Previous Section Home Page

Compulsory Competition

76. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the Audit Commission's findings as detailed in its report entitled "Preparing for Compulsory Competition."

Mr. Gummer : The Audit Commission's report "Preparing for Compulsory Competition" offers much sound guidance to local authorities on how to meet the challenges of competition introduced by the Local Government Act 1988 and achieve the savings of 20 per cent. or more that are available. We commend the report to the House and are making arrangements for a copy to be sent to all hon. Members.

Local Government Finance

81. Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to exemplify the figures for a system of local government finance based on capital value rates plus local income tax, in the proportions of 80 : 20, respectively, as they might apply in Merton.

85. Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to examine alternative forms on local government finance based on capital value rates plus local income tax, in the borough of Wyre.

96. Mr. Neil Hamilton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to exemplify the figures for a system of local government finance based on capital value rates plus local income tax, in the proportions of 80 : 20, respectively, as they might apply in Macclesfield borough and Vale Royal borough.

102. Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to examine alternative forms of local government finance based on capital value rates plus local income tax in the London borough of Harrow.

Mr. Gummer : I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave on 21 February to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Paice).

Boxing

82. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met members of the British Boxing Board of Control and what issues were discussed.

Mr. Moynihan : I have not attended any formal meetings with the British Boxing Board of Control. However, I frequently meet board members informally and at boxing events.


Column 693

Building (Outer London)

84. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider new measures to assist local planning authorities to curb excessive building in the outer London boroughs.

Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend issued new guidance to local planning authorities on 30 November 1988. Planning policy guidance (PPG) note 12 on local plans advises authorities of the importance of preparing and adopting local plans and that where

"the pressure for development and redevelopment is such as to threaten seriously the character of an established residential area which ought to be protected"

local authorities

"may include density and other policies in their local plans for the areas concerned, while avoiding undue rigidity. The scale and character of new development inrelation to existing development are material considerations which should be taken into account in deciding planning applications, and the decisions of local planning authorities will be the more secure where the adopted local plan includes policies designed to protect the environmental character of particular localities."

Where local plans are up-to-date and consistent with national and regional policies, their provisions will carry considerable weight and the Secretary of State and his inspectors will be guided by them in dealing with planning appeals.

Water Cooling Systems

86. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to give environmental research officers increased resources to apply stricter monitoring of water cooling systems.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Decisions on the resources to be devoted to the work on environmental health departments are a matter for local environmental health authorities.

Black Country UDC

87. Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further action has been taken in addressing problems or urban decay by the urban development corporation in the Black Country.

Mr. Trippier : The Black Country development corporation has continued to provide opportunities for new investment and development in its area. In particular, it has given priority to :

1. The assembly and reclamation of land to provide sites for development ;

2. The procedures necessary as a preliminary to the construction of the Black Country spine road ;

3. Jointly with Sandwell MBC, marketing and securing a developer for the four million square feet retail and leisure proposal on the former Patent Shaft steelworks site in Wednesbury. It has also assisted by grant aid of £2.5 million, including City Grant, 35 businesses who in turn have invested £12.2 million in the area. For further information, I would refer my hon. Friend to the Corporation's annual report.

Local Authorities (Conduct of Business)

88. Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to review the conduct of local authority business as set out in the White Paper Cm. 433.


Column 694

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The House has now given a second reading to the Local Government and Housing Bill which will implement most of the proposals in the White Paper that require legislation. I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend, the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) on Thursday 2 February at column 357 , which sets out the points on which we have revised our proposals.

Urban Grants

89. Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many firms who have received urban development grants and urban regeneration grants have (i) ceased trading subsequently, and (ii) required further financial assistance.

Mr. Trippier : A total of 350 projects have received or are receiving urban development grant, urban regeneration grant or city grant. None of the developers involved has ceased trading while the grant-aided project was underway. A total of 190 projects have been completed and many of these have been sold or let. It is not therefore possible to say how many firms ceased trading subsequently. However, I am aware of two cases of business projects which received urban development grant and later ceased trading.

