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Written Answers

Volume 300: debated on Friday 7 November 1997

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 7 November 1997

Culture, Media And Sport

Opera

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when Sir Richard Eyre's working group on the future of the Royal Opera House and English National Opera will begin its work. [15307]

Sir Richard has already begun work and hopes to finalise the membership of the working group shortly. He plans that the working group should meet later this month. On 6 November, Sir Richard issued an open consultation letter inviting views from all those with an interest, and who wish to contribute to this debate. The text of the letter, and of my letter to Sir Richard setting out in full the terms of reference for the review I have asked him to conduct, have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Late Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the suppliers to his Department who are owed outstanding amounts, indicating the amounts and the due date on which the account should have been settled. [13541]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: All departments are required to pay all their bills within agreed contract terms, or 30 days from receipt of the goods or service or a valid invoice, whichever is later, where no such terms exist. Such detailed information on payment performance for the current financial year could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Treasury will shortly be publishing a league table of departmental payment performance for 1996–97.

Tobacco Sponsorship

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the amount of money spent by tobacco companies on the sponsorship of (a) sport and (b) the arts in each of the last five years. [13745]

The amounts spent by tobacco companies on sports sponsorship in the last five years for which figures are available are:

£
1995–967,412,000
1994–958,062,000
1993–947,576,000
1992–9310,403,000
1991–928,981,000

These figures are provided under the Voluntary Agreement on Sponsorship of Sport by Tobacco Companies in the UK. Tobacco companies do not operate under similar arrangements with regard to arts sponsorship. However, the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts (ABSA) has recently estimated the total spread of tobacco companies' support for the arts in the UK to be around £1–1½ million per annum.

Treasury

Cheques

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what legal penalties exist in other European Union countries for the issuing of cheques without covering funds. [13794]

Press Officers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total number of Treasury press officers at present; how many Treasury press officers have left their posts since 2 May; and if he will make a statement. [13367]

[holding answer 5 November 1997]: There are currently six Treasury press officers. Since 2 May, two staff have moved from the Press Office and two staff have joined.

Tax Reclamation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the total tax reclaimed by Government Departments, agencies and other public bodies in the latest year for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. [13534]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: From the tax returns submitted by Government departments and agencies during 1996–97, the total amount of value added tax due was £521 million, the total amount reclaimed was £1,500 million resulting in a balance repaid of £979 million. Figures for other public bodies are not available.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the amount of value added tax (a) reclaimed and (b) repaid to NHS trusts and other NHS bodies in the latest year for which statistics are available; and if he will make a statement. [13533]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: From the tax returns submitted by NHS trusts and bodies during 1996–97, the total amount of value added tax due was £72 million, the total amount reclaimed was £492 million resulting in a balance repaid of £420 million.

Tax Avoidance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what directions he has given to Government Departments in relation to their expenditures on tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13532]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: Guidance on tax avoidance was issued to departments in December 1996. This guidance warns departments against the use of tax advisers for tax avoidance purposes.

Savings

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on the savings rate in the United Kingdom of increasing taxes on the income from savings; and if he will make a statement. [13030]

The effect would depend on the nature of the increase and how it was distributed.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the effect on the savings rate in the United Kingdom of the elimination of the investment income surcharge. [13711]

The saving ratio is dependent on many factors which would make it very difficult to isolate the effect of abolishing the investment income surcharge.

Charities' Investment Income

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment the Government have made of the impact on charities' investment income of the changes in advance corporation tax announced in the last Budget. [14296]

The abolition of payment of tax credits on the dividends of UK companies will not affect charities until April 1999. Beyond that, charities will benefit from a five year scheme of special payments to ease the transition to the new treatment of dividends.

Delegated Legislation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list all (a) secondary, (b) other delegated legislation and (c) all deregulation orders his Department made during the summer adjournment. [14390]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 5 November, Official Report, column 216, by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Scotland

Curriculum Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the forthcoming policy and financial review of the Scottish Consultative Council on the curriculum. [15305]

My Department will conduct a review of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum during 1997–98 under the programme of 5-yearly non-departmental public body reviews. This review will examine the justification for the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum on policy grounds and the system of financial management control within the Council.The first stage of the review will take the form of a "prior options" study. This will assess the extent to which the functions that the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum perform are necessary for the achievement of the Government's policies, and will examine thoroughly the scope for abolition, transferring part or all of the functions to another body, rationalisation, privatisation and continuation as an NDPB. The results of this prior options study will inform a detailed review of the Council's financial management and control systems.The review will also examine the scope for co-ordination of the activities of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum with other bodies to ensure maximum value for money from the central government resources available for education in Scotland.The prior options study will commence in December 1997. In order to help ensure that all options are considered fully, comments are invited from interested parties.Comments should be sent by 5 December 1997 to:

  • Mrs. S. Tait
  • Head of the Curriculum Branch
  • Teachers, Curriculum and Community Education Division
  • The Scottish Office Education and Industry Department
  • Area 2A/29
  • Victoria Quay
  • EDINBURGH
  • EH6 6QQ

Educational Technology Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the forthcoming policy and financial management review of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology. [15306]

My Department will conduct a review of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology during 1997–98 under the programme of 5 yearly non-departmental public body reviews. The review will examine the status and functions of SCET in accordance with cabinet office guidance.The first stage of the review will take the form of a "prior options" study. This will assess the extent to which the functions that SCET performs are necessary from the achievement of the Government's policies, and whether there is scope for privatising, contracting out or transferring all, or part of their functions to another body or bodies. The results of the prior options study will inform a detailed review of its policy and financial management systems.The review will also examine the scope for co-ordination of the activities of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology with other bodies to ensure maximum value for money from the central Government resources available for education in Scotland.The prior options study will commence in early December 1997. In order to help ensure all options are considered fully, comments are invited from interested parties. Comments should be sent by 5 December 1997 to:

  • HMI Mrs. M. Browning
  • TERI Division
  • HMN Inspectors of Schools
  • The Scottish Office Education and Industry Department
  • Area 2–B91
  • Victoria Quay
  • EDINBURGH
  • EH6 6QQ>

Wales

Referendum Voting

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list for (a) each of the county and county borough council areas and (b) Wales the percentage of the total registered electorate who voted (i) Yes and (ii) No, in the Assembly referendum; and if he will give the percentage turnout and the total number voting ranked by the percentage voting Yes. [14620]

The information requested is as follows:

