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Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how the appointed teller described in his Department's consultation paper "Tenants' Choice : Consultation and Voting" will be able to communicate in the manner described with a seaman on active service overseas serving on Her Majesty's submarines for extended periods in times of international tension ;
(2) whether a service man or service woman on active service overseas who does not respond to the tellers' inquiries as described in "Tenants' Choice : Consultation and Voting", will have his or her home transferred to another landlord.
Mr. Trippier : The numbers of service personnel affected by tenants' choice will be small. Any who are, including submariners, will be enabled by regulations to cast an advance vote at any point in the 13-week consultation period if they expect to be absent during the vote itself. In addition, the independent teller will be able to contact virtually all service personnel overseas through the British Forces Post Office. Where the tenancy concerned is a joint one, a vote may be cast on behalf of all the joint tenants, including any service personnel on overseas duty. Tenants eligible to vote who did not do so would become tenants of the applicant if a tenants' choice transfer went ahead.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what detailed advice he has given as to recommended procedures for balloting tenants to determine whether tenants wish to remain local authority tenants as provided under the Housing Act 1988.
Mr. Trippier : A consultation paper "Tenants' Choice--Consultation and Voting" was issued to interested parties on 8 December 1988 ; copies were placed in the Library. Secondary legislation is being prepared to give effect to this and other provisions of part IV of the Housing Act 1988.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library information showing the form of questions put, to date, by local authorities to tenants, in ballots to determine whether tenants wish to remain local authority tenants.
Column 180Mr. Trippier ; Copies of ballot forms from the three authorities which have so far applied for consent to the sale of their housing stocks have been placed in the Library.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I am advised by the Meteorological Office that the current mild winter in the United Kingdom is a result of unusually persistent south-westerly winds. There is no evidence that this pattern heralds a lasting climate change.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice is being given to district councils about the best time to canvass for the information necessary for the community charge registers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : Charging authorities have been advised that we propose to bring the regulations which will place a duty on individuals to provide information to registration officers into effect on 22 May, following the distribution by the Government of a public information leaflet.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish his best estimates of the costs of administration, per community charge account, of the community charge in England.
Mr. Ridley : Price Waterhouse estimated that the annual cost of collecting the community charge would be between £374 million and £430 million, an average of £9.40 to £10.70 per account. This is in line with the current unit cost of collecting rates.
Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the average domestic rate for each district in Cambridgeshire for each year from 1983-84 to 1988-89 ; and what the community charge would have been for each year if the system had been in place.
The actual average domestic rate bill and poundage in each year is shown for each district together with the illustrative full community charge, where available.
|c|Average domestic rate poundages and illustrative community charges in Cambridgeshire|c| |1983-84|1984-85|1985-86|1986-87|1987-88|1988-89 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cambridge Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |307 |345 |357 |481 |513 |552 Domestic Rate(p) |124.5 |139.5 |144.5 |194.0 |206.0 |221.0 Community Charge(£) |n/a |95 |110 |154 |190 |213 East Cambridgeshire Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |205 |233 |244 |333 |357 |378 Domestic Rate(p) |119.8 |134.9 |140.7 |190.1 |201.1 |211.0 Community Charge(£) |n/a |84 |104 |150 |182 |196 Fenland Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |195 |220 |231 |312 |334 |356 Domestic Rate(p) |124.8 |139.3 |145.3 |194.4 |206.5 |218.7 Community Charge(£) |n/a |90 |110 |158 |185 |208 Huntingdonshire Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |246 |276 |288 |382 |406 |429 Domestic Rate(p) |126.0 |140.3 |145.8 |192.6 |202.9 |213.5 Community Charge(£) |n/a |96 |117 |157 |181 |203 Peterborough Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |254 |282 |295 |384 |408 |435 Domestic Rate(p) |139.5 |154.5 |161.5 |209.5 |221.5 |234.5 Community Charge(£) |n/a |125 |141 |182 |214 |231 South Cambridgeshire Average Domestic Rate Bill(£) |308 |351 |364 |493 |526 |554 Domestic Rate(p) |121.4 |137.6 |142.0 |191.2 |201.4 |211.6 Community Charge(£) |n/a |80 |104 |135 |167 |186 n/a-No illustrative community charge figures available.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what areas of the Palace of Westminster remain to be cleaned and repaired ; what is his estimate of the cost of this work ; when he expects the work to be done ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The repair, restoration and cleaning of the stonework of the Palace of Westminster is being carried out in a number of phases. The current phase, covering the Central Lobby tower, is scheduled for completion towards the end of this year.
