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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 7 December 1988

DEFENCE

United States Chemical Munitions

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what United States chemical munitions or components of chemical munitions are (a) stored, (b) transported or (c) deployed within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Freeman : None.

Argentina

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many United Kingdom defence contracts have been concluded with Argentina since June 1982 ; and when export sales organisations of his Department resumed their efforts to promote the sale of military equipment to Argentina.

Mr. Sainsbury : No United Kingdom defence contracts have been concluded with Argentina since June 1982, and currently there continues to be no promotion of defence equipment sales to that country by my Department.

Nuclear Tests

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there have been any British nuclear tests in 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury : No.

Procurement

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the annual procurement costs within his Department ; and what proportion of this is obtained from (a) Wales and (b) south-east England.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on Tuesday 29 November at columns 570-71 and the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) on 18 April at column 334.

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons are employed in the procurement division of his Department who are legally qualified.

Mr. Sainsbury : I will write to the hon. Member.

Staff Dispersal

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration is being given to the relocation of Ministry of Defence procurement staff away from central London.


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Mr. Sainsbury : Studies are already in hand into how best to rationalise the location of staff in the sea systems controllerate of the Procurement Executive, most of whom already work at sites in the south- west. Initial studies are now being launched into the feasibility of relocating the work of the land and air systems controllerates, which together employ over 3,000 people, the bulk of them in central London. As has already been said, Ministers are currently considering the results of an investment appraisal concerning the future location of the directorate general of defence quality assurance.

VAT

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessments he has made as to the likely effect on (a) his Department's capital building programme and (b) the rent the Department will pay under occupational leases, of implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on value added tax on non-domestic buildings.

Mr. Freeman : Implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on VAT will have no effect on my Department's capital building programme, since compensating adjustments have been made to the relevant expenditure provisions. At this stage, before landlords have decided whether to exercise their option to tax rents, it is not possible to offer meaningful estimates of the effects of the judgment on rental costs.

Aldermaston and Burghfield

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many projects were examined in the independent programme audit of the capital works programme at Aldermaston and Burghfield carried out by British Nuclear Fuels ; what was the number of staff engaged to carry out this audit ; and what was the total cost of the audit.

Mr. Sainsbury : The BNFL programme audit reviewed four major projects and was carried out by a seven-man team representing 218 man days' effort. It is not the practice to reveal the details of individual contract costs for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Trident

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long a delay in a Trident-related programme must be before it is considered significant enough to report to the Defence Committee in the course of its annual examination of the Trident programme.

Mr. Sainsbury : It is the MOD's aim to provide the Select Committee on Defence with information concerning the progress of all significant aspects of the project. In reaching a judgment as to the significance of a projected delay in a part of the programme the MOD will consider aspects such as prospects for recovery and possible consequences of any overruns. Judgments are then made on a case-by-case basis.

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where those elements of the Trident warheads that are purchased from the United States will be serviced and maintained.


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Mr. Sainsbury : Servicing and maintenance of the British warhead for Trident will be undertaken in this country, regardless of the source of any particular elements.

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the proportion of non-fissile elements in the Trident warhead that will be produced in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sainsbury : It has been the policy of successive Governments not to reveal detailed information of this nature, for security reasons. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to the broad indications given in the recent report of the Defence Committee (third report, Session 1987-88, page 22, Q26).

Non-nuclear Defence Research Establishments

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to finish his considerations of the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the defence research study team into the feasibility of establishing the non-nuclear defence research establishments as an executive agency.

Mr. Sainsbury : Shortly.

Defence Statistics Organisation

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends to order a feasibility study into the potential for using the private sector in the work of the Defence Statistics Organisation.

Mr. Sainsbury : I am still considering what action should be taken on the report on the potential for using the private sector in the Defence Statistics Organisation.

Contractors

Mr. Menzies-Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contractual arrangements his Department makes when placing orders with defence contractors to ensure that deliveries are made on time and up to specification.

Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 6 December 1988] : The Ministry's policy is to negotiate taut contract terms and conditions which define the requirements in terms of specification and delivery and which enable redress to be sought where appropriate.

TRANSPORT

Lorries

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce regulations to control the shedding of stones and gravel from lorries ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Effective legislation for enforcement already exists in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, as supplemented by the Department's code of practice on the safety of loads on vehicles.


