department

    Departmental Legal Costs

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what external legal costs have been incurred by his Department in the cases in which his Department's actions have been judged to be unlawful. [35910]

    No central record has been kept of the outcome of all the cases against the Home Office during the more than 200 years of its existence. The cases include claims for personal injuries as well as applications for judicial review.

    Police Patrol Vehicles (Accidents)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many road traffic accidents involving police patrol vehicles were reported in each police force area in England and Wales for the years 1994 and 1995; and how many (a) police officers and (b) civilians sustained serious or fatal injuries in such accidents. [37105]

    Information for the years 1994 and 1995 in the precise form requested is not available centrally. Some information is available, however, for the financial year 1994–95 and is set out in the table. The figures for deaths and serious injuries relate to the incidents which are recorded in the second column, which arose in the course of either police pursuits or responses to emergency calls in England and Wales.

    1994–95

    Forces

    Total police vehicle accidents

    Total police accidents arising from pursuits and emergency calls

    Police fatal injury

    Police serious injury

    Civilian fatal injury

    Civilian serious injury

    Lancashire404720002
    Leicestershire274710101
    Lincolnshire72280100
    Merseyside5202250614
    Metropolitan Police4,3211,9952221122
    Norfolk194460111
    North Wales93360000
    North Yorkshire173680101
    Northamptonshire173710000
    Northumbria1,011n/an/an/an/an/a
    Nottinghamshire3041610123
    South Wales398n/an/an/an/an/a
    South Yorkshire2851500001
    Staffordshire415720011
    Suffolk143310000
    Surrey2261220201
    Sussex328410400
    Thames Valley8133270300
    Warwickshire97330101
    West Mercia328930000
    West Midlands1,0522580111
    West Yorkshire515490010
    Wiltshire73270000
    England and Wales Total17,9485,3882531956

    Post Office (Postal Ballot Papers)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Post Office and with returning officers about the need for a statutory duty for the Post Office to deliver postal ballot papers for public elections on time; and if he will make a statement. [37410]

    None. There is already a statutory duty upon the Post Office to deliver these ballot papers as set out in regulation 86 of the Representation of the People Regulations 1986.

    Parliamentary Questions

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 25 March, Official Report, column 405, about parliamentary questions, what method would be used by his Department in collating the information requested. [37535]

    Driving offences attracting disqualification or endorsement
    ProvisionOffenceDisqualificationEndorsementPenalty points
    Road Traffic Act 1988
    RTA S.1Causing death by dangerous drivingObligatoryObligatory3–11
    RTA S.2Dangerous drivingObligatoryObligatory3–11
    RTA S.3Careless and inconsiderate drivingDiscretionaryObligatory3–9
    RTA S.3ACausing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugsObligatoryObligatory3–11
    RTA S.4(1)Driving or attempting to drive when unfit to drive through drink or drugsObligatoryObligatory3–11

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 26 March, Official Report, column 495, about parliamentary questions, what method would be used by his Department in collating the information requested. [37534]

    Driving Offences

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the driving offences which involve (a) obligatory disqualification and (b) obligatory endorsement, indicating the degree of endorsement for each offence. [37484]

    Information on driving offences which attract obligatory disqualification and/or endorsement is given in the table.

