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Written Answers

Volume 301: debated on Thursday 27 November 1997

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 27 November 1997

Defence

Military Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military personnel have left the Army since 1 May; how many have been recruited since that date; and how many vacancies existed at the end of October. [16926]

A total of around 5,000 personnel left the Army between 1 May and 1 October 1997. More than 6,000 personnel entered the Army from civilian life during the same period. At 1 October the Army was undermanned by around 4,500 trained personnel. The figures to 1 October are provisional, and include trained Gurkha personnel but exclude the Royal Irish (Home Service). The figures to the end of October 1997 are not yet available.

Genetically Modified Organisms

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many research projects have been commissioned by his Department in each year from 1987 to date concerning the genetic modification of (a) organisms and (b) micro-organisms. [17736]

[holding answer 25 November 1997]: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from J. Chisholm to Mr. Paul Tyler, dated 27 November 1997:

I have been asked to reply to your question about research projects concerned with the genetic modification of organisms and micro-organisms as most work of this nature is carried out for the Ministry of Defence by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).
The genetic modification work undertaken at DERA's Chemical and Biological Defence Sector (CBD) at Porton Down is all concerned with micro-organisms. None of the work is concerned with the genetic modification of higher organisms.
Health and Safety legislation requires that all projects involving genetic manipulation in the UK must be approved by local Genetic Manipulation Safety Committees (GMSC). The GMSC at CBD has approved the following experiments per year since 1987.

Year

Number of projects

19878
198811
198919
19908
199112
199219
199315

Year

Number of projects

199413
19958
199620
1997 (to 18 November 1997)14

All these projects are part of an overall defensive research programme to provide safe and effective protection for the UK Armed Forces in the event of chemical or biological attack.

It would not be in the national interest for me to give details of these projects.

I am sorry I cannot be more helpful on this occasion.

Foxes (Mod Estate)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the number of foxes on his Department's estate in each of the past five years. [18033]

No estimates have been made of the numbers of foxes on the Defence Estate.

Buildings And Installations (Servicing)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list each civilian company and subsidiary employed by his Department to service Ministry of Defence installations and buildings, indicating the functions they carry out; [17864](2) if he will list by company the cost to public funds to date in payments to each company contracted to service MOD buildings and installations. [17863]

This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

University Air Squadrons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that (a) cadets learning to fly through the university air squadrons and (b) those taking air experience flights will be trained in British-built aircraft. [18059]

A final decision has still to be taken on the contract to provide the University Air Squadron and Air Cadet Air Experience Flight flying requirements. A UK-manufactured aircraft is one of the options being considered. All factors will be taken into account in reaching a decision on which options offers best operational performance and best overall value for money.

Fox Hunting

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 24 November 1997, Official Report, column 393, if he will discuss with the Masters of Foxhounds Association his Department's interpretation of the MFHA's press release of 8 August in respect of the practice of digging out foxes on the estate; and if he will make a statement. [17954]

My Department's position on the practice of digging out is clear: it will be neither requested nor permitted on the defence Estate.

Remembrance Sunday (Union Flag)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who was responsible for the Union Flag flown above Whitehall main building on Remembrance Sunday. [17865]

Under the terms of their contract, day to day responsibility for ensuring that flags on MoD Main Building, Whitehall, are maintained in good condition, regularly washed and flown correctly at the appropriate times lies with Building and Property Defence Limited. Under new arrangements instituted since Remembrance Sunday, visual checks carried out by Departmental staff will ensure that correct procedures are followed.

Prime Minister

President Of The Board Of Trade

To ask the Prime Minister if he gave permission for the President of the Board of Trade not to attend oral questions on 20 November. [17556]

I gave my permission for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to be overseas on 20 November.

Ministerial Interests

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the issues and companies which each Minister is unable to handle in order to avoid a conflict of interst. [17557]

No. Ministers are required to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between their public duties and their private interests. There is no static list of issues or companies. Ministers are asked to remain alert to the possibility of conflicts of interests when dealing with Government business.

Mr Rupert Murdoch

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the issues of public policy which he discussed with Mr. Rupert Murdoch during their meeting on 13 November. [17655]

[holding answer 25 November 1997]: We discussed a range of issues.

Political Donations

To ask the Prime Minister when he became aware of the possible conflict of interest arising from a second donation on behalf of Mr. Bernie Ecclestone. [17943]

I have nothing further to add to the oral answer I gave in the House on 12 November 1997, Official Report, columns 898–99.

Diabetics

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his oral answer of 19 November 1997, Official Report, column 325, what scientific advice the Government received recommending driving licence restrictions on insulin-dependent diabetics; and if he will publish that advice. [17610]

[holding answer 26 November 1997]: As I told the hon. Gentleman in my earlier reply, the Government receives advice from the Honorary Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes, one of a number of such panels comprising experts in their field. At a recent meeting they confirmed that in their view there was no new evidence to support a change in the policy with regard to granting licences to drive the heavier vehicles to diabetes sufferers treated by insulin. Their advice draws on their experience and assessment of the scientific literature. There is therefore no scientific advice as such from the Panel which could be published.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Prime Minister if it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that (a) all visits undertaken by Ministers in connection with their duties be notified, reasonably in advance, to the hon. Member of the area visited and (b) that hon. Member is permitted to participate in the visit. [17843]

[holding answer 26 November 1997]: I set out guidance to my Ministerial colleagues on these matters in paragraph 79 of the Ministerial Code, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House in July.

Government Information Service

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government Information Service. [18408]

I am today placing in the Library of the House the Report of a Working Group on the Government Information Service. The Report is about modernising the Government's communications with the media to make them more effective and authoritative—an integral part of a democratic Government's duty to govern with consent. Its main proposals are:

to improve co-ordination with and from the centre, so as to get across consistently the Government's key policy themes and messages, through a new strategic communications unit serving the whole Government; a reformed Cab-E-Net system; and clearer rules on attribution;
to improve co-ordination within each Government Department so that Ministers, their special advisers, their press offices and their policy civil servants all play their part in the coherent formulation and communication of policy;
to bring the practice and procedures of all Government press offices up to the standards of the best, geared to quick response round the clock with help from a new central media monitoring unit;
to retain a politically impartial service and to sustain the trusted values of the service embodied in its rules of guidance;
on the basis that communication is an integral part of policy formulation, to develop closer and better working relations between policy civil servants and press offices;
to offer high quality management and leadership, staffing and training and development tailored to meet the needs of the 24-hour media world.
I have accepted the recommendations of the Report. The costs of the two new Units will be contained within the Department's running costs. Together, these proposals will produce a service, renamed the Government Information Service and Communication Service, which is fit for its purpose and fit for the future.

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister for what reasons the request by Mr. Tariq Aziz to meet representatives of the British Government at the United Nations to enter into a dialogue on the situation in Iraq was declined. [17918]

Mr. Aziz wished to enter into dialogue on the subject of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). It is not for Iraq to attempt to lay down conditions on this subject. UNSCOM received its mandate under Security Council Resolution (SCR) 687. It is non-negotiable. Iraq must comply with all relevant SCRs.

Attorney-General

Emergency Provisions

To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to the statement of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland of 18 November 1997, Official Report, columns 215–16, what factors led him to conclude it would appear invidious for him to deny a person a jury trial in some scheduled offences; and for what reasons he assesses it not to be invidious for him to deny jury trials in other scheduled offences. [17570]

It is the legislation itself, the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1996, which provides that the scheduled offences are tried by a judge without a jury. The Schedule permits the Attorney-General, in respect of certain offences, to certify that a particular offence is not to be treated as a scheduled offence. My certificate therefore operates to confer the right to be tried by jury in the normal way. The right to trial by jury is currently removed only by Parliament and it would be invidious for a Minister to have that power. The Attorney-General's function is purely to reduce the severity of the law in favour of individuals where appropriate.

To ask the Attorney-General what would be (a) the extra cost and (b) the necessary increase in personnel of the certifying in procedure for scheduled offences coming under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill. [17571]

Under the current legislation the Attorney-General may "certify out" certain scheduled offences with the effect that such an offence will not be treated as a scheduled offence. It is impossible to quantify the extra cost and the necessary increase in personnel which would be required were offences to be subject to a "certifying in" procedure, whereby they would be certified in to the Schedule by the Attorney-General, since the amount of work involved is entirely dependent on the number of offences committed. Under the provisions contained in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the work load of my office because of the proposal to increase the number of offences which are capable of being certified out.