The only sections of the external elevations then remaining to be tackled will be the Victoria tower and the south elevation, overlooking the Victoria tower gardens. These together will form the next phase of the programme. Work is scheduled to start early in 1990 and will take about two and a half years to complete. The cost is estimated at between £7 million-£8.5 million.
The final stage will be the repair, restoration and cleaning of the stonework in the inner courtyards. A preliminary estimate made last year indicated that the cost would exceed £15 million.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Local authorities, in common with all other consumers, have an important contribution to make in achieving the objective of reducing use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons to the maximum possible extent. We welcome the steps they are already taking. The Department, in conjunction with the Scottish Office, Welsh Office and the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland, will shortly be meeting representatives of the local authority associations to discuss practical ways of reducing CFC and halon use, including dissemination of information and guidance to local authorities.
Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, by year for the last 15 years for which figures are available, the annual number of completions, within Huyton borough council area of (a) private sector houses and flats, (b) council houses and flats and (c) housing association houses and flats.
Mr. Trippier : Housebuilding completions, as reported by Knowsley metropolitan council for 1980 to 1987, appear in table 1 of "Housebuilding in England by local authority areas : 1980 to 1987". For earlier years figures appear in the following issues of "Local Housing Statistics".
Year |Issue number|Table ---------------------------------------------------- 1974 |33 |5 1975 |37 |5 1976 |41 |5 1977 |45 |5 1978 |49 |5 1979 |59 |4(a)
Copies of these publications are available in the Library. Comparable figures for 1973 are not available because of the reorganisation of local government in 1974.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what extra resources have been given to local environmental health officers to ensure that guidance notes and best practice advice are available to owners of water cooling systems.
Mr. Gummer : It is for local authorities to decide what resources to allocate to environmental health officers to enable them to meet the needs of their area. Central Government support local authorities' revenue spending by way of block grant. Entitlement to block grant is calculated on the basis of each authority's assessed expenditure needs, taking into account environmental health duties. The grant is, however, unhypothecated. It is for each authority to determine its expenditure priorities.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning the desirability of establishing a dog registration scheme ; whether he has any plans to introduce legislation to provide for such a scheme on the lines advocated by the RSPCA ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Since 24 May 1988 when the Local Government Act 1988 came into force 110 letters have been received from hon. Members and 130 letters from members of the public, local authorities and animal welfare organisations. The majority of the letters refer to a registration scheme. We have no plans to introduce a registration scheme.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the levels of radiological monitoring and public protection for people living in Ravenglass and along the River Esk in Cumbria.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I am satisfied with the level of radiological monitoring undertaken by the authorising departments and British Nuclear Fuels plc. Data obtained from this monitoring confirms that members of the public living in the Ravenglass/River Esk area are exposed to doses of radiation that are well within internationally recommended limits.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what approach or consultations he has had with the London Docklands development corporation concerning the cost of construction and level of rent of the Winsor housing scheme in the London borough of Newham ; and if he will state his current determination of the level of affordable rent expressed as a range of percentages or a given percentage of mean or average income, or similar computation.
