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Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many members of staff are employed by each regional and island authority (a) as emergency planning officers and (b) as emergency planning team administrative and support staff.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The available information is in respect of grant-aided emergency planning posts. The number of staff employed by regional and islands authorities in such posts at 30 September was as follows :
Region or Islands |Emergency Planning |Clerical/Support Staff Authority |Officers -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Borders Region |4 |1 Central Region |4 |2 Fife Region |4 |1 Dumfries and Galloway Region |4 |2 Grampian Region |3 |2 Highland Region |6 |2 Lothian Region |5 |2 Strathclyde Region |11 |5 Tayside Region |5 |2" Orkney Islands |2 |0 Shetland Islands |1 |1 Western Isles |1 |0 |--- |--- Total |50 |20"
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has on the main research projects on marine biology carried out in the North sea by Scottish research institutes and laboratories for each year since 1974 ; and if he will list those projects.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Information in the form requested is not collected or held by the Department. Details of research carried out by the DAFS marine laboratory, Aberdeen, have been given in its triennial reports for the period 1973-84 and annual reports for 1985-86 and 1986-87. I am arranging for copies of these reports to be placed in the Library.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is, for each year since 1974, the amount of public funds given to the Scottish Marine Biology Association and its laboratory at Dunstaffnage.
(2) what is the number of staff in full-time and part-time jobs in the marine laboratory at Dunstaffnage for each year since 1975.
The information is as follows :
Year to 31 March |<3>Science budget |Public sector commissions|Staff total |Full-time |Part-time |£K (cash figures) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1988 |1,347 |394 |67.5 |64.5 |3 1987 |1,378 |544 |72.5 |70.5 |2 1986 |1,256 |472 |78 |75 |3 1985 |1,024 |655 |84 |82 |2 1984 |1,001 |628 |92 |88 |4 1983 |860 |772 |101 |95 |6 1982 |1,037 |783 |98 |92 |6 1981 |990 |456 |100 |95 |5 1980 |906 |<1>- |101 |101 |0 1979 |817 |- |99 |98 |1 1978 |540 |- |95 |94 |1 1977 |418 |- |96 |94 |2 1976 |618 |<2>- |100 |94 |6 1975 |557 |- |103 |97 |6 <1> Separate figures for public funds are not available prior to the year ending March 1981. The total from public and private funds was (£K): 1980, 399; 1979, 383; 1978, 268; 1977, 264. <2> Information on commissions prior to the year ending March 1976 could only be provided at disproportionate cost. <3> Includes Capital Expenditure.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The Government's target has not yet been met. However, some 29,000 hectares of new planting was achieved in the year to 31 March 1988, and the figure for the current year is expected to be of the same order.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Government are taking to ensure that long-term confidence in both the forestry and wood processing industries is not adversely affected by low planting levels.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The Government have made clear their continued support for the expansion of the forestry industry, and substantial grants are available under the woodland grant scheme and the farm woodland scheme. A close watch will be kept on planting trends.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Government are taking to ensure that the 70,000 hectares estimated by the Forestry Commission to have been cleared for planting under the previous taxation/grants scheme will be fully utilised.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Under the transitional arrangements announced on 15 March 1988 by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, tax reliefs will continue to be available until 1993 in respect of planting approved under those Forestry Commission grant schemes which have been closed to new applications. The amount of such planting that actually takes place will depend on the decisions of a large number of individual landowners.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he will list the total number of hectares : (a) approved for planting under the woodland grant scheme in each of the Forestry Commission conservancy areas and (b) awaiting approval for planting under the woodland grant scheme.