Sexual Offences

To ask the Attorney-General (1) what percentage of cases of alleged sexual offences against children investigated by the Police in 1995–96 and 1996–97 and referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (a) were judged to have passed the evidential test, (b) proceeded to prosecution in court and (c) resulted in a conviction; [17660](2) what percentage of cases

(a) proceeded to prosecution in court and (b) resulted in a conviction, in cases involving alleged sexual offences against children in 1995–96 and 1996–97 when the only evidence was the testimony of the child or children; [17662]

(3) what were the reasons for the decisions not to proceed to prosecution in respect of those alleged sexual offences against children investigated by the Police in 1995–96 and 1996–97, in which the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute. [17663]

The Crown Prosecution Service holds no central records on the outcome of proceedings in respect of particular offences. The information is held in Branch offices on individual case files and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Attorney-General what factors the Crown Prosecution Service takes into account in applying the evidential test in cases involving alleged sexual offences against children where the only evidence was the testimony of the child or children. [17661]

Each case is unique and must be considered on its own merit but, generally, a principle of fairness is applied to the evidence of children. This means that the evidence of a child is considered no less reliable than that of an adult simply because it comes from a child. As in all cases, prosecutors will consider whether the evidence can be used in court and whether it is reliable in deciding if there is a realistic prospect of conviction. Prosecutors are urged to use all the procedures available to assist child witnesses to give evidence.

Home Department

Prisoners (Home Leave)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department at what stage in a sentence a prisoner becomes eligible for home leave. [16182]

Following changes in the Prison Rules in April 1995, a new system of release on temporary licence was introduced to replace home leave and temporary release. The eligibility of prisoners to be considered for release on resettlement licence under the new system is set out in "Prison Service Instruction to Governors 36/1995," a copy of which is in the Library.

European Parliamentary Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a draft of the ballot paper which would be issued to voters before the second reading of the European Parliamentary Elections Bill. [16957]

The final format of the ballot paper for elections to the European Parliament has not yet been determined. Parliament will be able to approve the final design. I have, however, placed a copy of an initial sketch in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people will be eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections in (a) each of the English regions upon which the proposed new constituencies will be based, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland. [17060]

[holding answer 21 November 1997]: The number of people eligible to vote in the next elections to the European Parliament in June 1999 will depend on the number of people on the relevant electoral registers on polling day. The number of people on the local government electoral registers in each of the proposed English electoral regions and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on 16 February 1997 was as follows:

Number
East Midlands3,167,433
Eastern4,027,466
London5,027,796
North East1,984,212
North West5,214,413
South East5,988,686
South West3,747,003
West Midlands4,032,835
Yorkshire and The Humber3,811,254
Scotland3,995,923
Wales2,226,923
Northern Ireland1,190,977
The number of people entitled to vote in an election to the European Parliament would be slightly smaller since not all European Union citizens on the local government register chose to exercise their right to vote in European Parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom.

East European Students

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many students from eastern Europe who in the last six months have been given permits to work in agriculture have applied for political asylum. [17250]

I regret that the information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many students from eastern Europe who have been given permits to work in the United Kingdom have been recruited by gangmasters to work in the food processing factories in Lincolnshire. [17248]

I regret that information on the number of eastern European students recruited by gangmasters to work in food processing factories in Lincolnshire is not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many permits he has granted to students from eastern Europe to work in agriculture in the United Kingdom during the last six months. [17249]

Eight thousand five hundred such students entered the United Kingdom in the six months from May to October.

Amsterdam Treaty (Asylum Seekers)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the implications of the Amsterdam Treaty for future asylum seekers from within the European Union; and for what reason his Department did not seek an exemption from the Asylum Protocol similar to that acquired by Belgium. [17217]

The Asylum Protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty will require that member states treat asylum applications from European Union nationals as either inadmissible or against a presumption that they are manifestly unfounded. Belgium has made a declaratory statement to the effect that it will apply the latter approach. This is not an exemption from the Protocol. There was no need for the United Kingdom to make a similar declaration. In accordance with United Kingdom asylum law, we will continue to give individual consideration to asylum applications from European Union nationals.

Tagging

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the savings which will arise as a result of the use of tagging to bring about the early release of prisoners from custodial sentences. [17742]

I expect the costs of electronic monitoring to be considerably smaller than the expenditure on prisons which would otherwise be necessary. Fuller information will be given in the Financial Memorandum to the Crime and Disorder Bill.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the criteria by which the Prison Service will carry out a risk assessment of offenders under consideration for early release through tagging. [17744]

I shall publish more detailed information about the working of the home detention curfew scheme in due course. The risk assessment procedures will build on those applying at present to release on temporary licence, as set out in Instruction to Governors 36/95, a copy of which is in the Library. A copy of the Instruction to Governors on home detention curfew will also be placed in the Library.

Prison Sentences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders convicted of offences involving (a) sex and (b) violence were sentenced to periods of imprisonment of between three months and four years in the last year for which figures are available. [17743]

For England and Wales in 1996 (latest available figures) of the 4,426 offenders convicted of indictable sexual offences, 1,763 were sentenced to periods of immediate custody of between three months and up to and including four years.Similarly, for the indictable offence group of violence against the person, 30,011 offenders were convicted, of whom 7,366 were sentenced to periods of imprisonment of between three months and up to and including four years.

Integrated Transport System

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his Department made submission to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions consultation on an integrated transport system; and if he will make a statement. [17749]

No formal submission was made but our two Departments have been and continue to be in close contact at Ministerial and official level about issues of mutual interest arising from the development of an integrated transport policy.

Prisons (Food)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the quality and service of prison food. [17719]

The Prison Service has introduced a number of changes to improve catering procedures, including increased flexibility for caterers to provide food suited to the needs of prisoners, and greater choice and reduced waste, for example through the use of pre-select menus.A recent National Audit Office report (published on 7 November 1997) acknowledged these improvements and confirmed that prison caterers do well in difficult conditions. The report also identified a number of areas where further improvement is desirable, and the Prison Service is currently considering its recommendations.

1982 Anc Offices Bombing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his letter of 30 August 1992 to the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), what progress there has been in the inquiry into the bombings, in 1982, of the African National Congress offices in London; and what representations his Department has received on this matter. [17624]

[holding answer 26 November 1997]: The Metropolitan Police are continuing to monitor the situation in South Africa in relation to revelations made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is their intention to interview more people in the course of their investigation into the bombing in due course. As for representations received in the Home Office, records relating to the period between 1982 and the end of 1991 are not kept centrally and I will therefore write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is possible to check the relevant papers.

Fire Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in considering legislation on fire safety. [18334]

In my reply to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) on 23 June 1997, Official Report, column 360. I indicated that the Government strongly support the aims of the Fire Safety Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Heppell) introduced in the last Parliament. Since then. I have received advice from the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council on the main principles incorporated in that Bill and officials have held discussions with a number of key stakeholders.On 28 November, the Government intend to publish a consultation document entitled "Fire Safety Legislation for the Future" and copies will be placed in the Library. The consultation document sets out proposals for a new fire safety regime based on the main principles included in the Fire Safety Bill which in turn picked up many of the recommendations of the June 1994 Inter-Departmental Review of Fire Safety Legislation and Enforcement.The proposed new regime should enable rationalisation and consolidation of existing legislation. It would be based on a new universal duty of fire safety care on the occupiers and owners of almost all premises (except single private dwellings) to provide and maintain fire precautions. There would be additional requirements for high risk premises and enforcement would generally be by fire authorities. To combat the deaths and casualties in people's homes, we are attracted to the possibility of a new statutory duty on fire authorities to undertake community fire safety.The consultation document generally covers fire safety in England and Wales and in Scotland. But where there are differences in the situation or proposals for Scotland these have been stated in a separate chapter.We intend that this consultation document should be a first step towards a legislative regime which will serve to meet the fire safety challenges of the future. The proposals also form one strand of the Home Office Comprehensive Spending Review and are interrelated to other aspects of that review on the funding and structure of the fire service and the potential for more flexible standards of fire cover.The consultation period lasts until the end of February 1998. The proposals at this stage are cast in broad terms. We will consider carefully the responses to them and, if we then seek to proceed with new legislation, there will be further consultation on detailed and costed proposals.

Religious Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to make discrimination on religious grounds unlawful. [18559]

The Government are alive to concerns about religious discrimination. This issue raises many difficult, sensitive and complex questions, which need to be carefully considered before we reach conclusions. My current priority is the forthcoming legislation on racial harassment, violence and other racially motivated crimes. In the meantime, I am happy to receive views on whether legislation in due course would be desirable.

