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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 10 March 1989


CSCE (Scottish Representations)

Mr. Canavan : To ask the Prime Minister if she will indicate what attitude the Government intend to adopt towards the submission made by the Scotland United Nations Committee to the Conference on Security and Co- operation in Europe regarding the Scottish governmental situation.

The Prime Minister : The Government do not consider the subject of devolution for Scotland relevant in the CSCE context.

Our Future World"

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to her answer of 6 March to the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness, (Mr. Franks), Official Report, column 388 , she will place in the Library a full copy of the Natural Environment Research council report on global environmental research, the abridged version of which, entitled "Our Future World," was placed in the Library on 6 March.

The Prime Minister : No. The Natural Environment Research Council report on global environmental research was commissioned by the advisory council on science and technology which decided that an abridged version should be published.

Official Duties (Rail Travel)

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions since May 1979 she has travelled by rail in the United Kingdom while carrying out official duties ; and what are the considerations taken into account when deciding what form of transport is to be used when travelling outside London.

The Prime Minister : I regret that for reasons of practicality and security it is dificult for me to travel by rail on official business. I do so when a suitable opportunity arises, the last being in February 1987.


Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Prime Minister if she will instruct all Government Departments to specify wherever possible the refrigerant R22 in preference to R12 or R502 when purchasing refrigeration equipment ; if she will take steps within the European Community Council of Ministers to provide for similar guidance to be given in other Community countries ; and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Government Departments have been asked to review their policies, specifications and

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practices with a view to promoting the objective of reducing use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to the maximum possible extent. The Government's policies are aimed at ensuring that production and consumption of CFCs, whether in the public or the private sector, are eliminated as quickly as possible, and that all possible steps are taken to minimise emissions of CFCs currently in use.


Child Care Facilities

Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will ensure that the local education authorities' development programmes for further education provision outlined in the White Paper, "Employment for the 1990s" provide child care facilities which allow (i) parents and (ii) mothers, to attend colleges, further education institutes, polytechnics and universities.

Mr. Jackson : Under the Education Reform Act, my right hon. Friend approves LEAs' schemes for the planning of further education provision. But he will not approve the individual plans themselves. Approval of LEA development plans for work-related further education is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.

Centre for Religious Education

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is now able to announce the results of his discussions about the future of the Centre for Religious Education after the abolition of the Inner London education authority.

Mrs. Rumbold : The future of the Inner London education authority's specialist teachers' centres, one of which is the Centre for Religious Education, is being discussed by the Inner London councils.

St. Anne's Primary School, Worksop

Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science why his Department has not approved St. Anne's primary school, Worksop, from the recent submissions by Nottinghamshire county council for an aided sector grant under the reorganisation of primary education in south Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

Mr. Butcher : St. Anne's Church of England primary school did not feature in Nottinghamshire's published proposals approved in October last year to reorganise primary education in south Worksop.


Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total public expenditure on (a) local authority day nurseries, (b) local authority playgroups, (c) grants to the voluntary sector for provision for under-fives, (d) local authority nursery schools, (e) local authority nursery classes and (f) the under-fives in primary reception classes for each year from 1975 to 1988 in (i) cash and (ii) real terms ; and what was the total number of children participating in each type of provision for each year, together with the total numbers in the three to four years age group for each year.

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Mrs. Rumbold : Local authority day nurseries and playgroups and other facilities for day care are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. Otherwise, the relevant expenditure is :

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                                                 Pupils under five as                                                                           

                                                 at January (thousands)                                                                         

                        |All 3 to 4 year olds as|(d) Nursery schools    |(e) Nursery classes    |(f) Under fives in                             

                        |at previous August                                                     |primary classes                                



1975                    |1,434                  |n/a                    |n/a                    |n/a                                            

1976                    |n/a                    |45                     |111                    |282                                            

1977                    |1,275                  |48                     |139                    |245                                            

1978                    |1,196                  |48                     |153                    |214                                            

1979                    |1,135                  |48                     |162                    |218                                            