Mr. Trippier : The London Docklands development corporation has recently submitted proposals for the Winsor park housing scheme to the Department. All aspects of these are currently under consideration.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to require the Crown estates Commissioners to pay compensation for (a) the failure to supply water, (b) the provision of water of a harmful quality and (c) failure of water suppliers to respond to queries.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the chairman of the London residuary body about the preservation of a site for a south bank theatre of dance.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many appeals against Durham city council's planning decisions were made to him in each of the last five years ; and what proportion of these were successful in each case.
Mr. Chope : The number of planning appeals made against decisions of the Durham city council since 1 April 1984 (the earliest date for which such information is available) is shown in the table, together with the number of such cases decided and the number and proportion of these for which planning permission was granted.
Year |Appeals received |Appeals decided |Appeals allowed |Per cent. allowed ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1984-85 |11 |8 |0 |- 1985-86 |8 |6 |1 |16.7 1986-87 |16 |11 |6 |54.5 1987-88 |17 |17 |6 |35.3
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the London Docklands development corporation target for new jobs for residents in (a) the urban development area, and (b) the London borough of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Southwark in 1989.
Mr. Trippier : LDDC has set itself the target of bringing unemployment down to a minimum and at a faster rate than London and national trends. These and other employment aims are set out in an LDDC occasional paper, published on 10 February, which has been sent to the hon. Member. LDDC has not set targets for particular areas, but under its memorandum of agreement with the London borough of Newham it will help ensure that 25 per cent. of jobs in the Royal docks area will be taken by Newham residents.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what mechanism has been established to ensure that the memorandum of agreement between the London Docklands development corporation and the London borough of Newham is implemented.
Mr. Trippier : The memorandum represents a commitment by the LDDC and the London borough of Newham to work together to secure the benefits of regeneration for the area. Progress is reviewed by regular meetings at both officer and member level.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of London Docklands development corporation expenditure was spent in 1988 ; and what are the forecasts for future years on (a) community needs of the residential population and (b) transport infrastructure.
Mr. Trippier : Approximately half of LDDC's expenditure in 1988-89 will relate to transport projects. Firm forecasts are not available for future years. All of LDDC's expenditure on regeneration should benefit the local communities, directly or indirectly.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when Thames house, the temporary annexe of Newham community college, will be up and running ; and what is the basis of its capital and revenue funding.
Mr. Trippier : The LDDC expects to complete refurbishment of its former Thames house office by mid-June, but parts will be available for college use before then. Opening dates will be decided by the college.
The corporation is paying the costs of refurbishment, and will licence the building to the London borough of Newham on a peppercorn basis. In addition it will contribute 20 per cent. of revenue costs for five years, up to agreed cash limits. Annual revenue costs are expected to be approximately £1 million.
Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what he estimates to be the non-working dog population, and the number of dogs destroyed as sick or unwanted during the last 10 years for which statistics are available.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Department does not collect this information. I understand that the Pet Food Manufacturers Association estimate the total dog population in the United Kingdom to be 6.8 million. It is not known how many are working dogs, nor how many are destroyed as sick or unwanted.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to how long the Nature Conservancy Council has been negotiating with D. Harvey, of Ninham Farm, Shanklin.
Mr. Moynihan : At the request of the Department, water undertakers are conducting a major survey of their supplies to establish whether standards for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are being exceeded. If they are, remedial programmes will be needed comprising the flushing, relining or replacement of water mains.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I am advised by the Nature Conservancy Council that the average time for negotiating agreements involving payments of under £5,000 per annum is slightly under six months. In cases involving higher payments negotiations can be complex and can take up to two years, or more, to complete. In such cases short term interim agreements can sometimes be agreed.
(2) what research is carried out into the formation of TCDD from less harmful dioxins ;
(3) whether the release of dioxins from hospital incinerators is monitored ;
(4) what was the level of dioxins created by the chemical, plastics and pharmaceutical industries at the most recent date.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Detailed information is not available on the levels of dioxins created by hospital incinerators, the chemical, plastics and pharmaceutical industries, nor by the manufacture and use of pesticides, herbicides and slimicides. The Department of the Environment, in conjunction with the Department of Health, HSE, DTI and MAFF have been working for some time on a statement on the known sources of dioxins, their possible health effects and the expected exposure of the public to them. This statement will be published shortly.