Country/country boroughValid "yes" votes as percentage of electorateValid "no" votes as percentage of electorate
Blaenau Gwent27.721.7
Bridgend27.523.1
Caerphilly27.022.3
Cardiff20.826.1
Carmarthenshire36.819.6
Ceredigion33.623.2
Conwy21.130.4
Denbighshire20.329.4
Flintshire15.725.4
Gwynedd38.321.5
Isle of Anglesey29.027.9
Merthyr Tydfil28.820.7
Monmouthshire16.234.3
Neath Port Talbot34.517.4
Newport17,228.7
Pembrokeshire22.530.1
Powys24.032.2
Rhondda Cynon Taff29.220.7
Swansea24.522.6
Torfaen22.722.8
Vale of Glamorgan19.934.4
Wrexham19.223.2
Wales total25.224.9
County/county borough"Yes" votes as percentage of electoratePercentage turnoutTotal ballot papers counted (including rejected ballot papers)
Gwynedd38.360.055,467
Carmarthenshire36.856.675,523
Neath Port Talbot34.552.155,439
Ceredigion33.657.131,103
Rhondda Cynon Taff29.249.987,700
Isle of Anglesey29.057.030,830
Merthyr Tydfil28.849.821,950
Blaenau Gwent27.749.627,312
Bridgend27.550.851,053
Caerphilly27.049.563,927
Swansea24.547.382,701
Powys24.056.554,269
Torfaen22.745.631,700
Pembrokeshire22.552.846,847
Conwy21.151.645,020
Cardiff20.847.0107,523
Denbighshire20.349.935,102
Vale of Glamorgan19.954.548,538
Wrexham19.242.541,099
Newport17.246.143,335
Monmouthshire16.250.733,111
Flintshire15.741.146,571
Wales total25.250.31,116,120

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list (a) the nature and value of contracts his Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14956]

Northern Ireland

United Nations Committee On The Rights Of The Child

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the concluding observations pertaining to Northern Ireland made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child following examination of the United Kingdom periodic report in January 1995; and if she will list the progress made in addressing each of the committee's concerns.[13068]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The concluding observations made in respect of Northern Ireland relate to a range of issues: the impact on children of emergency legislation; juvenile justice; children in training schools; race relations legislation; and integrated and Irish medium education. I shall deal with each in turn.

Emergency legislation

The Committee expressed concern about the lack of information on the difficulties experienced by children living in Northern Ireland and the effect on children of the operation of emergency legislation.
The legislation to enable the security forces and the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland to deal effectively with terrorism seeks to combine operational utility and public acceptability by providing measures which are appropriate and proportionate to the threat of terrorism, while at the same time protecting the rights of individuals. While there has been no official assessment of the particular impact on children of the emergency legislation in Northern Ireland, special safeguards have been introduced into the statutory codes of practice governing the detention, treatment and questioning of people under the terrorism provisions. These ensure that in the rare event of the police having to interview anyone who appears to be under 17, the well-being and rights of the interviewee are given the highest priority. Among the special safeguards is a requirement that they must be accompanied by an appropriate adult.
The emergency legislation permits a constable or member of the security forces to stop and search any person in specific circumstances laid down in legislation. If it is necessary to search a child under 14 this is normally done by a female police officer or a female soldier. For a juvenile older than this, the search is carried out by a police officer or soldier of the same sex. Any allegation of unprofessional behaviour by a member of the security forces is treated very seriously. Procedures exist for dealing with such complaints and are widely publicised, although allegations of harassment against children have been very rare.
The emergency legislation is independently reviewed and renewed annually following debates in Parliament. The Government has recently launched a major review of counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom. The aim is to end the present temporary arrangements and produce permanent legislation which will deal with all kinds of terrorism, including international terrorism.

Juvenile justice

The Committee concerned that the Training School ethos appeared to lay emphasis on imprisonment and punishment. A proposal for a draft Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order was published in February this year. The draft legislation has been prepared as part of a developing juvenile justice strategy. An important part of that strategy is to reduce the number of young people in custody. Custody will be restricted to those who have committed a serious offence or who pose a serious danger to the public. In all criminal proceedings the court will be required to have regard to the welfare of the child before ordering any disposal. At present the only custodial disposal available to the courts for all but the most serious offences is the training school order, which authorises detention for an indeterminate period of up to two years—the indeterminate nature of the sentence was another of the Committee's concerns. The proposed legislation will abolish the training school order and replace it with a new juvenile justice centre order. This would be for a determinate period between six months and two years, only half of which would be spent in custody, with the lower end of the range being the norm. It is intended that while in custody children will be given education and training to help them adapt to a return to the community and to reduce the risk of re-offending. They will be supported in this by a period of supervision.

Children in care

The Committee was also concerned that children in care could be held in training schools. Following the commencement of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order in November 1996 it is no longer possible for a child in Northern Ireland to be placed in a training school on care grounds.

Race relations

The Committee recommended that race relations legislation be introduced in Northern Ireland. The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 came fully into operation on 4 August 1997. The legislation replicates the GB Act and makes discrimination on racial grounds unlawful in employment, training, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, and the disposal and management of premises. The Irish Traveller community is defined as a racial group for the purposes of the Order. A Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland has been established to help enforce the legislation and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different racial groups.

Education

The Committee advocated further support for teaching the Irish language in schools and for integrated education.
In order to meet the statutory requirements of the Language Studies area of the study of Northern Ireland Curriculum, pupils must study one of the following: French, German, Italian, Spanish or Irish. It is for schools to make provision in response to demand from pupils.
A growing number of parents in Northern Ireland are choosing to have their children educated through the Irish language. Irish-medium schools may achieve grant-aided status under the same procedures as other school sectors. Since 1995 four primary schools and one secondary school have been given grant-aided status. There are now eight grant-aided Irish-medium schools with a combined enrolment of over 1,100 pupils, 95 per cent. of all pupils in Irish-medium schools are attending grant-aided schools.
The Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order places a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate the development of integrated education, which it defines as "the education together at school of Protestant and Roman Catholic pupils". Under this legislation new integrated schools qualify for Government grants immediately provided they meet a number of criteria including minimum viability levels. In addition procedures are in place for transforming existing schools to integrated status; these may be initiated directly by parents.
When the Order became law in 1990 there were only seven grant-aided integrated schools; five primary and two secondary. Today there are 33, of which 11 are secondary schools. Their combined enrolment is just over 7,000 pupils, which represents around two per cent. of total pupil numbers. The rate of growth in the sector will be determined by parental demand; there will be no question of Government imposing integration.
The Department of Education will issue guidelines on transformation to integrated status to all schools later this year. These should provide a further stimulus to the growth of the sector.