1980                    |1,091                  |48                     |167                    |213                                            

1981                    |1,064                  |48                     |173                    |206                                            

1982                    |1,078                  |49                     |186                    |201                                            

1983                    |1,142                  |50                     |198                    |210                                            

1984                    |1,197                  |49                     |209                    |236                                            

1985                    |1,199                  |50                     |217                    |246                                            

1986                    |1,180                  |49                     |223                    |236                                            

1987                    |1,180                  |50                     |227                    |241                                            

1988                    |1,190                  |50                     |235                    |248                                            

Related numbers of children are :

                                                 Pupils under five as                                                                           

                                                 at January (thousands)                                                                         

                        |All 3 to 4 year olds as|(d) Nursery schools    |(e) Nursery classes    |(f) Under fives in                             

                        |at previous August                                                     |primary classes                                



1975                    |1,434                  |n/a                    |n/a                    |n/a                                            

1976                    |n/a                    |45                     |111                    |282                                            

1977                    |1,275                  |48                     |139                    |245                                            

1978                    |1,196                  |48                     |153                    |214                                            

1979                    |1,135                  |48                     |162                    |218                                            

1980                    |1,091                  |48                     |167                    |213                                            

1981                    |1,064                  |48                     |173                    |206                                            

1982                    |1,078                  |49                     |186                    |201                                            

1983                    |1,142                  |50                     |198                    |210                                            

1984                    |1,197                  |49                     |209                    |236                                            

1985                    |1,199                  |50                     |217                    |246                                            

1986                    |1,180                  |49                     |223                    |236                                            

1987                    |1,180                  |50                     |227                    |241                                            

1988                    |1,190                  |50                     |235                    |248                                            

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Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish a table showing by local authority area the latest figures for (a) estimated population of up to four year-olds, (b) the number of pupils in nusery schools and nursery classes and (c) the full -time equivalent number of pupils in nursery classes.

Mrs. Rumbold : The information requested is given in the table.

|c|Children under five in each local education authority|c|                                                                          

|c|January 1988|c|                                                                                                                   

                             |Estimated population of 3|Under 5's in nursery     |FTE under 5's in nursery                           

                             |and 4 year olds          |schools and classes      |classes                                            


Barking                      |3,900                    |1,197                    |613                                                

Barnet                       |7,600                    |2,214                    |912                                                

Bexley                       |5,400                    |728                      |277                                                

Brent                        |7,000                    |2,283                    |1,153                                              

Bromley                      |6,600                    |124                      |62                                                 

Croydon                      |8,400                    |576                      |88                                                 

Ealing                       |8,100                    |2,712                    |1,098                                              

Enfield                      |6,800                    |1,430                    |715                                                

Haringey                     |5,300                    |2,126                    |1,098                                              

Harrow                       |5,200                    |827                      |433                                                

Havering                     |5,400                    |220                      |110                                                

Hillingdon                   |6,000                    |2,742                    |1,311                                              

Hounslow                     |5,500                    |3,773                    |2,717                                              

Kingston upon Thames         |3,100                    |956                      |367                                                

Merton                       |4,200                    |1,645                    |833                                                

Newham                       |6,700                    |3,875                    |1,488                                              

Redbridge                    |5,500                    |555                      |290                                                

Richmond upon Thames 3,600                              619                       278                                                

Sutton                       |4,100                    |805                      |283                                                

Waltham Forest               |6,000                    |2,396                    |1,080                                              


Inner London                 |59,000                   |22,368                   |12,323                                             


Birmingham                   |28,600                   |9,284                    |4,514                                              

Coventry                     |8,300                    |1,973                    |845                                                

Dudley                       |7,400                    |2,398                    |1,058                                              

Sandwell                     |8,000                    |3,668                    |1,849                                              

Solihull                     |4,800                    |1,412                    |706                                                

Walsall                      |6,800                    |3,898                    |1,602                                              

Wolverhampton                |6,600                    |3,827                    |1,492                                              


