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Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Prime Minister if she will take steps to ensure that all those who are invited to join the expert group set up to examine food-related issues have no commercial interests in the food industry.
The Prime Minister : On 14 February at column 180 my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced the setting-up of an expert committee on the microbiological safety of food. The committee's membership and terms of reference and method of working are under consideration and will be announced shortly.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Prime Minister (1) if she will require the expert group, set up to examine food-related issues, to make recommendations on the suitability of cook-chill catering within hospitals ;
(2) if she will take steps to suspend the further introduction of cook- chill catering in hospitals until the expert group, set up to examine food- related issues, have had the opportunity to examine the incidence of listeria in pre-cooked, refrigerated foods.
Column 479Health Service and elsewhere. We remain satisfied that provided these guidelines are followed food produced by this system is safe. The expert committee on microbiological safety of food will, of course, be free to examine any aspect of microbiological food safety.
The Prime Minister : I had a very good discussion of Arab/Israel issues with Professor Arens. We agreed that negotiations should start as soon as possible, but will need careful preparation. We also discussed the position of Jews in the Soviet Union.
Mr. Gregory : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many motor vehicles in each of the last three years failed the MOT test because of inadequate tyre tread ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Inadequate tread is one of the tyre defects that can lead to a test failure and is not separately recorded. Tyre failure figures during annual tests for the last three years, based on a 2 per cent. sample return from testing stations are :
|Number ------------------------------ 1985 |1,249,822 1986 |1,525,449 1987 |1,862,980
In addition to inadequate tread, the tyre failure statistics include several other reasons for failure. These include lumps, bulges or tears caused by structural deterioration, a tyre with a cut which reaches the ply or cord, a tyre which is fouling on any part of the vehicle and a tyre which is of a different nominal size or structure type from the other which is on the same axle.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State last year announced a package of measures to improve motorway safety with particular emphasis on improving driving standards. Since then, we have distributed over 2 million copies of the motorway leaflet containing advice on the correct use of lanes. The Department gave its full support and co- operation to the Association of British Insurers, which recently produced a video "Happens All The Time" aimed at 17 to 24-year-olds and concentrating on motorway driving skills.
We are aware of the frustration and danger associated with poor lane discipline. We work hard to encourage safe and considerate use of motorways through the highway code, the manual "Driving", stuffer leaflets, posters and television filler films. We shall not relax our efforts.
We would welcome national and regional television coverage of motorway driving which could raise awareness of good and bad or dangerous habits.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce restrictions on the number of passengers permitted on board carriages on British Rail and London Underground trains ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list in the Official Report the current rates of vehicle excise duty applicable to each category of vehicle in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of the composition of the Disabled Persons Transport Committee and list the names and disablement links of its membership.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Disabled Persons Transport Committee was set up under the Transport Act 1985 to advise the Sectary of State on matters relating to the needs of disabled people in connection with public passenger transport.
The chairman and members are appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with relevant bodies. The Act specifies that, so far as is reasonably practicable, at least half of the membership of the committee should consist of people who are disabled.
Current membership is as follows :
Chairman : Sir Peter Baldwin KCB (Chairman, South East Thames Regional Health Authority)
Mrs. Jill Allen-King MBE (Joint Committee on Mobility of Blind and Partially Sighted People)
Keith Brown (Board member, London Regional Transport
W. Buchanan (Adviser on Disability, British Railways Board) Lewis Carter- Jones (Vice Chairman, Access to the Skies Committee) Clive Davis (Royal National Institute for the Deaf)
John Dobinson (Transport and Disability Consultant)
James Elder-Woodward (Strathclyde Regional Council)
Mrs. Claudia Flanders (OBE) (Transport and Disability Consultant) Lady Greengross (Age Concern)
Graham Stevenson (Transport and General Workers Union)
John Hannan MP (All Party Disablement Group)
Joe Hennessy (OBE) (Disabled Drivers Association)
Peter Large (CBE (Joint Committee on Mobility for the Disabled) Bob Ley (South Wales Transport, retired)
Bert Massie OBE (Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation)
Brian McGinnis (MENCAP)
Trevor Meadows (National Advisory Unit for Community Transport) Leslie Stephenson (P & O European Ferries)
Dr. Adrian Stokes OBE (Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation)
Robert Taylor MBE (Birmingham International Airport)
Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what traffic accidents have taken place on the A52 bypass around Bottesford, Leicestershire, since it opened recently ; whether he will now reconsider his rejection of the traffic management proposals previously made to him by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton and borough and parish councillors ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There has been only one reported accident on the A52 Bottesford bypass since it opened on 6 February. The police do not consider that it was caused by the junction layout. We have no proposals to alter the junctions. They are appropriate for the conditions and the volumes of traffic. We shall continue to monitor the situation. Motorists are asked to treat a new road with particular respect.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the totals for maintenance from 1976 to 1987 on (a) motorways, (b) trunk roads, (c) local authority maintained A roads and (d) other roads used as lorry routes.