Telephone Tapping

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 17 November 1997, Official Report, column 39, what factors underlay the interval between the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, concerning international user requirements for the lawful use of interception by law enforcement agencies, and its being deposited in the Library. [17867]

The Memorandum of Understanding concerning international user requirements for the lawful use of interception by law enforcement agencies was placed in the Library on 3 March 1997 in response to a Question from Lord Lester of Herne Hill.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if MI5 is obliged to apply for a warrant of authorisation to tap a telephone in a public phone box. [17868]

Under the Interception of Communications Act 1985, a warrant authorised by a Secretary of State is required by the Security Service to intercept any communications in the course of their transmission by means of a public telecommunications system. The Interception of Communications Act applies irrespective of the type of telephone which is intercepted.

Unsupervised Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research undertaken by his Department has identified a problem of unsupervised under-10-years-olds being on the streets at night; if he will publish that research; and if he will make a statement. [17774]

There is considerable research within the Home Office and elsewhere which indicates those influences which are strongest on young people, particularly in relation to commencement of offending. One of the strongest of these is poor parental supervision. This was dealt with in some detail in the 1995 Home Office Research Paper 145 "Young people and crime". The need for more responsible parenting is supported in a survey which was carried out for the Audit Commission in 1996 for its report "Streetwise Effective Police Patrol". Similar surveys for that report also revealed that there was a public concern about the need to deal with issues of juvenile nuisance and anti-social behaviour.The objectives of the Government's youth justice reform programme seek, amongst other things, to address these concerns. That is why one of the measures in the reform programme is the proposal to give local authorities the power, following consultation with the police and local community, to introduce local child curfews for unsupervised children under 10 who are out on the streets late at night. The aim of such curfews is two-fold. Not only will they address the need to protect young children from being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour, but they will protect communities from the misery and distress which can be so often caused by groups of unsupervised children acting in this way.

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the recommendations of the National Anti-Vivisection Society's report "Accountability—Animal Experiments and Freedom of Information"; and what steps he plans in response; [17775]

(2) if he will set out the procedures for (a) appointing members to and (b) reviewing the membership of the Animal Procedures Committee; if the Public Appointments Unit list is consulted; and if he will make a statement. [17777]

We will be meeting with representatives of the National Anti-Vivisection Society next week and expect to discuss a number of issues with them, including their Accountability report.Copies of the report have also been given to all members of the Animal Procedures Committee.Much of the report is taken up with criticism of the membership of the Animal Procedures Committee, the way new members are appointed and the ways in which the Committee works.The procedures for appointing members to the Committee have been reviewed in the light of the recommendations made by the Nolan Committee: We have recently written to a number of professional bodies, representative organisations and animal protection groups seeking nominations for new Committee members. The field of potential candidates will then be considered by an advisory panel.In deciding whom to appoint, the requirements set down in section 19 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1996 must be met and we must maintain the necessary breadth of expertise needed by the Committee. All appointments are announced publicly.We have no plans to review the current membership. The existing members do an excellent job and bring to the Committee a valued mix of skills and expertise. However, four members will complete their second (and final) term on the Committee at the end of the year and we will be making a number of new appointments shortly. We have already announced our intention to increase the number of animal welfare experts on the Committee.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many project licences, and for what projects, have been awarded which involve experimentation on monkeys at the Institute of Neurology in London since 1 January 1995. [17776]

Since 1 January 1995, no new licences under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 have been granted which authorise the use of primates at the Institute of Neurology.

Juvenile Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what United Nations standards his Department recognises in relation to (a) the administration of juvenile justice and (b) the welfare of children; and if he will make a statement. [17773]

The United Kingdom signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991. In doing so, the then Government gave a commitment to implement and disseminate the Convention's terms and principles, subject to certain reservations which it entered. The United Kingdom made its first report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 1995. In formulating policy on juvenile justice and child welfare, the Government aim to take into account the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other similar instruments, guidelines and rules.

New Prisons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the new prison building projects (a) he has authorised and (b) he has assessed prior to authorisation since 2 May. [18047]

Since 2 May, authorisation has been given to proceed with the building of four new prisons:

  • 800 place Category B prison on the site of the former Agecroft Power Station, Salford;
  • 400 place Young Offender Institution on the site of the former remand centre at Pucklechurch near Bristol;
  • 600 place Category B prison adjacent to the current prison establishment at Onley, Warwickshire;
  • 600 place Category B prison at Marchington, Staffordshire.
All four are to be built under the Private Finance Initiative.Planning approval has been obtained for a low security establishment to be built on land between Parkhurst and Albany prisons on the Isle of Wight, although no final decision has been taken to pursue this option. In addition, a planning application was made for a temporary prison at Middleton Tower, Heysham.Since 2 May, agreement has also been given to the Prison Service pursuing to the formal planning application stage possible new prison sites at Ashworth (Maghull), Belmarsh (in Woolwich), Peterborough and Winwick (near Warrington).

World Cup

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the proposed membership of the committee established to liaise with the police in advance of next year's FIFA World Cup, separately identifying Scottish representation; what relationship this Committee will have with (a) the Scottish Office, (b) Scottish police and (c) the Scottish Football Association; what responsibility it will have for liaising with the World Cup authorities on behalf of Scottish football fans; and if he will make a statement. [17848]

The World Cup Co-ordination Group had its first meeting on 21 November 1997. Membership of the group includes officials from the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (including representation from the British Embassy, Paris), the Scottish Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Football Licensing Authority. Representatives of the Football Association and the Scottish Football Association are members. There is police representation from the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the British Transport Police. The group is chaired by the Home Office.

The aim of the group is to co-ordinate the interests and responsibilities of those on the group into a strategy for the World Cup finals in 1998. The strategy will help to: promote and foster an enjoyable, positive and safe World Cup for British supporters travelling to France; minimise the potential for trouble and football hooliganism; and ensure that the French authorities are made fully aware of intelligence and information which would assist them in dealing with Scotland and England supporters travelling to and attending matches.

The group will provide a co-ordinating function and a forum to discuss and seek solutions to potential difficulties. It is the responsibility of individual members of the group to liaise, in conjunction with other members of the group where appropriate, with the relevant French authorities in respect of their particular areas of interest.

A committee has been formed in Scotland to draw up a strategy for the safety and security of Scotland fans travelling to France. Membership consists of the Scottish Office, senior police officers and the Scottish Football Association.

Charities

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what restrictions are placed on registered charities controlling the use of their title, style or logo by their subsidiary trading companies or other associates in (a) promoting, (b) marketing and (c) selling goods or services unrelated to their declared charitable aims. [18048]

There are no such restrictions. It is for the trustees of a charity to determine how its title, style or logo could be used by its subsidiary. Charity trustees are obliged to act in the best interests of their charity. Consequently, they should ensure that any use of the logo by a trading subsidiary, or any other licensee, does not put the charity's funds at risk or being negative publicity to the charity.Charities are permitted to the same legal protection for their intellectual property rights as any other person or body, and have the same powers as any other person or body to license others to exploit those rights, provided, of course, that the licensing arrangements are in the charity's interests (which includes economic interests).The Charity Commission has certain powers to act to protect the property of a charity—including its intellectual property.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Euro (Dependent Territories)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from dependent territories and what consultations he plans with them over the euro; and if he will make a statement. [17209]

The Gibraltar Government have raised with us the possibility of issuing commemorative coins denominated in Euros. No other dependent territory had made representations, and no consultations are planned.

Spain

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ensure that United Kingdom acceptance of the integration of Spain within the NATO structure is conditional on the dropping by Spain of restrictions on United Kingdom civil and military flights over its territory. [17193]

[holding answer 24 November 1997]: We are currently negotiating with Spain over arrangements for military air access to Gibraltar. We will be dealing separately with civil air access, which is not part of NATO negotiations.

Turkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Government of Turkey concerning their military activity in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [17833]

[holding answer 26 November 1997]: I raised this issue with the Turkish Foreign Minister during my visit to Ankara on 14 October, and made further representations to him on 27 October. We have told the Turkish government that their involvement in the inter-factional Kurdish fighting in northern Iraq is not compatible with their role as a co-sponsor of the Ankara process of reconciliation.

General Pinochet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings members of his Department have held with General Pinochet over the last three years. [17825]

[holding answer 26 November 1997]: There have been no meetings between members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and General Pinochet over the last three years. British Embassy staff in Santiago have attended several official state and military functions in Chile at which General Pinochet was also present, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army. No discussions took place between these staff and General Pinochet at these events.

Eu General Affairs Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report on the outcome of the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 24 and 25 November. [18542]

At the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 24–25 November, the nine A points in document 12483/97 were approved, and the European Parliament resolutions of 5–6 November in document 11487/97 were noted. The texts of both documents will be placed in the libraries of the House as soon as they become available.