Knowlsey                     |5,000                    |1,909                    |965                                                

Liverpool                    |12,300                   |6,049                    |3,079                                              

St. Helens                   |4,700                    |1,436                    |686                                                

Sefton                       |7,100                    |2,042                    |881                                                

Wirral                       |8,700                    |1,620                    |681                                                


Bolton                       |7,400                    |2,783                    |1,296                                              

Bury                         |4,500                    |1,062                    |558                                                

Manchester                   |12,200                   |7,080                    |5,170                                              

Oldham                       |6,200                    |2,099                    |1,430                                              

Rochdale                     |6,200                    |1,849                    |537                                                

Salford                      |5,900                    |3,040                    |1,924                                              

Stockport                    |7,400                    |1,089                    |174                                                

Tameside                     |5,700                    |2,351                    |1,043                                              

Trafford                     |5,400                    |772                      |387                                                

Wigan                        |8,100                    |2,081                    |954                                                


Barnsley                     |5,700                    |2,783                    |1,320                                              

Doncaster                    |7,700                    |3,001                    |1,536                                              

Rotherham                    |6,800                    |2,733                    |1,345                                              

Sheffield                    |11,800                   |4,982                    |2,276                                              

Bradford                     |14,500                   |5,249                    |2,493                                              

Calderdale                   |5,100                    |1,377                    |860                                                

Kirklees                     |10,300                   |4,071                    |1,723                                              

Leeds                        |17,500                   |5,947                    |2,956                                              

Wakefield                    |8,000                    |3,781                    |1,710                                              


Gateshead                    |4,900                    |1,682                    |831                                                

Newcastle-upon-Tyne          |7,000                    |2,792                    |1,492                                              

North Tyneside               |4,700                    |2,456                    |1,124                                              

South Tyneside               |3,800                    |1,939                    |618                                                

Sunderland                   |8,400                    |2,941                    |1,020                                              


Avon                         |22,600                   |3,399                    |1,290                                              

Bedfordshire                 |15,100                   |4,498                    |1,767                                              

Berkshire                    |20,400                   |4,945                    |1,516                                              

Buckinghamshire              |17,100                   |2,053                    |771                                                

Cambridgeshire               |16,600                   |1,940                    |695                                                

Cheshire                     |24,300                   |5,039                    |2,137                                              

Cleveland                    |15,900                   |8,474                    |4,168                                              

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly |10,400                   |1,449                    |676                                                

Cumbria                      |11,500                   |2,419                    |856                                                

Derbyshire                   |22,600                   |6,386                    |2,951                                              


Devon                        |22,500                   |2,214                    |1,055                                              

Dorset                       |13,300                   |797                      |399                                                

Durham                       |14,900                   |5,727                    |1,666                                              

East Sussex                  |14,400                   |994                      |361                                                

Essex                        |38,100                   |2,218                    |1,048                                              

Gloucestershire<1>           |12,500                   |0                        |0                                                  

Hampshire                    |38,600                   |1,895                    |824                                                

Hereford and Worcester       |16,100                   |974                      |552                                                

Hertfordshire                |25,200                   |7,457                    |2,893                                              

Humberside                   |21,700                   |7,105                    |3,450                                              


Isle of wight                |2,500                    |141                      |81                                                 

Kent                         |37,500                   |1,907                    |916                                                

Lancashire                   |36,200                   |6,129                    |1,405                                              

Leicestershire               |23,600                   |5,070                    |3,274                                              

Lincolnshire                 |13,200                   |991                      |377                                                

Norfolk                      |16,500                   |853                      |227                                                

North Yorkshire              |15,600                   |2,772                    |1,337                                              

Northamptonshire             |14,500                   |2,535                    |1,134                                              

Northumberland               |7,600                    |1,965                    |980                                                

Nottinghamshire              |25,100                   |11,805                   |5,757                                              


Oxfordshire                  |14,700                   |1,857                    |714                                                

Shropshire                   |9,700                    |1,119                    |477                                                

Somerset                     |10,500                   |81                       |64                                                 

