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Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on forthcoming business in the European Community Council of Ministers.
Mrs. Chalker : The usual forecast was deposited in the House earlier today. At present eight meetings of the Council of Ministers are planned for March.
The Environment Council will meet on 2 March. It will discuss two draft directives on genetically modified organisms ; limits on emissions from municipal waste incineration plants ; discharges of dangerous substances in water ; limits on emissions of sulphur dioxide ; the prospects for further reductions in CFCs ; transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste, and possibly the conservation of the African elephant.
The Industry Council meets on 6 March to consider three items on Community support for small and medium enterprises : a Commission paper on the establishment of the enterprise directorate, DG XXIII ; the third report on the action programme and an evaluation of Europartenariat (trans-national co-operation between small firms). It will also hold a general orientation debate on the industrial aspects of high definition television and possibly a preliminary discussion of the Commission's proposed Council decision on HDTV, which is due to be discussed in detail at the Telecommunications Council on 27 April.
The Agriculture Council will meet on 6, 7 and possibly 8 March and again on 20, 21 and possibly 22 March to discuss 1989 CAP price fixing proposals, New Zealand butter and sheepmeat, aid for the conversion of agricultural production, and the forestry action programme. It may also consider the proposal on preservatives for use in foodstuffs.
The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 13 March to consider the Commission's quarterly review of the economic situation in the Community ; to discuss fraud against the EC budget in the context of the Court of Auditors' annual report and the discharge of the 1987 budget ; and to prepare for the spring IMF/IBRD meetings. The Research Council will meet on 14 March. The agenda anticipates the adoption of three R and D programme proposals : large-scale facilities (a plan to facilitate access to large- scale scientific facilities of European interest) ; JOULE (non-nuclear energy and efficient use of energy) and BRITE/EURAM (research in manufacturing technologies and advanced materials). The Commission hopes that common positions will be agreed on the following programmes : FLAIR, MAST, DOSES, VALUE, MONITOR, and EUROTRA. It is hoped to adopt a decision on a programme of decommissioning of nuclear installations. There will also be an initial debate on the mid-term review of the framework programme (1987-1991).
The Transport Council on 14 March is expected to continue its discussions on the weights and dimensions of 2, 3 and 4-axled commercial vehicles ; the rules governing access to the road haulage profession ; a scheme for dealing with overcapacity on certain inland waterways ; and
Column 213possible arrangements for introducing road haulage cabotage. It may also discuss the inter-regional air services directive, and allow initial exchanges on the future of Community spending on transport infrastructure, and on road safety issues. The Commission may give an interim report on its negotiations with Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia on the transit through those countries of Community traffic.
The Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 20 March will probably be asked to give the Commission the guidance necessary to ensure a positive outcome to the April meeting of the GATT round trade negotiations committee. The Council will also discuss EC/Council of Europe relations. In the margins there will be an EC/Malta Association Council to discuss matters of mutual concern arising out of the EC/Malta association agreement, and an informal meeting between Community and EFTA Ministers to discuss future economic co- operation between the EC and EFTA.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many prosecutions there have been under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 in respect of alleged river pollution since the implementation of this Act ; if he will list such prosecutions in date order and location ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 8 December at column 276 and 11 January at column 659 and to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State, Home Department, on 3 February at columns 417-18.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the level of funding from each local authority to housing associations in 1987-88 and 1988-89.
Mr. Trippier : The information requested is shown in the "HIP2 ALL ITEMS PRINT" which was placed in the Library in response to a question from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) at columns 704-5. The figures shown there are as reported by local authorities in their 1988 HIP returns.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the rat population of Great Britain ; what measures he is encouraging to reduce it ; and whether his Department is investigating the possible growth of a more virulent species of rat.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Information is not held centrally on rat population. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, places a general duty on local authorities to ensure that their districts are kept free from rats and mice so far as practicable. There is no evidence to show that there has been a growth of a more virulent species of rat.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to initiate an inquiry into noise measured in all work areas in St. Stephen's house.
