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Mr. Michael Spicer : Nuclear power makes an invaluable contribution to the secure supplies of electricity which are vital to keep industry running. The costs of nuclear power are already in the price of electricity ; this will not change after privatisation.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what proposals he has for the continuance of research and development in nuclear power following privatisation ; what is to be the future role of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Research and development into nuclear power will continue to be needed by the privatised electricity supply industry. The UKAEA will continue to carry out contract research and development for the privatised esi as well as for its many other customers, as required.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what proposals exist within the Electricity Council for mounting a pre-flotation corporate advertising campaign ; what is its current corporate advertising budget ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the current propects for the Severn barrage scheme in view of latest calculations on generation costs ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The studies on the Severn barrage are nearing completion, and a report is expected in a few months. The report will not include financing and related issues, which will be addressed in the timescale of electricity privatisation. Prospects for a barrage scheme will be a matter for commercial judgment under the terms of the Electricity Bill before the House. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment at this stage.
Mr. Peter Morrison : An Order in Council transferring to the Secretary of State for Defence all property, rights and liabilities relating to the Government oil and pipeline storage system has today been laid before Parliament. The order is due to come into force on 1 April 1989 on which day my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will assume responsibility for the system.
Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the Taper Length river at Mill lane, Ballycarry, county Antrim, became a designated watercourse ; for how long maintenance work thereon has been the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture (drainage division) Northern Ireland ; what maintenance has been carried out during each of the last four years to this watercourse ; if he plans to de-designate this watercourse ; and what further maintenance-remedial work is planned for the Taper Length watercourse.
Mr. Viggers : The Redhall burn and Redhall branch drain (part of which is known historically as the Taper Length) were designated as minor watercourses by the Northern Ireland Drainage Council on 15 April 1969 and from that date the Department of Agriculture was responsible for deciding on the need for maintenance work. No maintenance work has been carried out in the last 4 years. The Drainage Council de-designated the watercourses on 7 November 1988 and from that date maintenance became the responsibility of the riparian landowners. The Department can therefore have no plans for further maintenance.
Mr. Needham : The completion times for dealings vary a great deal depending on the type of dealing, its complexity, the form in which it was submitted and its dependence on other related dealings. Statistics on processing times are not maintained but, on the basis of a random sample of cases, the average times are as follows :
Working days [NL] |Cases not queried ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Dealings of whole |34 |86 Transfers of part |81 |143 Leases |94 |200
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his reply of 11 January, Official Report, columns 697- 98, if he will seek a report from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as to why the lowest tender from a contractor, having been selected by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as one of the 10 contractors suitable to tender for the scheme at Lower crescent, Comber, was not accepted.
Mr. Needham : This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The chief executive has advised me that the lowest tender was not accepted as the tenderer had recently been awarded another Housing Executive contract which, together with the Lower crescent, Comber contract would have exceeded the financial capacity available to the tenderer.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his reply of 24 January, Official Report, columns 489- 90, what was the extent of support given towards the replacement of the two caravans which were burnt at the site at the junction of Middletown/Rookford roads, Armagh.
Mr. McCusker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish details of the youth training programme financial allocations to the education and library boards in Northern Ireland for 1989-90.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish the estimated costs of administration, per dog licensed, of the dog registration scheme currently operating in Northern Ireland.
Single Payments<1> |Number |Value £ --------------------------------------------------- May 1985 to May 1986 |56,500 |6,961,000 May 1986 to May 1987 |58,900 |6,146,000 <1>Estimates based on a 5 per cent. sample.
I regret that corresponding figures are not available for 1987-88.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will describe his Department's principal achievements in respect of race relations and equal opportunity since May 1979. Mrs. Rumbold To enable women to maintain their careers the Department has developed arrangements for part-time working, job sharing, and working from home, and has a well- established scheme for the reinstatement of staff in all grades who resign for domestic or associated health reasons and wish to return to work within five years. The Department monitors the recruitment of ethnic minority staff.
To increase the awareness of staff, a majority of the training courses run by the Department now include sessions on equal opportunities. There are also a number of courses aimed specifically at women, including management training for women.