Agenda 2000

Ministers held their first discussion of the report to the Luxembourg European Council in December on Agenda 2000. Ministers re-stated their positions on enlargement (with the majority still in favour of differentiation), future financing and policy reform. Discussion will continue, and we hope substantial progress will be made at the next meeting of the Council on 8 December.

Turkey

The Council discussed Turkey's participation in the European Conference and the Commission's proposals for strengthening relations with Turkey by building on the Customs Union. Most Member States expressed support in principle for both.

EC/Israel Trade Issues

The Council agreed that the EC/Israel Co-operation Committee with Israel on 28 November should address the issue of miscertification of goods from third countries under the EC/Israel Interim Association Agreement, notably orange juice.

Transatlantic relations

The Council took note of the preparations for the EU/US and EU/Canada Summits which will take place in Washington and Ottawa in December and agreed that the EU should agree a statement of general principles governing electronic commerce with the US. The Council also encouraged the Commission to continue its efforts to negotiate with the US an agreement to ban leg-hold traps.

Former Yugoslavia

The High Representative, Carlos Westendorp, briefed the Council on progress in peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council also discussed the situation in the FRY in light of forthcoming Presidential elections in Serbia, expressing its concern at the authorities' failure to respect fundamental democratic principles.

Switzerland

The Council reiterated its wish to conclude bilateral sectoral negotiations with Switzerland but highlighted the outstanding problems in certain areas, including transport. The Council instructed COREPER to reconsider proposals to resolve this issue and called on the Swiss to exercise some flexibility in pursuit of their common objective.

Mid term review of Overseas Countries and Territories Decision

The mid-term review of the Decision on the association of Overseas Countries and Territories with the EU was formally agreed.

MEPP

Following discussions at the Foreign Ministers' dinner in the margins of the Special European Council on Employment on 20 November, the Council discussed developments in the Middle East peace process following the visit to the region by the President of the Council and Vice President Marin of the European Commission from 11–14 November. The Council confirmed the importance of close co-ordination with the US Administration, and that the Middle East peace process would be discussed at the 5 December EU/US Summit. The Council also reviewed the importance of EU aid to the Palestinians, and took note of the Commission's forthcoming communication on the programme.

Russia: Preparation for first Co-operation Council

The Council emphasised the importance that the EU attaches to EU-Russia relations. In light of this, the Presidency asked Ministers to confirm whether they would be able to attend the inaugural Co-operation Council under the terms of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) on 15 December (Primakov being unable to attend on 8 December as originally planned). If this is not possible, the Co-operation Council will fall to the UK Presidency. Preparations in the meantime would continue in COREPER.

EU-Jordan

The Association Agreement between the EU and Jordan was signed on 24 November by EU Foreign Ministers, the Commission and Crown Prince Hassan.

Yemen

The EC/Yemen agreement was signed on 25 November by the Commission and the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister.

Afghanistan

The Council exchanged views on the conflict in Afghanistan and took note of the Conference of donors which will take place in New York on 3 December. The Council confirmed that the UN has the principal role and expressed its support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General and his special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

European Economic Area Council

The 8th Council of the European Economic Area (EEA) was held on 25 November. Ministers welcomed the continued development of the EEA. Conclusions were agreed which took stock of developments and looked forward to future work (Commission Press Release EEE 1608/97 Presse 368).

£000s

DoE

DoT

VI

HA

DVLA

DSA

VCA

MSA

CA

PI

QE2

1993–9412,2278,275181,88258nilnilnil209
1994–959,0288,03921n/a1,80753nil104241nil167
1995–967,6708,356405462,1716786329716167
1996–974,6659,679551,1001,9666397931117180

£000s

DETR

VI

HA

DVLA

DSA

VCA

MSA

CA

PI

QE2

1997–98 to date4,574585461,21946nil652141752
1997–98 full year estimated outturn13,7251111,3003,584111510028017196
DoE—Department of the Environment DoT—Department of Transport
DETR—Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
VI—Vehicle Inspectorate
HA—Highways Agency
DVLA—Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
DSA—Driving Standards Agency
VCA—Vehicle Certification Agency
MSA—Marine Safety Agency
CA—Coastguard Agency
PI—Planning Inspectorate
QE2—Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

European Council (Amsterdam)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at what time he left the European Council at Amsterdam. [18034]

The Fourth Session of the European Council Meeting in Amsterdam broke up at 0340 hours, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary left the closing Press Conference when it finished at about 0400 hours on Wednesday 18 June. He departed for the UK from Valkenburg Naval Air Base 1010 hours that same day.

Social Chapter

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in Directorate General V of the European Commission are engaged in work relating to future Social Chapter legislation. [17070]

[holding answer 24 November 1997]: I have been asked to reply.This is a matter for the Commission. We do not keep this information.

Environment, Transport Andthe Regions

Publicity And Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his estimate of the total expenditure on all forms of publicity and advertising by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies for (i) 1993–94, (ii) 1994–95, (iii) 1995–96, (iv) 1996–97, (v) the 1997–98, year to date, (vi) 1997–98, full year estimate and (vii) the 1998–99 planned expenditure. [15233]

[holding answer 11 November 1997]: Advertising and publicity expenditure by my Department for the years requested is as follows:

The Department of the Environment and the Department of Transport were amalgamated on 16 June 1997. Figures are shown separately for 1993–97 but aggregated for the current fiscal year.

Figures quoted include expenditure on statutory advertising (recruitment, official notices etc.) where applicable.

Expenditure figures for Executive Agencies have been compiled and supplied by the Agency concerned.

Information on publicity and advertising expenditure by non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Plans for 1998–99 have yet to be finalised.

Road Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many motorway and trunk road cross-over accidents have occurred in the past five years involving the rupture or crossing of safety barriers; and what form of construction was used for those road barriers. [17171]

The total number of accidents involving rupture or crossing of safety barriers on motorways and trunk roads is not known. However, the numbers of injury accidents which involved one or more vehicles striking or crossing the central safety barrier are as shown below. No information is available regarding the form of construction of the barriers involved in these accidents.

Injury accidents on motorways and trunk roads in Great Britain
Year of Accident
19921993199419951996
One or more vehicles hit central safety barrier1,3881,4901,5941,6211,736
One or more vehicles crossed central reservation230182188171156
One or more vehicles hit central safety barrier and crossed the central reservation.4657566461

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many drivers have (a) been involved in and (b) suffered (i) serious injury and (ii) death from road traffic accidents within 12 months of passing their test in each of the last five years. [17635]

The information is not available in the form requested. However, it is estimated that:

  • (a) about one driver in five has an accident involving at least damage within 12 months of passing the driving test;
  • (b) about one in five casualties (to all road users) occur when at least one driver involved is within three years of passing the driving test;
  • (c) there are around 25,000 casualties per year (to all road users), of which around 3,500 are fatal or serious, in accidents involving a driver aged 17–25 and within 12 months of passing the driving test.
  • Telecommunications Masts

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 2 June 1997, Official Report, columns 48–49, on applications for telecommunications masts, if he will list the types of serious threat to amenity which might give sufficient grounds for rejecting an application. [17567]

    An application for prior approval determination allows the local planning authority the opportunity to say whether they wish to approve, within 28 days, details of the siting and appearance of a telecommunications mast permitted under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. It is for the local planning authority to determine whether the siting or appearance of the development would pose a serious threat to amenity on a case by case basis. Guidance on factors the authority may take into consideration when determining whether to give or refuse such approval is contained in Planning Policy Guidance note 8 and Appendix E to Circular 9/95. The answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning on 4 November 1997, Official Report, columns 152–53, announced a further factor for consideration in these circumstances.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many local authority planning refusals for telecommunications masts were overturned on appeal by planning inspectors in (a) 1994–95, (b) 1995–96 and (c) 1996–97. [17530]

    The number of appeals allowed against local authority refusals for telecommunications masts/towers information is as follows:

    YearTotal number of mast appealsNumber of appeals allowed
    1994–955823
    1995–965537
    1996–978537

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many redundant telecommunications masts have been removed; and if he will list their locations: [17751](2) if he will make a statement on the procedures in place to monitor the removal of redundant telecommunications masts. [17752]

    Development carried out by a telecommunications code system operator under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 is subject to the condition that apparatus shall be removed as soon as reasonably practicable after it is no longer required for telecommunications purposes. Where telecommunications development requires a planning application to the local planning authority, it is open to the authority to impose a similar condition on any planning permission granted. It is for the local planning authority to take any necessary enforcement action where they consider that planning conditions have not been observed. In addition, the provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1984 allow occupiers of land to require the removal of redundant apparatus from their land where access for the purposes of installing that apparatus was originally granted to the operator under the Code Powers granted to them by that Act. Data on the number of redundant masts removed are not held centrally.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many telecommunication posts (a) under 15 metres and (b) over 15 metres were erected in the United Kingdom in each of the years since 1993 to the latest available date. [17633]

    This information is not collected centrally. We attach considerable importance to minimising the environmental impact of telecommunications mast development. It is for the that reason that my hon. Friend the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning recently stated our expectation that operators will provide evidence to local authorities that they have carefully considered the use of existing masts, buildings and other structures before seeking to erect any new mast.