    Driving offences attracting disqualification or endorsement

    Provision

    Offence

    Disqualification

    Endorsement

    Penalty points

    RTA S.4(2)Being in charge of mechanically propelled vehicle when unfit to drive through drink or drugsDiscretionaryObligatory10
    RTA S.5(1)(a)Driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol in breath, blood or urineObligatoryObligatory3–11
    RTA S.5(1)(b)Being in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol in breath, blood or urineDiscretionaryObligatory10
    RTA S.6Failing to provide a specimen of breath for a breath testDiscretionaryObligatory4
    RTA S.7Failing to provide specimen for analysis or laboratory testObligatory (in certain cases)Obligatory3–11
    RTA S.12Motor racing and speed trials on public waysObligatoryObligatory3–11
    RTA S.22Leaving vehicles in dangerous positionsDiscretionaryObligatory (if motor vehicle)3
    RTA S.23Carrying passenger on motorcycle contrary to this sectionDiscretionaryObligatory3
    RTA S.35Failing to comply with traffic directionsDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3
    RTA S.36Failing to comply with traffic signsDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3
    RTA S.40AUsing vehicle in dangerous conditionDiscretionaryObligatory3
    RTA S.41ABreach of requirement as to brakes, steering gear or tyresDiscretionaryObligatory3
    RTA S.87(1)Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licenceDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3–6
    RTA S.92(10)Driving after making false declaration as to physical fitnessDiscretionaryObligatory3–6
    RTA S.94(3A)Driving after failing to provide information as to disabilitiesDiscretionaryObligatory3–6
    RTA S.94ADriving after refusal or revocation of licenceDiscretionaryObligatory3–6
    RTA S.96Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight or refusing to submit to test of eyesightDiscretionaryObligatory3
    RTA S.103(1)(b)Driving while disqualifiedDiscretionaryObligatory6
    RTA S.143Using motor vehicle while uninsuredDiscretionaryObligatory6–8
    RTA S.170(4)Failing to stop after accident and give particulars or report accidentDiscretionaryObligatory5–10
    RTA S.172Failure of person keeping vehicle to inform police as to identity of driver in the case of certain offencesDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3

    Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

    RTRA S.16(1)Contravention of temporary prohibition or restrictionDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3–6
    RTRA S.17(4)Use of special road contrary to scheme or regulationsDiscretionary (in certain cases)Obligatory (in certain cases)3–6
    RTAR S.25(5)Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulationsDiscretionary (in case of motor vehicle)Obligatory (in case of motor vehicle)3
    RTRA S.28(3)Not stopping at school crossingDiscretionary (in case of motor vehicle)Obligatory (in case of motor vehicle)3
    RTRA S.29(3)Contravention of order relating to street playgroundDiscretionary (in case of motor vehicle)Obligatory (in case of motor vehicle)2
    RTRA S.89(1)Exceeding speed limitDiscretionaryObligatory3–11

    Other offences

    Manslaughter by the driver of a motor vehicleObligatoryObligatory3–11
    Aggravated vehicle taking under Section 12A of Theft Act 1968ObligatoryObligatory3–11

    Prisons (Boards Of Visitors)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has, over what time scale and at what cost, (i) to ensure that boards of visitors in the Prison Service are properly resourced and (ii) to provide the liaison section with its own premises. [37762]

    As the hon. Member will be aware, recommendations about the resourcing of boards of visitors and moving the liaison section from the Prison Service to the Home Office were made by a review of the role of boards of visitors, whose report was published in May 1995. These recommendations were supported by the Learmont report, published in October 1995.In accordance with the recommendations, the liaison section, which provides the central administration for boards, was moved from Prison Service headquarters to new offices in a Home Office building, Horseferry house, on 1 January and it formally joined the Home Office on 1 April. On the appointment of a national director for boards, as recommended by the review, the liaison section became the secretariat to the director.The additional costs of providing the central administrative support necessary to implement the review were originally estimated in the review report as £270,000.In accordance with the review, a management consultancy review of staffing in the liaison section was carried out between May and October 1995 to determine more exactly the levels and grades of staff required. Its staffing recommendations were implemented by May 1996.The additional staffing costs required to implement the consultancy review with effect from the financial year 1996–97 in fact required an increase of £282,000 on the budgeted cost but an increase of only £126,000 on actual spend as compared with the outturn figures for financial year 1995–96, as some gradual increase in staffing support had already been endorsed by the Prison Service.Local administrative support for boards is provided by the establishment to which each board is appointed. The level of support provided is subject to agreement between the governor and the chairman of the board. A survey is currently being carried out to determine the level of support provided and ensure that it meets the standards set out in the review. Details of the costs of such administrative support are not available centrally.

