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Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what the London Docklands development corporation has done to co-ordinate information on job opportunities, trends and forecasts, training needs and take-up of training opportunities.
Mr. Trippier : Several employment and training co-ordinating groups have now been set up in Docklands, which exchange information of this type, and on which the LDDC, local authorities, other agencies and the private sector are all represented.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what gaps in training provisions the London Docklands development corporation has identified ; and what intervention it has undertaken to remedy them.
Mr. Trippier : This is primarily a matter for agencies responsible for training provision. The corporation is helping by providing information, improving co-ordination among those involved, and by its contribution to a wide range of training projects.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps the London Docklands development corporation has taken to see that a high proportion of jobs at Tobacco dock will go to local people.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has of the number of refrigeration units in the United Kingdom containing chlorofluorocarbons that will need to be disposed of by 1995 ; and what plans are in place to ensure the safe disposal of these units without releasing the contained chlorofluorocarbons.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : There are estimated to be some 30 million domestic refrigerators and freezers in use in the United Kingdom. Some 2 million appliances are disposed of each year. As yet no techniques for the safe disposal of the insulation material have been developed. At least one retailer of domestic refrigerators and freezers will collect the old appliance and recover the refrigerant for recycling. Recycling services, provided by both United Kingdom manufacturers of CFCs and by some refrigeration companies, are widely used by commercial and industrial refrigerants.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what provisions he has made to ensure that obsolete fridges, aerosols and packaging containing chlorofluorocarbons are disposed of in a way that does not release the chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contained in aerosols are emitted to the atmosphere as their contents are used--old aerosol cans do not therefore generally contain CFCs. The difficulties inherent in identifying which packaging materials contain CFCs, and the logistical problems involved, mean that to legislate for their safe disposal is not a practical proposition. The industries are in any case rapidly moving away from the use of CFCs. For the disposal of refrigerators, I refer to the answer that I gave the hon. Member earlier today.
chlorofluorocarbon replacement (a) HCFC-22 and (b) HCFC-134a.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : HCFC-22 is already commercially available. HCF-134a is expected to be available in commercial quantities in the early 1990s, subject to the satisfactory outcome of toxicological testing and environmental evaluation.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress towards reducing ozone layer depletion following the conference on saving the ozone layer on 5 to 7 March ; and what agreements have been reached with the People's Republic of China to ensure their production of chlorofluorocarbons is minimised.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Progress expected to flow from the saving the ozone layer conference is summarised in the chairman's message prepared by my right hon. Friend. The message will be delivered to the first meeting of the contracting parties to the Montreal protocol in Helsinki in May. I am arranging for the message and the rapporteur's more detailed account of the conference to be placed in the Library. At the conference the People's Republic of China was one of a number of countries to indicate that it would give serious consideration to acceding to the Montreal protocol.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many meetings of the Council of European Community Environment Ministers he has attended in person since taking office ; and if he will make a statement on the basis on which it is decided which Minister should attend such meetings.
Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will discuss with the local authority associations a joint programme of home heating insulation and make the necessary finance available.
Mr. Trippier : The local authority associations are consulted each year on the method of distributing capital allocations for housing to individual local authorities. In setting allocations, the Department takes into account authorities' own assessments of needs, including that for insulation and heating. A specific sum is currently set aside to finance grants under the homes insulation scheme, but it is otherwise for authorities to determine their own investment priorities for insulation within the total resources available.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, on the same basis as table F5, in the Green paper, "Paying for Local Government", what percentage of householders in Leyton constituency whose equivalent net income falls in the range of (a) £100 to £200 per week and (b) £400 to £500 per week would, on 1988-89 figures, pay a higher net community charge, without safety nets, than net rates.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) all Government publications relating to the community charge which are to be made available in ethnic minority languages and (b) the languages to be used in each case.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 13 March 1989] : I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Copeland on 16 February at column 383. My right hon. Friend and I have
Column 319been preparing a programme for public information which includes these important matters and we shall be making an announcement on our decisions on minority translations in the near future.
Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. Nor have we any estimate of the numbers of gainers and losers in each local authority or constituency, as a result of the introduction of the community charge. Figures published on 15 December 1988 show that nationally nearly 60 per cent. of all households would pay less with the community charge than they do now with domestic rates.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make the abatement of litter by local authorities a statutory obligation as provided for in the Litter Act 1983 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Litter Act 1983 gives local authorities powers to take action on litter. We are pursuing a series of initiatives within the existing legal framework and will consider whether any strengthening of the legislation is necessary, including the possibility of implementing section 4 of the Act to require authorities to prepare litter plans.