Mr. Chope : Some noise from the construction of the new parliamentary building and refurbishment of No 1 Cannon row is unavoidable. The contractors are required to follow good working practices. The Cannon row contract restricts particularly noisy work to between 8 am and 10 am. The imposition of any additional conditions or any instructions to stop work could delay completion of this additional accommodation for Members and their staff and cause extra costs. There is no need for an inquiry.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (i) if he will list, for each scheme carried out under the Housing Corporation's programme to provide homeless households with hostel accommodation through a mixture of public and private funding (a) during 1987-88, and (b) during 1988-89, stating in each case (i) the capital cost of the scheme, (ii) the proportion of the capital cost met by HAG, (iii) the first year revenue cost of loan repayments, (iv) the weekly management and maintenance allowance, and (v) the average weekly rent charged to the homeless households ;
(2) if he will list each scheme carried out under the Housing Corporation's programme to provide homeless households with hostel accommodation through a mixture of public and private funding (a) during 1987-88, and (b) during 1988-89, stating in each case (i) the number of units of accommodation provided, (ii) the housing association involved, (iii) the local authority with nomination rights to these units, and (iv) the date of completion of the scheme.
Mr. Trippier : This information is not held centrally, and I have asked the Housing Corporation to supply it direct to the hon. Member.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department will keep a record of the households that have their mains water cut off after privatisation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : As a condition of their appointment companies will be required to report to the director general each year on unplanned supply interruptions, giving reasons where these have exceeded targets set by them. The director general may also undertake such monitoring of planned interruptions as he considers appropriate--for instance so that he can review the operation of appointees' codes of practice on disconnections for non-payment of water charges. The Government have welcomed the proposed revisions to the model disconnection code of practice announced by the water industry on 9 February, which should help to ensure that disconnections are kept to the absolute minimum of those customers who can pay but refuse to do so.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the total amount of
Column 215Exchequer grant paid to (a) all the inner London boroughs excluding the City of London for each year since 1981-82 and (b) the south-east, excluding Greater London for each year since 1981- 82, showing the amounts in cash terms and at 1988-89 prices.
Mr. Gummer : The information is as follows :
(a) Aggregate Exchequer Grant-1988-89 £m |1981-82|1982-83|1983-84|1984-85|1985-86|1986-87|1987-88|1988-89 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Inner London boroughs (excluding City of London) |555 |559 |552 |503 |550 |753 |732 |736 South East excluding Greater London |2,417 |2,210 |2,172 |2,144 |1,858 |1,840 |1,759 |1,545
Cash values have been converted to constant 1988-89 prices using the GDP deflator.
Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future of Croxteth hall and country park, Merseyside.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : In my answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) on 22 December, at column 437, I said that we would be consulting the district councils and other interested parties on the proposed transfer of Croxteth hall and country park to Liverpool city council with a ringfenced endowment of £3 million. The consultation period ended on 27 January 1989 and I have considered the responses very carefully.
Although not all districts felt able to agree with our proposals, there was majority support for transfer of the estate. We remain of the opinion that transfer to Liverpool city council with an endowment is the only realistic available option that will provide for the long-term future of Croxteth. It is a valued facility with considerable countrywide support and should be maintained for all the people of Merseyside to use.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has therefore laid before Parliament an order giving effect to the transfer and endowment on 1 April 1989.
Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the latest available figures on the arrears of rent outstanding to each local authority in England ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : I have today arranged for details of the rent arrears outstanding to English local authorities as at 1 April 1988 to be placed in the Library.
The 16 per cent. overall increase during 1987-88 is very disappointing and highlights yet again the poor performance of a minority of authorities. No less than 38 per cent. of the total arrears of £226 million (and 66 per cent. of the increase during the year) is attributable to just 10 authorities, nine Labour-controlled inner London boroughs and Liverpool.
