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Written Answers

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 5 November 1997

Attorney-General

Cash And Running Costs Limits

To ask the Attorney-General what proposals there are to change the 1997–98 cash limit or running cost limit for the work of Her Majesty's Procurator-General and Treasury Solicitor. [14043]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class VIII, vote 6 will be increased by £433,000 from £7,003,000 to £7,436,000. The running costs limit is also increased by £712,000 from £25,742,000 to £26,454,000. The increases reflect the increased demand for services, machinery of Government changes and a transfer of an end year flexibility amount from the Crown Prosecution Service to take account of the costs of the CPS review falling on the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers. The increase in the cash limit will be charged to the Reserve and will therefore not be an addition to the planned total of public expenditure.

Environment, Transport And The Regions

British Railways Board

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has set the British Railways Board an external finance limit for 1997–98. [14922]

I have set the British Railways Board an external finance limit of £69.7 million for 1997–98.

Transport Council

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Transport Council held in Luxembourg on 9 October. [14923]

The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 9 October. I represented the United Kingdom.The Council opened with a session of structured dialogue with Transport Ministers of the applicant central European countries—CECs. A report by the Commission on the recent Pan-European conference in Helsinki was followed by discussion of issues relating to market access. Three areas for future work were identified: the need to strengthen co-operation between the Community and the CECs; developing the mobility of citizens; and the need to take account of all modes of transport in negotiations in market access.

The Council discussed air transport negotiations with the US. The Commission's view was that, although Community discussions with the US on regulatory issues had been useful, further progress would not be made unless market access was brought within the scope of the negotiations. The UK noted that success in its current bilateral negotiations with the US would bring benefits for passengers from the UK and the rest of the EU. The UK and other member states expressed doubts about the Commission's approach. The presidency concluded that there should be further work by the Commission, and a report back to the December Council.

The Council took note of the Commission's progress report on air transport negotiations with the CECs.

The Council debated a draft directive on airport charges. The debate focused on two aspects of the directive: the use of charges for cross-subsidy of smaller regional airports; and the variability of charges to reflect environmental considerations. The Council invited the Committee of Permanent Representatives to continue its examination of the proposal.

The Council reached unanimous political agreement on a directive on access to the occupation of road transport operator. This directive will raise the standards required of lorry, bus and coach operators in the Community.

The Council agreed conclusions urging greater emphasis on the public-private partnerships approach to Trans-European Network projects.

The Commission presented its White Paper on extension of the provisions of working time legislation to excluded sectors, including transport. It was noted that consultation with interested parties was still in progress. The UK, with some other member states, urged a case-by-case approach to the extension to transport, taking account of the needs of each form of transport.

The Commission presented the case for a Community-wide blood alcohol limit of 50 mg per 100 ml. The UK expressed its determination to further reduce alcohol-related roads deaths, and noted that it was important to consider other ways of reducing drink-drive accidents as well.

There was a discussion of weekend lorry bans in member states; the Commission undertook to produce draft legislation on this issue by the end of the year. The Commission also presented its draft regulation extending the Community's competition rules to air services to third countries.

Tax Advice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies, on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995–96, (2) 1996–97 and (3) 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [13257]

For the Department and for non-departmental public bodies the information is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. For agencies the figures are: 1995–96 Nil, 1996–97 £16,562 and 1997–98 (spend to date) £3,525.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13258]

One agency of the Department has used tax advisers to enable it to fulfil its statutory tax obligations rather than for tax avoidance purposes.

Roads (Downland Design, Build, Finance And Operate Scheme)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what compensation payments are required to be made, and to whom, as a result of the decision not to proceed in July with the construction of the A27 Polegate bypass and associated works within the Weald and Downland DBFO scheme. [13776]

[holding answer 3 November 1997]: We are currently considering whether the four consortia that submitted tenders for the Weald and Downland DBFO project should be compensated for their costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the total cost to the Government of compensation in respect of the postponement of the Downland DBFO Scheme. [14204]

We are currently considering whether the four consortia who submitted tenders for the Weald and Downland DBFO project should be compensated for their costs.

Ordnance Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has to change the 1997–98 cash limit and net running cost limit for the Ordnance Survey. [14400]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary winter supplementary estimate for Ordnance Survey, the cash limit will be increased by a token of £1,000 from £6,759,000 to £6,760,000 and the net running cost limit increased from £3,025,000 to £3,026,000.This supplementary estimate reflects an increase in running cost expenditure of £2,001,000 from £73,970,000 offset by an increase in appropriations in aid of £2,000,000 from £78,180,000 to £80,180,000.

Cash And Running Costs Limits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to change his Department's cash limits and running cost limits for 1997–98. [14401]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimates, my Department's cash limits will change as follows:

(i) the cash limit for class V, vote 1—Highways Agency—will be increased by £10,229,000 from £1,562,329,000 to £1,572,558,000. The increase in the cash limit reflects the take-up of £11,979,000 capital end year flexibility amount as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report, columns 245–50, offset by an inter-vote transfer from this vote to class V, vote 2 of £1,750,000 for the ongoing motorway tolling project.
(ii) the cash limit for class V, vote 2—Department of Transport: administration and transport services—will be increased by £3,625,000 from £158,075,000 to £161,700,000. The increase results from the take-up of £2,000,000 capital end year flexibility amount as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report columns 245–50 and inter-vote transfers from class V, vote 1 of £1,750,000 and from class V, vote 5 of £85,000 for mobility unit expenditure to be re-classified as running costs, offset by inter-vote transfers from this vote to class V, vote 5 of £60,000 for priority routes in London and to class XIII, vote 2 of £150,000 for the Edinburgh City Car Club research project. Running cost provision for this vote increases by £85,000 from £86,436,000 to £86,521,000.
(iii) the cash limit for class V, vote 5—Roads and local transport—will be increased by £1,675,000 from £313,863,000 to £315,538,000. The increase reflects the take up of £2,100,000 structural funds end year flexibility amount as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report columns 245–50 and an inter-vote transfer from class V, vote 2 of £60,000, offset by an inter-vote transfer from this vote to class V, vote 2 of £85,000 and a reduction in the provision for licence fee refunds to goods vehicle and public service vehicle operators and drivers of £400,000.
(iv) the cash limit for class V, vote 7—Passenger rail services—will be reduced by £51,000,000 from £1,516,385,000 to £1,465,385,000. The reduction reflects a £50,000,000 inter-vote transfer from this vote to class V, vote 3 for Metropolitan Railway Passenger Services Grant, and a £1,000,000 reduction in respect of reduced expenditure on consultants.
(v) the DoT/LACAP (Local Authority Capital) non-voted cash limit will be increased by £7,150,000 from £349,193,000 to £356,343,000, to fund works associated with the rebuilding of Manchester city centre comprising of improvements to the Inner Relief Road, the development of a bus strategy and traffic management scheme and improved routes for pedestrians. The increase of £7,150,000 will be met by a call on the Reserve.
As a consequence of the changes in (ii) above the gross running costs limit operating on class V, votes 1, 2, 4 and 6 will be increased by £85,000 from £373,274,000 to £373,359,000.
(vi) the cash limit for class VI, vote 1—housing and construction, England—covering sections A, D to G, I, J and L of that vote, will be decreased by £3,325.000 from £599,708,000 to £596,383,000. An increase in the cash limit of £220,000 is offset by a decrease of £3,545,000. The increase is to meet residual additional administration costs the Housing Corporation is expected to incur in respect of the loan portfolio sale, funded from sale receipts. The decrease results principally from a reduction of £2,935,000 in homelessness grants current expenditure provision to fund an increase in rough sleepers initiative capital allocations through the Housing Corporation, which falls outside the cash limit. Of the remaining reductions, Estates Renewal Challenge Fund provision will be reduced by £500,000 to support registered social landlords' housing costs arising from the need to house people displaced from Montserrat as a result of volcanic activity on the island, and a reduction of £110,000 results from a reclassification of extra receipts recovered from homelessness grants, so that voted provision takes account of those receipts and is adjusted accordingly. The DETR/HC (Housing Corporation) cash limit will consequently be increased by £3,435.000 from £673,050,000 to £676,485,000.
(vii) a new DETR/CRI (Capital Receipts Initiative) cash limit will be introduced, subject to the passage of legislation, to cover the Government's initiative to release additional resources to support local authority spending on housing and housing associated regeneration. The limit on expenditure is set initially at £174,270,000.
(viii) the cash limit for class VI, vote 2—regeneration and countryside and wildlife, England—will be increased by £36,116,000 from £1,480,168,000 to £1,516,284,000. An increase is required of £14,000,000 for the Urban Regeneration Agency (English Partnerships) to continue with works at Greenwich for the Millennium Exhibition and £7,230,000 for support for the regeneration of Manchester city centre; £8,000,000 for payments to be made for ERDF projects in advance of grant; £2,491,000 for the Teesside Development Corporation to meet a deficit as a result of judicial review; and £4,395,000 on three capital projects which had slipped from previous years. The increase will be met by a call on the Reserve of £17,991,000, the use of £10,125,000 end year flexibility amount as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997, Official Report columns 245–50, offset in part by the surrender of £4,000,000 of receipts to the Exchequer and a transfer of £8,000,000 from the DOE/ERDF non-voted cash limit.
(ix) the DETR/ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) non-voted cash limit will be reduced by £8,000,000 from £146,332,000 to £138,332,000. This reflects gross payments to be made for ERDF projects in advance of European Community receipts. As a consequence of (viii) above, there will be increases to external financing limits for the Urban Development Corporations of £1,427,000 from £199,784,000 to £201,211,00; for the Urban Regeneration Agency (English Partnerships) of £46,000,000 from £204,779,000 to £250,779,000 and for the Housing Action Trusts of £512,000 from £88,688,000 to £89,200.00.
(x) the cash limit for class VI, vote 4—local government and planning, England—covering sections A to F of that vote, will be reduced by £321,000 from £30,987,957,000 to £30,987,636,000. This reflects savings on payments to meet the expenses of valuation tribunals in Section A (Valuation services), on grant in aid to the Local Government Residuary Body in Section B (Reorganisation of local government) and on the European Union Spatial Planning Initiative in Section D (Planning and minerals research). The saving will be used within vote 4, to cover residual payments of council tax transitional reduction grant in Section H (Council tax transitional reduction grant) and of special grant to authorities affected by the terrorist bombings of Docklands and Manchester and emergency financial assistance under the Bellwin scheme in section 1 (Other grants), which are outside the cash limit on the vote.
The overall increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much money has been given to Derbyshire county council and Derby city council in revenue support grant from central Government for 1997–98 [13753]

Derbyshire county council received £166.734 million and Derby city council received £84.507 million revenue support grant for 1997–98.