Mr. William Ross : to ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what quantities of phosphorus-free detergents were (a) produced and (b) used in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years for which figures are available ; what percentage of these were domestic detergents ; and whether he has any plans to encourage the wider use of such detergents.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Over the last three years there has been no production of phosphate-free detergents in the United Kingdom. Usage, from imports, is estimated to be well below 0.5 per cent. of the total United Kingdom market for detergents. The environmental safety of some current phosphorus substitutes is uncertain. The Government have no plans at present to encourage the wider use of phosphate-free detergents.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what initiatives he has under consideration for improving data collection and monitoring of the sources and sinks of methane gas in respect of the rate of increase of methane concentration in the air ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what initiatives he has under consideration to investigate reasons for the rate of increase of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 13 March 1989] : Inventories and assessments of atmospheric concentrations of methane and nitros oxide are in hand under the DOE's research programme as part of the
Column 320NASA global atmospheric gases experiment. The results will be available for the work of the UNEP/WMO intergovernmental panel on climate change. The chemical sinks of methane are also being studied under DOE's research programme.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he takes to ensure that all local authorities bring to the attention of their tenants and to those on their housing waiting lists, particularly single people, the provisions of the tenants' charter in the Housing Act 1980 with particular reference to the creation of sub-tenancies.
Mr. Trippier : Responsibility for informing their existing and potential tenants must lie with local authorities, but leaflets on the tenants' charter and, specifically, on lodgers, are distributed widely by my Department.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to hold discussions with local authority associations with a view to devising a fairer and more realistic waiting list system for the public housing sector.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report for each local authority in England the number of (a) single people under the age of 21 years and (b) single mothers under the age of 21 years registered as seeking public sector housing.
Mr. Nicholas Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to require local planning authorities to pay the costs of appeals by applicants against their decisions that are upheld.
Mr. Chope : The Department's circular 2/87 makes clear that costs may be awarded following a public local inquiry if any party to a planning appeal is judged to have acted unreasonably. The Government have no plans to alter the basis for awarding costs.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Discussions at ministerial level on vehicle emission control issues are a frequent feature of the European Community Environment Council meetings and the preparations for them. If the common position on stage II of the Luxembourg directive
Column 321for small cars reached at the November 1988 Council is adopted following completion of the co-operation procedure with the European Parliament, we expect that virtually all cars will need to be fitted with some form of catalytic converters.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish fully the Brunel university study into racial harassment which his Department commissioned ; and when he expects to announce new proposals to counter such activity.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 14 March 1989] : The results of air quality monitoring programmes carried out for the Department have been published annually since 1979 in the "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" and its complementary "Statistical Bulletins". Copies of these documents are placed in the Library of the House. Results for carbon monoxide were first published in Digest No. 2, 1980, and for nitrogen oxides in Digest No. 3, 1981.
Mr. Trippier : Following statutory-consultations, I have announced that Warrington and Runcorn development corporation will be wound up in September 1989. The proposed wind-up dates for the remaining development corporations are September 1991 for Telford and March 1992 for Milton Keynes.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met representatives of Action with Communities in Rural England, the national body representing rural community councils, on 21 December 1988, when they formed part of a deputation from Rural Voice to discuss rural housing issues. He also spoke about rural housing to the annual general meeting of the Gloucestershire rural community council on 1 September 1988.
Column 322have had meetings with officials of the London borough of Sutton to discuss the right to buy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : Officials in my Department last met officials of the London borough of Sutton on 19 May 1988 to discuss right to buy. The Government continue to keep a close interest in the performance of all local authorities under right-to-buy legislation.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Anyone wishing to import these turtles into the United Kingdom is already required to obtain a licence under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976. We are satisfied that trade does not at present pose any threat to the survival of the species, and it is therefore generally permitted. However, it is and will continue to be carefully monitored so that, if necessary, stricter controls can be introduced to ensure that the animals do not become endangered in the wild.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will call in the decision by the South Hams district council to refuse permission to erect a five foot high security fence around the borders of HMS Cambridge, the gunnery school at Wembury near Plymouth ;
(2) if he will hold a public inquiry into the proposal to erect fencing around the boundaries of HMS Cambridge, the gunnery school at Wembury near Plymouth.
Mr. Michael Howard : No proposal for fencing at HMS Cambridge has been referred to the Secretary of State. Crown development which would require planning permission if carried out by a private owner (including fencing over two metres in height) is the subject of consultation with the local planning authority. So also is development which would not need specific permission but would have a significant planning impact, visually or otherwise, beyond the Department's own site ; circular 18/84 sets this out. If the local planning authority objects, the matter must then be referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment. If a proposal is referred, there is provision for a non-statutory public local inquiry.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Health and Safety (Emissions into the Atmosphere) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, which are due to come into force on 31 March 1989, will bring under the control of the national air pollution inspectorates all incinerators capable of burning 1 tonne or more of municipal waste per hour. When drawing up control requirements the inspectorates will ensure compliance with the EC directive on the
Column 323prevention of air pollution from new municipal waste incinerators. Agreement on this directive was reached at the Council of Environment Ministers' meeting on 2 March 1989. Discussions are continuing within the Community on a draft directive dealing with existing municipal waste incinerators.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : From 31 March all large incinerators will be under the control of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution. We propose to minimise emissions of dioxins by the strict control of combustion conditions. This is the approach adopted in the EC directive on the prevention of air pollution from new municipal waste incineration plants agreed by the Council of Environment Ministers on 2 March. The EC Commission is setting up a working party of experts to report on control of dioxins from incinerators. We will co-operate fully with this work.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total cost of the newspaper advertisements, "Council Tenants--Who Should Manage Your Home?" placed in the press on Sunday 12 March.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his definition of the term "acceptable rent" referred to in his Department's advert placed in the Sunday press on 12 March ; to which section of the Housing Act 1988 it refers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : The term "acceptable rent" is a reference to the proposals for rents (including arrangements for rent review) which tenants transferring under tenants' choice will have accepted in consultations under section 102 of the Housing Act 1988.