The Government have pursued a range of measures to improve the response of the education service to ethnic diversity. These include action on initial and in-service training to prepare teachers for teaching in a multi-ethnic society ; measures to increase the supply of ethnic minority teachers ; an Education support grant activity which has supported some 120 projects, many designed specifically to promote good race relations ; measures to promote good practice in teaching English to pupils for whom it is not the mother tongue ; GCSE criteria which require that syllabuses should be free of bias and should take account of ethnic and cultural diversity ; and remits to the National Curriculum Council and the Schools Examination and Assessment Council which require them to take account of the ethnic and cultural diversity of British society and of the importance of promoting equal opportunities for all pupils regardless of ethnic origin and gender.
The Department is committed to equal opportunities for boys and girls in education and its policies for education are designed to reinforce them. Our White Paper "Better Schools" issued in 1985 made it clear that there is no place for discrimination in the curriculum on
Column 205the ground of sex. Our policy statement "Science 5-16," also issued in 1985, emphasised that career opportunities should be kept open for both boys and girls. The national curriculum will ensure that all pupils experience a coherent education, and prevent premature specialisation by either girls or boys.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he proposes to take as a result of resolution A2 on the adverse environmental impacts on astronomy passed at the XXth general assembly of the International Astronomical Union.
Mr. Jackson : Resolution A2 was sponsored by the Commission on the Protection of Observatories, of which the United Kingdom is a member. Britain has extensive experience of taking special measures to protect radio telescopes from harmful interference, under the oversight of a committee including representatives of the radioastronomy community. All the major British optical and infra-red telescopes are located abroad and special measures have been taken by the host states to minimise the level of background illumination. The United Kingdom, with its partners in the European Space Agency, is currently considering a report of a working group set up to consider the problems resulting from debris in space.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research his Department is sponsoring on the potential of crops to replace the use of wood or fossil fuels in producing materials such as paint, plastics and paper ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jackson : Over recent years the Department has provided funds to the Agricultural and Food Research Council, through the science budget, to carry out research in molecular biology. This has led to the development of genetic engineering techniques for plants, and, in particular, gene insertion. This biotechnology can now be used to develop crops for specific industrial uses. My right hon. Friend's recent allocation of increased science budget funds to the AFRC will further support the research base in genetic engineering for such purposes. Some of this funding will be used to establish a Government-funded LINK programme of co-ordinated research on crops for industrial use involving AFRC, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Science and Engineering Research Council and several universities and industrial companies. Depending on the companies involved, the programme will be concerned with fibre production for paper pulp and construction materials, oil production for paints, plastics and lubricants and with the production of high value pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many responses he has now received to the "Top-up Loans for Students" White Paper ; how many of these were supportive and how many opposed ; and if he will place the responses in the Library.
Mr. Jackson : My right hon. Friend has received some 140 formal responses to the White Paper, expressing a variety of views. It is for the persons and bodies who have responded to decide whether they wish to make their views available to the House. The responses have given us no reason to believe that our plans are not well-judged. We have had helpful views and suggestions on matters on which we particularly sought comment. We shall take these into account as we proceed in our discussions with financial institutions and other bodies to develop a top-up loans scheme for introduction in the autumn of 1990.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has had from Manchester Education Committee in regard to his White Paper "Top-up Loans for Students" ; what reply he is sending ; if there is any action he will be taking ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what direct funding has been made for provision of the Olympus satellite education channel to institutions and other bodies in this country ; how much indirect funding has been made through such sources as training boards ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Butcher : The Department provides no direct funding for the Olympus satellite educational channel. The determination of any indirect funding would involve disproportionate cost. The satellite is due to be launched next summer. Free transmission time is being made available for nine hours per day to educational and training bodies for a period of two years.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the extra money allocated over the next three years to research councils to fund individual projects is designed to increase the proportion of high quality alpha projects which may be funded ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jackson : The extra money allocated by my right hon. Friend is intended to increase the number and value of high quality alpha projects funded by the research councils. Whether it will increase the proportion of alpha-rated projects which can be funded will depend on the total number of applications graded alpha and research council decisions concerning the sums to be allocated to research grants.
Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action the Government propose to take in the light of the European Council's decision by majority vote to adopt a second phase of the COMETT program on the basis of article 128 of the European Community Treaty alone.
Column 207House on 22 December 1988 at columns 468-79, the second phase of the community action programme in education and training for technology was agreed by a majority vote at the Labour and Social Affairs Council on 16 December 1988, with a budget of £130 million over the five years 1 January 1990 to 31 December 1994.