There are 75 different dioxins of which 22 are TCDDs. Only one of these, 2,3,7,8-TCDD is considered particularly harmful. I understand that some research has been done on the formation of TCDDs from the other dioxins. It does not indicate that 2,3,7,8-TCDD is formed preferentially. This topic will be addressed in the report.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : There are no specific legal requirements. Disposal is conducted within the general statutory controls of local authorities under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 over waste handling and disposal methods and standards.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what statistics are available relating to the disposal via the sewage system of sanitary towels and tampons and the persistence of these items in coastal waters and on beaches.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action is being taken to deal with the increasing appearance of pathogens resistant to the natural disinfectant action of sea water.
Mr. Moynihan : I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that the number of pathogens entering the sea, which are resistant to natural disinfectant processes, is increasing. If the hon. Member has any information on the subject she might wish to send it to me. The Department continues to sponsor research to investigate the survival of human pathogens from sewage effluent in sea water.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Discarded plastic at sea is a serious hazard to marine life, affecting seabirds, fish and mammals. The United Kingdom Government are committed to help prevent it. New regulations introduced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
Column 187Transport under the Merchant Shipping Act make it an offence to throw plastic overboard from any ship or boat. These regulations give effect in the United Kingdom to annex V of the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships, 1973 and are being extensively publicised. Litter left on beaches or carried by rivers also contributes to this problem which everyone can help to tackle.
(2) if he will undertake a study on the effects on the environment during the production of paper pulp for use in the manufacture of disposable nappies at all points in the process from tree felling to pulping and bleaching ;
(3) what representations he has received from environmental organisations over the production of dioxins associated with chlorine-bleached paper pulp ; and if he will make a statement ; (4) what information he has on the United States paper industry dioxin strategy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : As far as is known, paper pulp for use in disposable nappies is not manufactured in the United Kingdom, and consequently a study on environmental effects is not called for. Sweden and Canada have taken steps to reduce the use of chlorine in paper manufacture and are encouraging manufacturers to change to a mechanical pulp process which does not involve chlorine bleaching. This is primarily because of concern over the effluents discharged by pulp mills using chlorine bleaching. In the United Kingdom, pulp is manufactured solely by processes which do not involve the use of chlorine bleaching.
I have not received any representations from environmental organisations concerning the formation of dioxins during the chlorine bleaching pulp process.
Copies of the United States paper industry dioxin strategy are available and are being examined for their relevance to United Kingdom circumstances.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The plant at Bonnybridge was closed for commercial reasons in October 1984 before an independent review group, appointed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland reported in February 1985 that there was no substantive evidence of any abnormal environmental effects from the plant. The plant at Pontypool is still in operation and is subject to an appropriate range of environmental controls.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Considerable information on the United States studies on the effects of Agent Orange herbicide has been published in scientific literature which is available to the Department.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether there have been any reports of viruses discovered in rubbish tips associated with soiled disposable nappies handled as normal domestic waste.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We are not aware of any such reports. It would, however, be very difficult to determine whether or not viruses discovered in landfill sites are directly attributable to the presence of disposable nappies.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the closed-circuit television monitoring of sewers ; and if he will estimate the annual cost of drains blocked by disposable nappies.
Mr. Moynihan : The water authorities use mobile closed circuit television equipment extensively and successfully to make detailed surveys of the most critical sections of their sewage systems. It is neither necessary nor practicable to extend its use to monitor all public sewers.
WCs and private drainage systems are not designed to deal with disposable nappies. Maintenance and repair of these systems are the responsibility of the owners and no information is available centrally on which to base an estimate of the annual cost of clearing blockages in them.