Mr. Ridley : I have today published the consultants' reports on the six areas that we proposed for housing action trusts. Copies of the reports have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultants have concluded that, having regard to the matters listed in section 60 of the Housing Act 1988, the Loughborough and Angell town estates in Lambeth ; the North Peckham and Gloucester grove estates in Southwark ; and the Downhill, Town End farm, Hylton castle and part of the Red house estates in Sunderland justify the establishment of trusts. I therefore propose to proceed in these areas, subject to some minor boundary changes.
In Leeds, the consultants consider that the Halton moor, Seacroft South and Gipton estates meet the criteria for designation : but that the most compelling case for a trust is at Gipton. I therefore propose to proceed in that area only.
Column 324In Sandwell, the consultants consider that there is not a strong enough case to establish a HAT for the Lion farm, Wallace close and Titford estates ; but that the Windmill lane estate would benefit from a trust and that there is also a case for treating a widee area of the Cape hill community. I agree with the consultants' findings. I am therefore asking them to carry out a further study to help us decide whether to proceed with proposals for a trust in that area and where to draw the boundaries.
In Tower Hamlets, the consultants conclude that the problems associated with the six run-down council estates they studied justify the establishment of a HAT. However, a trust could tackle the overcrowding that exists on the estates only if it had enough land to provide more housing for the people who now live there. This could involve considerable disruption of the existing communities and would require a much larger area for a trust than we originally proposed. I have therefore decided not to proceed with my original proposal. If, after discussion with tenants, the council wishes to bring forward a proposal for a different trust area, I would be prepared to consider it.
The Housing Act requires me to consult local authorities and hold a ballot of tenants in each proposed area before I can seek Parliament's approval to orders setting up a trust. My hon. Friend is writing to the leaders of the councils concerned today. I also intend to consult local people fully about how we propose to take matters forward. As a first step, we are sending explanatory leaflets to all individual residents in the proposed trust areas. I also propose to appoint consultants to discuss the proposals with residents and to seek their own ideas for improving the design, condition, management and general living conditions of their estates. Tenants will have time to consider the ideas which emerge from these consultations before they vote on a trust in a ballot.
The creation of trusts provides an opportunity to target extra Government resources on some of our most difficult estates. But it will be for individual tenants to decide whether they want me to proceed. If they do not want a trust, then the available resources can be used to tackle areas of problem housing elsewhere. I am therefore prepared to consider sympathetically any proposal which other councils or tenants wish to bring forward for a trust in their area.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) in the light of the designation of land at HMS Cambridge in South Hams as an area of outstanding natural beauty, great landscape value, and part of the heritage coastline, if he will ensure that any security fencing in and around the camp is designed with the consent of the parish council and the district council ; and if he will make a statement on the present situation ;
(2) if he will ensure that no security fencing is erected in or around HMS Cambridge at Wembury in South Hams without planning consent being first obtained from the relevant authority or from him on appeal ;
(3) if he will ensure that any security fencing around HMS Cambridge, the Gunnery School at Wembury in South Hams is confined to the immediate area justified by security considerations.
Mr. Fishburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the guidance his Department issues on the protection of squares and other specific forms of architectural layout against inappropriate development in (i) London and (ii) elsewhere.
Mr. Chope : Where there is a clear policy in an up-to-data local plan, which is consistent with the relevant provisions of the structure plan, it will carry considerable weight, and I will be guided by it and my inspectorate in dealing with planning appeals, particularly where the proposal in question raises purely local considerations. The Government recognise the importance of many of London's squares and are satisfied that any proposals affecting them are regulated in the public interest through the planning system. Many squares also have conservation area protection ; special attention must be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a conservation area in the exercise of development control.
Mrs. Wise : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many student midwives already holding registered nurse qualifications have been seconded by their health authority for their midwifery course ; and what proportion is this of all student midwives who are registered nurses.
Mr. Freeman : The Medical Research Council (MRC), the main agency through which the Government sponsors biomedical and clinical research, has, over the years, funded a wide range of research related to sudden infant death syndrome.
I am, however, advised that no particular clinical factors have yet been unequivocally identified as the cause of sudden infant death syndrome. For current MRC research I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to my hon. Friend, the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham) on 20 February at columns 524-5. A number of
epidemiological factors have been shown to be associated with sudden infant death syndrome. But again none have been unequivocally identified as the cause.
Mr. Mellor : We are at present giving detailed consideration to suggestions for changes to the current arrangements for the provision of hearing aids in the context of proposals made by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.