    Waste-Derived Compost

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures he is taking to improve the markets for waste-derived compost. [18127]

    I am today announcing the publication of two guides which are aimed at improving the markets for waste-derived compost. The first contains practical guidance for large-scale producers of waste-derived compost, such as local authorities and the waste industry, setting out how they can design and market their product effectively to a variety of end users, particularly those in the horticulture and landscaping industries. The second guide is aimed at potential users, such as landscape architects and contractors, and explains the benefits of using waste-derived compost in their operations.One of our major environmental objectives is to promote sustainable waste management across the country. Every nine months we produce enough waste in the United Kingdom to fill lake Windermere. And of the estimated 26 million tonnes of municipal solid waste produced in 1995–96, around 85 per cent. was landfilled. It is therefore vital that, in future, we choose waste management options which preserve and enhance our environment and safeguard human health. We are therefore committed to increasing the quality and quantity of organic waste which is composted. This means a greater degree of centralised composting by local authorities and the waste management industry. But to make such schemes viable, we also need to expand the markets for waste-derived compost and thereby increase the demand for the product.We hope that these guides will make a valuable contribution to this by providing practical advice to compost producers and specifiers. They will be widely distributed free of charge to local authorities in England, waste management companies, composting organisations, landscaping architectural practices and selected landscaping contractors.Copies of the guides have been placed in the house Libraries.

    Fire Safety

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures he is taking to improve fire safety in homes. [17554]

    Part B of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 1991 makes requirements with regard to fire safety when building work is undertaken with regard to all buildings, including homes. Guidance on ways of meeting these requirements is given in Approved Document B. This Document is currently being revised and changes will be proposed that will improve fire safety in the home. The draft Approved Document will be issued for public consultation in the near future. Most relevant to homes there will be additional guidance on the siting and installation of smoke alarms, including in loft conversions to two storey houses, and on means of escape, in particular the provision of suitable windows in habitable rooms.

    Unoccupied Homes

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the total number of unoccupied homes in England (i) in 1990 and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available; and what proportion was owned by (a) local authorities, (b) central government departments, (c) the private sector, (d) housing associations and (e) others. [17711]

    Estimates are given below of the numbers of vacant dwellings in England on 1 April in 1990 and, the latest date for which figures are available, in 1996.

    19901996
    NumberProportionNumberProportion (per cent)
    Local authority199,4001479,60010
    Housing associations219,700323,6003
    Other public sector317,000220,0003
    Private sector1587,00081667,00084
    Total723,000100790,000100
    Sources:
    1 HIP1 returns from local authorities.
    2 Housing Corporation HAR10/1 returns from housing associations.
    3 Govnerment Departments and HIP1 returns from local authorities.
    There are doubts about the quality of some authorities' estimates of the number of private sector vacants; independent survey data suggest that the HIP1 figures may over-estimate the total number of these vacants. Total vacants have been falling in recent years after increasing by around 20 per cent. between 1990 and 1993, and at any one time around half of the private sector vacants are empty as a function of the housing market.

    Council Tax (Home Annexes)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what financial incentives are available through the local authority council tax system which encourage elderly or young relatives to live in annexes adjoining the main family home. [17709]

    An annex which is classed as a separate dwelling for council tax purposes is exempt from council tax if a resident is a dependent relative. A relative is regarded as dependent if they are aged 65 or over, if they have a severe mental impairment, or if they are substantially and permanently disabled. In addition, there are exemptions for dwellings occupied only by those under the age of 18 or only by students.

    Eu Environment Council

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures were agreed at the Luxembourg European Environment Council meeting of 16 October; and what are the projected compliance costs to the United Kingdom. [17081]

    [holding answer 24 November 1997]: I informed the House of the outcome of the Environment Council in Luxembourg in October in the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) on 19 November 1997, Official Report, column 199.One measure was agreed at the Environment Council in October: the proposal for a revised Drinking Water Directive. The current best estimate for the total capital or non-recurring costs of this for the UK is in the range £2,200 to £3,500 million at current prices with the majority of expenditure over 15 years from adoption of the Directive. This estimate was provided to the House in this Department's Compliance Cost Assessment under cover of Explanatory Memorandum 7208/95 in September 1996. The costs of measures will continue to be covered in the Department's explanatory memorandum to Parliament.

    Local Authority Elections

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to bring forward proposals for annual elections for local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [17592]

    A wide ranging consultation exercise on the agenda for modernising local democracy will begin in the coming few weeks. This will include options for the introduction of annual elections. The consultation process will feed into a comprehensive White Paper on Local Government in the late Spring or early Summer 1998.

    Smoke Alarms

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will estimate the proportion by region of local authority owned dwellings fitted with smoke alarms. [17616]

    In 1996 the proportion of local authority homes in each region estimated to be fitted with smoke alarms was as follows:

    RegionPercentage with smoke detectors 1996
    North-east55
    Yorkshire and the Humber54
    North-west69
    RegionPercentage with smoke detectors 1996
    East Midlands66
    West Midlands68
    South-west71
    Eastern56
    South-east80
    London41
    Merseyside55
    England66

    Local Authorities (Housing Strategy)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he plans to take to support local authorities wishing to convert derelict land, vacant offices and difficult-to-let shops, in town and city centre areas, into housing units. [17240]

    Local authorities are responsible for drawing up housing strategies that set out how they intend to meet local housing needs. In drawing up these strategies, they have to assess the need for additional housing as well as other housing needs. They then have to consider how to use the resources available to them, both financial and other, to meet those needs. It is for the local authority to decide the best way of using available resources to the benefit of their residents and tenants while achieving the best value for money.To assist local authorities meet housing needs we have recently made available additional resources through the Capital Receipts Initiative to assist with housing and housing related regeneration. Over £600 million will be available in England in 1998–99.More specifically, as far as local authority assets are concerned, in April this year the capital finance system was relaxed so that if an authority disposes of certain assets, more of the capital receipt can be recycled into regeneration schemes in deprived areas rather than being set aside for debt redemption. Assets covered by the concession are unoccupied council dwellings (except those sold under right-to-buy or large scale voluntary transfer), occupied industrial estates, docks and harbours, leisure facilities, shops and offices and land for development. Receipts from the sale of these assets can be applied to regeneration schemes in listed wards and wards adjacent to listed wards.In addition, planning policy guidance notes, both on housing (PPG3) and on town centres and retail developments (PPG6), advise local planning authorities, where appropriate, to reallocate land allocated for other uses to housing, and to encourage conversions of vacant offices and vacant accommodation over shops by taking a flexible approach to residential car parking and other standards.

    Local Authority Duties

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will publish his proposals to place on councils a new duty to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area; and what plans he has to consult on the scope of the duty. [18121]

    We will shortly be publishing a consultation paper on democracy and community leadership, which will include details of our proposals to place a duty on councils to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area. It will be one of a series of consultation papers on local government matters including best value, the ethical framework and finance, that will feed into a comprehensive White Paper on local government next Spring. We will consult widely on our proposals, including with the Local Government Association, local authorities, business, the voluntary sector and other interested organisations.

    Regional Airports

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his policy towards the granting of transatlantic fifth freedom rights from regional airports in cases where the granting of such rights would contribute materially to the development of other long-haul services from that airport. [17782]

    The Department takes many factors into account in preparing its strategy for air services negotiations, including the granting of transatlantic fifth freedom rights from regional airports.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment was undertaken of the wider benefits to the economy of north-west England of increased flights between Manchester and Pakistan with onward connections to the USA in connection with the recent negotiations between his Department and representatives of the Government of Pakistan; what criteria and methodology were used in the assessment of regional benefits; and if he will publish the study. [17772]

    The CAA carried out an economic analysis on behalf of the Department before the recent negotiations with Pakistan. It was made available to all members of the UK delegation before the talks, including representatives of Manchester Airport, and taken into account when Ministers agreed the strategy for the negotiations. It is not our policy to publish such analyses, given their bearing on the UK negotiating position in air services negotiations.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if his Department will carry out a comprehensive study of industrial and tourism development benefits to regional economies of improved access to global air services. [17783]

    The Government welcomes increased international services to regional airports. As the economic impact of a new air service is dependent on the characteristics of an individual route the Department considers it a more effective use of resources to ask the CAA to carry out a specific economic analysis before air services negotiations with bilateral partners.