Staffordshire                |26,300                   |5,860                    |2,790                                              

Suffolk                      |16,200                   |2,281                    |1,095                                              

Surrey                       |23,800                   |2,695                    |1,143                                              

Warwickshire                 |11,600                   |2,052                    |669                                                

West Sussex                  |15,500                   |534                      |47                                                 

Wiltshire                    |14,000                   |285                      |144                                                


England                      |1,195,800                |284,542                  |132,349                                            

<1> There are no nursery schools or primary schools with designated nursery classes in Gloucestershire. All pupils under five attend 

infant classes in primary schools.                                                                                                   


Race Relations

Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he has not yet replied to the two letters from Mr. Day, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, of 31 August and 21 December 1988.

Mr. John Patten : I wrote to Mr. Day on 9 March.

Consumers (Consultation)

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements there are for consulting consumers on the work and decisions of his Department.

Mr. Hurd : The Home Office is regularly in touch with a wide variety of groups representing consumers of the services it manages.

Jamaican Citizens

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Jamaican citizens were removed or refused entry to the United Kingdom as not being genuine citizens in (a) the first six weeks of 1988 and (b) the first six weeks of 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton : The information is not available in the form requested. At the major ports, 46 Jamaican citizens were initially refused entry during the first six weeks of 1988. The figure for the corresponding period in 1989 was 81.

Illegal Immigrants

Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were arrested as being illegal immigrants in the first six weeks of (a) 1988 and (b) 1989 ; and what were their nationalities.

Mr. Renton : The available information is as follows :

                                 First Six Weeks of                                         

                                 1988                    1989                               

Nationality                     |(i)        |(ii)       |(i)        |(ii)                   