Rent Officer Service

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what decision has been made in relation to the future of the rent officer service; and how many responses were received during the consultation period. [13479]

I announced on 7 August that I had concluded that there was a strong case for the creation of a Next Steps Agency for the Rent Officer Service in England. I said then that before taking a final decision I would be consulting interested parties, including the Local Government Association, the trades unions representing rent officers and their support staff, and other interested parties. That consultation is now complete, and I am grateful for the 63 responses I received from individuals and organisations. I am placing a summary of these in the Library.There is general agreement that the current arrangements are unsatisfactory, but views differ on the solution. Many respondents favoured the Agency proposal, but support was also expressed for various alternative proposals. I have given very careful consideration to all the views which have been submitted, but have concluded that none of the alternative suggestions would tackle satisfactorily the inherent problems of the Service, which are caused by the unclear pattern of accountability and local inconsistencies of approach. I have therefore decided to proceed with the establishment of a Next Steps Agency for the Rent Officer Service in England.My Department will now go ahead, in consultation with interested parties, to make preparations for establishing the Agency. It will be necessary to ensure that the implementation costs can be contained within the available public expenditure provision. For this reason, and because of the amount of detailed planning yet to be done, I cannot yet say when the Agency will become operational, but it will be as soon as practicable.

Waste Dumping At Sea

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the time scale for ending the dumping of wastes at sea. [13025]

I have been asked to reply.The United Kingdom is a contracting party to the Oslo convention for the prevention of marine pollution by dumping from ships and aircraft and its successor, the convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic (the OSPAR convention) which is expected to come into force shortly. Under the OSPAR convention only the following may be considered for dumping.

dredged material
inert materials of natural origin, that is solid, chemically unprocessed geological material the chemical constituents of which are unlikely to be released into the marine environment;
sewage sludge until 31 December 1998;
fish waste from industrial fish processing operations; and
vessels and aircraft until, at the latest, 31 December 2004.
disused offshore installations and offshore pipelines.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

British Passports

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many passports were issued by the British embassy in Dublin in each of the last five years and how many were refused in each of those years specifying the most frequent reason for refusal. [13020]

The information is as follows:

Passports issuedIneligible applications/refusals
19934,83512
19946,12224
19955,23617
19965,40620
19975,06811
Total to date26,66784
These figures do not include extensions, child additions or amendments. Entitlement to British passports is a matter of law. Passports are refused when the applicant is unable to prove identity or his or her claim to British nationality.

Belarus

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made through diplomatic channels to the State of Belarus about the suspension of parliamentary democracy within that country. [13101]

We regularly make clear to the Belarus authorities our concerns over the constitutional and human rights situation in Belarus. Our ambassador in Minsk reiterated these concerns to Foreign Minister Antanovich at a meeting in September and officials from this Department made similar points to Deputy Foreign Minister Martynov in London in September.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent contacts there have been between Her Majesty's Government and the state of Belarus. [13100]

Following the disputed constitutional referendum of November 1996, the EU General Affairs Council adopted Conclusions in February 1997, in accordance with which we have had no Ministerial contacts with Belarus. Officials from this Department made clear to Deputy Foreign Minister Martynov in London in September our concerns about the constitutional and human rights situation.

Commonwealth Summit (Bananas And Sugar)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with representatives of Commonwealth Governments at Edinburgh concerning (a) the World Trade Organisation judgment on trade in bananas and (b) the consequential effects of such judgment on the Lomé agreement, with particular reference to its protocol concerning sugar. [13390]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met representatives of Caribbean Commonwealth Governments and discussed, among other things, their concerns about the implications of the World Trade Organisation ruling. He made clear that the UK would work for a new EC banana regime which was consistent with WTO rules and which took account of our obligations under the Lomé convention. He did not discuss the potential effects of the ruling on other preferential effects of the ruling on other preferential trading arrangements provided for under the Lomé convention. The Edinburgh economic declaration notes our support for the legitimate interests of the African Caribbean and Pacific banana producers and our resolve to work for a successor arrangement to the Lomé convention which gives the ACP adequate transitional arrangements.

European Treaties

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with which person or body articles of ratification of the treaty of Amsterdam will be deposited; if there is any time limit on such action; and what obligations will be placed on any member state, other than those entered into in the current treaties, if they are unable to deposit such articles or other necessary documents. [13050]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: Instruments of ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam will be deposited with the Italian Government. No time limit has been set for ratifying the treaty. The treaty will only enter into force after all member states have ratified it and it will therefore impose no obligations on a state which does not ratify it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish prior to consideration of the Bill enabling Her Majesty's Government to ratify the treaty of Amsterdam a consolidated version of the principal treaties of the European Community and Union combining the content of the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam. [13054]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: The intergovernmental conference agreed to attach to the Final Act, for illustrative purposes, the texts of the treaty on European Union and the treaty establishing the European Community as they result from the amendments made by the Treaty of Amsterdam. These texts are set out in Cm 3780. They do not form part of the treaty of Amsterdam and do not themselves require ratification.

Immigration Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many letters from hon. members have been received since May relating to immigration matters; how many were received in the same period last year; what percentage of replies to hon. Members are signed by a Minister; and what are the factors which determine that such replies are signed in this way. [13199]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: Between 1 May and 31 October 5,812 letters were received from Members; 4,321 were received in the same period last year; around 11 per cent. are signed by a Minister. There are no set factors determining which letters are signed by a Minister; each case is considered individually.

Cash And Running Costs Limits

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes he proposes to make in his Department's cash limits and running cost limits for 1997–98. [14286]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimates the following changes will be made:The cash limit for class II, vote 1 (Overseas Representation) will be increased by £9,050,000 from £619,826,000 to £628,876,000. The increase is required to cover the costs of major conferences, specifically the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the EU Presidency and the Asia Europe Meeting, which total £9,000,000. There is also a transfer in of £50,000 from the Home Office for a contribution towards the fight against international drug trafficking.The gross running costs limit on class II, vote 1 will be increased by £9,050,000 from £525,763,000 to £534,813,000.The cash limit for class II, vote 2 (Other External Relations) will be increased by £12,600,000 from £217,215,000 to £229,815,000. The increase is required to cover UK contributions to certain OSCE, United Nations and WEU Missions of £12,000,000 and also for a transfer of £600,000 from the Home Office towards certain Overseas Drugs Assistance Programmes.In addition, the cash limit for class H, vote 3 (BBC World Service) will be reduced by £2,558,000 from £169,906,000 to £167,348,000. This reduction takes account of transfers to the Ministry of Defence of £3,444,000 and to the Cabinet Office of £327,000 to reflect the movement of the BBC World Service Monitoring Service to subscription-based funding. This is partially offset by the take-up of a capital end-year flexibility amount of £1,213,000 as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July,

Official Report, columns 245–50.

The increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve, and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations concerning abuses of human rights Her Majesty's Government have made to the Czech and Slovak Republics. [13491]

[holding answer 3 November 1997]: We are aware of reports of incidents of discrimination against members of the Roma community in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We have been in contact with the Governments of the two countries, and do not consider these to be institutionalised abuses of human rights.

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress towards democracy in Burma since 1 May. [14072]

The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) continue to repress pro-democracy and ethnic groups, and remain unwilling to enter into substantive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders. Ministers have made several statements since 1 May condemning the SLORC' s policies, and have supported the introduction of tougher measures against the SLORC at both the national and EU level.

Australia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Australian counterpart concerning the arrangements being made for testing parliamentary and public opinion in Australia on whether that country should become a republic; and if he will make a statement. [14395]

Antarctic

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the Government of Japan concerning ratification of the Antarctic treaty. [14218]

Officials have discussed the ratification of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty with their Japanese counterparts several times in the past few months and have used these occasions to encourage Japan to ratify it at the earliest opportunity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with the signatory nations to the Antarctic Environmental protocol; and when he expects to be able to make an announcement on the siting of the secretariat. [14219]

There have been no further discussions since the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) in New Zealand in May this year when the Consultative Parties were unable to reach consensus on the location of the Secretariat. The next ATCM will be in May 1998.

Northern Ireland

Girocheques (Reissues)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the percentage increase in 1996 of reissues of girocheques (a) in total and (b) by social security office that involved losses to her Department; and if she will make a statement. [13021]

Responsibility for the subject has been delegated to the Social Security Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Chris Thompson. I have asked him to arrange for a response to be given.

Letter from Chris Thompson to Mr. Robert McCartney, dated 31 October 1997:

I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on the percentage increase, in 1996, of re-issues of girocheques.
The percentage increase in 1996–97 of re-issued girocheques to benefit customers in Northern Ireland which led to losses to the Department of Health and Social Services was 16.9 per cent. This percentage excludes 234 re-issues in 1995–96 and 982 re-issues in 1996–97 which are still under investigation. The percentage change for each Social Security Office is given in the attached table.
The main reason for the increase between 1995–96 and 1996–97 is that from November 1995, procedures in the Social Security Agency were brought in line with those of the Benefits Agency in Great Britain to reflect the legal position.
Case law in Great Britain on the treatment of claims and payments places the burden of proof on the Department to show that the customer has received benefit from an instrument of payment which has been lost or stolen. This means that the Social Security Agency cannot delay in making a replacement payment, for example, to await the trace encashment of the original girocheque. Within this procedure, all reasonable practical precautions are of course taken before a payment is reissued.
The Agency attaches much importance to the prevention of fraud and the use of taxpayers' money and, taking account of the concern expressed, is reviewing its existing procedures.
I hope this explains the position for you but I would be happy to provide any further information you require.