    Air Services (Malaysia)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his officials plan to meet representatives of the Malaysian government to discuss the project of commencing air services between Manchester and Kuala Lumpur before the 1998 Commonwealth Games. [17784]

    My officials have no current plans to meet representatives of the Malaysian government for discussions on air services.

    Fly Tipping

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the incidence of fly tipping since the introduction of the landfill levy. [18096]

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) on 19 November 1997, Official Report, column 198.

    Lewes-Uckfield Railway Line

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his assessment of the viability of the financial case and of the arguments advanced in the Mott Macdonald Report on the possible reopening of the Lewes-Uckfield railway line. [17780]

    I understand that the financial case will be presented to the Franchising Director very shortly and it will be for him to consider using his Criteria for the Appraisal of Support for Passenger Rail Services, a copy of which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport placed in the Library on 6 November.

    Building Regulations

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will announce the results of his consultations on the extension of Part M of the building regulations; and if he will make a statement. [18120]

    Water Quality

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has for the use of economic instruments to improve water quality; and if he will make a statement. [18473]

    My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister made clear on World Environment Day our determination to find the best way to address environmental concerns and to make polluters pay for necessary remedial action. Regulation has achieved a good deal but it may not represent the most cost-effective means by which environmental objectives can be achieved, nor does it always make polluters pay for the cost of their activities.We want to find a mix of instruments that will be environmentally effective and economically efficient. Many of these will be regulatory in nature. Others may be voluntary. But we believe that economic instruments have a role to play in improving the environment. So, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in the Budget, we are actively considering their role as part of our environmental policy and as a contribution to reform of the tax system.Today, we are setting out ideas for the use of such instruments to protect and enhance the quality of our rivers and other waters. A copy of the consultation paper has been placed in the library. This is an important initiative. Water is of enormous environmental and economic importance and water pollution causes great concern to the public. We look forward to a period of active debate on these issues.

    Drink Drive Casualties

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what new measures he proposes to introduce to achieve further reductions in drink drive casualties. [18517]

    The Government will be publishing a consultation paper in the New Year setting out a range of proposals for discussion, including the reduction of the legal blood alcohol limit and measures to deal with serious or persistent drink drive offenders.

    Scotland

    Official Hospitality

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the expenditure by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies on official hospitality for (i) 1980–81, (ii) 1987–88, (iii) 1990–91, (iv) 1991–92, (v) 1992–93, (vi) 1993–94, (vii) 1994–95, (viii) 1995–96, (ix) 1996–97 and (x) 1 May to 30 September 1997. [15246]

    [holding answer 11 November 1997]: Expenditure on official hospitality by The Scottish Office and its departmental agencies is shown in the table.

    YearThe Scottish Office£Scottish Office agencies£
    1980–8118,427not applicable
    1987–8841,983not applicable
    1990–9165,123nil
    1991–9283,8365,700
    1992–931125,1184,979
    1993–9476,08824,145
    1994–9579,51028,603
    1995–96282,97827,635
    1996–9786,16720,200
    1997–98 (May to September)19,77412,046
    1 This figure includes expenditure on hospitality during the EC Council Meeting in Edinburgh in December 1992.
    2 In addition, in 1995–96 The Scottish Office spent £34,680 on hospitality as part of the Government's contribution to the VE Day and VJ Day commemorations.
    Information on hospitality spending by non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.

    Nursery Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he intends to put in place to increase the level of pre-school provision once the pre-school education voucher scheme is withdrawn in June 1998. [18474]

    We believe that every child should have the chance of good pre-school education. That means a major expansion of services. We have pledged, first, to make a good-quality, part-time education place available, without charge, to every child in the pre-school year; and we aim to achieve this by the winter of next year. After that, and as new resources are found, we will set staged targets for three-year-olds. This is an ambitious and exciting programme.For too long in some areas, pre-school education was neglected and ignored. Then it was subjected to the experiment of vouchers. Pre-school education needs a fresh start. It needs clear national priorities and targets, a fair and stable funding system, strong support for quality, and a framework for consultation and planning that will strengthen co-operation amongst providers.I am delighted today to announce the launching of a major consultation paper,

    Education in Early Childhood: The Pre-school Years. Through this paper, I am initiating a national debate about the future of pre-school education in Scotland. The paper sets out our policy priorities; it discusses how services should be planned and funded, how providers, parents and others can work together in mutually rewarding ways, and how high standards of service can be assured. It also asks questions about the educational needs of three-year-olds and the kind of provision that parents want for them; and how best we should plan to offer learning to these very young children. The consultation paper also lays the foundations for more integrated early years services linking education to daycare and other services for children.

    Football

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he is putting in place in respect of Scottish police liaison with (a) FIFA, (b) the French authorities and (c) the French police over the World Cup; and if he will make a statement. [17849]

    The police in Scotland are represented on the World Cup Co-ordinating Group, set up by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, to co-ordinate arrangements at UK level. In addition, a committee consisting of officials from The Scottish Office, senior police officers and representatives from the Scottish Football Association has been established to draw up a strategy for the safety and security of Scottish fans travelling to France. The committee will liaise with the French authorities after the draw on 4 December when venues for matches will be known. The Scottish Football Association will then deal directly with FIFA. The police plan to contact their counterparts in France where the Scotland team will play to exchange intelligence and invite representatives to attend matches in Scotland to gain first-hand experience of Scottish supporters who have a world wide reputation for good behaviour.

    Attendance Allowance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland in what circumstances local authorities, in assessing ability to pay for domiciliary services which do not include personal care, (a) should discount attendance allowance benefit and (b) have discretion to exclude from consideration attendance allowance benefit. [17917]

    Local authorities in Scotland have similar powers to charge for domiciliary services to those which apply in England. I therefore refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for Health on 17 November 1997, Official Report, column 63.

    Dounreay Nuclear Plant

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action will be taken to prevent further contamination of land and sea adjacent to the Dounreay nuclear plant. [14302]

    I have been asked to reply.Contamination in and around the Dounreay site is an historic legacy and one that the UKAEA is urgently addressing, subject to strict independent regulation by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. Government continues to monitor the situation closely.

    Northern Ireland

    Royal Ulster Constabulary

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many RUC officers have been seconded to other jurisdictions inside and outside the United kingdom over the past year; and how many officers of other jurisdictions have been seconded to the RUC over the same period. [13073]

    DateCB1CB2CB33TotalPercentage CB1Percentage CB2MaleFemaleTotalPercentage female
    Royal Ulster Constabulary
    1 September 19957,5366722568,46489.047.947,5898758,46410.3
    2 September 19967,4476772608,38488.828.077,4948908,38410.6
    1 September 19977,5227012738,49688.548.257,5769208,49610.8
    Full-time reserve
    1 September 19952,7801991663,14588.396.332,9941513,1454.8
    2 September 19962,6531961623,01188.116.512,8591523,0115.0
    1 September 19972,5672001562,92387.826.842,7062172,9237.4
    Part-time reserve
    1 September 19951,44777211,54593.664.981,0095361,54534.7
    2 September 19961,41179211,51193.385.239725391,51135.7
    1 September 19971,29768171,38293.854.928994831,38234.9

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: During the past year seven RUC officers have been seconded to other jurisdictions and one officer is presently seconded to the Royal Ulster Constabulary from a GB force.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the principal functions of E4A squads, special support units, headquarters, mobile support units and special military intelligence units within the RUC; the annual cost of each; the numbers of officers and administrative staff employed; and the composition of each based on gender and religious/community origin. [13075]

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: The information sought is confidential to the Chief Constable.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the terms of reference of the joint RUC and Police Authority for Northern Ireland working group to address the under-representation of women, Catholics and minorities within the RUC; and when it is expected to report. [13069]

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: The terms of reference of the joint Royal Ulster Constabulary, Police Authority for Northern Ireland and Civilian Working Group are:

    to review the representation of Catholics, women and ethnic minorities within the RUC;
    to assess the reasons for any under-representation and to make recommendations how suitable applicants from all communities can be encouraged to apply;
    to examine selection procedures and satisfy the group that they assure equality of opportunity.
    The group is expected to report to the Chief Constable in early 1998.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what were the staffing levels of the RUC in September (a) 1995, (b) 1996 and (c) 1997 (1) in total and (2) broken down (i) into numbers and percentages of full-time, reserve full-time and part-time staff (ii) by gender and (iii) by perceived religious/community origin. [13071]

