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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 5 December 1988

TRANSPORT

M1-M6 (Commercial Traffic)

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish his Department's projection of the increased volume of commercial traffic on the M1 and the M6 following the opening of the Channel tunnel in 1993.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department prepares forecasts of national traffic. Where specific trunk road improvements are being assessed, local traffic forecasts are prepared. Projections are not otherwise made for specific roads.

Drivers (Disqualification)

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take action to ensure that individuals convicted and disqualified from driving in any part of the United Kingdom will be denied the right to drive throughout the United Kingdom during their period of disqualification.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Northern Ireland (like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) has an entirely separate driver licensing system to that for Great Britain.


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British courts have no jurisdiction in Northern Ireland on driver licensing matters, and disqualifications imposed on the mainland are not valid there. There are at present no plans to change these arrangements.

Bus Drivers

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list any changes in the terms and conditions of employment of bus drivers employed by London Buses Limited, bearing on their health and the safety of bus passengers, since he assumed responsibility for London Regional Transport.

Mr. Portillo : Limits on public service vehicle drivers' hours of duty are prescribed by law to ensure safety. The requirements are standard for all bus operators. Other terms and conditions of employment are matters for the operators themselves.

Roads (Expenditure)

Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the level of both capital and current expenditure by (a) central Government and (b) local government on Britain's roads in each year since 1974-75.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Expenditure figures for local roads spending prior to 1978-79 are not readily available in cash. In order to give (as nearly as practical) a consistent series of data, the following table gives expenditure for 1974-75 to 1979-80 on a price base of November 1978 (source Cmnd 7841), and expenditure for 1987-88 (source, Transport Statistics Great Britain) adjusted for the change in GDP since the third quarter of 1978-79.


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            (a) National Roads £        (b) Local roads £                 

            millions                    millions (price base              

                   Autumn 1978)                                           

            Current<1>    Capital<1>    Current<2>    Capital             

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

1974-75    |86           |620          |689          |566                 

1975-76    |101          |640          |664          |557                 

1976-77    |106          |547          |617          |522                 

1977-78    |101          |398          |610          |346                 

1978-79    |115          |392          |661          |318                 

<1>1979-80 |116   |51    |404   |475   |608   |633   |372   |410          

1980-81           |49           |469          |617          |407          

1981-82           |65           |479          |663          |349          

1982-83           |52           |543          |657          |394          

1983-84           |57           |512          |654          |400          

1984-85           |61           |516          |643          |385          

1985-86           |59           |493          |639          |390          

1986-87           |67           |494          |681          |406          

1987-88           |58           |549          |<3>682       |<3>370       

<1> Structural maintenance of national roads was reclassified as capital  

expenditure in 1983. Figures in the series 1979-80-1987-88 reflect this   

classification while figures in the series 1974-75-1979-80 do not.        

<2> excludes local authority professional and technical support.          

<3> approximate estimate based on quarterly data.                         

Traffic Congestion (London)

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with London borough councils about the causes and cures of recent widespread traffic jams in inner London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department has regular contact with the police, London borough officers and the traffic signals control unit about traffic conditions. In the highly interdependent London network, congestion is often caused by incidents (breakdowns, accidents,


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roadworks) on local roads. Because traffic volumes are high, minor incidents can have a widespread knock-on effect.

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of the partial closure of Battersea bridge on the traffic flow in inner London.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : This is primarily a matter for the London borough of Wandsworth as the highway authority and for neighbouring authorities.


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Crash Barriers

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for installing crash barriers on duel carriageway stretches of the A34 particularly at Gore hill in Berkshire.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have a major programme to install central reserve safety fencing along the dual carriageway lengths of the A34 between the M3 at Winchester and Oxford. Work is due to start early in the new year. It will take about two years to complete. Precise timing of the Gore hill section depends on overcoming certain technical difficulties.

Severn Bridge

Mr. Aspinwall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will invite tenders for the second Severn bridge.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department has sent a notice to the Official Journal of the European Communities for publication today asking groups of firms interested in bidding :


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(i) for the design, construction financing and operation and (ii) for the design and construction only

of a second Severn crossing to submit themselves for selection as tenderers. This initial selection process has been introduced at the request of the industry to cut down wasted effort in preparing a full tender. Applications to be considered for selection must be returned to the Department of Transport by mid-January. The groups selected to submit full tenders will be announced towards the end of February. Guidelines for these tenders will be published in the spring.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Students (Statistics)

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report the age participation index and qualified participation index for each year since 1979 (a) for universities only, (b) for PSHE institutions only and (c) for all higher education institutions.