Number of girocheques re-issued with losses

Issuing office

1 April 1995 to 31 March 1996 Loss

1 April 1996 to 31 March 1997 Loss

Increase/decrease

Percentage

Antrim SSO2532+7+28
Armagh SSO2423-1-4
Ballymena SSO3460+26+76·4
Ballymoney SSO815+7+87·5
Ballynahinch SSO45+1+25
Banbridge SSO412+8+200
Bangor SSO3664+28+77·8
Carrickfergus SSO1967+48+252·6
Coleraine SSO4060+20+50
Cookstown SSO718+11+157·1
Downpatrick SSO4124-17-41·5
Dungannon SSO3034+4+13·3
Enniskillen SSO1936+17+89·5
Foyle SSO178213+35+19·7
Headquarters5857-1-1·7
Kilkeel SSO14+3+300
Larne SSO1216+4+33·3
Limavady SSO3635-1-2·8
Lisburn SSO3530-5-14·3
Lisnagelvin SSO2847+19+67·9
Lurgan SSO2223+1+4·5
Magherafelt SSO310+7+233·3
Newcastle SSO146-8-57·1
Newry SSO8273-9-11
Newtownards SSO4338-5-11·6
Omagh SSO2440+16+66·7
Portadown SSO3133+2+6·5
Strabane SSO3554+19+54·3
Andersonstown SSO138195+57+41·3

Casualties as a result of paramilitary style attacks

Casualties as a result of paramilitary style assaults

Casualties as a result of paramilitary style shootings

Total casualties as a result of paramilitary style attacks

Attribution

Loyalist

Republican

Total

Loyalist

Republican

Total

Loyalist

Republican

Total

Dates

20 January 1997 to 19 July 19974247892614406861129
20 July 1997 to 28 October 19971814329312271744

Number of girocheques re-issued with losses

Issuing office

1 April 1995 to 31 March 1996 Loss

1 April 1996 to 31 March 1997 Loss

Increase/decrease

Percentage

Corporation Street SSO241242+1+0·4
Falls Road SSO157144-13-8·3
Holywood Road SSO7958-21-26·6
Knockbreda SSO323200
Newtownabbey SSO3049+19+63·3
Shaftesbury Square SSO9569-26-27·4
Shankill Road SSO89132+43+48·3
Total1,7542,050+296+16·9

Southern Health And Social Services Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which members of the Southern health and social services council belong to (a) the SDLP, and (b) the Ulster Unionist party; how many of these appointments were recommended by representatives of the Irish Government; and if she will make a statement. [13012]

Monitoring information on the political activity of appointees to the Health and Social Services Councils has only been collected since July 1996. Of the 10 places, out of a full membership of 24, reserved on the Southern Health and Social Services Council for District Council nominees, five are held by SDLP members and five are held by members of the Ulster Unionist Party. The monitoring information held by the Department indicates that no political activity has been undertaken by the other members in the last five years.None of the members of the Southern Council were recommended for consideration for appointment by representatives of the Irish Government.

Paramilitary Beatings

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list all recorded instances of paramilitary beatings in the period since the Provisional IRA ceasefire of July 1997, indicating in each instance whether the event was carried out by loyalist or republican groups and giving the equivalent figures of the preceding six months. [13856]

The table illustrates the number of paramilitary style assaults and paramilitary shootings attributed to Loyalist and Republican groups since the Provisional IRA ceasefire on 20 July 1997 and equivalent figures for the previous six months.

Forest Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has for the future organisation of the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture. [14838]

As my colleague the Minister with responsibility for this matter, Lord Dubs, announced in another place on 16 October in reply to a question from baroness Nicol, Official Report, House of Lords, column 200, following consideration of a Prior Options Study, which was announced to Parliament on 7 March 1995, the Government have decided that the Forest Service should become a Next Steps Agency and that preparations should proceed with a view to agentisation with effect from 1 April 1998.

Retained deficits of HPSS boards Northern Ireland
1994–951995–961996–97
BoardDeficit (£ million)Percentage of budgetDeficit (£ million)Percentage of budgetDeficit (£ million)Percentage of budget
EHSSB1·9860·375·150·95
SHSSB1·5820·625·20·2
WHSSB1·1390·532·6531·161·020·44
NHSSB recorded a surplus in each of the three years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the (a) actual deficits and (b) projected deficits of each health trust as a percentage of their budgets for the last three years. [14271]

Retained deficits of HSS trusts (Northern Ireland)
1994–951995–961996–97
TrustDeficit (£ million)Percentage of incomeDeficit (£ million)Percentage of turnoverDeficit (£million)Percentage of turnover
BCH0·9971·220·5860·692·4062·66
CAH0·1910·450·3440·761·2882·82
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service0·0861·220·010·05
UNDAH1·0141·940·320·561·8573·21
RGH1·2250·9
Green Park1·1182·340·5191·04
Mater0·0070·38
Craigavon/Banbridge0·0880·27
Newry/Mourne0·250·58
North and West Belfast0·8390·99
Causeway0·3780·8
Altnagelvin0·1090·23
Armagh/Dungannon0·0920·16

Lord Chancellor's Department

Dispute Resolution

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how he intends to promote greater use of alternative dispute resolution in place of civil litigation. [13312]

The Forest Service is responsible for the implementation of Government forestry policy within Northern Ireland and performs broadly the same functions as the Forestry Commission in Great Britain. Agency status will give the service more flexibility in its commercial operations and in the delivery of Government forestry objectives.

Health Authority Budgets

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the (a) actual deficit and (b) projected deficit of each health authority as a percentage of its budget for the last three years. [14464]

The following schedule gives (a) the actual deficit for each of the HSS Health Boards in Northern Ireland for the years 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97 as per the audited accounts and (b) the deficit expressed as a percentage of each board's budget figure.

[holding answer 4 November 1997]: The schedule gives (a) the actual deficit for each of the HSS trusts in Northern Ireland for the years 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97 as per the audited accounts and (b) the deficit figure expressed as a percentage of each trust's total income.

The Lord Chancellor has recently approved pilot schemes for alternative dispute resolution at Bristol county court and in the Court of Appeal. A mediation pilot scheme has been running at Central London county court since May 1996. Before deciding the next steps, the Lord Chancellor will consider the outcome of research on the Central London scheme. The initial report is expected early next year.

Eu Regulations

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken to ensure the up-to-date publication of all amendments to the current United Kingdom law occasioned by European Union regulations. [13387]

Queen's Printer's copies of all newly enacted Acts of Parliament and of Statutory Instruments implementing amendments to current United Kingdom law occasioned by European Union regulations are published promptly by The Stationery Office Limited. The text is also made available on the Internet. The explanatory note at the end of each Statutory Instrument which implements a European Union obligation will identify and cite the relevant European Union instrument.The Lord Chancellor's Department is setting up a statute law database to ensure publication of up to date amended text of United Kingdom Public General Acts of Parliament. Amendments made to those Acts by United Kingdom legislation in implementation of European Union obligations will be duly incorporated. It is not at present intended that the statute law database should include amended text of Statutory Instruments.

Living Wills

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to amend the law relating to living wills; and if he will make a statement. [13146]

The Law Commission report on mental incapacity published in 1995 includes recommendations relating to advance statements (sometimes referred to as living wills). As I indicated in my written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Hope) on 28 October, Official Report, column 787, the Government do not consider that it would be appropriate to legislate on the basis of these recommendations without fresh public consultation. It is hoped that a consultation paper will be issued by the end of the year.

Magistrates Courts Committees (West Yorkshire)

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what representations he has received from magistrates in West Yorkshire over the work of the joint magistrates committees; and if he will make a statement. [13398]

I have received a letter from one magistrate from West Riding Metropolitan Magistrates Courts Committee which questioned the necessity for a magistrates courts committee for the area. I have also received a letter from the chairman of the Wakefield bench of that MCC concerning the committee's proposals to reallocate duties from the deputy clerks to an increased number of justices clerks and to remove the post of deputy clerk.

Culture, Media And Sport

Tourism

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list his Department's priorities in relation to tourism during the United Kingdom presidency of the European Union. [12972]

We believe that the main aim for the Tourism Unit in the Commission should be to ensure that, across the range of Commission responsibilities. account should be taken of the impact on tourism of decisions and actions, and that the employment and other opportunities represented by tourism should be recognised.We shall be announcing specific events for the British presidency relating to the Department's various responsibilities in due course.

Cash And Running Costs Limits

to ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what changes he proposes to make to his Department's cash limit and running cost limit for 1997–98.[14011]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for class X, vote 1 will be increased by £6,100,000 from £867,853,000 to £873,953,000 and the running costs limit reduced by £746,000 from £30,091,000 to £29,345,000. This is to provide for an increase in provision for the British Library St. Pancras project; to provide for additional maintenance expenditure for the British Library; an increase in provision for the refurbishment of Somerset House for the housing of the Gilbert Collection; transfers from the Department of Trade and Industry (class IV, vote 1) for Sector Challenge funding of tourist and media projects and for sponsorship of the music industry; and a transfer to the Home Office (class VII, vote 1) for voluntary services.The increases will be offset by transfers, savings and charges to the Reserve, and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Prime Minister

Cash And Running Costs Limits

To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has to change the Cabinet Office: Security and Intelligence Services cash limits for 1997–98. [14278]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class XVIII, vote 2 will be increased by £5,606,000 from £713,307,000 to £718,913,000. The running costs cash limit will be increased by £5,606,000 from £362,082,000 to £367,688,000. The increase in running costs is needed to take on board transfers from OPS to the FCO and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

To ask the Prime Minister what proposals there are to change the 1997–98 cash limit or running costs limit for the Cabinet Office: other services vote. [14308]

The cash limit for Cabinet Office: other services (class XVIII, vote 1) will be increased by £1,291,000 from £36,153,000 to £37,444,000 and the running costs limit will be increased by £1,291,000 from £42,803,000 to £44,094,000.This is to reflect a transfer of £168,000 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (class II, vote 3) for the BBC World Service Monitoring Service, which is moving to subscription based funding. The vote is also eligible for a running costs cash limit increase of £1,123,000 in respect of end year flexibility arrangements, as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997,

Official Report, columns 245–250.