This sorry state of affairs can be attributed only to poor housing management. That is the conclusion of independent reports by both the Audit Commission and the centre for housing research, University of Glasgow.
Column 216The control of rent arrears is a vital part of good housing management. Lack of proper control is doubly unfair on those tenants who do pay their rents--it deprives authorities of money that could be used to keep their stock in good order ; and it pushes rents higher than they need to be. It is unfair, too, on ratepayers who are called upon to underwrite this blatant inefficiency. We do not intend to let this state of affairs persist. Our proposals for a new financial regime will prevent subsidisation of the housing revenue account from the general rate fund. We are also considering further measures to raise management standards. But I must stress that the responsibility lies with authorities to collect the rent due to them properly and efficiently, for the benefit of all their tenants and ratepayers.
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 22 February, Official Report, columns 987-88, if he will reject the recommendations of his working party report for non- United Kingdom passport holders who wish to attend league matches and international matches in England and Wales.
Mr. Moynihan [holding answer 28 February 1989] : It has always been our view that everyone, including foreigners, who intends to visit Football League matches, should be a member of the scheme. However, we have also accepted that special arrangements should be made for occasional foreign visitors to attend a particular game. Clubs could issue temporary membership cards in advance of the match. It is possible that the presentation of passports might have a part to play in this process. That is for the Football Membership Authority to consider.
It will be for the Football Membership Authority to consider appropriate arrangements in consultation with the clubs and, in the case of international matches, the Wembley authorities, and to submit its proposals to the Secretary of State for approval.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish, for each local authority in England, the community charge for 1989-90 which is consistent with the expenditure and grant assumptions in the 1989-90 rate support grant settlement, showing the estimated budget figures for 1988-89 and the percentage change between the two figures.
Mr. Ridley [holding answer 14 February 1989] : I have placed the information requested in the Library.
The community charges shown assume that local authorities will spend according to the assumptions used for the 1989-90 rate support grant settlement and rate accordingly, and that non-domestic rate income increases in line with the RPI. When 1989-90 budget returns have been received, I will publish a further set of illustrative charges. If these show charges higher than those I have placed in the Library today, this will be entirely the result of the individual authorities deciding to spend more than was assumed.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the number of office buildings acquired by Her Majesty's Government in the London SW1 area since 1980, the additional square footage now available and the number of civil servants now working in these new offices ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope [holding answer 23 February 1989] : The present size of the Government office estate in the London SW1 postal district is approximately 754,000 sq m. Equivalent figures for 1980 for this postal district are not available. Details of the number of civil servants working in SW1 are not available, but for Greater London as a whole the total floor space in offices on PSA's estate works out to an average of 18.8 sq m per non-industrial civil servant.
66. Mr. Burns : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what number of forestry projects are currently taking place in Essex.
Mr. Ryder : Between 1 April 1988 and 31 January 1989 the Forestry Commission has, under its grant scheme, approved 45 new applications for planting grants in Essex.
67. Mr. Holt : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of forestry projects currently taking place in Cleveland and Durham.
Mr. Ryder : Between 1 April 1988 and 31 January 1989 the Forestry Commission has, under its grant schemes, approved 16 new applications for planting grants in Cleveland and Durham.
69. Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of forestry projects currently taking place in Derbyshire.
Mr. Ryder : Between 1 April 1988 and 31 January 1989 the Forestry Commission has, under its grant schemes, approved 14 new applications for planting grants in Derbyshire.
70. Mr. Stern : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of forestry projects currently taking place in the county of Avon.
Mr. Ryder : Between 1 April 1988 and 31 January 1989 the Forestry Commission has, under its grant schemes, approved eight new applications for planting grants in Avon.
68. Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress is being made towards ensuring the future well-being of the New Forest.
