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Mr. Trippier : Most elderly people wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and grants are available for improvements and adaptations. Local authorities must assess need in their areas and secure provision, with the private sector and other agencies, especially housing associations. The extra resources planned for housing in the PES period include an 80 per cent. increase in the Housing Corporation programme.
|Arrests ------------------------ 1986-87 |5,531 1987-88 |6,147
The Association of Chief Police Officers does not hold information on the number of arrests for football-related incidents away from the grounds.
Mr. Ridley : About 56 per cent. of the Property Services Agency's non-industrial staff are already located outside the agency's London and south-east regions. The PSA is to be reorganised into three separate businesses between now and April 1990. I shall be considering relocation in the context of the future shape of the agency.
For the Department of the Environment, over one fifth of the staff are already outside London and the south-east. My aim is to relocate as many more of these as makes financial and operational sense. To that end, all areas of the Department's work were considered in the summer and some prima facie candidates for relocation identified. Detailed studies of costs and benefits are needed before firm decisions can be taken. These are in progress.
52. Mr. Favell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the average total of land transferred from farmland to urban uses each decade since 1958 ; what steps he proposes to take to increase the availability of land for building ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's records show that in the periods 1958-68, 1968-78 and 1978-85 the average estimated net area of farmland transferred to urban and industrial development (including mineral workings) each year in England was 14,000, 13,400 and 5,100 hectares respectively. More recent data in this series are not yet available. The planning policy guidance note "Local Plans" (PPG12) issued on 30 November emphasises that it is the responsibility of local planning authorities to make realistic provision for the foreseeable development needs of their area, in general conformity with the structure plan. In the last two years about 46 per cent. of new housing in England has been on derelict or vacant land in urban areas ; the Government are committed to policies of restraint in green belts and other environmentally important areas.
Mr. Moynihan : The monitoring of drinking water quality will continue to be carried out by local authorities. However my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will also appoint technical assessors to ensure that water undertakers comply with the standards.
Mr. Moynihan : The Department is discussing with representatives of the water authorities what new valuation work should be undertaken in connection with the preparation of prospectuses. No decision has yet been taken.
57. Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the operation of the leasehold system in the north-west of England ; and if he will make a statement.
I deplore the activities of landlords and their agents who seek to exploit their tenants. Leaseholders who receive unexpected demands should check the terms of their leases and seek advice if necessary. Under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 most long leaseholders of houses can insist on buying their freehold if they want to, but they should not feel obliged to buy simply because the landlord offers to sell.
58. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals his Department has for changing planning regulations for building homes close to unstable cliff faces on the sea shore.
Mr. Chope : Existing planning regulations are adequate to deal with development close to unstable cliff faces but advice on how to apply those regulations is needed by planning authorities and developers. My Department has recently carried out a public consultation on draft advice on development on unstable land. The responses are now being considered and the advice will be issued in 1989.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : In the light of the advice of the United Kingdom stratospheric ozone review group in their second report published in October 1988 about depletion of the ozone layer and the role of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) we are calling for worldwide emissions of CFCs to be reduced by at least 85 per cent. by the turn of the century and for the Montreal protocol to be strengthened accordingly.
At the Environment Council on 24 November most member states supported the United Kingdom's proposal that the Community should adopt this position in the review of the protocol. In order to underline the worldwide commitment needed to reduce CFC emissions and to demonstrate how these can be achieved my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State are calling a major international conference next March to which Ministers and world industry are being invited. We have also offered to host the second meeting of the parties to the protocol in April 1990, at which we hope that the further cuts we are demanding will be agreed.
Mr. Chope : We issued a consultation paper, including a draft of the proposed order, in February this year. There were 290 original consultees, and a further 156 copies of the paper were sent to those who requested them. A list of those consultees who responded to the paper will shortly be placed in the House of Commons Library.
62. Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to introduce exhaust emission standards for British vehicles similar to those applying in the United States of America.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Yes. The exhaust emission standards for large cars, which the United Kingdom Government will be implementing as part of the Luxembourg agreement, will be equivalent to United States standards. For medium and small cars the recently agreed completion of the Luxembourg agreement will also lead to major reductions in emissions for these vehicles.
The land registers highlight unused and underused land owned by public bodies, and 13,000 acres of such land in inner cities have been removed from the registers since 1984 because it has been sold or brought into use by the owners. We are consulting public bodies about a new code of practice on the publication of information by those bodies themselves about unused and underused land they own. My right hon. Friend is also using his power to direct the disposal of inner city sites owned by public bodies. He is prepared to consider using these powers more widely when asked to do so in respect of specific sites.
Additionally, nine urban development corporations have been set up in England to stimulate the development of vacant and derelict land in their areas. The urban programme supports projects for improving land and buildings in inner cities so that they can be brought back into economic use. Payments from the derelict land grant programme meet the cost of reclaiming damaged land for development, and there has been a steady annual increase since 1984 in the amount paid to inner city local authorities.
65. Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has of the proportion of the population in the south-east region with incomes insufficient to become home owners.
Mr. Trippier : Over 72 per cent. of households in the south-east (excluding London) already own their own homes. We believe that this proportion could increase even further not least through the continuation of the successful right-to-buy programmes.
Column 624Government believe that the new Housing Act will greatly increase scope for the private sector, supported by local authorities to meet the needs of the housing market and increase the supply of low cost housing.
68. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to reduce the rented office space in central London which has been pre-let for the Government by the Property Services Agency.
Mr. Chope : The Property Services Agency negotiates pre-let agreements where there is a firm forward requirement for Government use. It is for Departments to determine and justify their accommodation needs and its chosen location, having regard to operational and financial considerations and taking account of the Government's relocation policy. There is expected to be a net reduction of 120,000 sq ft in the overall size of the Government's London estate in the current financial year.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : "The Green Gauntlet" is a welcome contribution to the continuing debate on environmental matters. We shall consider it, alongside the views of other interests, as we take forward our policies for safeguarding the environment.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We estimate that if all authorities in England spend in line with the proposed 1989-90 rate support grant settlement, the average rate increase for next year will be substantially less than inflation.
Mr. Trippier : The Building Research Establishment has published technical advice on the structural condition of Denis-Wild houses, and on their inspection and assessment. My Department liaises regularly with the Building Societies Association on the dissemination of such information, and will bring to its attention any particular problems concerning mortgageability.
The consent procedure will be used so as to ensure that discharges which at present have deemed consents will be determined positively. These consents, together with consents for new discharges, will be set so as to respect the EC bathing water directive, where it applies, and generally to reduce pollution by sewage.
Mr. Trippier : The provision for additional allocations under the estate action programme in 1988-89 is £140 million. We expect that local authorities will make full use of these resources in expenditure in the current year.
For 1989-90 the estate action budget has been increased by 36 per cent. to £190 million. The initial distribution between the regions will be as follows :
|Total |£ million --------------------------------------------- London |33.643 North West |51.606 Merseyside |18.423 Yorkshire and Humberside |22.175 Northern |13.545 East Midlands |10.719 West Midlands |25.736 South East |1.040 Eastern |1.115 South West |2.025 |------- |180.027
A total of £10 million will be held as a central reserve to provide flexibility in managing the programme and to support good new schemes which might come forward later in the year.
The distribution of resources between the regions is based upon the volume and quality of bids received from local authorities for individual schemes.
Column 626I am delighted that the Government's desire to improve living conditions on neglected and run-down council housing estates will receive this very considerable boost.
78. Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy for containing the emission of chlorofluorocarbons arising from dry cleaning establishments ; what consultation has taken place with the dry cleaning business on this matter ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Officials of the Department of the Environment and of the Department of Trade and Industry hold regular meetings with representatives of the users of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), including the dry-cleaning sector, on the steps that they are taking to reduce use of CFCs to the maximum possible extent. The major dry cleaning solvent used in the United Kingdom is perchlorethylene rather than CFC113.
I am advised that all dry cleaning machines are sealed to be gas-tight, that solvent purification takes place within machines and that they are fitted with refrigeration units to condense solvent vapours and minimise potential emissions. Any solvent remaining in residues is recovered before exposure to the atmosphere. The industry is nevertheless looking at ways of developing even greater economy of use and has produced guidelines on machine operation, which includes proper use of solvents.
79. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is contemplating new guidelines and instructions for inspectors hearing appeals against the refusal of planning permission in the future.
Mr. Chope : A new planning policy guidance note on local plans was published on 30 November. The note stresses the importance of formally adopted and up-to-date local plans which are consistent with national and regional policies and with the relevant provisions of the structure plan. The note indicates that where there is such a plan, together with properly substantiated reasons for the local authority's decisions, my right hon. Friend and his inspectors will be guided by it in dealing with planning appeals.
Inspectors will take this new advice into account, along with other material considerations, in hearing appeals.
Mr. Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to use the powers granted to him in the Housing and Planning Act 1986 to enable appellants who prosecute planning appeals by means of written representations or local hearings to be awarded costs against an unreasonable local authority.
81. Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest figures for mortgage repossessions (a) for owner -occupiers as a whole and (b) for former council tenants who have exercised the right to buy.
Mr. Trippier : Building societies took 9,770 properties into possession in the first six months of 1988, a fall of 13 per cent. compared with the previous six-month period. Statistics available do not distinguish between houses bought under the right to buy and others.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend and his planning inspectors are subject to the requirement in section 29 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 that those who decide planning applications must have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as is material to the application, and to any other material
considerations. Accordingly, inspectors give weight to local opinion in so far as it relates to material land-use planning considerations.
83. Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to the price/incomes ratio for first -time buyers in (a) London and (b) other regions of England and Wales.
Mr. Moynihan : The Water Bill will provide a new and strengthened legal basis for drinking water quality standards. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to enforce compliance with the EC standards and will also introduce a new provision making it an offence for a water undertaker to supply water unfit for human consumption.
Mr. Chope : We have received several representations from hon. Members, councillors, and members of the public about pressures for intensive redevelopment of sites in established residential areas. Advice on the inclusion in local plans of policies on residential densities was included in planning policy guidance note No. 12, published on 30 November.
94. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the results of any consultants' work commissioned by him into the extent and value of water authority land and buildings.
Mr. Moynihan : No decision has yet been taken on the commissioning of new work on valuation of water authority land. Relevant information on the land of the successor companies will be contained in the companies' prospectuses.
Mr. Trippier : My Department keeps under review the evidence about the effect that house prices have on migration between regions. But I do not consider that house prices are the main influence on the number of job vacancies in the south-east as a whole.