COMETT is a potentially useful programme, but the Government consider that the legal base on which the second phase was adopted to be inadequate. The original COMETT programme was adopted on the basis of article 128 and article 235 of the Treaty of Rome. Article 235 requires unanimity for the adoption of a decision while article 128 requires a simple majority only. COMETT II was brought forward for decision on the basis of article 128 alone. In the Government's view, and that of a number of other member states, article 128 alone cannot properly be used as a basis for a decision including detailed implementing measures for spending programmes over several years. The United Kingdom was unable to secure a more appropriate legal base and therefore had to vote against the proposal. It is now preparing to institute formal proceedings against the Council in the European Court of Justice to have the decision annulled. The United Kingdom will, however, stand ready to discuss the adoption of a second phase of the COMETT programme on an appropriate legal base.
Preparation for the implementation of the decision will continue while the case is before the court. Pending the decision of the court, the United Kingdom will co-operate fully with the Commission in the implementation of the programme.
Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will make vehicle licensing bureau records available to the Salvation Army free of charge for the forwarding of communications of missing persons on behalf of their families.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Information about keepers of vehicles is released free only to the police, local authorities investigating offences and the keepers themselves. Other enquirers must be law show reasonable cause for their inquiry and pay a £3.50 fee. Data protection principles require all inquiries to be treated on their individual merits.
I am writing to the hon. and learned Gentleman.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Wansdyke of 2 February, Official Report, columns 367-68, whether his projection of the extinguishment of all debt on the Severn bridge by the year 2006 takes account of the diversion of a proportion of traffic from the existing Severn bridge to the new planed Severn bridge.
Column 208current expenditure on technical and supervisory services was combined with the budget for roads in table 8.1 of the public expenditure White Paper.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The separate subhead for professional and technical services has been abolished and the expenditure charged out to roads and public transport expenditure to bring its treatment into line with that on local transport capital expenditure and with most other services. The change was agreed with the local authority associations.
Mr. Alexander : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the reasons for the underspend on local authority capital expenditure on roads and parking for 1987-88 being revised from £145 million to £65 million in chart 8.23 of the public expenditure White Paper in 1988.
In its evidence to the Transport Select Committee the Department (footnote to table 3, page 14 of the Committee's report, HC 442) drew attention to the uncertainty attached to these estimates. The revised figure shown in chart 8.23 of Cm. 621 is based on spending returns for the four quarters of 1987-8.
The consolidated outturn figures for 1987-88 are not expected before mid- 1989. They will be published in next year's public expenditure White Paper.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We plan to spend more than £220 million on a large programme of major trunk road improvements in Kent, some of which will help improve access to the tunnel. These schemes, some of which were brought forward for the tunnel, include major improvements to the M20, the main route between London and the tunnel. In addition, based on current estimates, we expect to pay Kent county council approximately £38 million in the form of transport supplementary grant towards Channel tunnel -related schemes in its programme.
The impact of the Channel tunnel is one of many factors taken into account in the design of motorway and trunk road schemes.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There is no standard definition of heavy goods vehicle for administrative purposes in the 12 EEC countries. Each country has its own definition, mostly based on gross vehicle weight--for example, 2.8 tonnes in West Germany, 3.0 tonnes in France and 3.5 tonnes in the United Kingdom. For driver licensing purposes, most countries require a special licence only for
Column 209vehicles in excess of 7.5 tonnes gvw. The only statistical definition is that all goods vehicles over 6 tonnes gvw must be heavy goods vehicles. Again most countries adopt the same limit, which they use for administrative purposes.
OECD has proposed a standard definition in the road safety area that uses the 3.5 tonnes limit which is used in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make a statement following the public inquiry into improvements to the A1 between Wetherby and Dishforth in North Yorkshire.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has as to which member states of the European Economic Community provide free transport for (a) pensioners, (b) disabled people and (c) unemployed people on (i) buses and (ii) trains.