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Road Accident Statistics

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children under the age of five years have been killed in traffic accidents in which the vehicle driver was found to be intoxicated with alcohol.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : In 1986, two children under the age of five years were killed in accidents where at least one of the drivers involved had a blood or breath alcohol content above the legal limit. In 1987, three children under five years were killed in accidents where a driver involved failed a roadside breath test. The accidents where a driver was killed and found to have a high blood alcohol content have not yet been completely indentified for 1987.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fatalities and serious injuries concerning children under five years travelling in vehicles involved in traffic accidents took place in the years 1980 to 1988 ; and how many of these children were travelling in car safety seats.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The table shows the numbers of children under five years who suffered fatal or serious injuries in road accidents while they were travelling in cars or other motor vehicles. It also shows the percentage of these child casualties who were recorded as using a child restraint or seat belt.


Casualties (fatal    

and serious) among   

children aged 0-4    

travelling in        

motor vehicles:      

Great Britain:       

1980-1987            

Year  Vehicle Percent

          restrained 

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

1980 |329|39 |6      

1981 |306|48 |9      

1982 |330|36 |11     

1983 |310|34 |15     

1984 |381|33 |19     

1985 |357|33 |15     

1986 |390|30 |19     

1987 |403|28 |20     

It is obvious that the numbers are influenced by the spreading family use of cars and the percentage by the growing installation and use of restraints by child passengers.

Motor Cycles

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many motor cycle accidents there have been in each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Too many. The trend is downwards. The table attached shows the number of motor cycles involved in accidents in Great Britain between 1977 and 1987. The total number of motor cycle accidents is lower, since some accidents involve more than one motor cycle.


Motor cycle involved in accidents: Great     

Britain: 1977-1987                           

Year           |All Severities               

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

1977           |73,676                       

1978           |71,382                       

1979           |69,173                       

1980           |73,054                       

1981           |70,949                       

1982           |73,033                       

1983           |65,962                       

1984           |65,340                       

1985           |57,822                       

1986           |53,562                       

1987           |47,024                       

Motor cycles include all two-wheeled motor   

vehicles.                                    

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he is considering restricting the power of motor cycles bought for road use in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : There are existing and proposed limitations on the size of motor cycles that some riders may use. Motor cycle importers follow a voluntary maximum limit of 125 bhp for motor cycles brought into this country for use on the road.

The 1981 Transport Act restricted learner riders to machines of 125cc. Research indicates that this has reduced learner rider casualties by one quarter. The move up from a 125cc motor cycle to a large high performance machine can be too big a step for newly qualified riders. I therefore announced in February that we propose to introduce a new licence category for motor cycles in excess of 400cc. Progress to these larger machines will be linked to two years riding experience on a full licence. This will bring us into line with the relevant European proposals for harmonisation of driving licences. We have no plans to restrict the power of motor cycles sold in this country.

Road Signs

Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list in the Official Report the locations on motorways and trunk roads of variable message signs, the number of signs currently in use on each road, the costs involved in installing them and details of their running costs ; and if he will make a statement about his future intentions to extend the use of this type of sign and give details of the roads on which they will be installed.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The detailed information requested is not readily available. I shall write to my hon. Friend.

Roads and Pavements (Reinstatement)

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure the reinstatement of roads and pavements to their original standard by the utilities following work undertaken by them.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The breaking open and reinstatement of streets by public utilities is regulated by a general code in the Public Utilities Street Works Act 1950. Reinstatement is either carried out entirely by the utility, or the highway authority may elect to do all or certain portions of it themselves. In cases where the highway authority does not elect to reinstate a street, the utility is under an obligation to carry out the reinstatement in accordance with any reasonable requirements of the highway authority and to reinstate openings up to the original surface level. We accepted in our response to the Horne report on the review of the Public Utilities Street Works Act 1950 that new primary legislation is required. It is proposed that


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utilities should be made entirely responsible for reinstating the highway following their excavation work. They would have to comply with new national specifications for reinstatement and meet objective standards of performance for the repaired road surface. Work to prepare these specifications and standards is well advanced. Utilities would be required to make good, at their expense, any reinstatements which fell outside these standards during a warranty period.

Legislation will be introduced as soon as a suitable opportunity can be found.