Mr. Jackson : The information required is as follows :


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                      Academic year                                                                  

                      beginning in                                                                   

                     |1979   |1980   |1981   |1982   |1983   |1984   |1985   |1986   |<1>1987        

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

API                                                                                                  

Universities         |7.4    |7.5    |7.2    |6.8    |6.6    |6.8    |6.9    |7.0    |7.3            

PSHE                 |5.0    |5.2    |5.9    |6.5    |6.6    |6.9    |7.0    |7.0    |7.3            

All higher education |12.4   |12.6   |13.1   |13.4   |13.2   |13.7   |13.9   |14.0   |14.6           

                                                                                                     

QPI                                                                                                  

Universities         |50.4   |50.3   |47.7   |44.4   |40.7   |41.3   |41.8   |43.2   |44.9           

PSHE                 |33.6   |34.8   |39.5   |42.4   |40.9   |41.5   |42.0   |42.9   |44.5           

All higher education |84.0   |85.0   |87.1   |86.8   |81.5   |82.8   |83.9   |86.1   |89.4           

Note:                                                                                                

<1>Provisional figures.                                                                              

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report the young mature entry index and the older mature participation index from 1979 to the most recent date for


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which the figures are available (a) for all higher education institutions, (b) for universities only and (c) for P.S.H.E. only.

Mr. Jackson : The information required is as follows :


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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Young Mature Entry Index                                                                     

All higher education             |8.8  |7.6  |7.5  |7.2  |6.9  |7.2  |7.8  |7.4  |7.5        

Universities                     |2.7  |2.4  |2.0  |1.7  |1.5  |1.6  |1.7  |1.7  |1.7        

P.S.H.E.                         |6.1  |5.2  |5.5  |5.5  |5.3  |5.6  |6.1  |5.8  |5.8        

                                                                                             

Older Mature Participation Index                                                             

All higher education             |0.218|0.219|0.245|0.246|0.261|0.261|0.272|0.281|0.295      

Universities                     |0.054|0.051|0.052|0.046|0.048|0.051|0.053|0.056|0.057      

P.S.H.E.                         |0.165|0.168|0.193|0.199|0.213|0.208|0.219|0.226|0.238      

<1> Provisional figures.                                                                     

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many advanced level secondary school pupils from (a) local education authority maintained secondary schools and (b) private sector maintained secondary schools, applied for a place at


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Oxford university and at Cambridge university in each year since 1979 ; and how many, from each sector, each university finally accepted.

Mr. Jackson : The information requested is shown in the following table.


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[TITER]                                      

---------------------------------------------

1986<1>                                      

  Applications |3,680|3,096|861  |7,637      

  Acceptances  |1,395|1,324|221  |2,940      

                                             

1987                                         

  Applications |3,278|3,065|847  |7,190      

  Acceptances  |1,399|1,415|256  |3,070      

                                             

1988                                         

  Applications |3,979|3,743|990  |8,712      

  Acceptances  |1,448|1,535|243  |3,226      

<1> The classification used by Oxford        

changed in 1986.                             


[TITER]                                      

---------------------------------------------

1986<1>                                      

  Applications |3,680|3,096|861  |7,637      

  Acceptances  |1,395|1,324|221  |2,940      

                                             

1987                                         

  Applications |3,278|3,065|847  |7,190      

  Acceptances  |1,399|1,415|256  |3,070      

                                             

1988                                         

  Applications |3,979|3,743|990  |8,712      

  Acceptances  |1,448|1,535|243  |3,226      

<1> The classification used by Oxford        

changed in 1986.                             


[TITER]                                      

---------------------------------------------

1986<1>                                      

  Applications |3,680|3,096|861  |7,637      

  Acceptances  |1,395|1,324|221  |2,940      

                                             

1987                                         

  Applications |3,278|3,065|847  |7,190      

  Acceptances  |1,399|1,415|256  |3,070      

                                             

1988                                         

  Applications |3,979|3,743|990  |8,712      

  Acceptances  |1,448|1,535|243  |3,226      

<1> The classification used by Oxford        

changed in 1986.                             

Teachers

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will implement the International Labour Organisation rulings on the rights of employees to negotiate with their employers in relation to teachers ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Rumbold : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 11 November at column 318.

Education Reform

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what effect he expects that state schools that opt out and function independently will have on preparatory schools ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Butcher : Schools which become grant-maintained will remain within the maintained sector of education, and will increase the diversity of provision available to parents within that sector. There will be no direct effect on preparatory schools although ultimately we expect that increased diversity and competition will encourage all schools (including preparatory schools) to maintain and improve their standards and responsiveness to those they serve.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the effect of the Education Reform Act on school-theatre and museum and theatre visits.