Afghanistan                     |-          |-          |1          |1                      

Algeria                         |4          |4          |26         |23                     

Australia                       |1          |1          |1          |-                      

Austria                         |1          |1          |1          |-                      

Bangladesh                      |21         |17         |32         |28                     

Barbados                        |1          |-          |1          |-                      

Brazil                          |6          |5          |6          |6                      

Bulgaria                        |1          |-          |-          |-                      

Cameroon                        |1          |-          |-          |-                      

Canada                          |2          |1          |-          |-                      

China                           |1          |-          |4          |3                      

Colombia                        |11         |6          |5          |4                      

Congo                           |-          |-          |1          |-                      

Cyprus                          |5          |2          |2          |-                      

Czechoslovakia                  |2          |2          |-          |-                      

Ecuador                         |1          |-          |1          |1                      

Egypt                           |1          |-          |2          |-                      

Finland                         |-          |-          |1          |1                      

France                          |3          |2          |3          |1                      

Gambia                          |-          |-          |2          |-                      

Ghana                           |52         |39         |35         |23                     

Holland                         |-          |-          |1          |1                      

Hong Kong                       |8          |5          |6          |4                      

India                           |26         |18         |29         |24                     

Indonesia                       |-          |-          |1          |1                      

Iran                            |5          |1          |1          |-                      

Israel                          |2          |2          |2          |-                      

Italy                           |1          |-          |-          |-                      

Ivory Coast                     |1          |1          |-          |-                      

Jamaica                         |6          |2          |10         |6                      

Japan                           |3          |-          |5          |1                      

Jordan                          |-          |-          |1          |-                      

Kenya                           |-          |-          |2          |1                      

Korea                           |1          |-          |2          |-                      

Libya                           |-          |-          |3          |-                      

Malaysia                        |4          |-          |4          |3                      

Mauritius                       |2          |2          |3          |-                      

Mexico                          |1          |1          |-          |-                      

Morocco                         |6          |3          |4          |3                      

Nepal                           |-          |-          |3          |3                      

Nigeria                         |53         |41         |59         |39                     

Pakistan                        |16         |7          |25         |20                     

Peru                            |1          |-          |2          |2                      

Philippines                     |-          |-          |3          |1                      

Poland                          |2          |2          |4          |4                      

Portugal                        |9          |9          |16         |8                      

Romania                         |1          |1          |-          |-                      

Saudi Arabia                    |1          |1          |-          |-                      

Sierra Leone                    |1          |-          |2          |1                      

Singapore                       |1          |1          |1          |-                      

Spain                           |6          |1          |7          |4                      

Sri Lanka                       |25         |1          |7          |1                      

St Lucia                        |-          |-          |1          |-                      

Sudan                           |1          |-          |1          |1                      

Sweden                          |-          |-          |1          |1                      

Syria                           |1          |-          |-          |-                      

Thailand                        |2          |1          |1          |1                      

Togo                            |-          |-          |1          |1                      

Tunisia                         |-          |-          |3          |3                      

Turkey                          |59         |43         |49         |29                     

USA                             |4          |2          |1          |-                      

Yugoslavia                      |5          |-          |9          |4                      

Zaire                           |1          |-          |3          |-                      

Zimbabwe                        |-          |-          |1          |-                      

Stateless/Nationality Uncertain |7          |2          |5          |1                      

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

                                |376        |227        |403        |259                    

Note : For each year column (i) gives the number of illegal entrants dealt with ; column (ii) records the number of those in column (i) who were detained.


Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to provide passports for Mrs Penelope Eve Brooke, ne e Butler, born 6 July 1942, and her son James Richard Henry Ormonde Brooke, born 10

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November 1972, applications for which were sent to the Passport Office on 6 November 1987 and 13 December 1987 by recorded delivery.

Mr. Renton : The passports are being sent by registered post today. The application form for Mrs. Brooke's son was not fully completed, and although a second partly completed application was subsequently provided, some queries remained, about which the Passport Office wrote to Mrs. Brooke on 31 January 1988. I very much regret that the applications were not dealt with after she had replied to that letter.


Computerised Information (Confidentiality)

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what contingency plans he has available to deal with distortions of the balance of payments figures by the work of computer hackers.

Mr. Forth : The design of the computer system used by my Department for calculating the United Kingdom visible balance of trade is such that it is impossible for access to be gained by external hackers.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the security of his Department's computer files is regularly checked for breaches by internal or external unauthorised access.

Mr. Forth : Where appropriate, the computer systems in use in my Department which hold sensitive information incorporate audit trails which record all accesses made to the system. These audit trails are used to check whether unauthorised attempts have been made to access information held.


Housing Capital Investment

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list at 1987-88 outturn prices, local authorities' housing capital investment (a) in Greater London, (b) in the south-east outside London, (c) in the south-west, (d) in East Anglia, (e) in the east midlands, (f) in the west midlands, (g) in the north, (h) in the north- west, (i) in Yorkshire and Humberside and (j) in England as a whole : (1) during 1981-82, (2) during 1983-84, (3) during 1985-86 and (4) during 1987- 88 and (i) on mandatory renovation grants, (ii) on discretionary renovation grants, (iii) on enveloping, (iv) on other environmental works in HAAs or GIAs, (v) on slum clearance, and (vi) on lending to private persons for renovation activity.

(2) if he will list at 1987 outturn prices, local authorities' housing capital investment (a) in Greater London, (b) in other metropolitan areas, (c) in non-metropolitan areas, (d) in non-metropolitan areas in the south- east and (e) in England as a whole : (i) during 1981-82, (ii) during 1983- 84, (iii) during 1985-86 and (iv) during 1987-88 and (1) on new building, (2) on renovation of local authority stock, (3) on renovation grants, (4) on loans to housing associations and (5) on other housing activities.

Mr. Trippier : I have today laid tables giving the relevant information in the Library.

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River Pollution

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list how many miles of rivers have been downgraded from each grade to the one below, and to a lower grade in each region for each year since 1980.