    Asylum Seekers

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of applications made for asylum by citizens born in Nigeria for each of the last three years up to the latest available date; how many applications have been (a) granted and (b) rejected; and if he will make a statement. [37478]

    Information on asylum applications from nationals of Nigeria, and decisions on applications, for the first six months of 1996, is given in the table. Similar information for the years 1993 to 1995 is given in tables 4.2 to 4.4 of the Home Office statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 1995", issue 9/96, a copy of which is in the Library.

    Decisions1 on applications1 received for asylum in the United Kingdom from nationals of Nigeria, excluding dependants, January to June 1996
    January to June 1996
    Asylum applications 21,815
    Decisions2, 32,530
    Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum5
    Not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave to remain 45
    Total refused2,520
    Refused asylum and ELR—after full consideration2,260
    Refused on non-compliance grounds5230
    Refused on safe third country grounds630
    1 Provisional figures rounded to the nearest 5, with '*' = 1 or 2 and '..' = not available.
    2 Figures exclude information on applications made overseas.
    3 Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same year.
    4 Usually granted for a year in the first instance, subject then to further review.
    5 Paragraph 340 (paragraph 180F prior to 1 October 1994 and paragraph 101 prior to 26 July 1993) of the Immigration Rules, for failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period, including failure to respond to invitations to interview to establish identity.
    6 Refused on the grounds that the applicant had arrived from a safe third country.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Deaprtment how many persons who have had their claims for asylum rejected are held in detention at the present time. [37518]

    As at 27 June, there were 586 asylum seekers held in detention after having their claims for asylum rejected.

    Fraud

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what inquiries to detect fraud by cross-checking his Department's payroll with details of those claiming benefit he has undertaken; when these exercises took place; and how many staff were (a) suspended, (b) dismissed and (c) prosecuted as a result. [37702]

    The Department responds to inquiries made by the Benefits Agency on the basis of its belief that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that an individual may be involved in benefit fraud.In the past five years, one member of staff has been dismissed following conviction for benefit fraud.

    Uk Passport Agency

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the status of the UK Passport Agency's framework document following the decision to confirm the agency's status as an executive agency of the Home Office for a further period. [38419]

    Following a "prior options" review, an announcement was made to Parliament in November 1994 that Ministers had agreed that the Passport Agency should retain its status as an executive agency for another five years. The agency's framework document has been revised and I am pleased to say that copies of the revised document have now been placed in the Library.

    Forensic Science Service

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will lay before Parliament the annual report for the Forensic Science Service. [38420]

    I have today laid before Parliament copies of the Forensic Science Service's annual report and accounts for 1995–96.The FSS met or exceeded all its targets in 1995–96. During 1996–97, I expect the service to continue to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. The financial targets for the year are recovery of full economic costs; and a cash unit cost target of £81.33 based on an efficiency gain of 3.6 per cent. on the audited 1995–96 results. In view of the merger of the FSS with the Metropolitan police forensic science laboratory on 1 April, this target has been calculated taking into account retrospective adjustment to 1995–96 as if the merged organisation had existed throughout 1995–96. From 1996–97 onwards, the cash unit cost measure has been translated into the cost per process output hour rather than as previously the chargeable output day. The service level targets are to meet 90 per cent. of delivery dates agreed with customers; to maintain accreditation to UKAS NAMAS M10 and BSI.QA ISO 9000 series standards; and the completion of a customer satisfaction survey.