|£ million ------------------------------ 1976-77 |29 1977-78 |33 1978-79 |45 1979-80 |60 1980-81 |64 1981-82 |108 1982-83 |144 1983-84 |123 1984-85 |147 1985-86 |157 1986-87 |181 1987-88 |213
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The current limit for the heaviest lorries is 88 dB(A). From 1 October 1989 these vehicles will have to meet a limit of 84 dB(A). Britain took a lead in securing the limits set by European Community Directive 84/424/EEC, which we are implementing from the earliest dates permitted. This will mean that during the 1980s the noise from the heaviest lorries will almost have been halved.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : None. The Department is taking steps to ameliorate lorry nuisance in other ways including building bypasses, research aimed at helping manufacturers build quieter heavy vehicles and the lorry management study.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : A review of the effects of the environmental provisions in the Transport Act 1982 concluded that they struck a fair balance between the interests of people affected by operating centres in their neighbourhood and those of the road haulage industry. A copy of the review was deposited in the Library in December 1986.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many weighbridges have been set up in the United Kingdom ; how many lorries were checked in 1987 ; how many were overweight ; how many of these lorries were over 38 tonnes ; and what was the average fine.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department of Transport has so far a network of 63 weighbridges. A total of 126,000 lorries were weighed in 1987 -88, by the Department's traffic examiners and local authority trading standards Departments. Of these 28,500 were found to be overloaded, 5,700 of them over 38 tonnes. The average fine imposed by the courts for overloading found by the Department's traffic examiners was £156.
|Thousand/tonnes --------------------------------------------------- Carbon monoxide |46 Hydrocarbons |95 Oxides of nitrogen |399
We shall be implementing the new limits on these pollutants contained in European Community Directive 88/77/EEC at the earliest possible date permitted, which is 1 October 1990.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There is a large number of rates of vehicle excise duty. Full information is contained in leaflet V149 "Rates of Vehicle Excise Duty". Information on the road track costs of vehicles is published annually in the "Allocation of Road Track Costs Bulletin". Both are available from the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish the report on effectiveness of housing management, which his Department commissioned from the centre for housing research, Glasgow university ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : Copies of the report have been placed in the Library today. It shows that authorities and associations housed the same kinds of people and provided similar kinds of services, although their scale of operation was different.
While the report concludes that there is no general crisis in the management of social rented housing, there were
Column 484considerable variations between the best and the worst performers amongst both local authorities and associations. In both cases quality of management was the key to their performance as a landlord. Housing associations were found to have more satisfied tenants in better maintained homes but they spent more to achieve this. Some of the best of both types of landlord operated very economically in the most difficult circumstances.
However, tenants of authorities and associations saw scope for improved services. They wanted more local offices, better repairs services and more genuine consultation by their landlords. A substantial minority were willing to pay more for better services. This report has important messages for all committee members and housing staff in authorities and associations. Although it is reassuring to know that a majority of tenants were satisfied with the services provided by their landlords, many tenants were not, and they found it difficult to influence their landlords : quite simply landlords do not listen enough. Moreover, many authorities and associations fail to keep in mind the need to be effective, efficient and economical. The measures in the recent Housing Act and current Bill are designed to address these problems directly.