Information Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has for the future of the Information Service in Northern Ireland. [15429]

A review of Information Services in Northern Ireland was presented to me on Wednesday 5 November. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.The review recommends that the role and approach of the Northern Ireland Information Service should continue to be consistent with the traditional core principles and approach of government information work. I agree. It is important that the professional reputation of the Northern Ireland Information Service for accuracy, impartiality and objective presentation of the Government's policies be maintained. Its staff have provided loyal, committed and professional service to successive Governments through some of the most difficult and traumatic events.At the same time, the review sets out a vision for the Information Service: centrally placed at the heart of the Government in Northern Ireland, taking a strategic approach, active in promoting the Government's policies as well as reactive, and delivering an up-to-date service to the media, consistent with the professional requirements for accuracy, impartiality and objectivity.

I endorse this approach. In particular, as recommended by the review, the posts of Director of Communications and Head of News will be filled by open competition ensuring transparent selection procedures supervised by the Civil Service Commission.

Defence

Ministry Houses

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will establish how many former Ministry of Defence houses at Colchester, sold to Annington Homes, have been re-sold by the company together with the average sale price; and what was the average price received by the Government when the houses were sold. [13704]

At the time of the sale 46 houses at Colchester were transferred freehold to Annington Homes. The price for individual properties was not separately negotiated but was part of the total sale and leasing package, the receipt for which was £1.662 billion. Once properties are released to Annington Homes, questions relating to resale prices are a matter for that company, but the contract between Annington Homes and MOD provides for a share of the profits obtained from resale to be paid to the Exchequer. Over £1 million from the profit share arrangements within the Annington Homes contract has already been received.

Assets Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what time scale the review of his Department's assets is being conducted; how much the review is expected to cost; and if he will make a statement. [14104]

The review of defence assets is part of the Strategic Defence Review, work on which is expected to be completed around the turn of the year. We are seeking to ensure that all assets are used with maximum efficiency, and that any surplus is identified and disposed of. The work is being undertaken mainly through existing structures. Some extra costs will be incurred, for example in the process of outside consultation, but it is too early to predict the total.

Britannia

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the farewell voyage of HMS Britannia and its escort vessel. [14416]

The estimated additional cost of the farewell voyage of HMY Britannia and its escort vessel is some £157,000.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Visas

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received concerning delays in processing visa applications at Islamabad. [14230]

We have received many representations expressing concern at the delays in processing visa applications at Islamabad. The majority of these resulted from computer problems which have now been resolved.Our correspondence statistics are not broken down in such a way as to be able to give precise figures of representations on this specific subject.

Procurement Exhibition

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the visas granted to military, security, police, paramilitary or special forces personnel invited by (a) the British Government and (b) private companies to attend the 1997 contingency and operational procurement exhibition at Farnborough. [14404]

The information requested is not systematically recorded and is not therefore available.

Immigration (Shahzad Ali)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Bradford, North of 30 July, 29 August, 11 September, 1 October and 17 October concerning the case of Shahzad Ali, reference IMM/D0887. [14734]

The letters referred to by my hon. Friend were answered on 5 November 1997.

Cuba

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received in respect of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the revolution in Cuba. [14813]

I have received no representations in respect of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the revolution in Cuba.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Green Pound

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many representations he has received in the last 12 months on the impact of Green Pound fluctuations on agriculture; and if he will make a statement. [14079]

The Department has received about 90 written representations on the impact of Green Pound fluctuations on agriculture. Ministers and officials have also received delegations from farming and farm-related organisations on several occasions.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consideration is currently being given to an application for European funds to offset the effects of Green Pound price fluctuations on agricultural prices and subsidies; and if he will make a statement. [14164]

Paying this aid would have significant implications for UK public expenditure. We are keeping the case for payment under review but, on the evidence currently available, have concluded that the case for payment is at present not proven.

Tail Docking (Prosecutions)

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many prosecutions for tail docking have taken place since the 1994 Welfare of Livestock Regulations were enacted; and if he will make a statement. 14690]

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen, West and South Pembrokeshire (Mr. Ainger) on 3 November, Official Report, column 38.

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list (a) the nature and value of contracts his Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14957]

From records held centrally, the Department has not entered into any contracts with the Monitor Consultancy and is not aware of any discussions with the company.

Regional Panels

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list for each of the former MAFF regional panels the names of the members at the time of their dissolution, the organisations they represented and their contact addresses. [14771]

The names and contact addresses of the members of the nine MAFF Regional Panels at the time of their disbandment are listed below.Panel members were appointed in a personal capacity and not as formal representatives of any organisation.

Contact address
Anglia region
Mr. J. Wallace (Chairman)The Secretary
Mrs. A. C. ChamberlainAnglia Regional Panel
Miss C. E. ChiversBlock B
Mr. J. CousinsGovernment Buildings
Mr. E. A. DaviesBrooklands Avenue
Mrs. J. DuffieldCambridge CB2 2DR
Mr. D. Moore
Mr. J. Shropshire OBE
Mr. R. Torrance
East Midlands region
Mr. W. S. HemingtonThe Secretary
(Chairman)East Midlands Regional Panel
Mr. R. BealbyBlock 7
Mr. M. CalvertGovernment Buildings
Dr. J. CarmichaelChalfont Drive
Mr. C. DobsonNottingham NG8 3SN
Mrs. J. Gilman
Mr. C. J. F. Matts
Dr. M. Seabrook
Mr. R. Southgate
Contact address
North East region
Professor R. C. WardThe Secretary
(Chairman)North East Regional Panel
Mr. R. BettonGovernment Buildings
Mr. J. R. DurdyCrosby Road
Miss D. U. FairburnNorthallerton
Mr. J. P. StephensonNorth Yorkshire DL6 1AD
Mrs. R. Wass
Mr. S. P. S. Wharton
North Mercia region
Mrs. A. Williams CBEThe Secretary
(Chairman)North Mercia Regional Panel
Mr. V. J. CroxsonBerkeley Towers
Mrs. E. CumminsMerrivale Road
Mr. M. DugdaleCrewe
Mr. J. J. FrostCheshire CW2 6PT
Mr. F. Gribble MBE
Mr. N. H. Moore
Mr. T. D. Prince
Mr. W. Snelson
Mr. T. Wilson
Northern region
Mr. A. Wannop (Chairman)The Secretary
Ms R. BarberNorthern Regional Panel
Mr. J. HowsonEden Bridge House
Mr. A. HumphriesLowther Street
Mr. P. W. LansdaleCarlisle CA3 8DX
Dr. R. S. Smith
Mr. R. Thornton
Mr. A. Walling
Mr. G. Wilson
South East region
Mr. R. Holland (ActingThe Secretary
Chairman)South East Regional Panel
Mr. P. ChamberlainBlock A
Mr. C. FramptonGovernment Buildings
Miss J. GreenallColey Park
Mr. C. A. HydeReading
Mr. D. A. ReesBerkshire RG1 6DT
Mr. R. W. Shepherd
South Mercia region
Mrs. J. Goodman (Chairman)The Secretary
Mr. F. HartSouth Mercia Regional Panel
Mr. C. J. HarveyBlock C
Mr. J. H. MarsdenGovernment Buildings
Mr. W. MeadowsWhittington Road
Mrs. E. MorganWorcester WR5 2LQ
Mr. G. Revill
Mr. D. W. Smith
Mr. R. E. P. Vines
South West region
Mr. P. Lethbridge (Chairman)The Secretary
Mr. S. BestSouth West Regional Panel
Mrs. H. E. BowkerGovernment Buildings
Miss D. ClarkAlphington Road
Mr. J. T. FrenchExeter EX2 8NQ
Mrs. M. Horrell
Mrs. F. E. Luscombe
Mr. A. May
Mr. A. Pomeroy
Wessex region
Mr. R. Lawton CBE (Chairman)The Secretary
Mr. R. E. J. BernaysWessex Regional Panel
Ms H. BrowningBlock 3
Mrs. L. M. CookGovernment Buildings
Mr. O. EdwardsBurghill Road
Contact address
Mr. R. J. A. MartinWestbury on Trym
Mrs. J. SmallBristol BS10 6NJ
Mrs. A. Streatfeild
Mr. J. Webber JP