Mr. Butcher : My right hon. Friend has no reason to believe that the level of school visits to theatres and museums need change markedly as a result of the provisions of the Education Reform Act. The Act clarifies earlier legislation in establishing that schools may not charge for any provision offered during school hours, with the exception of individual music tuition. Charges may be made for visits and activities provided outside school hours, unless these are required for a prescribed examination syllabus or for the national curriculum. Restrictions on charging do not prevent local authorities and schools from seeking voluntary contributions in support of particular activities and we expect that parents will continue to support activities which they regard as educationally worth while.

Student Loans

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will reconsider the limitations on mature students, particularly those nearing or at retiring age in respect of the Government's proposals in the White Paper on "Student Top-up Loans," where


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anyone commencing higher education at the age of 40 years or over will have to repay the loan up to and until the age of 60 years.

Mr. Jackson : The Government have invited comment on the repayment regime but we want students up to the age of 50 to have the benefit of loans. Under our proposals the annual repayments made by graduates approaching the age of 60 will be no more and no less than repayments made by younger graduates in the same economic circumstances. Any debt still outstanding at the age of 60 will be cancelled.

Veterinary Schools (Research)

Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what have been the sources of funding in veterinary schools over the last five years ;

(2) what revenue from commercial sources has been derived from publicly funded research in veterinary schools over the last five years.

Mr. Jackson : Universities (of which veterinary schools are component parts) receive general funding in the form of block grant from the University Grants Committee and from various other sources. It is not possible to identify how elements of that income flow to individual faculties and schools. The available data on specific income (for research contracts and other services) in veterinary science are shown below. Information is not available on the revenue from commercial sources derived from publicly funded research.


£ thousands                                                            

                                       |1984-85|1985-86|1986-87        

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Research Grants and Contracts                                       

Research Council Grant                 |1,066  |1,049  |1,154          

Other Central Government               |1,062  |1,370  |1,686          

United Kingdom Public                                                  

   Corporations                        |71     |17     |24             

Other United Kingdom Industry                                          

   and Commerce                        |373    |426    |452            

United Kingdom Charitable                                              

   Bodies                              |922    |1,074  |1,838          

Overseas<1>                            |85     |202    |265            

Other Sources                          |107    |87     |271            

Total Grants and Contracts             |3,686  |4,223  |5,690          

                                                                       

B. Income from other services rendered                                 

Total<1>                               |1,542  |1,627  |1,846          

                                                                       

C. Total Specific income from                                          

   veterinary science                  |5,228  |5,850  |7,836          

<1> Includes income from commercial sources.                           

Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the research objectives of veterinary schools.


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Mr. Jackson : Such objectives are for each university to determine.

Scientific Equipment

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information is available to his Department regarding expert estimates of the annual percentage increase in real terms of costs of scientific equipment needed for priority areas of research identified by the Advisory Board for the Research Councils ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson : My right hon. Friend receives advice each year from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils on the sums to be allocated to each of the research councils in support of priority areas of research. This includes provision for scientific equipment and takes account of cost movements and of changes in the nature and standard of equipment which is available.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to receive advice from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils arising from the board's commissioned survey of scientific equipment provision ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson : I understand that the ABRC has not yet received the report of the survey it has commissioned on scientific equipment provision, and that it is unlikely that the board will offer my right hon. Friend advice on this matter before next spring.

Correspondence

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will place in the Library his letter and attachment of 28 November sent to the hon. Member for Blackburn in answer to his question of 19 October.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Copies of my letter and attachment have been placed in the Library.

Grant-maintained Schools (Ballots)

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list in the Official Report the names, areas and type of those schools in respect of which he received a notification by 30 November concerning a governors' resolution or parent petition for a ballot for a grant-maintained school, the schools being ones affected by a section 12 and 13 proposal undecided on 4 August ; and what was the total number of schools so affected.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Notification of a governors' resolution or parent petition for a ballot has been received in respect of the following 18 schools which were subject to published section 12 or 13 proposals published by but undecided on 4 August :


School                           |LEA                             |Type                                                             

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Queensbury                       |Bedfordshire                    |13-18 County Mixed Comprehensive                                 

Ravensbourne                     |Bromley                         |11-18 County Girls Comprehensive                                 

Ramsden                          |Bromley                         |11-18 County Girls Comprehensive                                 

Netherthorpe                     |Derbyshire                      |11-18 Voluntary Controlled Mixed                                 

                                                                  |  Comprehensive                                                  

Chesterfield                     |Derbyshire                      |13-18 County Boys Comprehensive                                  

Frances Bardesley                |Havering                        |11-18 County Girls Comprehensive                                 