It emerged clearly that tenants wanted better contacts and services and that local managers were more effective but no more expensive than those working from the town hall. This is a message which the Department has been promoting for a decade, through the priority estates project and Estate Action.
I shall be exploring with the Housing Corporation how associations' management efficiency can best be monitored and improved, and also how the widespread public ignorance of housing associations revealed by the report can be overcome.
I congratulate Professor Maclennan and his team on producing a report which sheds much light on the future of social rented housing and will help all those concerned to move forward on a better informed basis.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what are his Department's plans to monitor and to publish information on a regular basis concerning (a) the level of private sector capital investment : (i) through commercial landlords ; and (ii) through social landlords (x) in building new dwellings for letting and (y) in rehabilitating or converting existing property for letting under the assured tenancy or assured shorthold tenancy provisions of the Housing Act 1988, part I and (b) the rate of return on capital provided by such investment ;
(2) what are his Department's plans to monitor and to publish information on a regular basis concerning the number of empty dwellings brought into letting (a) under the assured tenancy provisions and (b) under the assured shorthold tenancy provisions of the Housing Act 1988, part I, on a commercial basis (i) by non-resident landlords and (ii) by resident landlords ;
(3) what are his Department's plans to monitor and to publish regular information concerning the number of properties let (a) under the assured tenancy provisions and (b) under the assured shorthold tenancy provisions of the Housing Act 1988, part I (i) by commercial landlords and (ii) by social landlords (1) through new buildings, (2)
Column 485through rehabilitation or conversion of existing property, (3) through re-letting of existing property and (4) through transfers of property from the public sector ;
(4) what are his Department's plans to monitor and to publish regular information concerning (a) the number of complaints (i) of harassment and (ii) of illegal eviction reported to local authorities each month (1) by private tenants whose agreement commenced before 15 January and (2) by private tenants whose agreement commenced after 15 January, (b) the number of staff employed by local authorities whose job it is to respond to such complaints : (i) as tenancy relations officers and (ii) as other officers within the council and (c) the number of actions commenced by local authorities in response to such complaints against private landlords or their agents : (i) for harassment and (ii) for illegal eviction, under the provisions of the Protection from Eviction Act, as amended by the Housing Act 1988, part I ;
(5) what are his Department's plans to monitor and to publish information regularly concerning the level of rents charged (a) by commercial landlords and (b) by social landlords (i) for property newly built for letting, (ii) for property newly rehabilitated or converted for letting, (iii) for property relet and (iv) for property transferred from the public sector for letting (1) under the assured tenancy provisions and (2) under the assured shorthold tenancy provisions of the Housing Act 1988, part I.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans his Department has to monitor and to evaluate the impact on the Government's policy of promoting care in the community of the changes in succession rights introduced by the Housing Act 1988, part I, for tenants of private landlords.
Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to determine the appeals against enforcement notices and a compulsory purchase order issued by the South Buckinghamshire district council in relation to land at Swallow street, Iver.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of whether all identified bathing waters around the Fylde coast will meet the enterovirus standard of EC directive 76/160/EEC after construction of the proposed long sea outfall for the Fylde coast.
Mr. Howard : It is for Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution to consider all relevant aspects of the proposals from North West water authority in determining its applications for discharge consents.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list North West Water's environmental quality objectives for all identified bathing waters on the Fylde coast, Morecambe bay and the North Cumbrian coast.
Mr. Howard : The waters were identified in consultation with the North West water authority on the basis of the criteria set out in the Government's response to the tenth report of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution. These, in turn, are consistent with criteria set out by the European Commission.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to ensure that all identified bathing waters in the North West region will meet the provisions of EC directive 76/160/EEC by 1995.
Mr. Allan Roberts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the cost of North West Water's advertising campaign in support of applications for consent to discharge raw sewage from a long sea outfall and three short outfalls on the Fylde coast.