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: The information sought is set out below:

    Date

    CB1

    CB2

    CB33

    Total

    Percentage CB1

    Percentage CB2

    Male

    Female

    Total

    Percentage female

    Combined

    1 September 199511,76394844313,15489.437.2111,5921,56213,15411.9
    2 September 199611,51195244312,90689.197.3811,3251,58112,90612.3
    1 September 199711,38696944612,80188.957.5711,1811,62012,80112.7

    1 Perceived to be from the Protestant community.

    2 Perceived to be from the Catholic community.

    3 Other.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will publish the rules relating to the display by a uniformed RUC officer of clear personal identification. [15898]

    [holding answer 18 November 1997]: RUC instructions require that Sergeants and Constables display numerals on the epaulettes of all outer garments. All other officers are required to display their badge of rank.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what her policy is on the RUC indicating adherence to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the 8th UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in September 1990; [15903](2) what her policy is on the RUC indicating adherence to the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, adopted by the General Assembly Resolution 45/113 of 14 December 1990; [15904](3) what her policy is on the RUC indicating adherence to the United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions recommended by the Economic and Social Council Resolution of 24 May 1989; [15905]

    Royal Ulster Constabulary
    YearCB11CB22CB33TotalPercentage CB1Percentage CB2Percentage CB3
    19935188612973370.6711.7317.60
    Acceptances58346589.234.626.15
    CompA 19942,8364423393,61778.4112.229.37
    Acceptances62957681.5811.846.58
    CompB 19941,7045121652,38171.5721.506.93
    Acceptances8617811177.4815.327.21
    CompC 19951,4484671432,05870.3622.696.95
    Acceptances9820912777.1715.757.09
    CompD 19951,7744381882,40073.9218.257.83
    Acceptances128281417075.2916.478.24
    CompE 19961,5733671552,09575.0817.527.40
    Acceptances67968281.7110.987.32
    CompF 19962,0584032682,72975.4114.779.82
    Acceptances12612514388.118.393.50
    CompG 19972,1664122122,79077.6314.777.60
    AcceptancesNot yet processed
    CompF 1996 is still subject to withdrawals by applicants.
    1 Perceived to be from the Protestant community.
    2 Perceived to be from the Roman Catholic community.
    3 Other.

    (4) what her policy is on the RUC indicating adherence to the United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted by the General Assembly Resolution of 9 December 1988; [15906]

    (5) what her policy is on the RUC indicating adherence to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, approved by the Economic and Social Council of 13 May 1977. [15907]

    [holding answer 18 November 1997]: The instruments to which my hon. Friend refers, which are not legally binding as their wording shows, are recommendatory in nature. None carries a requirement or mechanism for indications of adherence. However, the importance of the recommended standards has been acknowledged by the United Kingdom's support for their adoption.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications for employment in the RUC were made in each year since 1993; from which community they came; and how many from each community were recruited. [15897]

    [holding answer 18 November 1997]: The number of applications for membership of the RUC for each year since 1993 is shown in the following tables together with the community background of the applicants and the numbers accepted from each community.

    Full-time reserve

    Year

    CB11

    CB22

    CB33

    Total

    Percentage CB1

    Percentage CB2

    Percentage CB3

    19931,0391111241,27481.558.719.73
    Acceptances9581111483.337.029.65
    1994No vacancies advised for FTR
    CompB 19951,0422821301,45471.6619.398.94
    Acceptances19432673.0815.3811.54
    CompC 19961,0752551011,43175.1217.827.06
    Acceptances12924816180.1214.914.97
    CompD 19971,1541841351,47378.3412.499.16
    Acceptances51726085.0011.673.33
    CompE 19976131055577379.3013.587.12
    AcceptancesNot yet processed
    CompD 1997 not yet fully processed.

    1 Perceived to be from the Protestant community.

    2 Perceived to be from the Roman Catholic community.

    3 Other.

    Part-time reserve

    Year

    CB11

    CB22

    CB33

    Total

    Percentage CB1

    Percentage CB2

    Percentage CB3

    1993830903895886.649.393.97
    Acceptances12313213889.139.421.45
    CompA 1994451451551188.268.812.94
    Acceptances59636886.768.824.41
    CompB 19941,4162361021,75480.7313.455.82
    Acceptances12819515284.2112.503.29

    1 Perceived to be from the Protestant community.

    2 Perceived to be from the Roman Catholic community.

    3 Other.

    Police Authority

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the total work force of the Police Authority, including staff seconded from the Civil Service; and what is their gender and perceived religious/community origin. [13074]

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: The Police Authority for Northern Ireland provides an annual monitoring return to the Fair Employment Commission in respect of the gender and perceived religious affiliation of its work force.The review includes employees directly recruited by PANI and those staff on secondment from the NICS, Department of Finance and Personnel. The last review was completed on 1 Janaury 1997, when the breakdown was as follows:

    Number
    Total number of employees3,489
    (a) Gender
    Male1,242
    Female2,247
    (b) Perceived religious affiliation
    Protestant2,885
    Roman Catholic414
    Not determined190

    Robert Hamill

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what inquiries are presently under way into the circumstances of the death of Robert Hamill in Portadown town centre on 27 April; and what assurances she has given the nationalist community that the RUC will protect the right to life of all citizens without prejudice. [13064]

    [holding answer 6 November 1997]: Inquiries into the death of Robert Hamill are on-going and papers have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.The Royal Ulster Constabulary has given and will continue to give all the citizens the full protection of the law without prejudice.

    Hoax Bomb Alert, Markethill

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the result of the police investigation into the hoax bomb alert in Markethill on 27 September; and what action the Director of Public Prosecutions intends to take. [15900]

    [holding answer 18 November 1997]: The Police have conducted a thorough enquiry into the events in Markethill on 27 September 1997.The file is now with the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

    Southern Area Health And Social Services Board

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the names of the members of the Southern Area Health and Social Services Board. [17022]

    The membership of the Southern Health and Social Services Board is:

    • Mr. W. F. Gillespie—Chairman
    • Non-Executive members Mr. J. Brown
    • Mrs. M. K. P. Hagan
    • Mr. S. T. Hogan
    • Mrs. S. G. Ingram
    • Mrs. J. Power
    • Mr. D. J. Ryan
    • Executive members
    • Mr. B. Cunningham—Chief Executive
    • Dr. A. Telford—Director of Public Health
    • Mrs. S. Reid—Director of Commissioning and Planning
    • Mr. S. McKeever—Director of Finance
    • Mr. R. Blair—Director of Social Services

    Telecommunications Masts

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the proposed Orange telephone mast at Portavogie has received planning permission; if the Ards Borough Council was consulted; what representations she received in connection with this mast; and if she will make a statement. [17433]

    Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Planning Service under its Chief Executive, Mr. T. W. Stewart. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter from T. W. Stewart to Mr. John D. Taylor, dated 26 November 1997:

    The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the proposed Orange telephone mast at Portavogie.
    The mast in question has planning permission as it is permitted development by virtue of Article 3 and Part 17 of Schedule 1 to the Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993. Ards Borough Council was not consulted on the proposal, and no written representations have been received by Planning Service in connection with this mast.
    I do hope this clarifies the position.

    Royal Victoria And City Hospital

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will refer the rationalisation of the Royal Victoria and City Hospital to the National Audit Office to examine the reasons for proposed capital expenditure at a time when beds are vacant. [17768]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: No. The Eastern Health and Social Services Board with the Royal Group of Hospitals and Dental Hospitals Health and Social Services Trust and the Belfast City Hospital Health and Social Services Trust, as part of the on-going process of rationalisation, are currently considering a range of options for the utilisation of capacity being freed up at Belfast City Hospital.

    Ambulances

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at what (i) age and, (ii) mileage an ambulance is expected to have reached the end of its normal working life; how many and what percentage of ambulances are beyond that normal span (a) in Northern Ireland and (b) in each health and social services board area. [17357]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: DHSS Guidelines for the replacement of accident and emergency ambulances stipulate that those vehicles should be replaced after they have reached seven years of age or whenever they have covered 140,000 miles, whichever is the sooner. For non-emergency ambulances this is five years or 70,000 miles.In Northern Ireland, 22 representing 17 per cent. of Accident and Emergency Ambulances are beyond the normal span of age and mileage. Seventy-four non-emergency ambulances representing 88 per cent. are beyond the normal span of age and mileage.The position in each Board area is given in the following table.