Cattle Slaughter

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what provisions he is making for cattle slaughtered for human consumption after 1 January 1998, if they were born before 1 July 1996 and have no passport. [14773]

Cattle born before 1 July 1996 are not required to have a passport. Cattle passports were only introduced for cattle born or imported into Great Britain from 1 July 1996; therefore cattle born before this date and presented for slaughter within 30 months are eligible to enter the human food chain.

Environment, Transport And The Regions

Sewage Outlets

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what criteria are used by the Environment Agency to decide whether a sewage outlet is high risk. [14039]

Criteria to decide whether an effluent should be considered "critical" are set out in the Environment Agency Discharge Consent Manual. These include cases where the effluent is contributing to non-achievement of a water quality objective (including those implementing EC Directives); where it may adversely affect water quality at an abstraction point for potable supply; and where it may adversely affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest or substantial fisheries.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many sewage outlets were not sampled by the Environment Agency because they were not deemed high risk in each year since the Agency's establishment. [14038]

Relevant information is not yet available for the period since the establishment in April 1996 of the Environment Agency. However, in 1995 the National Rivers Authority sampled 6,408 out of 7,429 sewage discharges with numeric consents and monitored 1,532 out of 1,786 water company sewage treatment works with descriptive consents. Intermittent discharges from combined sewer overflows, of which there are estimated to be some 25,000, are considerably diluted by rainwater and are routinely monitored by the Agency only in areas of exceptionally high amenity value. However, the design and construction of new and refurbished storm water overflows is controlled on a site specific basis by the Agency on the principle that the frequency of discharge should be related to the dilution available and the uses made of the receiving water.

Noise Control

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has to develop policies to reduce road and rail traffic noise, in respect of recommendations contained in the twentieth report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. [14425]

The Government is concerned about the impact of noise pollution generally and is aware of the increasing public concern about both road traffic noise and, to a lesser extent, rail noise. It is exploring a range of policy options to mitigate the impact of noise on the environment, and will take the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's report into account in its work towards a White Paper on integrated transport.

Non-Lead Shot

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State's letter of 13 October, (EE/PSO/13302/97), what consultation is taking place with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices and other Governments Departments on encouragement of the use of non-lead shot. [14461]

My Department has consulted a wide range of Government Departments, including the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices, about the issue concerning the phase out of lead shot over wetlands.

Road Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the total number of road accidents that occur every year where a contributory cause was the uncorrected eyesight of one or more drivers. [14493]

No information is currently collected nationally on causation factors in road accidents. It is not therefore possible to supply the specific information requested.

Cockpit Voice Recorders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the letter T/PSO/5874/97 of 15 July, to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, what progress has been made in research into the use of the CVR to differentiate between bomb blasts and structural failure. [14501]

A study has recently been completed by the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton University into Cockpit Voice Recorder Transient Signatures. The results of this study have been produced in a report which has been made available to the Department. The conclusions are currently under consideration by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

Road And Bridge Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the environmental benefits of increased tolls on specific roads and bridges; and if he will make a statement. [14448]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: No such assessment has been undertaken and there are at present no plans to do so.

West Coast Main Line

To ask the Secretary of State for the 1Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions his Department has had with the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to discuss (a) punctuality targets and (b) standards of service on the Virgin Trains west coast main line franchise. [14776]

I have discussed these and other issues at my regular meetings with the Franchising Director. Punctuality targets and standards of service are a matter for the Franchising Director to address with the Train Operating Company.

Railways (Hygiene Standards)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to introduce targets for rail franchise holders to encompass standards of cleanliness and hygiene for on-board services. [14778]

This is a matter for the Franchising Director. The franchise agreements require franchise operators to carry out regular surveys of customer satisfaction and to seek an overall improvement in satisfaction during the franchise term. The aspects monitored vary from franchise to franchise and the Franchising Director may require other aspects to be added to the surveys during the franchise. The majority of franchise operators currently monitor certain aspects of train cleanliness. None specifically monitor hygiene of on-board catering services, though normal health and safety requirements apply.

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list (a) the nature and value of contracts his Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14946]

(a) The Department has not entered into any contracts with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990.(b) I am unaware of any discussions that Ministers or officials of this department have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990.

Railways (Punctuality And Reliability)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures he intends to take to ensure that rail franchise holders meet their specified targets for punctuality and reliability. [14777]

This is a matter for the Franchising Director, through enforcement of the terms of franchise agreements. The Government's task is to improve the railways. We will establish more effective and accountable regulation by the Rail Regulator. We will ensure that the public subsidy serves the public interest, and will establish a new rail authority combining the functions currently carried out by the Franchising Director and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to provide a clear, coherent and strategic programme for the development of the railways, so that passenger expectations are met. As a first step we have announced several new measures including new Objectives, Instructions and Guidance for the Franchising Director and a voluntary Concordat with the Rail Regulator. The Franchising Director's new Objectives make it his principal aim to win more passengers on to the railway, secure improvements in the quality of rail services and manage franchise contracts tightly in the public interest.