The increase will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve, and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Home Department

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers living in the London borough of Barnet have had (a) a final determination of their asylum application made adverse to them and (b) how many of (a) above have been moved into deportation areas and have not yet left the country; and what is the cost to the London borough of Barnet and to central Government of supporting such persons, in total and on average. [13119]

I regret that the information requested is not available centrally. Information on where asylum seekers are living is not available centrally: we cannot therefore give any information on asylum seekers in the London borough of Barnet.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many unsuccessful asylum seekers are currently awaiting deportation from England and Wales; [13769](2) how many unsuccessful asylum seekers are currently awaiting deportation from Scotland.[13770]

I regret that the information is not available separately for England and Wales, or for Scotland.The available information relates to asylum seekers whose initial decision was a refusal, who have subsequently had a deportation order signed and who have not yet left the United Kingdom. As at 30 September 1997, there were 1,510 such persons. That figure is provisional and excludes persons treated as illegal entrants or subject to port refusal procedures.

Cash And Running Costs Limits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for changes to the 1997–98 cash and running costs limits within his responsibilities.[14066]

Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary token supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class VII, vote 1 (Home Office administration, police, probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales) will be reduced by £510,000 from £4,729,171,000 to £4,728,661,000 and the running costs limit will be increased by £5,251,000 from £1,887,680,000 to £1,892,931,000.The changes in the cash limit are the net effect of the following:

A transfer of £490,000 from the non voted cash limit HO/LACAP to fund expenditure on the National Crime Squad Headquarters. The transfer will reduce the HO/LACAP cash limit from £89,546,000 to £89,056,000.
Transfers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of £50,000 for the International Drugs Co-ordinator post and £600,000 in respect of inter-departmental drugs prevention projects in Pakistan and Colombia. A transfer to the Department of Health of £350,000 in respect of the Drugs Challenge Fund.
The increase in the running costs limit is the net effect of payments relating to the transfer of responsibility for voluntary services from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport of £771,000; £30,000 for a payment from Cabinet Office in respect of the Government Information Service Head of Profession; £4,500,000 due to increased demand for passports and a transfer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of £50,000 for the International Drugs Co-ordinator post.

The increases will be offset by transfers and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Derbyshire Police Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money has been given to Derbyshire county council through the revenue support grant for the county's police authority in each of the last three years. [13755]

The Derbyshire Police Authority is independent from the county council, an arrangement which was consequent on the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994. It is the Police Authority which is responsible for setting the budget. The budget is made up of police grant, revenue support grant, non-domestic rates (the business rate) and the police authority precept raised through the council tax. Providing the revenue support grant figure on its own would be uninformative and I have therefore provided a table which shows how the total spending power was made up in the three years referred to in the question.

Derbyshire Police Authority
£ million
YearHome office grantRevenue support grantNon-domestic ratesPolice precept (Council tax)Total spending power
1995–9643.7613.7117.813.0288.3
1996–9746.3613.1419.713.392.5
1997–9848.0914.0918.8915.2896.3

Mr Jonathan Aitken

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is to complete his investigations into the alleged perjury of Mr. Jonathan Aitken during his High Court action against The Guardian; and if he will make a statement. [13768]

This investigation is an operational matter for the Commissioner. The Commissioner informs me that the investigation is continuing and is being pursued as expeditiously as possible. At this time the Metropolitan Police do not have a date for the conclusion of the investigation. When the investigation is complete a report will be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Delegated Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list all (a) secondary, (b) other delegated legislation and (c) all deregulation orders his Department made during the summer adjournment. [14374]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster today.

Police Forces (Staff)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of (a) police officers and (b) civilian support staff, in each police force on (i) the last day for which figures are available and (ii) 1 May for each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [13724]

[holding answer 3 November 1997]: The latest date for which figures are available are those for 31 March 1997. Since 1995, police numbers are collected only twice a year. The strength figures for 1995 and 1996 are therefore those at 31 March. Prior to April 1995, they were collected every month. Police strength figures for 1992, 1993, and 1994 are therefore those for 30 April. Between 30 April 1992 and 30 March 1997, the number of police officers fell by 536. During the same period, the number of civilian support staff increased by 5,568. The information is set out in tables which have been placed in the Library.

Police Act 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when part V of the Police Act 1997 will be brought into force. [14174]

We are currently reviewing the provisions of part V of the Police Act 1997 in the light of our top priority in this area which is the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the criteria which govern the granting of exceptional leave to remain. [14207]

The criteria governing the granting of exceptional leave to remain depend on the particular exercise of discretion outside the Immigration Rules from which a person seeks to benefit. In addition, the Home Secretary may permit any foreign national to remain in the United Kingdom.

Sex Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new measures he proposes to take to protect the community from sex offenders who pose a risk to the public. [14703]

I have published today a consultation paper on community protection orders. Copies are available in the Library.I propose that the chief officer of police will have the power to apply for an order in the civil courts if the behaviour of a person who has been convicted or cautioned for a sex offence, whether in this country or abroad, poses a risk of serious harm to the public.The order will require the defendant to register under the provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 1997, if he is not already required to do so. The court may also impose other prohibitory conditions as are necessary to protect the public.

Fire Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received the final report of the Community Fire Safety Task Force. [14547]

I have received the report of the Community Fire Safety Task Force and made arrangements for it to be published on 3 November. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library.The task force was asked last November to propose a five year strategy to reduce the number of fires and fire casualties in dwellings. It has highly commended the enthusiasm with which fire safety and prevention work is already undertaken by some brigades. It wants to build on their success by putting community fire safety at the centre of both policy and action. It recommends a more integrated and business like approach to community fire safety, with the establishment of a national centre to co-ordinate activity and an increased role for Her Majesty's Fire Service inspectorate to support brigades in the delivery of imaginative, well targeted messages. It also recommends that community fire safety should be made a statutory duty of the fire service.I am grateful to task force members, who came from both the public and private sectors, for delivering an imaginative report in less than a year. I share their high regard for the enthusiasm and expertise of the fire service. It is a high performing service with an excellent record to which I pay tribute.We must, however, all be concerned by the rising trend in domestic fires, deaths and casualties and the task force therefore makes a strong case for an increased and co-ordinated emphasis on community fire safety. Community safety is not solely about reducing crime. It is about our wider responsibilities to make our communities safe and confident. This report is an important contribution to that overall aim and I note that it strongly endorses the multi-agency approach.Before I take any decisions on the details of the strategy, I want to hear the views of chief officers, fire authorities and unions who have a crucial role to play in translating the strategy into action. We will therefore be consulting interested parties over the next few months before deciding how to respond to the report.

Tax Advice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies, on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995–96, (2) 1996–97 and (3) 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [13261]

Expenditure by the Department, its agencies and non departmental bodies (NDPBs), on tax consultants and other tax advice for the three years in question is:

1995–961996–971997–98
£££
(a) Departmental
(i) Tax Consultants
(ii) Other49,68830,55016,450
(b) Agencies
(i) Tax Consultants
(ii) Other25,000
(c) NDPBs
(i) Tax Consultants11,26845,5434,000
(ii) Other42,47536,67238,070

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement.[13262]

The Department's policy is not to use tax advisers for tax avoidance purposes. Such advisers may be used to assist the Department in meeting its statutory tax obligations.

Remand (Juveniles)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for implementing court-ordered secure remand for juveniles. [14548]

At present, when juveniles—aged 10 to 16 years—are charged and not released on bail after a court appearance, they are remanded to local authority accommodation. The local authority may, if it can satisfy certain strict conditions, return to the court and seek a secure accommodation order to place the juvenile in local authority secure accommodation. Separate arrangements exist for 15 and 16-year-old boys who may be remanded direct to prison, again if strict conditions are met. The courts have no power to require any juvenile in this age group to be remanded directly to local authority secure accommodation.

There are, however, existing provisions on the statute book but not yet brought into force which would allow this to happen. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 contains provision for the abolition of prison remands for 15 and 16-years-old boys, and gives courts a power to remand these boys. as well as 15 and 16-year-old girls, directly to local authority secure accommodation. Section 20 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 provides for the extension of court-ordered secure remands to 12 to 14-year-olds but only once the provision in section 60 of the 1991 Act has been implemented for 15 and 16-year-olds.

Before the Government can implement section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and the provisions in the 1994 Act, there must be available a sufficient number of places to meet the expected demand. This is not the case at the moment. Whilst a building programme was put in place to provide 170 new secure places in local authority accommodation for this purpose, the number of juveniles remanded in custody has increased significantly since the building programme began and prison remands now typically stand within the 250 to 300 range. The demand from this group alone would significantly outstrip the capacity of the local authority secure estate even once the building programme has been completed.

The Government are keen to begin implementation of those provisions and have decided to do so in stages. The Government will, therefore, implement the provision in relation to 12 to 14-year-olds as soon as practicable.

The Government, therefore, propose:

  • (a) that court-ordered secure remands for 12 to 14-year-olds and 15 and 16-year-old girls will be implemented as soon as practicable; and
  • (b) that the courts should be able to remand the most vulnerable 15 and 16-year-old boys direct to local authority secure accommodation rather than to prison, subject to certain criteria and if a place has been identified in advance.
  • Under the existing legislation court-ordered secure remands for 12 to 14-year-olds cannot be implemented without first doing the same for 15 and 16-year-olds. The Government intend to use this Session's Crime and Disorder Bill to make the necessary legislative changes; Royal Assent is unlikely before summer 1998. The Government remain committed to implementing the provisions in full and will keep the position under review, but we believe that our current approach is the most practical and effective way forward.