Manchester Airport

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the talks, involving representatives of his Department and of the United States Government, on the licence applications for Manchester routes by three United States airlines ; and if there is any further action he will be taking.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The two sides explored a number of new ideas from which an appropriate basis for agreement may be found. A further round of negotiations will be held this month or early in January. Precise dates are currently being considered.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Patrick Ryan

Mr. Gow : To ask the Attorney-General whether he is satisfied that the request for extradition of Mr. Patrick Ryan from Belgium was accompanied by the appropriate legal documents prepared properly in accordance with Belgium law ; what information he has as to the grounds on which that request was refused ; and what steps he is taking to secure the extradition of Mr. Ryan from the Irish Republic.

The Attorney-General : I am satisfied that the documents were prepared properly to meet the requirements of Belgian law. The advice of the Belgian prosecuting authorities themselves was sought, given and followed in the preparation of the extradition request. The request was refused by the Belgium Government on the grounds that :

"it would appear from examination of the case that the imprecise charges contained in arrest warrants delivered by the British legal authorities and retained by executing order of the chamber of indictments and investigation of the Appeal Court do not constitute the necessary elements for the offence of conspiracy in Belgian law, the only grounds on which, according to the executing order, extradition to the United Kingdom could have been agreed by Belgium".

The court of first instance and the Court of Appeal of Brussels had both upheld the extradition request in relation to the conspiracy charges.

As regards the steps taken to secure Ryan's extradition from the Republic of Ireland, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the private notice question tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) on 1 December. The Irish Attorney-General's Office sent to my Office in the late afternoon of 1 December a letter requesting clarification and further information on certain matters set out in the statements of facts and law sent to him on 25 November. A full response


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answering all the questions was transmitted to the Irish Attorney-General's Office during the afternoon of 2 December.

PRIME MINISTER

Ministers (Public Statements)

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop : To ask the Prime Minister whether she will take action to discourage Ministers from making public statements outside the remit of their own Department.

The Prime Minister : Ministers will continue to speak on Government policy as appropriate.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop : To ask the Prime Minister whether the duty of making public statements concerning the safety of agricultural produce for human consumption reposes in Ministers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, or in the Department of Health.

The Prime Minister : The safety of foodstuffs consumed in this country is a matter for Health and Agriculture Ministers acting jointly. By arrangement, the Department of Health leads on matters concerning food hygiene and microbiological contamination of food which are likely to pose public health risks whereas Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food leads on all other food issues and associated health risks. In either case there is close liaison between Health and Agriculture Departments and consultation with relevant outside interests.

WALES

Welsh Development Agency

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to alter the operation of the Welsh Development Agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) on 26 October 1988, at column 224.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what progress he is making in reducing hospital waiting lists in Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Grist : Responsibility for the management of waiting lists in Wales rests with district health authorities within their allocated financial resources which (in terms of recurrent revenue provision and after taking account of inflation) have risen by 34 per cent. in the period 1978-79 to 1988-89. As part of the Department's efforts to reduce waiting times, £1 million of additional moneys have been made available to health authorities in each financial year from 1986-87 to 1988-89 to tackle specific problem lists. In 1988-89 this extra help should generate an estimated additional throughput of 10,300 new out-patients and 1,400 in- patients.

The Welsh Office is keeping the activities of DHAs under close scrutiny. In addition to the annual reviews of health authorities' performance, which include their efforts to tackle waiting lists, officials have recently completed a round of meetings with all authorities to discuss their plans for reducing waiting times.


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At March 1988 72 per cent. of urgent in- patient waiting lists 61 per cent. of non-urgent in-patient waiting lists and 46 per cent. of out-patient waiting lists were within the waiting times targets. I am none the less concerned that many patients have to wait over- long for treatment, and the drive to reduce waiting times will continue.

Health Service (Grading)

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will indicate the date on which he first received grading projections from each health authority on the new clinical structure for nurses, midwives and health visitors.

Mr. Grist : Provisional returns for Welsh district health authorities were received by the Department during the first two weeks of September 1988.

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish a breakdown of the new grading structure for nurses, midwives and health visitors broken down by grade, type of hospital including psychiatric, geriatric and acute, by district and region.

Mr. Grist : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the replies I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Sir R. Gower) on 30 November, at columns 244-46, and 1 December at columns 349-50. Information by area of work is not available centrally.