Home Department

Mr Randhir Singh

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost to public funds of the removal of Mr. R. Singh of Spalding street, Leicester. [13982]

Mr. Randhir Singh was removed from the United Kingdom to India on 27 October 1997 at public expense. The price of the airline ticket was £535.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the refusal of the custody sergeant at Charles street police station, Leicester to allow the hon. Member for Leicester East to see Mr. R. Singh except with a police officer present. [13980]

The Code of Practice for the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by Police Officers (Code C), issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, does not apply to people who have been served a notice advising them of their detention under powers contained in the Immigration Act 1971. However, whilst in police custody, the custody officer has a general responsibility for the welfare and security of persons held in police cells.When a person is held by the police on behalf of another agency, the custody officer has a discretion on visits which may be made to the person taking account of any concerns about potential dangers either to the detained person or to others.My hon. Friend will be aware that I supported his request to visit Charles street Police Station and see his constituent. I am writing to the Chief Constable seeking an explanation and I will write to my hon. Friend in due course.

Illegal Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines exist for the police in respect of the removal of illegal immigrants. [13979]

Home Office Circular 38/1995 Police and Immigration Service Joint Enquiries contains guidance for the chief officer of police. It draws attention to the recommendations contained in the Joint Review of Procedures in Immigration Removal Cases, which was completed by senior officers of the Metropolitan Police and the Immigration Service in January 1994, and in which the Association of Chief Police Officers also participated. Additionally the circular gives broad guidance to the police on the conduct of immigration inquiries.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many removals to other countries of illegal immigrants his Department has authorised since 1 May. [14007]

The number of illegal entrants removed from the United Kingdom, including voluntary departures after illegal entry action had been initiated, between 1 May 1997 and 30 September 1997 was 2,015. This does not include persons removed as a result of deportation action or under port refusal procedures.

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answers and those of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, of 27 October Official Report, column 572, which articles of the Dublin convention 1991 (a) negate the terms of the Asylum Act 1996 and (b) make it more complex and more difficult to implement the bi-lateral agreement that allows the United Kingdom to return economic migrants to France. [13702]

The Dublin Convention provides criteria for determining which member state should consider an asylum application made in the European Union and procedures for transferring applicants between member states. Where another member state accepts that it is responsible for an application made in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State can refuse and remove the applicant to that State, making use, where appropriate, of the provisions of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 concerning safe third country asylum cases. As a matter of international law, we are unable to remove asylum seekers to European Union member states on safe third country grounds other than in accordance with the Dublin Convention.The readmission agreement we have with France explicitly provides for its provisions to be superseded by the Dublin Convention in so far as they apply to asylum seekers. It remains possible to return persons to France under the readmission agreement where they are not asylum seekers and do not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

Senior Police Officers (Leicestershire)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to improve the out-of-hours service of the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire. [13929]

The out-of-hours service of the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire is an operational matter for the police.

Procurement Exhibition

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the police and Ministry of Defence police costs associated with the recent contingency and operational procurement exhibition held at Farnborough Aerospace indicating if these costs were recovered from the exhibition organiser. [14403]

I understand from the Chief Constable of Hampshire that the cost of policing around the Farnborough Aerodrome was £53,550. As Hampshire Constabulary policing commitment lay outside of the aerodrome site no charge was made by them.The additional Ministry of Defence Police costs incurred by the recent Contingency and Operational Procurement Exhibition are a matter for my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence. I have asked him to write to you on those aspects of your Question which relate to his responsibilities.

Airports (Immigration Staff)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances Her Majesty's immigration service is permitted to waive the requirement to provide staff at all United Kingdom airport terminals. [14251]

It is not a requirement of the Immigration Act 1971 for immigration officers to be present at an airport terminal building. The Act provides for the Secretary of State to designate control areas for the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers in any port and for the port operator to take all reasonable steps to secure that notified conditions and restrictions which apply to a designated area are observed.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the United Kingdom airports at which Her Majesty's immigration staff are employed, together with the number of immigration officers employed at each. [14250]

The details requested are set out below.

Port Number of immigration officers on 1 October 1997
Gatwick North132·7
Gatwich South135·4
Heathrow Terminal 1147·2
Heathrow Terminal 2160·7
Heathrow Terminal 3243·7
Heathrow Terminal 4157·2
Brize Norton3
Aberdeen5·3
Belfast5·6
Edinburgh5
Glasgow22
Humberside3·6
Newcastle8
Leeds Bradford11·6
Manchester Tn133·2
Manchester Tn230·5
Birmingham28·5
East Midlands14
Luton18·1
Mildenhall3
Southend1
Stansted47·6
Port Number of immigration officers on 1 October 1997
London City13·1
Cambridge1
Bournemouth4
Bristol10
In the above table there are certain offices which cover both seaports and airports. Immigration officers also attend other airports as necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria are used to determine the number of Her Majesty's immigration staff employed at each of the United Kingdom's airports. [14249]

The deployment of Immigration Service operational staff at airports is determined by a number of factors. These include the pattern and timing of flight movements, the volume and nature of passenger traffic together with other control demands such as clandestine entry and asylum casework.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of Her Majesty's immigration service costs arising from duties undertaken at United Kingdom airports is charged to airports; and what proportion is borne by public funds. [14248]

The cost of staffing the immigration control at both ports and airports in the United Kingdom, in accordance with the requirements laid down by the Secretary of State, is met entirely from public funds.The Immigration Service charges for the provision of additional immigration services under section 9(4) of the Immigration Act 1988. The total receipts generated by these services for 1997–98 are expected to make up about 3.5 per cent. of the resources available to the Immigration Service Ports Directorate. I am unable to provide a disaggregation of the proportion of receipts between airports and other locations because to do so would risk breaching commercial confidentiality.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to improve the out-of-hours service of the immigration office at East Midlands airport. [13928]

The immigration office at East Midlands airport is staffed 24 hours a day. The uneven pattern of passenger arrivals means that there are times when only one immigration officer is required on duty. However, when that officer is unable to answer telephone calls immediately because of operational duties away from the office an answerphone service is provided. I do not have any plans to change this arrangement, which generally works well.

Immigration And Nationality Inquiry Desk

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many personal callers there were to the public inquiry desk at each branch of the immigration and nationality department on 1 October. [14241]

On 1 October, the number of applicants at the public enquiry offices of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate was:

Number
Belfast20
Birmingham122
Croydon Public Enquiry Office884
Croydon Asylum Screening Unit241
Glasgow62
Liverpool52

Police Discipline

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have been (a) cautioned, (b) dismissed and (c) charged for inappropriate behaviour while on duty, listing in each case the (i) rule breached and (ii) police force involved. [14438]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The information available, covering the period April 1996 to March 1997, is contained in the table below. Figures relate to disciplinary cases which result in a punishment being awarded—they do not include those in which police officers were charged but found not guilty or the charges not pursued. Information on the rule breached, and whether the offence was committed whilst the officer was on or off duty is not collected centrally.