    As part of the Government's comprehensive spending review, we are also conducting a study of the whole range of secure accommodation for young people, including the local authority secure units. The Government wish to ensure that the assets and other resources employed in the accommodation and care of accused, convicted and other juveniles who need secure accommodation are used to best effect, including in meeting their educational needs and, where relevant, in tackling their offending behaviour. We will want to see how the proposed court-ordered remands and the associated accommodation fit into our plans for coming to grips with the present range of facilities which make up the juvenile secure estate. Our aim is to press on with this work as quickly as possible.

    On 15 October, Directors of Social Services in England and Wales and the representative bodies of the local government associations and the directors of social services were informed of the Government's decision to implement these existing provisions. It was also suggested that there should be a meeting to discuss these proposals and the study of the juvenile secure estate. It is hoped that this meeting will take place shortly.

    Raves

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he intends to take to prevent the use of motorway service stations for rave parties; and if he will make a statement. [14315]

    There are already powers available to the police to deal with the problem of illegal rave parties. Sections 63–67 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 empower the police to direct persons assembling on land to leave where it is believed that a large-scale gathering—of 100 or more—will take place and would cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality by the playing of amplified music during the night. Furthermore, in order to assist the police in preventing such events from taking place, the Act provides them with pre-emptive powers to direct people to leave the land where they reasonably believe that those people are preparing or gathering for such an event. The police also have powers to stop persons proceeding to a rave, or an intended rave, within a radius of five miles of its site.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police man-hours were spent on the policing of rave parties in the last financial year in (a) England and Wales and (b) Cheshire; [14314](2) what was the total cost of policing rave parties in the last financial year in

    (a) England and Wales and (b) Cheshire. [14316]

    The information requested is not held centrally. The costs of specific activities carried out by the police is a matter for chief officers but police forces do not routinely hold information about the time spent on or the costs of individual operations. However, I understand from the Chief Constable of Cheshire that there were two rave parties in the last financial year at the M62 motorway service station at Burtonwood. A total of 220 officer hours was used in the policing of these events at a cost of approximately £3,600.

    David Shayler

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the injunction against The Mail on Sunday remains in force following the publication of further disclosures from David Shayler on 2 November. [14900]

    Yes. The purpose of the injunction which the High Court granted against The Mail on Sunday was to prevent it from publishing any further material which could damage national security. The terms of the injunction restrained the newspaper from publishing any information provided by Mr. Shayler, but expressly did not apply to the publication of any material in respect of which the Crown serves written notice that it does not seek to restrain publication. The Editor of The Mail on Sunday provided me with a draft of the article which he proposed to publish well in advance of the publication date. This enabled me to obtain an assessment from the Director General of the Security Service, who advised me that the article would not cause damage to national security if it were published. Notice was therefore given that we would not seek to restrain publication. The fact that the article was substantially wrong is another matter. The issue here is not necessarily whether a story is true or false as it is quite possible to conceive circumstances in which false accusations might nevertheless cause damage to national security.This is entirely consistent with the position which the Government have adopted all along. Our concern is to ensure that nothing is published which is likely to damage national security. Former members of the Security and Intelligence Services are in a position to make disclosures which intentionally or unintentionally can cause real damage to national security. The Government cannot stand by and let that happen. We have, however, never sought to suppress criticism of the Security Service—even where that criticism is misguided or inaccurate—provided that national security is not damaged.

    Duchy Of Lancaster

    Cash And Running Costs Limits

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals he has to change the 1997–98 cash limit or running cost limit for the Office of Public Service. [14158]

    Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for the Office of Public Service (Class XVII, Vote 1) will be increased by £17,760,000 from £141,061,000 to £158,821,000 and the gross running cost limit will be decreased by £52,000 from £80,475,000 to £80,423,000.The changes reflect the take up of end-year flexibility of £9,000,000 under the end-year flexibility scheme announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997,

    Official Report, columns 245–250; an increase of £10,000,000 for gross provisions for opportunity cost rents; and transfers to the Department of Trade and Industry (Class IV, Vote 1) £300,000 and the Employment Service (Class IX, Vote 3) £940,000.

    The increase will be offset by transfers or charge to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Delegated Legislation

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list all (a) secondary, (b) other delegated legislation and (c) all deregulation orders his Department made during the summer adjournment. [14379]

    A full list of statutory instruments laid before the House, whether under the affirmative or the negative procedure during the summer adjournment, is contained in the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings dated Monday 27 October 1997, which has been publicly available since Tuesday 28 October 1997.

    House Of Commons

    Beef Refreshment Department

    To ask the Chairman of the Catering Committee what were the countries of origin of beef served in the Palace of Westminster in each of the last three months; and if he will make a statement as to the percentage of beef supplied from each country. [13962]

    All beef served by the House of Commons Refreshment Department during the last three months was of British origin.

    Parliamentary Groups

    To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what steps he is taking to ensure the compliance of all parliamentary groups and committees to be recognised and listed with the rules and undertakings required of them, with particular reference to those referring to membership. [12540]

    [holding answer 27 October 1997]: At its meeting on 4 November, the Administration Committee considered whether any amendments to the existing regulations concerning All Party and Parliamentary Groups might be appropriate. The Committee determined that the current regulations, approved by the House on 20 March 1997, were adequate, and did not consider that further revision was necessary. However, I would expect any hon. Member to draw to my attention any incidences of where they consider the regulations might have been breached.

    Health

    Pharmaceutical Industry

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what formal discussions he has held with pharmaceutical industry leaders. [13921]

    My noble Friend, the Minister for Health holds the main ministerial responsibility for the pharmaceutical industry. She met representatives of their trade association, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, on 17 June. A further meeting is planned for 26 November. Both she and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health have also had a number of informal meetings with representatives of individual companies.Officials also keep us in touch with matters of concern to the industry through the joint industry/government Industry Strategy Group, a forum which meets regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest.

    Child Labour

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to implement the remainder of European Council directive 94/22/EC on the Protection of Young People at Work on child employment, following its consultation with local authorities and others. [13912]

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will announce in due course proposals further to safeguard the interests of young people at work.

    Nhs Charges Certificates (Stockton)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS charges certificates (AG3) were awarded in the area of Stockton borough council or the related local DSS offices; and what plans he has to improve the quality of information available to the public in respect of the use of the certificates. [13744]

    National Health Service low income Scheme charges certificates AG3 were replaced by HC3 from 1 June 1997. The new version was introduced following consumer testing and provides clear information to the user. During the period 1 December 1996, when computer records were introduced, to 31 May 1997, when the AG3 was replaced, 2,855 AG3s were sent to people providing a Stockton postcode ("TS") with their low income scheme claim.

    Cash Limits

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes will be made to the cash limits of his Department in 1997–98. [13695]

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes will be made to the cash limits of his Department in 1997–98. [14054]

    Subject to parliamentary approval, the cash limit for class XI, vote 1 (hospital, community health, family health and related services, England) will be increased by £3,982,000 (from £29,349,456,000 to £29,353,438,000). This allows for a transfer of £2,457,000 from class XI, vote 2 (Department of Health administration, miscellaneous health and personal social services, England) for the Medical Device Evaluation Service and an increase of £2,000,000 for the Drugs Challenge Fund made up of a claim on the Reserve (£1,000,000) and by transfers from class VII, vote 1 (Home Office administration, police, probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales) (£350,000), class IX, vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services) (£300,000) and class XI, vote 2 (£350,000). The overall increase is partially offset by transfers of £367,000 to class XIV, vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health services and other health services (part), Wales) for Cuyler Declaration, on rebasing of funds between central budgets and health authorities; £8,000 to Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland for the National Poisons Information Service and £100,000 to class XI, vote 2 for the Xenotransplantation Interim Authority.The cash limit for class XI, vote 2 (Department of Health, administration, miscellaneous health services and personal social services, England) will be reduced by £2,987,000 (from £998,724,000 to £995,737,000). This reduction allows for transfers of £2,737,000 for the Medical Device Evaluation Service made up of transfers to class XI, vote 1 (Hospital, community health, family health and related services, England) (£2,457,000), class XIV, vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health services and other health services (part), Wales) (£187,000) and to the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland (£93,000); and a transfer of £350,000 to class XI, vote 1 for the Drugs Challenge Fund. The overall reduction is partially offset by a transfer of £100,000 from class XI, vote 1 as mentioned above.The non-voted cash limit for supplementary credit approvals or personal social services (DoH/LACAP) in England is to be increased by £429,000 from (£14,700,000 to £15,129,000) in respect of the take up of the end year flexibility entitlement as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 1997,

    Official Report, columns 245–250.

    The Department's gross running cost limit will be reduced by £800,000 from £260,929,000 to £260,129,000. This reflects a reallocation for the NHS Health Advisory Service.

    All increases will either be offset by savings, increased receipts or transfers to or from other votes or charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Tax Advice

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995–96, (2) 1996–97 and (3) 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [13267]

    The Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) have spent the following on

    1995–961996–971997–98
    ££Estimated £
    (i) Tax consultants:
    (a) Department of Healthnilnil15,000
    (b) DH Agenciesnilnilnil
    (c) NCPBs26,00019,00013,000
    (ii) Other external tax advice: One NDPB uses a telephone Pay As You Earn advisory service at a cost of £180 per annum.This expenditure has been to provide advice on the proper interpretation of tax law.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13268]

    The Department has used tax advisers to enable it to fulfil its statutory tax obligations rather than for tax avoidance purposes.

    Computers (Century Date Change)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his assessment on the effect of the delivery of NHS services over the next two years of the need to divert moneys from within his budget to deal with the millennium computer compliance problem in the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [13250]

    The likely cost to the National Health Service of ensuring that systems are millennium compliant is difficult to forecast accurately. Guidance has recently been issued to chief executives outlining the action they are expected to take to deal with the millennium problem. Much of the work required is likely to be funded from budgets already allocated to supporting NHS information management and technology needs.