    Accident and Emergency Ambulances
    Number in Board areaNorthSouthEastWestTotal
    Number in board area37303927133
    Exceed on both1413422
    Age and mileage (per cent.)38381517
    Non-emergency Ambulances
    NorthSouthEastWestTotal
    Number in board area1614381684
    Exceed on both1613301574
    Age and mileage (per cent.)10092799388

    Health Expenditure

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will estimate the total real level of her Department's planned expenditure on health in 1995–96 prices in (a) 1997–98 and (b) 1998–9; and what such figures were for (i) 1997–98 and (ii) 1998–99, following the November 1996 budget on the basis of the estimates of the GDP deflator contained in that Budget. [17566]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: The figures requested are as follows: (a) £1,565 million, (b) £1,544 million, (i) £1,576 million and (ii) £1,570 million. The figure for (b) reflects the spending plans of the previous Government as 1998–99 public expenditure reallocations for the individual Northern Ireland programmes will not be announced until early December.

    >Jubilee Maternity Hospital

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many job losses the proposed transfer of the Jubilee Maternity Hospital will entail. [17767]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: I have asked the Royal Group of Hospitals and Dental Hospitals HSS Trust and the Belfast City Hospital HSS Trust to work closely together to take forward the arrangements for the transfer of services from the Jubilee. There are no indications of job losses at this early stage of the process.

    Regional Cancer Centres

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the proposed cancer centre at the Belfast City Hospital will be operational. [17764]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: The time scale for the establishment of a regional cancer centre will be considered when consultation on the future location of radiotherapy services has been completed and a detailed business case agreed for the capital investment required.

    Belvoir Park Hospital

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the funding provided for updating Belvoir Park Hospital will result in increased funds for treatment of cancer patients. [17766]

    [holding answer 25 November 1997]: No specific funding has been identified for updating Belvoir Park Hospital. Bids essential for the maintenance of a quality service at Belvoir will, however, be considered sympathetically.

    Judicial Procedures

    To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 18 November 1997, Official Report, column 174, if she will list the colleagues and those with responsibility for judicial matters whom she consulted on certifying procedures, indicating the positions they held; and which other bodies she consulted on this matter. [17572]

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State consulted with the Attorney-General, the Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland and the Lord Chancellor on the matter of certifying procedures; these consultations were confidential. Before making final decisions on the matter, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State charged officials to confer with the Chief Constable's office and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Northern Ireland); she then advised the Attorney-General, the Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland and the Lord Chancellor of her decision.

    Wales

    Nursery Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many four year olds were receiving 50 per cent. nursery education in May (i) 1997 and (ii) 1996 in (a) the public and (b) the private sector; [17304](2) what is his estimate of the number of four year olds who will be receiving 50 per cent. nursery education in 2000 in

    (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector. [17305]

    The information is not available in the form requested. The January 1997 Schools census showed 35,313 pupils aged four were receiving at least half-time education in maintained nursery, primary and special schools, compared with 35,251 at January 1996. Nursery Voucher redemption statistics indicate that 2,407 four year olds were receiving at least half-time nursery education in private and voluntary sectors in the Summer term 1997.The intention is that from September 1998 local authorities should fund at least half-time education places for all four year olds whose parents want them, either in maintained schools or through partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors. The number of 4 year olds who will receive nursery education in each sector in 2000 will depend on arrangements adopted in each local authority area.

    Coal Industry

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on assistance for the coal industry in Wales. [17638]

    I am holding a workshop with a wide range of organisations on 5 December to discuss development opportunities for the Welsh coal industry to which I attach great importance. The outcome of this will be carefully considered.

    Anti-Social Neighbours

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate of the number of complaints involving anti-social neighbours in each of the last two years; and what advice and assistance his Department gives to social housing landlords. [17640]

    In 1996, 46 written complaints were received by the Welsh Office about anti- social behaviour by neighbours. To date, in 1997, 50 have been received. We have no information on the number of complaints received by social landlords.We are determined to take and support measures which protect the majority of citizens who respect the law and the rights of others. The proposed Crime and Disorder Bill will contain a number of measures to reduce petty crime and neighbourhood disorder. These include such measures as community safety orders to restrain the behaviour of individuals; and a new responsibility on local authorities to develop statutory partnerships to help prevent crime and enhance community safety.There are a number of legal measures, including eviction, which landlords can use against tenants guilty of anti-social behaviour. The Welsh Office has issued good practice guidance (entitled 'Getting the Best Out of the Court System in Possession Cases') to all local authorities in Wales to help them make more effective and speedier use of these measures. In addition, the Housing Act 1996 contains provisions to improve the legal processes and strengthen the powers available to landlords to deal with anti-social behaviour by tenants and their visitors.Guidance on these provisions was issued to local authorities earlier this year in Welsh Office circulars 2/97 'Conduct of Tenants—Introductory Tenancies and Repossession for Secure Tenancies' and 38/97 'Conduct of Tenants—Injunctions Against Anti-Social Behaviour'. Guidance on anti-social behaviour for housing association landlords is contained in paragraph 8.4 of 'The Regulatory Requirements' issued by Tai Cymru.

    Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 and the Noise Act 1996, local authorities have responsibility for investigating incidents of noise nuisance in their area. Should a statutory nuisance be detected, local authorities have wide-ranging powers to prevent or abate noise from premises (including land) and vehicles. Guidance on the duties and powers of local authorities in implementing the Noise Act 1996 and the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 is provided in Welsh Office Circulars 41/97 and 42/97.

    Beef Industry

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on prospects for the beef industry in Wales. [17636]

    The government has continued to support various initiatives to help restore and improve consumer confidence in beef. As a result we have seen significant increases in the level of beef consumption. Every effort is being made to have the export ban lifted and that should see a further improvement in prospects for the industry. Nevertheless, the beef sector remains in long term structural surplus and reform of the CAP beef regime is essential.

    Celtec

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his Department's inquiring into CELTEC and its associated holding companies. [17929]

    Copies of the letter which I sent to my hon. Friend the Member for Conwy (Mrs. Williams) on 29 October pursuant to her question of 11 July, Official Report column 629, have been placed in the Library of the House. The letter encloses a note by my officials on the investigations made into the various allegations received. Subject to checking of the final accounts of Hightown Holdings and its subsidiary companies for the financial year 1996–97, these investigations have found no evidence of loss or impropriety in the handling of public funds.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what safeguards he has put in place to ensure the debts of CELTEC's associated companies do not become a charge upon public funds. [17930]

    CELTEC has associated undertakings with "The Careers Company" and "Careers Plus", the Careers Service Companies for North West Wales and North East Wales respectively. CELTEC's liability is limited to £ 1 in each case.CELTEC also has a trading relationship with the subsidiary companies of the Hightown Holdings Group— Alkemy and Business Advance. CELTEC is currently negotiating the integration of Alkemy and Business Advance Functions into the TEC by means of a Business Transfer Agreement. This will involve the acquisition by CELTEC of defined assets and liabilities of both companies. Welsh Office officials will not approve the transfer unless CELTEC acquires sufficient assets from those companies to cover any liabilities transferred. This should ensure that any liabilities do not become a charge upon public funds.

    It is also intended that, following the planned transfer, the Hightown Holdings Group will then be wound up with any residual assets, after all liabilities have been met, being transferred to the TEC.

    Regional Selective Assistance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list each regional selective assistance offer made to former privatised utility companies in Wales. [17955]

    Cardiff Bay Development Corporation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the urban development grants made by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation since its inception by (a) year agreed and (b) amount agreed. [17956]

    This is an operational matter for the Corporation and I have asked the Chief Executive to provide the information my hon. Friend has requested; a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Food Safety

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what (a) research and (b) opinion surveys his Ministry has conducted to determine the current level of public confidence in safety of (i) British, (ii) European, (iii) non-European produced food and procedures for dealing with food safety issues. [17533]

    My department has a research programme into the management of risk which has examined public perceptions of food safety risk. We also take note of other relevant opinion surveys.

    Safe Food

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his Ministry's definition of safe food. [17532]

    The Food Safety Act 1990 makes it an offence to sell food which is injurious to health; unfit for human consumption; or so contaminated that it would not be reasonable to expect it to be used for human consumption.

    Milk Development Council

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the Department of Trade and Industry concerning the impact of proposed tax changes for non-profit making research organisations on the Milk Development Council. [18066]

    The Department has drawn to the attention of the President of the Board of Trade our assessment of the potential impact on the Milk Development Council of the proposed changes to the guidelines on granting exemption from corporation tax to scientific research association.

    Aeron Valley Creameries

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received on Milk Marque's acquisition of Aeron Valley Creameries; and if he will make a statement. [18065]

    The Department has received representations from the Dairy Industry Federation and from a major UK dairy company.

    Dietary Supplements