Cervical Smear Tests

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the average time taken by each Welsh health authority to process cervical smear tests and provide the results for the patient and her general practitioner ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Grist : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 14 June 1988, at column 85, which contains the latest comprehensive information available centrally.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Free School Transport

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to review the free transport limits for school pupils ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Butcher : My right hon. Friend has no such plans at present.

Disabled Persons (Staff)

Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of his Department's staff are classed as disabled.

Mrs. Rumbold : 2.5 per cent. of the Department's staff are registered disabled persons.

It is the Department's policy to encourage applications from disabled people. All those who apply with the necessary qualifications, or pass the alternative written test, are invited for an interview.

VAT

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessments he has made as to


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the likely effect on (a) his Department's capital building programme and (b) the rent the Department will pay under occupational leases, of implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on value added tax on non-domestic buildings.

Mrs. Rumbold : Implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on VAT will have no effect on my Department's capital building programme, since compensating adjustments have been made to the relevant expenditure provisions. At this stage, before landlords have decided whether to exercise their option to tax rents, it is not possible to offer meaningful estimates of the effects of the judgment on rental costs.

Teachers

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has as to the salaries of grades of teachers comparable to those in the United Kingdom in each member state of the European Community.

Mrs. Rumbold : Some information on European Community teachers' salaries in 1985 is published in a detailed research report "The Conditions of Service of Teachers in the European Community", published by the European Commission in 1988 (pages 133 to 160). A copy is available in the Library.

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to ensure that the pay of supply teachers takes account of their length of service and experience.

Mrs. Rumbold : The schools teachers' pay and conditions document 1988 already provides for local education authorities when determining the pay of a supply teacher to have regard to any qualifications or experience which they consider to be of value in the performance of his duties.

Science and Engineering Research Council

Mr. Dickens : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received the annual report of the Science and Engineering Research Council for 1987-88 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The annual report of the Science and Engineering Research Council for 1987-88 has been submitted to me under the requirements of the Science and Technology Act 1965, and a copy is being laid before the House today.

I was most interested to study the report on what has obviously been an exciting year for the council in fields ranging from fundamental work in astronomy to areas of great potential for future exploitation. I was particularly encouraged to note :

(i) the increase in the proportion of the council's expenditure applied to grants for core sciences and engineering research in higher education institutions--from 30.9 per cent. in 1986-87 to 33.5 per cent. in the year under review ;

(ii) the development of the interdisciplinary research centre (IRC) concept, with the announcement of the first four centres during the year, at a cost of £25.7 million over six years ;


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(iii) the rapid response of the council and its academic and industrial committees to the fast-moving developments in high temperature superconductivity--including the choice of this subject for the first of the council's IRCs and in addition the allocation of some £700,000 in grant awards, with the later commitment of a further £2 million early in the 1988-89 session ;

(iv) the council's participation, jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in the first collaborative LINK programmes in molecular electronics ; advanced semiconductor devices ; eukaryotic genetic engineering ; and industrial measurements systems--the total SERC contribution to these programmes totalling £14.3 million over five years ; and

(v) the deployment for high quality research by British scientists of sophisticated equipment such as the Liverpool university electron microscope capable of beam control over atomic dimensions ; the high brightness lattice on the synchrotron radiation source at the council's Daresbury laboratory ; transputer equipment at the national and regional centres, jointly funded with the DTI ; and the 4.2 million William Herschel optical telescope on La Palma.

I look forward to seeing what progress has been achieved with these new initiatives and equipment in next year's report.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Inner-city Task Forces

1. Mr. Knowles : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what further progress has been made in the 16 inner-city task forces.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the progress achieved by his Department's inner-city task forces.

Mr. Newton : Since the task forces first began their work in 1986, they have supported over 1,000 projects, committing over £33 million of Government funds to stimulate the regeneration of their areas. At the last count, as I indicated in my answer to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) on 26 October, task forces projects have been approved that are expected to generate or safeguard at least 4,000 jobs, and to facilitate more than 20,000 training places. Over 400 companies have been involved in the task forces' work.

55. Mr. Favell : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the progress of the inner-city task forces in the north-west.

Mr. Forth : The inner-city task forces are central to the Government's action for cities programme. Their objectives are to secure more jobs for local people, to improve their employability, to encourage and facilitate local enterprise and to support environmental and crime prevention initiatives which also contribute to these objectives.

All three inner-city task forces in the north-west have made excellent progress towards achieving these aims. To


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