    Cold-Related Illnesses

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths where hypothermia was mentioned on the death certificate as the main or contributory cause of death, took place in England and Wales in (a) 1994, (b) 1995, (c) 1996 for (i) all age groups, (ii) people aged 65 years and over and (iii) people aged 80 years and over. [14258]

    I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the chief executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. Nigel Evans, dated 5 November 1997:

    I have been asked to reply as the Director of the Office for National Statistics to your recent question on the numbers of deaths in England and Wales where hypothermia was mentioned on the death certificate as the main or contributory cause of death in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
    The information requested is shown in the table below:

    Deaths with a mention of hypothermia, England and Wales 1994–96

    All ages

    Age 65 and over

    Age 80 and over

    1994345286186
    1995338283192
    1996414356244

    Deaths

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths were registered in England and Wales between (a) 1 April 1996 and 30 September 1996 and (b) 1 October 1996 and 31 March 1997, for people aged (i) 60 to 69 years, (ii) 70 to 79 years, (iii) over 80 years and (iv) in total. [14256]

    I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the chief executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. Nigel Evans, dated 5 November 1997:

    I have been asked to reply as Director of the Office for National Statistics to your recent question on how many deaths were registered in England and Wales between (a) 1st April 1996 and 30th September 1996 and (b) 1st October 1996 and 31st March 1997, for people aged (i) 60 to 69 years, (ii) 70 to 79 years, (iii) over 80 years and (iv) in total.
    The information requested is shown in the table below:

    Deaths registered in England and Wales

    Age

    1 April 1996 to 30 September 1996

    1 October 1996 to 31 March 1997

    1

    60-69 Years36,82339.891
    70-9 Years74,24185,340
    80 and over115,932146,033
    All ages258,596304,804

    1Data for 1997 are Provisional.

    Treasury

    European Single Currency

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what communication on the subject of the European single currency has taken place between his special adviser Ms Sue Nye and Mr. Gavyn Davies of Goldman Sachs. [13411]

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what applications the Government have made for EU funding to inform or persuade the public about the single European currency.[13187]

    [holding answer 30 October 1997]: I refer to the answer that I gave to the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 27 October, Official Report, column 656.Application for funding is to inform businesses about the implications of the single currency, whether or not we join. It is a condition of the rules governing the EC funds that information measures must not be regarded as propaganda.

    Government Debt

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total value of debt issued by the Government each day between 25 September and 18 October. [13380]

    The Government issued £1.5 billion of 8 per cent. 2,021 stock on Thursday 25 September, and £150 million of index-linked stock on Thursday 2 October.

    Government Bonds

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what changes took place in the price of Government bonds between noon and the closing of the financial markets on Thursday 25 September; [13402](2) what changes took place in the price of Government bonds between the opening and closing of the financial markets on Thursday 25 September. [13404]

    The movement in the price of gilts (UK government bonds) on Friday 17 October are shown in the following table:

    Price of benchmark gilts
    7 per cent.20027.25 per cent. 20078 per cent.2021
    Opening price101-06104-21117-13
    Closing price101-06104-22117-10
    Change from previous day's close+0-01+0-02-0-01
    Day's high101-11104-02117-25
    Day's low101-00104-10116-23
    Prices quoted in 32nds.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes took place in the price of Government bonds between the opening and closing of the financial markets on Friday 17 October. [13403]

    The movement in the price of gilts (UK Government bonds) on Friday 17 October are shown in the following table:

    Price of benchmark gilts
    7 per cent. 20027.25 per cent. 20078 per cent. 2021
    Opening price101-15105-09117-17
    Closing price101-19105-18118-07
    Change from previous day's close-0-010-00+0-05
    Day's high101-21105-22118-14
    Day's low101-08104-29117-05
    Price quoted in 32nds.

    Special Advisers

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what disciplinary action has been taken against his special adviser Mr. Charlie Whelan for discussing market sensitive information in a public place; [13406](2) which Minister in his Department authorised his special advisers to brief

    The Times and other newspapers on the subject of the Government's policy towards European monetary union on Friday 17 October; [13407]

    (3) at what locations his special adviser, Mr. Charles Whelan, conducted press briefings containing market sensitive information by mobile phone on 17 October. [13984]

    The terms under which special advisers work are set out in their contracts, a model copy of which is available in the Library. These build upon the rules in force under previous Administrations.

    Economic And Monetary Union

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has (a) received and (b) requested advice on the subject of EMU from Mr. Gavyn Davies, chief economist of Goldman Sachs. [13410]

    Since 1 May, and following the publication of the Lord Currie reports on EMU, Treasury Ministers and officials have received representations and information from a wide range of people, including Mr. Gavyn Davies.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what legal actions his Department is pursuing against newspapers regarding reports relating to trading in the period before the publication of Government briefing on EMU. [13408]

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government have notified their European partners that the United Kingdom will not move to the third stage of economic and monetary union on 1 January 1999. [14898]

    Following my statement to the House on 27 October, Official Report, columns 583–88, and in accordance with paragraph 1 of Protocol (No. 11) of the Maastricht Treaty, the Government formally notified the Council of the European Union on 30 October 1997 that the United Kingdom does not intend to move to the third stage of economic and monetary union on 1 January 1999. The Treaty enables the United Kingdom to reverse this notification after the beginning of the third stage.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is the Government's intention to rejoin the European exchange rate mechanism two years prior to entering the third stage of EMU. [13775]

    [holding answer 3 November 1997]: The Government have no intention of joining the ERM.

    Gilts Futures

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will investigate the trading in gilts futures in the period before the Financial Times story of 26 September.[13409]

    This is a matter for the regulatory authorities and their supervisors.

    Registry Of Friendly Societies

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes are proposed to the cash limit of the Registry of Friendly Societies in 1997–98. [14753]

    Subject to approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for the Registry of Friendly Societies Class XVI, Vote 9 will be increased by £775,000 from £3,767,000 to £4,542,000. The additional provision is required for capital expenditure arising out of the late completion of the Department's relocation project. The increase is partially funded by the take up of £189,000 carried forward under the end year flexibility scheme for capital, as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July, Official Report, cols 245–50. The increase will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Cash Limits And Running Costs

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes are proposed to the cash and running costs limit of Her Majesty's Treasury in 1997–98. [14754]

    Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the running costs limit for Class XVI, Vote 1 will be increased by £1,051,000 from £55,509,000 to £56,560,000 and the cash limit will be increased by £1,901,000 from £61,286,000 to £63,187,000. The increases are necessary to provide for the partial take up of running costs end year flexibility as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July, Official Report, columns 245–50, to meet various new commitments (net of offsetting savings and changes in receipts); to provide for a grant in aid to the Private Finance Taskforce which succeeds the Private Finance Panel; and to give effect to the Chancellor's commitment to pay over to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund a sum equivalent to VAT paid on "Candle in the Wind".The increase will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Reserve

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the size of the current reserve for (a) 1997–98 and (b) 1998–99. [13188]

    [holding answer 30 October 1997]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) on 30 July 1997, Official Report, column 347.

    Departmental Expenditure Ceilings

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes he has made to departmental expenditure ceilings within the controlled total for (a) 1997–98 and (b) 1998–99 since the budget. [13186]

    [holding answer 30 October 1997]: The 1997–98 Summer Supplementary Estimates reallocated £65 million within the public expenditure control total. Of this £13 million was met from within existing departmental programmes and £52 million charged to the Reserve. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 14 October that £300 million would be reallocated to the NHS for patient services in 1997–98; £30 million of this would be offset by administrative savings in the health budget, £102 million from reductions in the external financing limit for BNFL and £168 million from a reduction in the MOD cash limit.For 1998–99 the departmental expenditure ceilings within the control total remain as at the July Budget.

    Government Expenditure

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of general Government expenditure for (a) 1996–97, (b) 1997–98 and (c) 1998–99 taking account of recent changes to the gross domestic product deflator and other factors. [13185]

    [holding answer 30 October 1997]: The Government's estimates for general Government expenditure were set out in the FSBR in July. They were £309.0 billion for 1996–97, £319.4 billion for 1997–98 and £331.3 billion for 1998–99. These reflect the Government's plans for the cash control totals and the latest forecasts for other spending.

    Legal Action (Public Funding)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what public funding has been provided for to fund legal action currently being undertaken by his special adviser, Mrs. Sue Nye. [13983]

    Two-Pound Coin

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the delay in introduction of the £2 coin. [13365]

    [holding answer 3 November 1997]: The Government have decided to change the launch date of the £2 circulation coin from 3 November 1997 to March 1998 because of a potential problem with the "electronic signature" of the coin in vending and other machines. A further statement will be made when investigative work is completed.

    Education And Employment

    Higher Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he intends to take to implement the Dearing Committee's recommendations on governing bodies in higher education; and if he will make a statement. [14061]

    We are considering the responses to the consultation exercise undertaken following publication of the report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, including the views received on the recommendations on governing bodies in higher education, and will announce our response later in the year.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of 16 to 19-year-olds in Warrington, North constituency, broken down by ward, entered higher education in (a) 1996–97 and (b) in each of the last five years. [14060]

    The information requested is not compiled centrally because, although the HESA data include the post code of each student, this is not routinely aggregated to below local authority level. The available HESA data show the number of students aged under 20 whose home LEA was Cheshire and who entered a higher education course in a UK higher education establishment (Warrington comprises around 19 per cent. of Cheshire in general population terms). The figures were 3,400 in 1994–95, 3,900 in 1995–96 and 4,300 in 1996–97. Comparable data for the years prior to 1994–95 are not readily available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he intends to take to encourage higher education funding bodies to finance pilot projects which allocate additional funds to institutions which enrol students from particularly disadvantaged localities; and if he will make a statement. [14059]

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will follow the recommendations of the Dearing report in respect of allocating funds for higher education to those institutions committed to widening participation; and what support he plans to offer to those universities to help plan and monitor admissions and participation levels. [14359]

    The Government are committed to increasing and widening access to higher education. My hon. Friend recently announced an extra £165 million for higher education in 1998–99, which includes a £36 million access package, which will benefit part-time students and those facing particular hardship, as well as an extra £4 million to enable more students to participate in higher education.We welcome the recommendations of the Dearing report for widening access, in particular that additional funding for university places should be targeted at those institutions which put forward plans for widening access. We shall be following up these recommendations in the light of the responses to the consultation on the Dearing report.In the meantime, we welcome the decision by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to reconvene its Advisory Group on Access and Participation. The group will be considering the possibilities for further action, including the specific actions proposed by the Dearing Committee, and will advise the Council on its access and participation strategies, including joint activity with the Further Education Funding Council and other partners.