Urban development grant, urban regeneration grant and city grant are one- off injections of assistance given at the start of a project. The developer then proceeds at his own risk and cannot get second instalments of grant if the project performs below expectations.

London Docklands Development Corporation

90. Mr. Andrew MacKay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further progress has been made, in addressing problems of urban decay, by the urban development corporation in docklands.

Mr. Trippier : Impressive progress. LDDC continues to breathe new life into docklands. More than £4 billion of private investment commitments have been secured since 1981. Over 1,200 new companies have been attracted to the area. There are new employment opportunities, with over 20,000 jobs created or attracted. Some 15, 000 homes have been provided, along with increased housing choice and opportunity. A variety of projects have been funded to provide community support, refurbish public housing, improve education and training and assist the local voluntary sector. Over 30 miles of roads have been built, and more are under construction. The momentum of regeneration achieved by LDDC will continue, with the Government's firm support.

Manchester UDC

94. Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment in what ways Manchester has benefited from the establishment of an urban development corporation.

Mr. Trippier : The Central Manchester development corporation has been in existence for just over six months. This earlier period has been marked by an enormous boost in developer and investor interest, and general confidence, in central Manchester.

Proposed grants by the corporation of about £6 million have let to major development projects, planned or


Column 695

underway, involving a total private sector investment of £34 million and giving a gearing ratio of more than 1 : 4. These schemes are principally residential and commercial developments which will breathe new life into the Whitworth street and Piccadilly areas, and continue the good work done over recent years at Castlefield. All these developments and many other proposals already in the pipeline, will revitalise the urban development area and bring investment and jobs to the city centre, to the benefit of the people of Manchester, and indeed, the north-west as a whole.

Covent Garden Action Area

97. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress by Westminster council in implementing the Covent Garden action area plan.

Mr. Chope : This is a matter for Westminster which has received a report from its consultants who were asked to undertake a review of changes since the adoption of the Covent Garden action area plan in 1978. I am told that Westminster has published draft interim policies for consultation. The public may take this opportunity to make their views known as the policies may have some weight in development control.

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those departures to the Covent Garden action area plan made by Westminster city council which have come to him on appeal since 31 March 1986.

Mr. Chope : No departures from the Covent Garden action area plan have been referred to the Secretary of State since 31 March 1986.

Land Markets

98. Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies his Department has undertaken into the workings of land markets in the United Kingdom and European Economic Community countries.

Mr. Chope : The Department is participating in an international study of urban land markets under the direction of the OECD. The Department's main contribution is a United Kingdom national report that was submitted in 1987 and published by HMSO last September under the title "Urban Land Markets in the United Kingdom". Other EC countries have produced national reports and a final project report with comparative analyses will be available from the OECD later this year.

Conservation Projects

100. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to make good the financial loss to conservation projects as a result of the withdrawal of Manpower Services Commission support for such conservation projects.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We are monitoring the position closely and will consider whether further action would be appropriate. The Training Agency has set up a working party with the Countryside Commission and representatives of voluntary bodies to consider whether more might be done to ensure that ET is used to the fullest extent possible in the countryside.


Column 696

Toxic Waste

101. Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received with regard to Government consultation on toxic waste disposal.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Three consultation papers on waste disposal law have been issued. Two, issued in September 1986 and November 1988, concerned changes to the duties of producers and carriers of waste and the licensing powers of waste disposal authorities. The third, issued last month, concerned the reform of waste disposal authorities themselves. A wide range of interests responded to the first two papers. Consultation on the third is in progress.

Homelessness

103. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to encourage local authorities to implement the recommendations of the Audit Commission Report on "Housing the Homeless"; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking following the publication of the Audit Commission report on homelessness.

Mr. Trippier : The report makes a number of constructive recommendations on ways in which local authorities could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services to the homeless. We are considering its findings in our current review of the homelessness legislation.

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to make any additional moneys available to allow local authorities to implement better practices outlined in the Audit Commission's report on homelessness.

Mr. Trippier : Nearly £50 million additional resources have already been made available in 1988-89 to hard-pressed authorities, specifically for schemes to help the homeless. The implications of the recommendations of the Audit Commission's report are being considered as part of the current review of the homelessness legislation.