Mr. Howard : Changes in the lengths of rivers and canals in each quality class recorded between the 1980 and 1985 river quality surveys are shown, by water authority, in appendix V to the report of the 1985 river quality survey of England and Wales. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The 1985 river quality survey showed that rivers in England and Wales continued to be of a high quality with 90 per cent. assessed as of good or fair quality. For those lengths of rivers surveyed in both 1980 and 1985, a total of 4,490 km (12 per cent.) improved in quality, while 5,440 km (14 per cent.) were downgraded. However, because of differences in the methods used between authorities and changes between surveys, it is uncertain whether this small apparent net deterioration represents a real change. But it did appear that the hitherto upward trend of improvements in river quality had, at least for the time being, been checked. Details of changes between quality classes recorded in individual years between 1980 and 1985 are not held by the Department.

The lengths of rivers and canals recorded in each class in the years 1985- 87 have been published in the "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" (No. 11, 1988) a copy of which has been placed in the Library. This information indicates that since 1985 there has been some increase in the length of good and fair quality rivers and a reduction in the length of poor and bad quality rivers. The improving trend thus appears to have been resumed. However these results are not directly comparable with the results from the river quality survey because they are based on more limited surveys carried out by the water authorities.

The next comprehensive river quality survey is planned to take place in 1990.

County Councils (Statistics)

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give for each county council (i) the net expenditure in each year since 1977-78, (ii) the domestic and business precept in each year since 1977-78, (iii) the percentage rise in the precept in each year since 1977-78, (iv) the percentage rise in the precept in the periods 1977- 78 to 1980-81, 1981-82 to 1985-86, 1986-87 to 1989-90 and 1977-78 to 1989- 90, (v) the change in the number of staff employed at the end of the periods 1977-78 to 1980-81, 1981-82 to 1985-86, 1986-87 to 1989-90 and 1977 -78 to 1989-90 expressed in numbers and percentage terms, (vi) the political composition of the councils in 1977 to 1981, 1981 to 1985, 1985 to 1989 ; and if he will list the councils in rank order by largest increase in precept over the period 1985-86 to 1989-90 starting with the council with the highest increase in that period.

Mr. Gummer : The available information has been placed in the Library.

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Water Meters

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what reviews are being considered in respect of installing water meters in all new homes due to be constructed ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan : We have no plans to review the installation of water meters in new properties. Under paragraph 1 of schedule 1 to the Public Utility Transfers and Water Charges Act 1988, water undertakers have the right to insist either that a meter is installed, or that the plumbing is such as to allow a meter to be installed at a later date in connecting all new supplies from 1 April. The exercise of this power will be a matter for individual water undertakers.

Mortgage Defaults

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on recent trends in the level of building society arrears and repossessions.

Mr. Trippier : The latest building society figures show a continued downward trend in levels of mortgage arrears and possessions, which we welcome. Nevertheless, each mortgage possession is distressing for those involved. It is important that borrowers who find themselves in difficulties should contact their lender at the earliest opportunity.

Council of Environment Ministers

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the European Council of Environment Ministers' meeting held on 2 March.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Hargreaves) on Monday 6 March at column 480.

Ozone Layer

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures the Government intend to take to render more equitable the burdens of conforming to the Montreal protocol between industrialised nations and developing nations ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : A clear message of the London "Saving the Ozone Layer" conference held on 5-7 March was that ways of helping developing countries should be a major feature of the review of the Montreal protocol--which will be initiated at the first meeting of the contracting parties in Helsinki in May--and should be urgently examined in all appropriate international contexts. The protocol already gives low consuming developing countries more time to comply with its controls on chlorofluorocarbons and halons and includes provisions to help developing countries to implement the protocol and gain access to environmentally safe alternative substances and technologies. At the Helsinki meeting, the United Kingdom, the European Community and the other parties will consider how to take these provisions forward.

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Council House Sales

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he now expects to announce the result of his deliberations about an increase in the present level of the maximum discount allowed under the right-to-buy scheme.

Mr. Trippier : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis).

Mr. Robert. G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to help council tenants exercise their right to buy their homes.