Mr. MacGregor : In 1986, with the future well-being of the New Forest foremost in mind, the Forestry Commissioners set up the New Forest review group consisting of representatives from the Forestry Commission, the Countryside Commission, the New Forest district council, the Verderers of the New Forest, Hampshire county council and the Nature Conservancy Council, with the following terms of reference :
to appraise the aims and effectiveness of the measures already taken to safeguard the New Forest ;
to consider whether these measures need to be changed or developed ;
to identify whether further measures may be necessary to maintain the character of the New Forest ;
to report within two years, making recommendations.
The report was published in January 1989 and its recommendations are being considered by the Forestry Commissioners.
Mr. Brazier : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all woodlands in Kent either sold or proposed for sale by the Forestry Commission since the passage of the Forestry Act 1981 and state, for each such woodland the (a) acreage, (b) map reference and (c) species composition, by percentage.
Mr. Ryder : The information is given in the following tables :
|Name |Area (hectares)|Grid reference ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Woodlands sold in Kent Challock Woodlands Brook Wood |19.0 |TR 069 439 |C Burnt Oak Wood |2.3 |TQ 950 438 |C Cadman's Wood |13.5 |TR 082 428 |B Handen Wood |9.4 |TR 052 367 |C Longbeech Wood |41.4 |TQ 971 502 |C March Wood |42.0 |TQ 945 433 |C Newlands Wood |24.0 |TQ 955 432 |C Norland and Pierland Wood |35.0 |TR 024 358 |C Church Wood |25.0 |TQ 570 632 |C College Wood |17.0 |TQ 676 652 |B Court Farm (Churchlands) |16.0 |TQ 669 649 |C Covet Wood (land at) |0.1 |TR 178 497 |C Covet Wood (land at) |0.3 |TR 173 494 |C Ford Manor Estate: Bowshot Wood (part) |2.5 |TQ 433 421 |B Jules Wood/Greybury |24.0 |TQ 436 422 |B Middleroom, Coalhearth (parts) |18.5 |TQ 435 430 |B Hurst Wood |16.5 |TQ 568 405 |B Hurst Wood Platt |66.0 |TQ 628 550 |C Joydens Wood and Gattons Wood |127.0 |TQ 500 718 |B Little Sharsted Wood |6.0 |TQ 944 585 |C Maplescombe Farm Woods |53.6 |TQ 563 626 |B Quornden Wood |13.0 |TQ 477 533 |C Rochester and Monk Wood |294.0 |TQ 680 650 |B St. Julian's Wood |17.0 |TQ 545 525 |C Sharsted Wood and Plantation |82.9 |TQ 946 581 |B Spring Wood Dene Park |5.0 |TQ 597 501 |C Squerryes Court |85.0 |TQ 440 520 |C Woodlands proposed for sale in Kent Eggringe Wood (land at) |3.3 |TR 094 508 |B Flimwell Outliers: Crouches Wood |9.0 |TQ 705 353 |C Furnace Wood etc. |68.0 |TQ 735 354 |C Lillesden Wood |5.0 |TQ 714 358 |B Priors Heath Wood |7.0 |TQ 708 348 |C Renacre Wood |26.0 |TQ 945 440 |C Shoreham Wood |101.5 |TQ 505 615 |B <1> The species composition is not available in any more detail than B for mainly broadleaves and C for mainly conifers.
Mr. John Garrett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make available in the Library the recent report quoted by the clerk and chief fishery officer of the Eastern sea fisheries joint committee in the chapter on pollution in his annual report for 1989 in which he refers to Government actions on standards of water quality applicable to sewage in the interim period during which the water public limited companies are established.
Mr. Donald Thompson : No. The report to which I believe the hon. Member is referring was neither prepared for nor published by Her Majesty's Government.
Mr. Gill : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will place corrected copies of the report of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Health and BEIC working group on salmonella and eggs in the Library.
Mr. Ryder : An error was made in transcribing one of the paragraphs of the "conclusions" section of the report from an earlier draft into the final version. A corrected version, clearly distinguishable by its orange cover, has been placed in the Library of the House. The body of the report and the summary of its recommendations were in no way affected.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimates he has of the number of redundancies amongst scientists resulting from the switch in AFRC funding of research away from its own institutes to universities.