Gaynes                           |Havering                        |11-18 County Mixed Comprehensive                                 

Forest Lodge                     |Havering                        |11-18 County Mixed Comprehensive                                 

Sir James Altham                 |Hertfordshire                   |11-18 County Mixed Comprehensive                                 

Hadham Hall                      |Hertfordshire                   |11-18 County Mixed Secondary                                     

London Nautical                  |ILEA                            |11-18 County Boys Comprehensive                                  

Wilmington Grammar               |Kent                            |11-18 County Boys Grammar                                        

Wilmington Grammar               |Kent                            |11-18 County Girls Grammar                                       

South Park                       |Lincolnshire                    |11-18 County Mixed Comprehensive                                 

Blessed Hugh More                |Lincolnshire                    |11-16 Voluntary Aided Mixed                                      

   RC                                                             |Secondary                                                        

Queen Elizabeth's                |Rochdale                        |14-18 Voluntary Controlled Mixed                                 

                                                                  |  High                                                           

Audenshaw                        |Tameside                        |11-16 County Boys Comprehensive                                  

Droylsden                        |Tameside                        |11-16 County Girls Comprehensive                                 

Student Unions

Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will place in the Library the correspondence between his Department and the National Union of Students concerning automatic membership of student unions ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what recent representations he has received from the National Union of Students regarding the automatic membership of student unions ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson [holding answer 2 December 1988] : The NUS has made no recent representations. The last exchange of correspondence between the NUS and Ministers on this subject followed a meeting which I held with the NUS on 29 February. This exchange preceded the announcement of the survey and I do not think that it would now be appropriate to place it in the Library.

Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will place in the Library a copy of each of the returned questionnaires for his review of student unions ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson [holding answer 2 December 1988] : No.

Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what was the total number of questionnaires for his Department's review of student unions (a) sent out and (b) returned, and what is the percentage of the latter to the former ;

(2) how many questionnaires for his review of student unions were sent to (a) student unions, (b) institutions of higher and further education and (c) the National Union of Students ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson [holding answer 2 December 1988] : Questionnaires were issued to 70 institutions in Great Britain. Each institution received four copies but it was for each to determine, against the definition of a student union used for the survey, how many separately completed questionnaires to return. Institutions were invited to involve their local union(s) in completing the questionnaire but no questionnaires were issued direct to local unions for return to the Department. A copy was sent to the NUS for information.

By 1 December a total of 86 returns had been received from 68 institutions. Returns from the remaining two institutions are expected within a few days.

Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy towards treating the National Union of Students as a representative negotiating body ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson [holding answer of 2 December 1988] : The Department consults as appropriate, but does not negotiate, with the National Union of Students.


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Natural Environmental Research Council

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what he assesses will be the impact of funding cuts for the Natural Environmental Research Council on working on practical projects involving volunteers in the area of nature conservation : and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson [holding answer 2 December 1988] : The staff reductions NERC has announced include one post concerning bat ecology, where work done in the past has involved volunteers. Otherwise, volunteers are involved only on projects commissioned by customers, and their future involvement will be dependent on customer support.

ENVIRONMENT

Civil Defence

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what grants were authorised to be paid by his Department for capital works carried out under the Civil Defence (Water Supplies) Regulations 1949 in each of the financial years 1985-86 to 1987-88 inclusive ; to which authorities they were paid ; and for what purposes ;

(2) what grants were authorised to be paid by his Department for capital works carried out under the Civil Defence (Sewerage) Regulations 1949 in each of the financial years 1985-86 to 1987-8, inclusive ; to which authorities they were paid ; and for what purposes.

Mr. Moynihan : Grant authorised by the Department since 1985-86 for capital works relating to water authority civil defence functions has been for structural and accommodation works for emergency control centres, as follows :


Water authority         |Financial year         |Amount of grant (75 per                        

                                                |cent. of cost)                                 

                                                |£                                              

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anglian                 |1985-86                |3,794                                          

                        |1986-87                |102,750                                        

                        |1987-88                |19,156                                         

                                                                                                

Severn Trent            |1987-88                |173,905                                        

                                                                                                

Southern                |1987-88                |4,050                                          

                                                                                                

Wessex                  |1985-86                |2,639                                          

                        |1986-87                |18,731                                         

                        |1987-88                |128,974                                        

                                                                                                

Yorkshire               |1985-86                |4,908                                          

                        |1986-87                |23,625                                         

                        |1987-88                |262,267                                        

                                                |----                                           

                        |Total                  |744,799                                        

Wildlife and Countryside Act

Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his proposals to amend section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 following the decision in the case of Rubinstein and another v. Secretary of State for the Environment.