Mr. Trippier : Sales remain buoyant, and are expected to exceed 150,000 in England in the current financial year, the second highest annual total since the right to buy was introduced. The tenants of some local authorities, however, suffer serious and inexcusable delays in exercising their right to buy. Section 124 of the Housing Act 1988 gives such tenants a new power to have the rent they pay while the delay continues set against the purchase price of their homes. There will also be a corresponding reduction in the period during which there is a liability to repay discount on resale. This new procedure comes into operation on 10 March. It will bring welcome help for tenants prevented from buying their homes by incompetent or obstructive landlords.

Travellers' Children

Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the numbers of travellers' children of school age as detailed in the statistics gathered by his Department's gipsy sites branch.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 9 March 1989] : The latest estimates (extrapolated from an 85 per cent. rate of return from local authorities) indicate approximate numbers of 8,000 traveller children of school age.


London Underground (Security)

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many police personnel have been deployed on the London Underground in each of the last 20 years.

Mr. Portillo : Police officers in post in the division of the British Transport police responsible for London Underground at the end of each of the last 10 years were :



1979   |134          

1980   |156          

1981   |264          

1982   |278          

1983   |266          

1984   |242          

1985   |261          

1986   |319          

1987   |306          

1988   |319          

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Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the current figures for drinking and driving in Great Britain ; and what information he has as to what the figures are for those countries where random breath testing has been introduced.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : At the moment, the most reliable measure of drinking and driving in Great Britain over the last 10 years is the percentage of drivers killed in road accidents who had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. The following tables show this percentage, for motor cycle riders and car drivers separately, for the years 1978 to 1987. The table also includes similar figures, for all drivers or riders, for the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales, except that a blood alcohol content of more than 50mg/ml, the legal limit for Australia, is used.

|c|Percentage of rider/drivers killed with a blood alcohol content above|c|                                       

|c|the legal limit.|c|                                                                                            

|c|Great Britain (legal limit 80mg/ml): Australia (limit 50mg/ml):|c|                                             


                    Great Britain                                                                                 

Year               |Motorcycle riders |Car drivers       |Victoria<1>       |New South Wales<2>                   


1978               |29                |33                |48                |-                                    

1979               |31                |32                |40                |-                                    

1980               |29                |32                |44                |-                                    

1981               |28                |31                |38                |-                                    

1982               |29                |36                |37                |40                                   

1983               |23                |31                |37                |36                                   

1984               |27                |26                |33                |33                                   

1985               |22                |28                |38                |33                                   

1986               |22                |25                |38                |34                                   

1987               |25                |23                |-                 |-                                    

Note: 1987 figures are provisional.                                                                               

<1> RBT introduced in 1976.                                                                                       

<2> RBT introduced in 1982.                                                                                       

These figures show an overall ten percentage point decline in the number of car drivers killed over the legal limit in both Great Britain and Victoria. In New South Wales, a decline of only six points has occurred since introduction of RBT in 1982, compared with 11 points in the United Kingdom over the same period. We understand the rate in NSW may now be rising again slightly. It should be borne in mind that the legal limits are different. Nevertheless, the proportion of such cases in the Australian states remains higher than in Great Britain.

International comparisons are difficult because of the lack of standard measures of drinking and driving. The United Nations publishes figures of "accidents involving one or more persons under the influence of alcohol". This is interpreted differently by different countries. For Great Britain, the figures given are for the number of accidents in which an involved driver subsequently failed a breath test. For other countries the accidents where a driver died and was found to be over the legal limit are also included. In some countries, the influence of alcohol is reported by the police on a subjective basis, and in others a blood test may be required. A number of countries include accidents involving drunken pedestrians in their figures.

Traffic Examiners

Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for improving the management of the traffic examiners and their resources.

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Mr. Peter Bottomley : Special emphasis is being placed on improving the deployment of traffic examiners and in further developing the effectiveness of enforcement.

Management of traffic examiners and their resources is being significantly improved following the implementation of the recommendations made by an efficiency review of traffic examiners and enforcement.