Mr. Portillo : The authorities of member states of the European Community run a variety of concessionary travel schemes for pensioners and the disabled. I do not, however, have up-to-date detailed information on these schemes or on whether there are any schemes for the unemployed. There are also some commercially operated schemes. These include a scheme for reduced fares for the elderly operated by 18 European railways including British Rail which is open to the elderly of all the countries concerned.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Lane rental contracts for major maintenance schemes on trunk roads, including motorways, are estimated to have saved about 2,000 days of lane closures worth about £35 million in reduced delay costs to road users.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why two lanes of the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway were closed to vehicular traffic on 20 January in the vicinity of junction 2.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, due to the large volume of traffic attempting to leave London and travel north on Fridays, he will consider restricting maintenance work on the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway to emergency workings only on such days.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Wherever possible to already avoid peak period working. It is not practical to remove traffic management controls, such as contraflows, on Fridays when major maintenance works are in progress.
Further major maintenance work on the M1 is planned later this year in Bedfordshire.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has on the level of state assistance per head of population in pound sterling for each of the European Economic Community countries towards the publicly owned railway system in each country.
Mr. Portillo : The most recent information available to my Department on the public subsidy levels of European Community railway systems is contained in the ninth Commission report on the transposed annual accounts of railway undertakings for 1985, [COM (88)739 final], a copy of which is in the Library of the House. There are substantial variations between countries in accounting systems including the writing off of debt and in the arrangements for financial support, and the figures contained in the report provide only a broad comparison. Other things being equal, the railway which is the most efficient will need the least grant.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will outline the reasons for discontinuance of use of the London area model at the Transport and Road Research Laboratory ; what are his responses to the report on sensitivity tests on the model ; and if he will make a statement.
These identified deficiencies with the London area model (LAM) including its representation of road and rail capacity levels, inadequate representation of peak demands, and an inability to reproduce travel patterns experienced in recent years--particularly the growth in travel demand which has taken place since travelcards were introduced.
It was decided to withdraw the model from further use. I will be placing a copy of the consultant's audit report in the Library. The transport and road research laboratory's experimental London area model (LAM) was designed to assist in the analysis of strategic policy options. The London Planning Advisory Committee (LPAC) commissioned consultants to test four transport options using the model.
The base scenario portrayed in the report by LPAC's consultants did not represent current Government policies. The conclusions drawn were not a realistic assessment of the likely outcome. The base against which other policies are compared is ill-founded. The options described in the LPAC scenarios have included the impact of selective road improvements, stricter parking controls, selective radial rail improvements and new RER style railways. None was suitable for testing using LAM.
The sensitivity testing work was commissioned by LPAC. The Department received a copy of the report in late January. It is for LPAC to publish the results if they so wish.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action is being taken to increase the effectiveness of the British Transport police and staff of London Underground Limited in preventing crime on London Underground.
Mr. Portillo : New area police stations will be opened at Finsbury Park, Wembley Park and Hammersmith by April. The increasing practice of allocating officers to area police stations allows much quicker response times. The complement of the Underground division of the British Transport Police in 1985 was 280. This was increased to 350 following the publication of my Department's report on crime on the Underground and I announced a further increase in December to 400. About 80 officers of the Metropolitan and City police forces are carrying out duties on the Underground while the division is being brought up to strength.
Under the "customer care initiative", staff of London Underground Limited are being trained to become more aware of customers needs and more available to the public. Courses for new recruits and refresher courses will now include specific training in passenger security. London Underground Limited has also recruited 28 additional staff to help carry out anti-crime measures being tested at 13 Underground stations. These schemes are examples of the measures being taken by London Underground to combat crime.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : It remains my right hon. Friend's intention to build the link road on the line authorised as a trunk road by the relevant orders. This will take the road north of Naseby. We are pressing on with the remaining statutory procedures for this section of the road. We expect to start site works in the spring for the section of road from east of Kettering to Thrapston.
Recent press reports stem from a judgement by the Court of Appeal which confirmed the validity of the decision by my right hon. Friend the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Transport to adopt the published route. They took this decision after considering all the evidence including the report of the inspector who conducted a long and searching public inquiry into the matter in 1984-85. Alternative routings at Naseby, and the importance of the battlefield, were discussed at length. The hard choice was between preserving the whole battlefield area and protecting the environment elsewhere.
My right hon. Friends were satisfied that even the effects on the battlefield and its historic claims did not outweigh environmental and other arguments.
The roads will cross the southern edge of the battlefield at low level in a natural valley. We do not propose to reopen the debate now.
We intend to complete construction of the whole link road as soon as possible.