Most serious punishment awarded as a result of disciplinary proceedings 1996–97
Number of officers
Police forceDismissalCautionOtherTotal
Avon and Somerset0437
Bedfordshire0033
Cambridgeshire1124
Cheshire1225
Cleveland1236
Cumbria0011
Derbyshire0213
Devon and Cornwall031821
Dorset0066
Durham1113
Essex0077
Gloucestershire1045
Greater Manchester01910
Hampshire111012
Hertfordshire0145
Humberside301215
Kent031518
Lancashire0202
Leicestershire0099
Lincolnshire0000
City of London0123
Merseyside021012
Metropolitan Police1286989
Norfolk1258
Northamptonshire0112
Northumbria0358
North Yorkshire1078
Nottinghamshire201315
South Yorkshire3137
Staffordshire0044
Suffolk1034
Surrey1001
Sussex071219
Thames Valley1113
Warwickshire0011
West Mercia0055
West Midlands601521
Most serious punishment awarded as a result of disciplinary proceedings 1996–97
Number of officers
Police forceDismissalCautionOtherTotal
West Yorkshire001313
Wiltshire0000
Dyfed Powys0033
Gwent0044
North Wales0000
South Wales0055
Total3749291377

Party Conferences (Security)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of security arrangements for each party political conference held in 1997; and what was such expenditure in each of the preceding three years. [13084]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The information requested is set out in the table. In 1996, Dorset Police was given £1.5 million, and this year Lancashire Constabulary and Sussex Police were each given £750,000 in extra Government funding as a contribution towards the additional costs of safeguarding national security at Party conferences in their area.

Cost of policing Party Conferences
£
Force1997199619951994
Conservative Party
Lancashire12.5-3 million2662,000
Dorset2,847 million2,671 million
Labour Party
Sussex212 million32,000
Lancashire2,620 million290,000
Liberal Democrat Party
NottinghamshireNil
North YorkshireNil
South Wales380Nil
Sussex2Nil6,0003,500
1 Estimate.
2 Lancashire Constabulary and Sussex Police are only able to provide additional costs which are essentially overtime, transport and accommodation costs.
In addition, some security expenditure incurred by the political parties on the advice of the police can be recovered from the Home Office in accordance with section 170 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The reimbursed costs are set out in the table:

£
YearConservative PartyLabour Party
1994463,165153,449
1995533,39265,000
1996554,806528,773
1997n/an/a
n/a = not available.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints were made concerning security arrangements at each party conference. [13085]

[holding answer 6 November]: Fourteen written complaints were made in relation to the security arrangements at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this year. I am not aware of any complaints made in relation to security at the Conservative or Liberal Democrat party conferences.

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on developments concerning the use of animals in scientific procedures. [14902]

My noble Friend made an announcement yesterday and a copy of a supplementary note to my right hon. Friend's response to the Animal Procedures Committee's interim report on its review of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 was placed in the Library.

Law On Disclosure

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the law on disclosure; and if he will make a statement. [12645]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The new disclosure provisions introduced by the Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996 came into effect on 1 April 1997 but only apply to criminal proceedings arising from investigations begun on or after that date. Therefore, cases subject to the new procedures have only been coming before the courts in the last three or four months. I understand that the Crown Prosecution Service is in the process of undertaking its own evaluation of the new provisions, which it expects to complete early next year. In the light of that exercise, I will assess the need for a further evaluation of the provisions.

Security Screening (Hotels)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he intends to take to ensure that security screening of hotel and boarding house guests does not discriminate against those of Irish origin. [13086]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The basis for any inquiries made by the police in the course of their duties is an operational matter for the chief constable concerned. It is open to anyone who considers that he has been dealt with improperly to make a complaint to the chief constable. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response he receives, he may refer the matter to the Police Complaints Authority.

Samia Batol Shah

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Bradford, North of 5 September, 1 October and 18 October concerning the case of Samia Batol Shah, reference PO5094/97. [14735]

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) the nature and value of contracts his Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14952]

There is no record of the Home Office entering into any contracts, or having discussions with, the Monitor Consultancy during the period in question.

Fire Service

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 30 October, Official Report, column 842, concerning Fire Service attendance times, from what point attendance times are calculated. [14924]

Guidance issued by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Fire Services requests brigades to start measuring attendance times from the time of assignment of fire appliances by the brigade's control (the point at which the send button is pressed by the control operator).

Greater London Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what will be the hours during which polling stations in London will be open for electors during the London local government elections and referendum in May 1998. [14775]

The hours of polling at the London borough local elections on 7 May 1998 will be between 08.00 am and 09.00 pm at night. The Government intend to provide for polling for the referendum on the Greater London Authority also to be held on that day. The polling hours for the referendum will be the same as those for the London borough local elections.

Polling Stations (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many schools were (a) closed and (b) part-closed for use as polling stations on 1 May; and how many and what percentage of pupils were affected. [14678]

Social Security

Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the control groups operating to measure the effect of her New Deal for Lone Parents scheme contain lone parents who are not taking part in the scheme. [14686]

The New Deal for Lone Parents has been introduced in eight initial phase areas. Lone parents whose youngest child is at school are invited for interviews with their personal advisers who provide "better-off' calculations and individually tailored advice. Lone parents with pre-school children can volunteer for the New Deal.

Measurement of the effects of the New Deal for Lone Parents will rely on control areas rather than control groups. The control areas closely match the New Deal areas. The New Deal for lone parents will be evaluated by a consortium led by Social and Community Planning Research, an independent research institute together with the Institute of Employment Relations at Warwick University and the university of Bath. The impact of the scheme will be measured by comparing outcomes for lone parents in the New Deal areas with the outcomes for a similar, but geographically separate group of lone parents in the control areas. None of the lone parents in the control areas will be eligible for the New Deal.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what public funding was provided to the Gingerbread Group to participate in the press conference to launch the Moving Foward document. [14685]

Gingerbread did not receive any public funds for attending the press conference which launched the Moving Forward document.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what are the detailed objectives for the control groups operating to measure the effect of her New Deal for Lone Parents scheme; and, if so, if she will list what these are; [14926](2) when she started the control groups to measure the effect of her New Deal for Lone Parents scheme, in each of the areas in which they are operating; [14928](3) what are the terms of reference for the control groups in the New Deal for Lone Parents scheme; and how they differ from those of the last Government's Parent Plus scheme; [14925](4) what is her definition of control group with respect to those being used in the New Deal for Lone Parents scheme; [14927](5) for what reasons the control groups in the New Deal for Lone Parents scheme did not start with the scheme itself. [14929]