The introduction of an annual national enforcement plan provides for traffic examiner resources to be concentrated on major areas of enforcement including overloading, drivers hours and tachographs. Budgets and the personal objectives of the traffic examiners can be aligned more closely with the national enforcement plan targets. A restructuring of the supervisory and senior traffic examiner grades is in hand.

It is proposed to appoint an enforcement manager in each traffic area office and headquarters with increased responsibilities for planning and directing enforcement and the more effective use of resources to support the national enforcement plan.

Senior traffic examiners will also have increased responsibilities for local enforcement of their geographical sectors and for the management of their teams, which are being increased in size.

Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any proposals for traffic examiners to prosecute guilty plea cases against HGV/PSV operators and drivers without using solicitors.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Yes. That was one of the accepted recommendations of an efficiency review of traffic examiners and enforcement.

Trials have been carried out which have proved the efficiency and cost effectiveness of this method. From 1 April, all traffic examiners in England and Wales will prosecute a proportion of guilty plea cases. In Scotland prosecutions will continue to be handled by the procurator fiscal.

Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the responsibilities and duties of the traffic examiners.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Traffic examiners are appointed by the Secretary of State under section 56 of the Road Traffic Act 1972. They enforce road safety legislation governing the use of United Kingdom based and foreign operated HGVs and PSVs, including the requirements of goods and passenger operator licensing, vocational drivers licensing, tachographs and drivers' records, vehicle weights and construction and use regulations. Their work is a much valued contribution to road casualty reduction. Traffic examiners are departmental staff deployed and managed locally in the traffic areas. They support the Secretary of State and the traffic commissioners by ensuring that the targets set out in the Department's annual national enforcement plan are met and that resources are used effectively in meeting the priorities contained in the enforcement plan.

Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if any traffic area offices have had to limit prosecutions of HGV operators and drivers because of financial constraints.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Only in the Leeds traffic area office were some cases not presented to solicitors between

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October and December 1988. This was because a number of large and costly cases absorbed a large part of the budget allocation. Despite that, three times more cases were prosecuted between April and December 1988 than in the corresponding period of 1987.

Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the Leeds traffic area office has sufficient resources to allow offences reported by traffic examiners to be prosecuted.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Yes. Extra resources have now been made available to the Leeds Office, and cases are either being referred to solicitors, or being presented in court by traffic examiners. Warning letters are also being sent to operators and drivers by the traffic area office.

Mr. Jaques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many heavy goods and passenger vehicles will be examined by traffic examiners in the current year ; and if he will make a statement about the levels of enforcement proposed for 1990.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department's national enforcement plan for 1988-89 provides for 285,000 United Kingdom and

foreign-registered goods and passenger vehicles to be examined by traffic examiners. Of these 100,000 United Kingdom and foreign goods vehicles will be weighed. Over 1,100,000 HGV and PSV drivers' tachograph charts will be checked, and nearly 32,000 visits to operators made.

We are well set to meet or exceed these targets. Results for the first nine months of the year show that 91 per cent. of the year's target for vehicles examined, 93 per cent. for vehicle weighings, 99 per cent. for tachographs screening and 81 per cent. for operator visits had already been achieved.

Further increases in the main areas of traffic examiner enforcement activity are proposed in the national enforcement plan for 1989-90. A further 16 per cent. United Kingdom and foreign-registered HGV and PSVs will be examined and 15 per cent. more HGVs will be weighed ; 16 per cent. more tachograph charts will be checked and 9 per cent. more operator visits will be made.


Changes and Achievements

Mr. Allen : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will list the changes and achievements in his areas of responsibility as (a) Lord President of the Council and (b) Leader of the House, since June 1987.

Mr. Wakeham : My responsibilities as Lord President since January 1988 and as Lord Privy Seal before that have not changed during this period. My office has continued to discharge its constitutional and statutory functions efficiently, whilst making significant economies in staff and administrative costs.

Similarly, my responsibilities as Leader of the House have not changed. The rights and privileges of the House as a whole have been upheld and the passage through the House of the Government's legislative programme and other business has been effectively supervised and facilitated.

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