Local Authorities (Capital Spending)

108. Mr. Janman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to review the present methods of controlling local authority capital spending.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Part IV of the Local Government and Housing Bill provides for a new local authority capital finance system. This would replace the present system of direct controls on capital expenditure by a framework based on control of the use of credit to finance such expenditure.

Ombudsman's Report (Coventry Council)

109. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make further representations to Coventry city council on the case of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Quin and Mrs. Hands, ne e Quin,


Column 697

regarding the city council's refusal to implement the recommendations contained in the ombudsman's report about compensation.

Mr. Gummer : Following the practice agreed with the local authority associations, my Department has written to Coventry city council to ask for its reasons for not following the recommendation of the Commissioner for Local Adminstration in a case where he has found injustice caused by their maladministration. I am studying its reply.

Hedgerows

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by the three counties of Yorkshire how many miles of hedgerow have been destroyed in the last 20 years ; whether surveys are carried out by air, ground or questionnaire to farmers and landowners ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The sample surveys of landscape change so far completed, which used various methods, have not provided information at the level of individual counties.

South West Water

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what sums South West Water received from charges for abstractions in each of the last four years.

Mr. Moynihan : The income of South West Water in respect of abstraction charges in the last four years is as follows :


|c|South West Water Authority abstraction    

charges income|c|                            

Financial year |£ thousand                   

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

1987-88        |242                          

1986-87        |230                          

1985-86        |249                          

1984-85        |247                          

These figures exclude internal accounting within the water authority in respect of the water authority's own abstractions for water supply.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from South West Water on its liability to pay abstraction charges to the NRA when using river water to supply water treatment works ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan : None.

Sanitary Towels (Disposal)

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to ensure that the manufacturers of sanitary towels and tampons bear some of the cost currently incurred by the water authorities in the disposal of their products.

Mr. Howard : No. It is consumers who dispose of these products, and any costs incurred by the water authorities should be met through charges.

Peak Park Planning Board

Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he has any plans to review the way in which the Peak Park planning board is operating ; and whether he will make a statement ;


Column 698

(2) what information he has as to how many people have been appointed by Derbyshire county council to serve on the Peak Park planning board ; and how many of them live in the board's area ; (3) how much money has been paid by his Department to the Peak Park planning board over the last six years.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I am writing to the local authority associations urging them to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to the importance of taking proper account of local interests when making their appointments.

Water (EC Directives)

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many letters under article 169 of the Rome treaty the British Government have received regarding the implementation of the European Economic Community directives relating to water in the last six months.

Mr. Moynihan : One.

Grants

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give a breakdown of UDG, URG and city grants approvals in the 57 urban programme areas and elsewhere in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : The total number of UDG, URG and city grant approvals made in England to date is 345. The breakdown between authorities is shown in the table.