    Assisted Places Scheme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many pupils living in (a) the Devon county council area and (b) the Torbay travel-to-work area have been funded by the assisted places scheme in each of the last three years. [13894]

    Information about the county council or travel-to-work areas from which assisted pupils originate is not collected centrally. The numbers of assisted pupils in participating schools in Devon in academic years 1994–95, 1995–96 and 1996–97 were 793,817 and 942 respectively.

    Jobseeker's Allowance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people have been refused all jobseeker's allowance payments after interview; and what proportion this is of those interviewed. [14216]

    Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter from Leigh Lewis to Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, dated 5 November 1997:

    The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about how many people have been refused all Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) after interview, and what proportion this is of those interviewed. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.
    The Employment Service conducts many different types of interview with jobseekers. These start at the new claims stage and develop as unemployment lengthens. The new jobseeker's interview is important in establishing whether jobseekers meet the labour market conditions for receiving JSA. It is normally at this stage that a Jobseeker's Agreement is drawn up and jobseekers are made aware of their responsibilities in order to receive JSA. Thereafter, entitlement to JSA is reviewed at interviews every fortnight. We also use these opportunities to offer jobseekers further advice and help in their search for work. Jobseekers are also asked to attend a Restart Interview at regular six monthly intervals at which they are offered further advice and information about employment and training opportunities. Beyond this interviews may take place for a variety of other reasons.
    Questions about a jobseeker's entitlement to JSA could arise at any of the interviews referred to above. In these instances, there may be a reference to an independent Adjudication Officer for a decision on benefit entitlement.
    Statistics on the numbers and types of decisions given by ES Adjudication Officers on labour market questions are recorded in a quarterly summary, the 'Analysis of Adjudication Officers' Decisions', a copy of which is held in the Library. As questions about a person's entitlement can arise during different types of interviews, it would be misleading to compare the total figures of disallowances with the total numbers of ES interviews in any given period. JSA claims can be disallowed on labour market grounds or because of failure to meet the conditions of benefit receipt. However, some broad indication of volumes can be given by comparing the total number of JSA new claims with the number of awards of "nil benefits". This means simply the number of JSA new claims that, following assessment by Benefits Agency who are responsible for JSA payment, result in no payment award. This could be for a wide variety of reasons for inadequate contributions, payments from previous employment, etc, to failure to meet the labour market conditions for receipt of JSA.
    In the period from 1 April 1997 to 30 September 1997, 1,571,325 claims to JSA were processed and there were 239,567 awards of nil benefits. These figures are based primarily on information held by the JSA Payments System. They include a small number of claims held on the earlier ISCS system because they linked back to an earlier Income Support claim.
    I hope this is helpful.

    Tax Advice

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13256]

    The Department's policy on tax advice is that tax avoidance advice may be necessary where there are complex tax issues. However, the Department would not incur expenditure on advice to reduce tax liability where the reduction does not relate to the pursuit of real gains in efficiency.In practice, where particularly difficult tax issues arise, the Department consults the Inland Revenue or HM Customs directly. The Department has not purchased outside tax avoidance advice, and has no plans so to do.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non departmental public bodies on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995–96, (2) 1996–97 and (3) 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [13255]

    Neither the Department nor any of its agencies has incurred any such expenditure. Where difficult tax issues arise, the Department consults the Inland Revenue or HM Customs directly.Information relating to expenditure on tax advice by NDPBs can only be supplied at disproportionate cost.

    Tuition Fees

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will set out the differences in the level of proposed payments of higher education tuition fees between residents of the United Kingdom according to (a) the location of the institution at which they are studying and (b) their own place of normal residence; and what are the reasons for these differences. [14058]

    Full-time undergraduate students will be required to contribute up to a maximum of £1,000 a year in tuition fees, depending on their parents', spouses' or own income. The requirement will apply to students resident in all parts of the United Kingdom and studying in publicly funded institutions throughout the UK, except for medical and dental students in the fifth and subsequent years of study.Students resident in Scotland and studying in Scottish institutions on honours degree courses that are a year longer than equivalent courses elsewhere in the UK will, however, have their fees paid in the final year of the course by the Scottish Student Awards Agency. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has decided to give special consideration to such students in the light of recommendations from the Dearing and Garrick reports and in recognition that many Scottish students have had only one year's education after statutory schooling before entering university, compared with the two years that students resident elsewhere in the UK have had.

    Cash And Running Costs Limits

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what changes are planned in cash limits and running cost limits on votes within his responsibility for 1997–98. [14450]

    Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit or class IX, vote 1, Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services, and class IX, vote 3, Employment Department will be amended as follows:

    Existing cash limitChanceNew cash limit
    ClassVote£££
    IX19,419,464,00085,613,0009,505,077,000
    IX31,155,101,00080,376,0001,235,477,000

    The cash limit for class IX, vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment) will be increased by £85,613,000 (of which £84,930,000 is in respect of the welfare-to-work programme and is outside the Control Total) from £9,419,464,000 to £9,505,077,000.

    This is the result of an increase in £83,500,000 in capital expenditure on schools and £1,330,000 in running costs in connection with the welfare-to-work programme, and £100,000 in current expenditure on millennium volunteers, all to be financed from the windfall tax as announced in the Budget on 2 July and outside the Control Total.

    The Department has also taken up part of end year flexibility amounts announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July, Official Report columns 245–50 of £1,602,000 under the capital scheme and £172,020,000 under the structural funds scheme. An increase of £1,019,000 in expenditure on specialist schools in Section T has been offset by a corresponding decrease in the DfEE/LACAP cash limit from £73,126,000 to £72,107,000; and £40,000 has been switched from Section 0 (a cash limited section) to Section P (a non-cash limited section) to support additional expenditure on school council pensions.

    A transfer of £300,000 has been made to class XI, vote 1 (Department of Health) for the Drugs Challenge Fund and £162,000 to class XIV, vote 2 (Welsh Office) in respect of National Vocational Qualifications. In addition, a transfer of £3,015,000 in running costs and £1,579,000 in appropriations in aid has been made to class IX, vote 3 (Employment Service) in respect of the lease for the 236 Grays Inn Road building in London. The opportunity has also been taken to transfer £600,000 from running costs to current expenditure in Section 0 to reclassify some expenditure on publicity.

    The cash limit for class IX, vote 3 (Employment Service) will be increased by £80,376,000 from £1,155,101,000 to £1,235,477,000. The increase results from the following: £78,000,000 in respect of the welfare-to-work programme of which £48,000,000 is running costs, £25,000,000 is capital provision, and £5,000,000 is current expenditure, all financed from the windfall tax; a transfer of £3,015,000 in running costs and £1,579,000 in appropriations in aid from class IX, vote 1 (DfEE) in respect of the lease for the 236 Grays Inn Road building in London; and a transfer of £640,000 in running costs and £300,000 in capital expenditure from class XVII, vote 1 (Cabinet Office) for the lease of Ebury House, Aberdeen.

    I also wish to take this opportunity to announce that the Office for National Statistics has advised that with immediate effect, Remploy Limited, should be classified as a public corporation in order to comply with the requirements of the 1995 european System of Accounts. This is a technical change only and will not affect Remploy's status as a non-Departmental Public Body, not its relationship with the Department.

    As a result of these changes, the running costs provision within the Control Total for class IX, vote 1 (DfEE) will be decreased by £3,577,000 from £255,564,000 to £251,987,000 whereas the running costs provision within the Control Total for class IX, vote 3 (Employment Service) will be increased by £3,655,000 from £801,576,000 to £805,231,000. The overall running costs limit for the DfEE is therefore increased by £78,000 from £1,057,140, to £1,057,218,000.

    As a result of provision relating to the welfare-to-work programme, running costs provision outside the Control Total for class IX, vote 1 (DfEE) is £1,330,00 and for class IX, vote 3 is £48,000,000, giving a non-Control Total running costs limit of £49,330,000.

    The control total element of the increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Scotland

    Cash And Running Costs Limits

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what changes he intends to make to the cash limits and running costs provision for 1997–98 within his responsibility.[14840]

    Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimates, I intend to make changes to nine voted cash limits, four non-voted cash blocks and seven running cost limits:

    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 1, Agriculture, fisheries and environmental services, Scotland, will be increased by £3,117,000 from £309,772,000 to £312,889,000. Within this total, the running costs provision has been increased by £617,000 to £29,826,000. This takes account of £305,000 take up of end year flexibility as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July (Official Report: columns 245–50) for Agency running costs, and a transfer of £2,812,000 from vote 6 to provide additional grant in aid for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and additional running costs for the Fisheries Research Services Agency and Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 2, Local Government, Housing, Transport, Other Environmental Services and European Funds, Scotland will be increased by a net total of £10,301,000 from £5,473,575,000 to £5,483,876,000. The net increase reflects a transfer of £3,000,000 from SO/ERDF to cover expenditure on the empty homes and rough sleepers initiative; an increase of £1,350,000 from SO/ERDF to cover additional costs to local authorities as a result of implementation of the Pennington recommendations; a transfer of £150,000 from class V, vote 2 for the Edinburgh City car club project; an increase of £600,000 for the Council Tax District Equalisation Scheme and £1,586,000 for the Council Tax Collection scheme transferred from SO/ERDF and SO/LAI respectively; an increase to provision for Historic Scotland of £1,845,248 covering an increase in running cost provision of £1,390,248, and an increase of £455,000 in capital provision reflecting take up of end year flexibility entitlement in respect of capital; an increase in provision of £25,000 for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, offset by a matching reduction in class XIII, vote 6; a net increase of £1,245,000 for Roads and Transport (covering a gross increase in Roads capital of £8,620,000, an increase in the Northern Isles Ferry Services of £2,549,000 and an increase in Piers and Harbours Grant of £468,000 and offset by decreased Roads current expenditure of £5,000,000 and increased appropriations-in-aid of £5,392,000) reflecting the take up of end year flexibility; and the take up of end year flexibility for Caledonian MacBrayne (£300,000) and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd. (£200,000).
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 3, Education, industry, arts and libraries, Scotland, will be increased by £4,303,000 from £1,667,405,000 to £1,671,708,000. The increased cash limit takes account of £7,435,000 in respect of end year flexibility arrangements for capital expenditure relating to the National Museums of Scotland, the Scottish Office Pensions Agency and inward investment. The increase also includes £360,000 in respect of end-year flexibility arrangements for running costs expenditure relating to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland and the Scottish Office Pensions Agency. The changes include transfers from class XIII, vote 6 totalling £300,000 in respect of both Agencies. The increase also includes a transfer of £275,000 from class IV, vote 1 in respect of support schemes and a transfer of £2,000,000 from SO/ERDF for Early Intervention. The Supplementary takes account of a transfer of £317,000 to class XIII, vote 6 in respect of software development and a reduction of £5,750,000 as a contribution towards increases in provision elsewhere in class XIII. Certain other transfers have taken place within the vote as a result of changes in Ministerial responsibilities.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 4, Hospital, community health. family health, other health services and welfare food, Scotland, will be increased by a net total of £78,745,000 from £3,628,304,000 to £3,707,049,000. The increase includes £58,798,000 reflecting the take up of end-year flexibility; a transfer of £37,000 to class XIII, vote 6 for additional expenditure by the Mental Welfare Commission on information technology and some adjustments to reflect changes to anticipated appropriations-in-aid. The NHS Trusts' External Financing Limit has also been decreased by £16,447,000 from £–11,590,000 to £–28,037,000.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 5 will be increased by £2,446,000 from £660,189,000 to £662,635,000. The increase includes the take up of end-year flexibility of £1,047,000 under the capital scheme and £699,000 under the HPSS scheme. £700,000 will be transferred from SO/ERDF to cover the advance vote 5 received from the Contingencies Fund for the referendum publicity costs. There will also be a number of minor transfers within the vote.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 6, Scottish Office Administration, is being decreased by £81,000 to £150,074,000. Within this total the running cost provision for Scottish Office Administration is being increased by £2,257,000 to £136,142,000 as a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility, primarily to finance the taking forward of various new policy initiatives and inter-vote transfers. Provision for capital expenditure is being reduced by £2,608,000 to £13,305,000 as a result of various transfers, primarily one of £2,500,000 to class XIII, vote 1 for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Provision for other current expenditure is being increased by £270,000 to £8,968,000 as a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility for health expenditure to cover computer system costs at the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 7, General Register Office for Scotland, is being increased by £750,000 to £5,817,000. Within this total, the running costs provision for GRO(S) is being increased by £150.000 to £7,550,000 as a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility to finance preparatory work for the 2001 Census. The increase in capital provision results from the take-up of end-year flexibility to cover costs of continuing refurbishment work at New Register House. The reduction in appropriations in aid is in respect of an expected fall in receipts from running the NHS Central Register, caused by a reduction in the cost of GRO(S) of operating the Register being reflected in lower charges.
    The cash limit for class XIII, vote 8, Scottish Record Office, is being increased by £750,000 to £5,172,000. Within this total the SRO running costs provision is being increased by £300,000 to £4,745,000 as a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility to fund implementation of an internal reorganisation of the Department, which is aimed at delivering future efficiency savings. The increase in capital provision results from the take-up of end-year flexibility to cover costs of continuing refurbishment work at General Register House.
    The cash limit element for class XIII, vote 9, Administration of justice, Scotland will be increased by a net figure of £1,700,000. This reflects an increase in capital provision of £3,000,000 to £15,700,000 offset by an increase in appropriations-in-aid of £1,300,000 to £17,341,000. Of the net figure, £1,055,000 will be met by the take up of capital end year flexibility and the remainder will be found by a reduction in running cost end-year flexibility entitlement of £645,000. The additional expenditure is required to meet the revised and higher costs of major building projects which are nearing their end-stage.
    The External Financing Limit for the East of Scotland Water Authority will be increased by £5,750,000 from £51,690,000 to £57,440,000. The increase will be offset by a matching reduction in the cash limit of class XIII, vote 3.
    The non-voted cash limit SO/LA1, which covers non-housing capital expenditure by local authorities, is to be increased by a net total of £22,012,830 from £389,428,000 to $411,440,830. The increase reflects the transfer of £1,586,000 to class XIII, vote 2 reflecting provision for the Council Tax Collection Scheme, and the transfer of £1,448,830 from class XIII, vote 5 in respect of CCTV scheme, and the take up of end year flexibility of £22,150,000.
    The non-voted cash limit SO/LA2 which covers housing capital expenditure by local authorities will be increased by a total of £4,298,000 from £179,928,000 to £184,226,000 in respect of the take up of end year flexibility.
    The non-voted cash limit SO/ERDF which covers European regional development fund expenditure in Scotland will be increased by £30,300,000 from £95,900,000 to £126,200,000. The increase takes account of the end year flexibility carried over from the financial year 1996–97.
    All increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.
    A new non-voted cash limit will be introduced for the Capital Receipts Initiative (SO/CRI), subject to the passage of legislation, to cover the Government's initiative to release additional resources to support local authority spending on new Housing Partnerships and Welfare to Work. The limit on expenditure is set initially at £12,470,000. This expenditure is classified as outside the Control Total.

    Health Authority Budgets

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the (a) actual deficit and (b) projected deficit of each health authority as a percentage of its budget for the last three years. [14465]

    The only cash deficits in health boards in the years 1994–95 to 1996–97 are as follows:

    Percentage
    1994–951995–961996–97
    Orkney0.010.050.05
    Lanarkshire0.01

    Tax Advice

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non departmental public bodies on (i) tax consultants and (ii) other external tax advice in (1) 1995–96, (2) 1996–97 and (3) 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [13251]

    My Department and its agencies have recorded no expenditure on external tax advice in 1995–96.

    My Department spent £17,625 on external tax advice in 1996–97 and expects to spend £16,500 in 1997–98.

    The agencies of my Department spent £252,000 on external tax advice in 1996–97. The agencies have not reported any plans to pay for external tax advice in 1997–98.

    The information for non departmental public bodies is not held centrally.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13252]

    It is the policy of my Department to obtain such advice as is necessary to ensure that the correct amount of tax is paid on its activities.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the effect on hill farmers of reductions in the hill livestock compensatory allowances. [14181]

    The autumn review of the economic conditions in the hills and uplands is in progress. Rates of hill livestock compensatory allowances will be determined in the light of that review and announced to the House shortly. On the day of that announcement, the economic data which form the basis of the review will be placed in the Library of the House.

    Bse

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to institute a full inquiry into (a) the links between bovine spongiform encephalopathy and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and (b) the handling of this issue by Government. [14093]

    I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) on 3 November, Official Report, column 5.

    Beef Export Ban

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made towards lifting the export ban on British beef with UK European partners; and if he will make a statement. [13895]

    In accordance with the procedure laid down in the Florence agreement, the Commission is working on a proposal for an export certified herds scheme for consideration by the Standing Veterinary Committee. This reflects the most recent opinion for the Scientific Veterinary Committee on the UK papers. The Commission has said it expects its proposal to be presented within weeks.

    We have submitted a second proposal to the Commission for a date-based export scheme which would permit export of meat from animals born after 1 August 1996. We are presenting this to be considered by the relevant scientific committees as soon as possible.

    My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food maintain regular contact with President Santer, Commissioners Bonino and Fischler and members of the European Parliament to emphasise the importance we attach to rapid progress on lifting the export ban.

    Organic Conversion Grants

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the levels of organic conversion grants in each European Union Member state. [13795]

    Full details of organic conversion grants in the member states are contained in the paper "The impact of EC Regulation 2078/92 on the development of organic fanning in the European Union" by Dr. Nicholas Lampkin of the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. A copy of this paper has been placed in the Library of the House.

    Wales

    Welsh Assembly

    11.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the Government's White Paper on proposals for a Welsh Assembly. [12385]

    I have received representations in the form of letters both to me personally and to the Welsh Office, telephone calls to the Assembly information line, and e-mails to the Assembly website.The great majority of the communications were requests for factual information, for example about absent voting arrangements in the referendum. Of the rest, there was generally a balance between those in favour of the Government's proposals, those neutral and those against.Among the specific issues raised have been:

    • the powers of the Assembly
    • the use of Welsh language in the Assembly's work costs
    • the qualities required of Assembly members
    • the location of the Assembly.

    18.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales who will speak on behalf of Wales in the House if a Welsh Assembly is set up; and if that person will be authorised to speak on behalf of that body. [12392]

    The Secretary of State for Wales will continue to represent Welsh interests in this House. The holder of that office will need to take account of the Welsh Assembly's views on various issues.

    20.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the outcome of the referendum on a Welsh Assembly. [12394]

    25.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the result of the referendum on the Welsh Assembly. [12400]

    I refer my hon. Friend's to the reply I gave today to the hon. Member for Banbury, (Mr. Baldry).

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the administrative cost of setting up the Assembly and of running it for the next five years.[12398]

    I have placed full details of the estimated set-up and running costs of the Welsh Assembly in the Library of the House, as part of the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea West on 23 July this year, Official Report, column 638.

    Referendum Campaign

    12.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the expenditure by his Department on the referendum campaign. [12386]

    Total expenditure on Referendum information and publicity was some £575,000. Of this, about £300,000 was accounted for by the costs of the White Paper and associated information material.

    13.