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Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Our intention is to introduce legislation, when a suitable opportunity occurs, to return to the situation that was assumed to exist prior to the judgment in the Rubinstein case. This will enable surveying authorities, on the discovery of evidence, to make orders correcting mistakes in the recording of rights of way on the definitive map.

Water Quality (Nottingham)

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many individual occasions the level of (a) nitrate (b) aluminium and (c) other substances in Nottingham water supplies has exceeded the levels in EEC drinking water directives.

Mr. Moynihan : I understand from the water authority that within the last 12 months there have been no individual occasions when aluminium has exceeded the limits laid down in the EC drinking water directive in the city of Nottingham drinking water supplies. The nitrate standard has been marginally exceeded (at times of peak demand) from a source serving about 2,000 people in the city but this does not constitute a risk to health.

A single sample failed to meet the directive requirements relating to iron.

Toxic Waste

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the Government's policy on the import of foreign toxic waste into the United Kingdom for treatment.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre (Mr. Mans) on 23 November at columns 4-5.

Toxic Chemical Incinerators

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many toxic chemical incinerators there are in the United Kingdom ; and what are their locations.

Mr. Virginia Bottomley : There are three merchant incinerators in the United Kingdom which process toxic chemical wastes : at Ellesmere Port (Cheshire), Fawley (Hampshire) and Pontypool (Gwent). These are subject to the control of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. In addition, the inspectorate, together with Her Majesty's industrial pollution inspectorate (in Scotland) and the alkali and radiochemical inspectorate (in Northern Ireland) exercise control over 77 chemical incinerators which burn only waste generated on the site by a related industrial process.

Raptors (Illegal Sales)

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to obtain information from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds relating to the prices commanded by illegally sold British birds of prey.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. Although the Department's licensing and registration functions are useful inhibitions to the sale of illegally taken birds of prey, it has no direct responsibility for enforcing the law prohibiting their illegal taking, which is a matter for the police. I therefore have no reason to seek information about the prices at which birds of prey are sold.


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Lowland Heath

Mr. Nicholas Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met representatives of voluntary conservation bodies to discuss the draft flora, fauna and habitat directive ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My noble Friend, the Minister for Housing, Environment and Countryside, met representatives of voluntary conservation bodies to discuss the draft directive on 18 November. I explained the current position on the directive in my answer to my hon. Friend, the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet) on 29 November, at column 200 -20.

Nuclear Waste (South Yorkshire)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what investigations have been made in the county of South Yorkshire to see if the soil strata is suitable for low or high-level nuclear waste ; and how many suitable sites have been discovered.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : UK Nirex Ltd. is responsible for the field work necessary to identify potential sites for a deep disposal facility for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. No part of the United Kingdom is ruled out at this stage.

Heat-generating (high-level) radioactive waste is being stored at British Nuclear Fuels works at Sellafield for about 50 years until levels of radioactivity have declined sufficiently to facilitate disposal. No work is being undertaken to identify potential disposal sites for this type of waste.

PCB Levels

Mr. Murphy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution proposes to publish the report arising from the investigation, undertaken two years ago, and carried out jointly by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and the university of East Anglia, into national background levels of PCBs and including an investigation into the area surrounding ReChem International (Pontypool).

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : During the period 1985 to 1987 the hazardous waste inspectorate, now part of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, conducted a national survey into background levels in soils of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDFs). A summary of that work was published this year in the third report of the hazardous waste inspectorate and the full technical report will be published in 1989.

A further study, which involves more detailed sampling around potential sources of PCBs, including the ReChem International incinerator at Pontypool, has begun. The full results of this study are expected in two years' time. In the interim, preliminary findings will shortly be communicated to local authorities concerned.

Housing Corporation

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of additional staffing requirements for the Housing Corporation for the financial year 1988-89.


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Mr. Trippier : My Department is currently discussing with the Housing Corporation its additional staffing requirements for 1988-89 for new responsibilities under the Housing Act 1988. Final decisions have yet to be taken.

Lead Shot

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what steps he is taking to encourage the development of non-toxic alternatives to lead shot ;

(2) what is his Department's policy on the substitution of steel for lead shot in game shooting ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We have asked the Nature Conservancy Council to assess any potential danger to wildlife from the residues from lead shot and to consult interested parties. In addition, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has set up a working group to co-ordinate research into all aspects of the use of lead shot. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has undertaken research into the effect of residues from lead shot in animal feedstuffs. We are encouraged to see that both BASC and the Gun Trades Association are assessing the use of steel and other materials as possible substitutes for lead shot. Decisions on the continued use of lead shot will be made as and when the results of all these studies are available.


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