    Licences

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the licences issued by his Department; for what purpose they are issued; and what are the administrative costs involved for each. [37597]

    [holding answer 16 July 1996]: The Home Office is responsible for a large number of licensing regimes; in most cases, the licences themselves are issued not by the Department but by bodies such as the Gaming Board, licensing justices, local authorities and the police.A list of Home Office issued licences and, where available, their administrative costs are as follows:

  • (a) Possession of prohibited weapons authority. Details of administrative costs, which are shared with the police, are not available.
  • (b) Licences to regulate the supply, etcetera of controlled drugs and precursor chemicals. The total administrative cost to the Home Office for 1996–97 will be $481,000.
  • (c) Licences under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The total annual cost of the administrative and licensing system is £2.3 million.
  • (d) Licences for the removal of human remains. Licences are administered free of charge and administrative costs are not available.
  • Health

    Hiv Prevention (Prisons)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures are in place to monitor the allocation of HIV prevention money by health authorities for health promotion in prisons; [35439](2) what proportion of the current HIV prevention budget has been allocated for HIV prevention initiatives in prisons. [35438]

    Guidance issued to health authorities in EL(96)30 states that approximately 50 per cent. of the prevention allocation should be used to develop locally targeted HIV health promotion and prevention programmes. These programmes should be directed towards both the national target groups identified in the Government's HIV-AIDS health promotion strategy and any locally determined priorities. The latter may include the provision of HIV prevention programmes in prisons.For 1996–97, health authorities have been asked to submit a mid-year report and a detailed outturn report on prevention spending. This will take the form of a breakdown of spend by national target group and by type of activity, but does not require spend on HIV health promotion work in prisons to be shown separately.Copies of the guidance and the health promotion strategy are available in the Library.

    Parliamentary Questions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 26 March, Official Report, column 515, about parliamentary questions, what method would be used by his Department in collating the information requested. [37528]

    Intensive Care Patients

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has commissioned into the psychological reactions of intensive care unit patients; and if he will make a statement. [37184]

    None. The report of the working group on guidelines on admission to and discharge from intensive care and high dependency units published in March this year drew attention to the potential for psychological distress for the patient undergoing intensive care.

    Epilepsy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he is funding into factors associated with depression in epilepsy; and if he will make a statement. [37186]

    Information on research commissioned by the Department of Health is contained in "Centrally Commissioned Research Programme" and "Centrally Commissioned Research Programme: Commissions 1994–95", copies of which are available in the Library.The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council.

    Homelessness (Doncaster)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will fund research into the utilisation of health care services by homeless people in Doncaster; and if he will make a statement. [37187]

    This is a matter for Doncaster health authority. The hon. Member may wish to contact the chairman of the authority for details.

    Hepatitis B

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the infectivity of hepatitis B. [37189]

    The Department has commissioned some owrk on hepatitis B virus deoxyribonucleic acid assays and on their use as a possible marker of transmissibility of hepatitis B infection.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his Department's estimate of the proportion of babies born to mothers fected with hepatitis B who will also become chronically infected. [37192]

    The risk that a baby born to a mother infected with hepatitis B will become infected depends upon the relative infectivity of the mother. Studies indicate that transmission rates of around 10 to 20 per cent. or less may occur with mothers of low infectivity but these may rise to 70 to 90 per cent. with highly infectious carrier mothers. About 90 per cent. of babies infected perinatally by a highly infectious mother will become chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus; those infected by mothers of low infectivity have a much lower risk of becoming carriers. These figures are in the absence of immune prophylaxis.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hepatitis B carriers there are in the United Kingdom. [37194]

    The number of chronic carriers of hepatitis B in the United Kingdom is not known precisely. Available data indicate that the UK, in common with other north-western European countries, has one of the lowest prevalence rates of hepatitis B carriers in the world, being around 0.1 to 0.2 per cent. The carriage rate in the UK will vary with geographical location, being low in some rural areas and higher in some inner cities where there are aggregations of high-risk groups.

    Mental Health Services

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health authorities have put out to tender (a) the arrangement of mental health services and (b) the provision of mental health services. [37330]

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the level of spending on mental health services in each health authority and as a percentage of total expenditure in each health authority in each of the last three years. [37329]

    Dementia