Conservancy |Area approved for |Area awaiting approval |planting (including |for planting (including |replanting) under the |replanting) under the |Scheme |Scheme |(hectares) |(hectares) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ North England |207 |1,366 East England |106 |3,055 West England |226 |1,330 Wales |302 |675 North Scotland |2,262 |5,727 Mid Scotland |751 |2,894 South Scotland |344 |4,782 |------ |------ Totals |4,198 |19,829
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the Environmental Assessment (Afforestation) Regulations 1988 (S.I. 1988 No. 1207) on applications for grant aid for new forestry planting.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : An environmental assessment is intended to provide information that will be helpful in deciding on the likely effects of a forestry proposal on the environment, and the need for one should not be taken as indicating a presumption against
Column 46afforestation. The number of assessments called for is unlikely to be large, and the regulations are not expected to have a significant effect on the level of applications for planting grants.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the Government's main objectives contained in the report forwarded to the European Commission in terms of Council regulation (EEC) No. 3528/86.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Reports are submitted annually by member states to enable the European Commission to obtain a picture of tree health throughout the Community, and to provide data on a consistent basis for the situation to be monitored from year to year.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the total amount of hectares of forest lost or damaged by (a) atomospheric pollution and (b) natural phenomena since 1980 in each of the Forestry Commission conservancy areas.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : (a) The Forestry Commission has conducted nationwide surveys of forests since 1984 in order to assess tree health in relation to air pollution. The surveys rely mainly on the criterion of "crown density" as a measure of tree condition because no loss of forest areas has been observed in Britain which can be ascribed specifically to air pollution. The results of the latest surveys are contained in a report which was published by the Commission on 1 December copies of which are being placed in the Library of the House.
(b) Certain insects can damage forest trees, by far the largest cause of loss being the pine beauty moth which has killed or severely damaged 263 hectares of Lodgepole pine in North Scotland Conservancy since 1980. Wind damage is another cause of tree loss, but the only significant forest windblow since 1980 has been in East England Conservancy where some 16,000 hectares of woodland were blown down by the October 1987 storm.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the environmental safeguards which apply to the location of forestry, as stated in his reply to the hon. Member for Dumfries, Official Report, 17 March, columns 670-1.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The Forestry Commission's woodland grant scheme places emphasis on the need for planting to be carried out in an environmentally sensitive way. Applicants are required to give proper attention to landscaping, wildlife conservation, the management of water courses and the protection of ancient monuments, as appropriate. Every planting proposal is carefuly scrutinised by the Forestry Commission with such aspects in mind, and the existing consultation arrangements also provide a safeguard, particularly for areas of special environmental importance. In addition, the Commission may call for an environmental assessment for those proposals which they consider are likely to have a significant effect on the environment.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The Forestry Commission follows the Civil Service pay and conditions code in the rent charged for its key houses (tied cottages). These rents include an element to cover general and water rates. Tenants of key houses pay a standard rent in respect of their tenancy and the commission pays the general and water rates.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : The legislation we are to introduce will enable parents generally to opt for self-governing status for their schools. Recent polls suggest that a significant number will welcome the opportunity offered by this measure.
Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from parents, teachers or educational organisations concerning the likely effects of primary school testing upon remedial pupils ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : A number of respondents to the consultation paper "Curriculum and Assessment in Scotland : a Policy for the 90s" referred to the position of pupils with special educational needs. As the consultation paper makes clear it will be for education authorities, in consultation with parents, to decide whether pupils recorded as having special educational needs would benefit from participation in the tests.
Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish figures showing the numbers of primary schools in Scotland currently undertaking their own schemes of assessment for English and mathematics.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Assessment is an integral part of teaching and my right hon. and learned Friend would expect some form of assessment in these subjects to be carried out in every primary school. Current policy is designed to improve the quality of consistency of that assessment.
Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will outline the curricula guidelines which he intends to introduce for Scottish primary schools in those subjects apart from English and mathematics.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : My right hon. and learned Friend has asked the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum to review existing guidance in each subject area and, where appropriate, to develop revised guidelines. their reports are expected to be completed by the end of 1990.
In addition to this commitment, we have received a number of very positive approaches from the private sector. These are being treated in confidence at this stage.