Mr. Jackson : I have been asked to reply.
I understand that no redundancies are expected over the next two years as a result of AFRC's plans to increase its support for research at higher education institutions.
Column 220The position in later years will depend on the decisions that the council takes in the light of the future level of allocations to the AFRC from the science budget.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safety precautions exist in respect of RAF aircraft on low-flying exercises in the vicinity of nuclear power stations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : I refer the hon. Member to the reply which my predecessor gave to the hon. Member for Ynys Mo n (Mr. Jones) on 19 November 1987, Official Report, column 452.
Mr. Nelson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the number of Royal Military policemen who have passed out from the RMP training barracks in Chichester in each of the last 10 years.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The numbers of RMP men and women who have passed out from the RMP training course at Chichester, having completed their basic provost course, are as follows :
|Men |Women ------------------------ 1979 |179 |65 1980 |291 |45 1981 |210 |32 1982 |160 |37 1983 |182 |52 1984 |245 |41 1985 |294 |26 1986 |302 |37 1987 |172 |52 1988 |157 |58
Mr. Nelson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the principal operational responsibilities of the Royal military police ; and what is the total number of military policemen currently in service.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The principal operational responsibilities of the Royal military police in peace, on transition to war and in war are to :
a. enforce the law with the military community and assist with the maintenance of military discipline ;
b. assist and support the Services and other law enforcement agencies ;
c. provide an assistance, advice and information service to the military community and the public ;
d. provide a crime prevention service to the military community ; e. provide a close protection service ;
f. provide operational Provost Support.
The total number of regular military police currently in service is 2,411 which may be broken down as follows :
|Male |Female --------------------------------- Officers |149 |6 Other Ranks |1,977 |279 |--- |--- Total |2,126 |285
Mr. Nelson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria he uses to assess the quality of training and defence contribution of the Royal military police ; and if these are currently being met.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The role of the Royal military police is to provide the provost support required by the Army, meeting legal obligations and operational requirements at least cost. RMP training is framed against these criteria and its effectiveness is judged by theatre commanders throughout the Army. The training programme itself is reviewed continuously in the light, inter alia, of feedback from theatre commanders and to reflect changes in policy and law as they arise.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence proposals he has to replace military police personnel with private security guards at any Ministry of Defence establishments in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The use of private security firms in guarding establishments is an option open to the Ministry of Defence in cases where their use can satisfy certain security criteria.
We have no proposals at present to replace military police personnel in this way. However, such an arrangement might be considered at an establishment following a change in the use of the premises and a reappraisal of the security circumstances.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will strengthen the Ministry of Defence police establishment at the Clyde submarine base in the light of the break-ins by civilians at Faslane.
Mr. Sainsbury : The numbers of MOD police required at individual locations as well as physical security arrangements are reviewed regularly in the light of current policing and security needs. Additional MOD police have recently been provided at the Clyde submarine base.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Defence Police Federation on the future size of the Ministry of Defence police establishment.
Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) on 23 February 1989 at column 760.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from the Defence Police Federation on the future deployment of Ministry of Defence Police personnel at Ministry of Defence establishments in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Defence Police Federation is a member of two joint committees which provide it with the opportunity to raise questions on a wide range of issues including complementing.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy on the replacement of retiring Ministry of Defence police personnel.
Mr. Sainsbury : Recruitment targets are set to attract the numbers necessary to meet these levels, taking account of natural wastage through retirement and other causes.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present approved establishment for the Ministry of Defence police ; how many staff are currently in post ; and what is the proposed establishment for each of the next three years.
Mr. Sainsbury : The strength of the MOD police on1 February 1989 was 4,772 (inclusive of dedicated civilians, and of manpower provided to repayment users). The requirements for MOD police are reviewed regularly in the light of policing and security needs and it is not MOD policy to provide details of future manning levels.