The New Deal for Lone Parents will fulfil the Government's commitment to provide help to lone parents to get off benefit and into work. The programme has been introduced in the following eight Benefits Agency districts:

  • North Surrey
  • North Worcestershire
  • North Cheshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Warwickshire
  • Clyde Valley
  • Cardiff and Vale
  • Sheffield East
These areas have been carefully selected to represent areas of high, medium and low unemployment and to have typical caseloads of lone parents. Untypical areas were excluded.The impact of the first phase of the New Deal for Lone Parents will be measured by comparing outcomes for lone parents in the New Deal areas with the outcomes for a similar, but geographically separate group of lone parents

in control areas where the New Deal service is not yet available. These control areas are the Benefits Agency districts of:

  • Manchester Central
  • Glasgow Springburn and Cumbernauld
  • Blackburn and Accrington
  • Leicestershire North
  • Wiltshire
  • Buckinghamshire

Any additional movements into work in the New Deal areas over and above that which occurs in the control areas can be attributed to the New Deal itself, after allowing for changes in the local labour markets. The objectives of the control areas are, therefore, to provide a benchmark by which to assess the impact of the New Deal.

Administrative data for the control areas is being collected from the same date as that for the New Deal areas. This data will be collected for the duration of the New Deal and beyond. Carefully selected samples of lone parents in the control areas will be interviewed, as will lone parents in the New Deal areas.

The Parent Plus service would have only been available to half of the one parents on Income Support in each of the pilot areas. The impact of Parent Plus would have been measured by comparing movements into work amongst those offered the service (the action group) against those lone parents in the same area who were not offered the service (the control group).

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list (a) the nature and value of contracts her Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14950]

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.The Department of Social Security and its Executive Agencies has not entered into any contracts with Monitor Consultancy since 1993–94 (the latest for which information is available). Neither Ministers nor Departmental Officials have had discussions with them.

Trade And Industry

Export Credits Guarantee Department

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many Land Rovers have been supplied to which Baltic states in each of the last five years; and if they have received ECGD cover. [13908]

From the data readily available, in the last five years ECGD has supported the following contracts, in relation to Land Rover Vehicles, to Baltic States:

  • (i) in 1994 the supply of 100 second hand Land Rovers value US$0.7 million to Latvia;
  • (ii) in 1996 the supply of 97 Land Rovers Defender Vehicles value £1.3 million to Lithuania
  • (iii) in 1997 the supply of 152 Land Rovers Defender/Discover Vehicles value £2.2 million to Lithuania
  • We do not have the total number of vehicles exported during these years.

    Energy And Environmental Education

    To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans her Department has to review its relationship with non-governmental organisations involved in energy and environmental education. [12544]

    I have no plans for such a review. My Department will play a full role in the Expert Panel on Sustainable Education announced by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 18 September 1997. This panel will strengthen partnership with key players such as non-governmental organisations in developing policy on environmental and energy education.

    Business Links

    To ask the President of the Board of Trade what costs have been saved by closures and amalgamations of business links since 1 May; and what are the total projected costs of these closures and amalgamations. [13519]

    [holding answer 30 October 1997]: There has been no programme of closures or amalgamations of Business Links since 1 May, although individual Business Links may have done so on an independent basis.Business Links are tasked with preparing business plans from which I would expect efficiency savings to be made.

    Plutonium

    To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations Her Majesty's Government made to the United States Government over the use of plutonium fuel on the recently launched NASA spaceship and the concern for environmental safety. [13663]

    [holding answer 3 November 1997]: The recent launch by NASA was the start of the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. The UK has contributed to ESA's Huygens probe which will land and make measurements on one of Saturn's moons. It is a fundamental priority for the UK that space activities are undertaken in a safe and responsible way. Neither NASA nor ESA underestimate the care required in handling plutonium and have gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of the power sources. I understand these safety measures include: the form of the plutonium—a type of ceramic, the way it is stored—divided into 18 independent units, and the multiple layers of materials preventing accidental release. Her Majesty's Government was satisfied the risk of environmental impact was reduced to an absolute minimum and sufficiently balanced by the valuable scientific data that will be gathered by the mission about the evolution of planets in the solar system and ultimately the Earth itself.

    International Energy Systems Ltd

    To ask the President of the Board of Trade what offers were received by BNFL Ltd. from companies interested in taking over or sharing in the work of International Energy Systems Ltd. [14069]

    Commercial and operational matters affecting BNFL and its subsidiaries are of course a matter for the Company. However, I understand BNFL will be making contact with the hon. Member.

    Health

    Fluoridation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on fluoridation of drinking water indicating those local authority areas in which fluoride is currently added to water. [14392]

    Some 5.5 million people in the United Kingdom receive water where the fluoride content has been artificially increased to a level of one part of fluoride per million of water. Local authority areas do not necessarily receive a discrete water supply, but the health authorities in England whose populations are wholly or partly served by fluoridation schemes are Bassetlaw, North Bedfordshire, Bromsgrove and Redditch, Birmingham Central, Birmingham East, Birmingham North, Birmingham South, Birmingham West, Coventry, Crewe, Dudley, Durham, North West Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, North Lincolnshire, South Lincolnshire, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sandwell, Scunthorpe, Solihull, Mid Staffordshire, South East Staffordshire, North Tyneside, North Warwickshire, South Warwickshire, Walsall, Worcester and Wolverhampton.The Government are looking at options for the fluoridation programme and will make an announcement in due course.

    In Vitro Fertilisation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health authorities in England provide in vitro fertilisation; and what measures are being taken to tackle inequality of provision between health authorities. [14391]

    Information on health authority funding of in vitro fertilisation is contained in the Report of the Fourth National Survey of National Health Service Funding of Infertility Services, produced by the College of Health on behalf of the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (published November 1996). Copies are available in the Library.The Government are committed to tackling the issue of unexplained or unjustified variations in the service provided in different parts of the country. The forthcoming White Paper on replacing the National Health Service internal market and the commissioning process will be founded upon a number of key principles, one of which is fairness. The White Paper will propose a revised framework for monitoring performance which will include equity of access in relation to need.