|c|Number of grants approved since 1982 by local authority|c|       

                         Number of grants                           

                         approved                                   

                        |UDG       |URG       |City grant           

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

Authorities currently invited to submit inner area programmes       

Birmingham              |23        |2         |3                    

Blackburn               |4         |-         |2                    

Bolton                  |8         |-         |2                    

Bradford                |5         |-         |-                    

Brent                   |2         |-         |-                    

Bristol                 |1         |-         |1                    

Burnley                 |1         |-         |-                    

Coventry                |7         |-         |1                    

Derby                   |-         |-         |1                    

Dudley                  |10        |2         |1                    

Greenwich               |2         |-         |-                    

Hackney                 |7         |-         |-                    

Haringey                |1         |-         |-                    

Hartlepool              |3         |-         |-                    

Islington               |3         |-         |-                    

Kensington and Chelsea  |2         |-         |-                    

Kingston upon Hull      |15        |1         |-                    

Kirklees                |-         |-         |1                    

Knowsley                |6         |-         |-                    

Lambeth                 |2         |-         |-                    

Langbaurgh              |3         |-         |-                    

Leeds                   |16        |-         |-                    

Leicester               |6         |-         |-                    

Lewisham                |6         |-         |1                    

Liverpool               |1         |1         |-                    

Manchester              |8         |-         |-                    

Middlesbrough           |5         |-         |-                    

Newcastle               |7         |-         |1                    

Newham                  |3         |-         |-                    

North Tyneside          |4         |-         |1                    

Nottingham              |17        |-         |5                    

Oldham                  |11        |-         |1                    

Preston                 |1         |-         |-                    

Rochdale                |4         |-         |-                    

Rotherham               |2         |-         |-                    

Salford                 |3         |-         |2                    

Sandwell                |8         |-         |2                    

Sefton                  |2         |-         |1                    

Sheffield               |7         |-         |2                    

South Tyneside          |7         |-         |-                    

Southwark               |2         |-         |1                    

Stockton on Tees        |2         |-         |-                    

Sunderland              |7         |-         |1                    

Tower Hamlets           |5         |-         |1                    

Walsall                 |6         |-         |-                    

Wandsworth              |5         |-         |-                    

Wigan                   |5         |-         |-                    

Wirral                  |5         |-         |-                    

Wolverhampton           |7         |-         |-                    

Wrekin                  |3         |-         |-                    

                                                                    

Other local authorities                                             

(including those previously invited to submit inner area programmes.

Calderdale              |-         |-         |1                    

Ealing                  |1         |-         |-                    

Ellesmere Port & Neston |1         |-         |-                    

Greater London Council  |3         |-         |-                    

Greater Manchester MCC  |1         |-         |-                    

Gravesham               |1         |-         |-                    

Hyndburn                |3         |-         |-                    

Merseyside MCC          |5         |-         |-                    

Pendle                  |1         |-         |-                    

Rossendale              |1         |-         |-                    

Scunthorpe              |1         |-         |-                    

Trafford                |2         |-         |-                    

Tyne & Wear MCC         |1         |-         |-                    

Wakefield               |9         |-         |-                    

West Yorkshire MCC      |1         |-         |-                    

                        |-------   |-------   |-------              

Totals                  |307       |6         |32                   

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list schemes which have attracted UDG, URG and city grant which have been used for private industry and office developments since 1982 ; what percentage of approvals these represent ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : There have been 161 projects approved under the UDG, URG and city grant schemes where the end use has been industrial or office development. These projects represent 47 per cent. of the total approvals to date, and are listed by authority. A copy of the list has been placed in the Library of the House today.

Land

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the land holding by hectares which was owned by water authorities and electricity boards in each UDC area at designation ; what the total value of this land was ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : My Department does not have this information.

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much land has been sold by water authorities and electricity boards in each UDC area since designation ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : My Department does not have this information.


Column 700

Urban Development Corporations

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all past or present appointees to Urban Development Corporation boards who have business interests in the metropolitan area in which the Urban Development Corporation is located, or in other Urban Development Corporation areas ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State considers it desirable to appoint to Urban Development Corporation boards those with relevant experience. This means that members are likely to have connections, whether business or otherwise, in and around the area in which their Urban Development Corporation is located.

The Department advises Urban Development Corporations how to handle potential conflicts of interest. Chairmen are required to sign undertakings which reflect their particular circumstances. If they are involved with companies that might otherwise operate in the urban development area they will normally be required to confirm that the companies will not so operate during the term of their appointment. Other board members must declare to the board their private interests which might give rise to a conflict. If a particular case gives rise to a possible conflict of interest, the member is required to write in advance to the chairman and it is for the other board members to decide what action to take. Unless the interest is trivial, the member would normally withdraw from the discussion and not vote on it.

If a board member of one Urban Development Corporation has business interests in or near the area of another, no question of conflict of interest arises.

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the response to his request that Urban Development Corporation's pass on examples of good practice to each other ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : The Department's guidance to Urban Development Corporations asks them to pass on experience which may be useful to other Urban Development Corporations. They are developing their own informal networks. In addition, my Department organises regular seminars for Urban Development Corporation chief executives which provide a forum for exchanging relevant experience and information.

Landlords

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many landlords have sought approved status from the Housing Corporation since 15 January.

Mr. Trippier : I have asked the Housing Corporation to reply to the hon. Member.