Mrs. Ray Mitchie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many students who are studying at Scottish universities, central institutions and colleges of education and who are in receipt of an SED award take (a) three years or less to complete their degree, (b) four years to complete their degree, (c) five years to complete their degree and (d) six or more years to complete their degree ; and what proportion of female students are in each category.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the road traffic accidents involving injury or death on the A1 in Scotland for the past three years, giving the date, location and extent of injury for each accident.
Thereafter, I intend to make a statement on its findings and on our proposed way ahead. There will then be a period for comment before we reach final decisions.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for a report from the chairman of Lothian health board on the future provision of acute hospital services and accident and emergency services in east Lothian.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Lothian health board is currently reviewing its acute service and accident and emergency needs and, following public consultation, proposals covering future requirements throughout the area of the board will be submitted to the Secretary of State. Public consultation is planned for early next year.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for a report from the chairman of the South of Scotland Electricity Board on the board's policy for the operation of Cockenzie power station, including the estimated coalburn for each of the next three years, the current stock of coal at Cockenzie, and the origin of that stock and of future supplies.
The number of jobs in the coal industry depends on several factors, including the reduction of costs to competitive levels.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list all the feasibility studies being carried out into barrages across United Kingdom estuaries for schemes to produce electricity.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will introduce legislation to provide that pensioners will be exempted from paying standing charges on their power bills in line with consumers who use solid fuel for heating purposes ; and if he will make a statement.
(2) what was the discharge of total beta activity to the sea from Sellafield in (i) 1974 and (ii) the latest available year.
TBq |1974 |1987 ------------------------ Alpha |170 |2.2 Beta |7,200|89
Further reductions in discharge levels are expected in the early 1990s upon completion of BNFL's effluent treatment plant investment programme.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) whether he will make it his policy to hold discussions with British Coal regarding the escape of methane gas at Arkwright colliery with a view to ensuring that British Coal accepts total liability for claims made by the families and others concerned ;
(2) what recent inquiries he has made of British Coal regarding payments of compensation to families and others affected by the escape of methane gas at Arkwright colliery ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : This is a matter for British Coal. However it has kept me regularly informed of the situation at Arkwright, following the emission of methane. I understand that British Coal has already made a £100 ex gratia interim payment to all the families who had to be evacuated. This is an advance against the settlement of reasonable future claims, which British Coal has agreed to pay on a "good neighbour" basis. Legal liability is ultimately at matter for the courts to decide.
60. Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the contribution that the financial management initiative has made to securing value for money in public expenditure.
Mr. Brooke : The financial management initiative is seeking to improve the basis on which resources are managed by Departments. I regret that it is not possible to quantify the contribution that it is making to improving
Column 51value for money, nor to distinguish that contribution from the effect of other actions to increase the efficiency with which resources are used. There is however general agreement that the FMI has made a significant impact by clarifying responsibilities, securing a greater awareness of costs and by providing a framework for other reforms.
The "Next Steps" initiative, which the Prime Minister announced on 18 February 1988 at column 1149, builds on and carries forward the principles of the FMI in relation to executive functions. The Government remain committed to maintaining the momentum of their overall programme for improving value for money.
Mr. Brooke : There are no plans to issue a White Paper on Civil Service recruitment. My Department keeps Civil Service recruitment policies under continuous review, to ensure that they are responsive to changes in both the needs of Departments and in the general labour market, bearing in mind the need to ensure value for money.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Capital allowances have not been abolished. Annual writing down allowances remain available for construction costs of guest houses and small hotels which satisfy certain minimum criteria and for capital expenditure on machinery or plant for business use. Rates of allowance now correspond more close with rates of commercial depreciation. A number of representations have been received from the hotel industry about the withdrawal of incentive first year and initial allowances.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give details in the Official Report as to the extent of the disruption caused to the collection of taxes and to tax records as a result of the recent explosion in the tax offices in Londonderry ; and whether any delays in the collection of taxes will result.