    Medical Procedures (Success Rate)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what new proposals he has to increase the percentage of NHS operations and other procedures which are successful. [14417]

    The quality, effectiveness and outcomes of National Health Service services will be a paramount objective of the plans we will bring forward to replace the competitive, contract driven and bureaucratic internal market.We have already made a clear commitment to put clinical quality at the heart of our plans for the NHS. The Priorities and Planning Guidance for the NHS for 1998–99 made clear that the effectiveness and quality of services is central to the purpose of the NHS. We have in development an integrated approach to improving the quality, effectiveness and outcomes of NHS care.The law bringing into force the General Medical Council's professional performance procedures was implemented on 1 July 1997 and we will shortly be issuing guidance to the NHS on its role in these procedures.The Chief Medical Officer has written to all Chief Executives and Medical Directors of NHS trusts asking them to ensure that they have effective procedures in place for doctors to report their concerns about the conduct, performance or health of medical colleagues. This builds on the General Medical Council's guidance in

    Duties of a Doctor which requires all doctors to:

    "act quickly to prevent patients from risk if you have good reason to believe you or a colleague may not be fit for practice".

    We also welcome the new Safety and Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures, which is meant to help the clinical professions decide how to handle the safe introduction of developments in technology in surgery. Furthermore, the recently introduced reforms of higher specialist medical training, which includes the introduction of improved, more structured medical training programmes, will ultimately lead to improvements in the quality of the care provided to patients.

    National Health Service Directorships

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health to what extent it is his policy that there should be a presumption that appointments of non-executive directors to NHS directorships should be made from candidates living within the trust's area; in what circumstances candidates from outside the area may be (a) shortlisted and (b) appointed; and if he will make a statement. [14733]

    Under the Government's new procedures candidates are expected to live in the area served by the trust involved. This will apply to all current postholders seeking reappointment as well as new candidates. Only in exceptional circumstances would we be prepared to depart from this stipulation. For example, where there are severe local recruitment problems; when a particularly strong candidate has demonstrated in some other way their commitment to the local community; or where there is someone living only just outside the core area served by the trust whom it might be sensible to appoint.

    Nutrition (Schools)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the report by Professor James into food issues and schools which was prepared for his Department. [14770]

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I are meeting Professor James later this month to discuss his draft report on healthy active schools. A decision on how best to publicise his recommendations will be taken after discussion with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education.

    Children's Rights

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will establish an office of Children's Rights Commissioner. [14942]

    The Government have no plans to establish an office of Children's Rights Commissioner. During 1998 the Government will be preparing the Second United Kingdom Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in accordance with the requirements of Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989. We will take into account possible advantages of such an Office and seek to assess progress in other countries where such an Office has been established.

    Winter Mortality Rates

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health what have been the excess winter mortality rates in (a) Lancashire, (b) Cornwall, (c) Tyneside and (d) Suffolk for each of the last 10 years in terms of (i) excess numbers and (ii) percentages for (1) those aged 65 to 80 years, (2) those aged over 80 years, (3) single parent families, (4) people in receipt of income support, (5) people with disabilities and (6) others. [14259]

    I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter from John Fox to Mr. Nigel Evans, dated 7 November 1997:

    The Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been asked to answer your recent question on excess winter deaths in Lancashire, Cornwall, Tyneside and Suffolk for each of the last 10 years. In his absence, I am replying as the Director of the Census, Population and Health Group.
    The estimated numbers of excess deaths in each county during the last ten winters, based on the latest available data, are presented in the following table. The percentage of excess winter deaths among those aged 65 to 80 years and among those aged over 80 years are also given.

    Number of excess winter deaths

    1

    Percentage of excess witner deaths

    All ages

    65-80 years

    Over 80 years

    Lancashier

    1987–881,1104941
    1988–897204255
    1989–901,7104347
    1990–911,1004453
    1991–921,0504053
    1992–939602956
    1993–948202657
    1994–958104450
    1995–961,2103852
    1996–971,5202760

    Cornwall

    1987–883404652
    1988–891605443
    1989–904904154
    1990–915003948
    1991–924504944
    1992–932103749
    1993–943101767
    1994–953202259
    1995–964202867
    1996–976502565

    Tyne and Wear

    1987–888404248
    1988–895003752
    1989–901,0204842
    1990–917804340
    1991–929704446
    1992–934404346
    1993–946804542
    1994–955803947
    1995–968204348
    1996–979904451

    Suffolk

    1987–883703458
    1988–894504749
    1989–905502957
    1990–915904448
    1991–924003662
    1992–933503266
    1993–943204257
    1994–954903654
    1995–965602867
    1996–977603164

    1rounded to the nearest 10.

    Excess winter deaths are defined as the number of deaths in the four months from December to March less the average of the numbers during the preceding autumn (August to November) and the following summer (April to July). The table gives the percentage of the excess attributable to each of the given age groups.
    The mortality data collected by the ONS do not include information on whether the deceased was a single parent, in receipt of income support or disabled. It is therefore not possible to calculate the percentage of excess winter deaths among these groups.

    Education And Employment

    Employment Service (Annual Report)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the Employment Service annual report and accounts for 1996–97 will be laid before Parliament. [15308]

    I have today laid before the House the Employment Service's Annual Report and Accounts for 1996–97 which give full details of performance in that operational year.The Report notes that the Employment Service achieved some very significant successes in 1996–97. Most notably, the Service rose to the major challenges of successfully introducing the Jobseeker's Allowance and implementing the Labour Market System in the same operational year. Both were very large undertakings which required effective management and considerable investment in infrastructure, training and systems. The intensive effort which the ES had to devote to these two initiatives did result, however, in the Service not meeting a number of its job placing and other targets.The Report notes that there has in addition been some misrecording of job placings and that performance for 1996–97 has been over-stated as a result. The causes lie in inconsistent application of ES job broking instructions and weaknesses in the performance validation process which are being tackled as a matter of priority. The ES Chief Executive has provided me with details of the urgent steps he has taken in this respect including issuing fresh and comprehensive instructions on the definitions of a submission and a placing, and the introduction of a new and more thorough performance validation system. Alleged cases of deliberate misrecording of placings are being investigated and appropriate disciplinary action will be considered against anyone found deliberately to have contravened the procedures.The Comptroller and Auditor General in his comments on the Report notes that the Employment Service has taken swift and robust action to address this issue. The NAO and the Service have agreed that the NAO will undertake an annual validation of the Agency's performance measures and performance achieved, beginning in this current operational year. Further details of the action taken by the Employment Service are contained within the report.It is important to note that the misrecording of placings has no effect on the unemployment count which is taken from the records of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance as shown by the Benefits Agency computer system.The current review of the Employment Service targets which I announced to the House on 30 July will take these matters into account. I expect the Review to recommend by the end of the year a series of targets which reflect our new priorities, are fully achievable and which can be measured accurately.