Home Improvement Grants

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what amount was spent by English local authorities on (a) mandatory home improvement grants and (b) discretionary home improvement grants in the financial years 1978-79 to 1988-89.

Mr. Trippier : The information is as follows :


Column 701


|c|Local authority capital expenditure on home improvement grants|c|                                                    

                        |England mandatory      |£ million discretionary|Total                                          

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

1978-79                 |<1>                    |<1>                    |90                                             

1979-80                 |<1>                    |<1>                    |120                                            

1980-81                 |<1>                    |<1>                    |129                                            

1981-82                 |49                     |148                    |197                                            

1982-83                 |72                     |353                    |425                                            

1983-84                 |99                     |812                    |911                                            

1984-85                 |126                    |608                    |734                                            

1985-86                 |117                    |342                    |459                                            

1986-87                 |98                     |297                    |395                                            

1987-88                 |81                     |290                    |<2>371                                         

1988-89                 |97                     |286                    |<3>383                                         

<1>Not available.                                                                                                       

<2>Provisional.                                                                                                         

<3>Estimated by local authorities in April 1988 for HIP2 returns.                                                       

Housing Repair Schemes

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will list, on an authority by authority basis, the total expenditure on capitalised housing repair schemes in England in the current financial year ; and what percentage of all local authority housing repairs expenditure is accounted for by these schemes in (a) inner London, (b) outer London, (c) London as a whole, (d) the south-east and (e) England.

Mr. Trippier : Authority by authority information from the 1988 HIP2 return will be placed in the House of Commons Library in the next few days.

Capitalised housing repairs account for the following estimated proportions of all local authority housing repairs expenditure both current and capital in 1988-89.


                 |Per cent.          

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

(a) Inner London |30.6               

(b) Outer London |31.5               

(c) All London   |30.9               

(d) South East   |27.7               

(e) England      |23.1               

Fly-tipping

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to deal with fly-tipping.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Plans to legislate for the registration of waste carriers were announced in June last year. Further proposals for legislation to make the registered keepers of vehicles used in fly-tipping liable to prosecution in certain circumstances are being considered following public consultation.

Water Pollution

Dr. John Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the levels of arsenic detected by the South-West water authority in the river Tamar on a regular sampling basis in the vicinity of Gunnislake, Devon, over the last 10 years.

Mr. Ridley : The South West water authority has taken frequent samples from the river Tamar at Gunnislake bridge since mid-1984. All 113 samples meeet the "imperative" values for arsenic in the EC directives on the


Column 702

quality of surface water abstracted for drinking water (75/440/EEC). Indeed, all but one were below the limit of detection.

Mr. Burt : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what preparations are being made for the introduction of the scheme, as provided for in the Water Bill, which will enable the new National Rivers Authority to make charges in respect of discharges into rivers.

Mr. Howard : I have today issued a consultation paper which sets out the basis for a new charging scheme for consents for discharges into rivers, estuaries and other controlled waters. Our proposals for the scheme have been widely accepted as marking an important extension of the principle that polluters should pay for the costs of their activities.

In future, costs incurred by the proposed National Rivers Authority in granting discharge consents and in monitoring effluent quality and its impact on receiving waters will be met by the dischargers themselves, rather than by water consumers or taxpayers. The dischargers are for the most part water and sewerage undertakings and industrial dischargers of waste water.

The scheme will come into effect following the establishment of the proposed National Rivers Authority later in the year under the Water Bill currently being considered in Parliament. Details will be finalised by the Department, in conjunction with the National Rivers Authority Advisory Committee, and in the light of the views expressed by interested bodies in response to this consultation paper. The Government envisage that a substantial proportion of the NRA's total costs for water quality regulation and pollution control will be recovered through the charging scheme, with charges likely to be set according to the size and type of the discharge.

Separate provisions already exist to ensure that the cost of cleaning up pollution incidents are recovered from those responsible for them. Similarly, discharges of trade effluents into sewers will continue to be subject to charges by water undertakings under separate provisions.

A copy of the consultation paper has been placed in the Library.


Next Section

  Home Page