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97. Mr. Flannery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next proposes meeting the chairmen of the water authorities to discuss water privatisation.

Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friend met the chairmen on Monday 20 March. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

Childhood Cancer (Humberside)

64. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much funding has been made available by his Department for the London School of Hygiene's small area health statistics unit ; and what progress has been made to date by the unit in analysing the incidence of childhood cancer in Humberside.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The costs for the small area health statistics unit so far total £507,894 of which the Department has provided £167,605. As I explained to my hon. Friend in my letter of 20 March 1989, the unit is not yet fully operational and has not so far been able to undertake studies in specific areas. However, the question of the SAHSU analysing the incidence of childhood cancer in Humberside has been referred to the steering committee for the unit and I should expect the committee to reach an early decision on whether further investigation would be worthwhile and should be undertaken.

Bathing Waters

66. Mr. Harris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many bathing waters in England and Wales met European Community standards in (a) 1979, (b) 1985 and (c) 1987.

Mr. Moynihan : In December 1979, the Government identified 27 bathing waters in England and Wales under the terms of the EC bathing water directive (76/160/EEC) ; 18 of these met the mandatory standards for coliform parameters in the directive. This continued to be the position until 1986 when an extended survey of 354 bathing waters in England and Wales was carried out. The Government announced early in 1987 that these waters would be included within the scope of the bathing water directive. In 1987, 197 out of 360 identified waters in England and Wales (55 per cent.) met EC standards. In each year compliance has been assessed on the basis that at least 95 per cent. of the samples met the mandatory standards.

Sheffield UDC

67. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to receive the first corporate plan from the chief executive of the Sheffield urban development corporation.


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Mr. Trippier : I expect to receive Sheffield development corporation's first corporate plan early in the summer.

Cheap Housing

68. Mr. James Lamond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received on his proposals on cheap housing deals between councils and developers.

Mr. Howard : I assume the hon. Member is referring to the announcement in the House by my right hon. Friend on 3 February 1989 at columns 433-34 about the role of the planning system in securing the release of land for low-cost housing to meet specific local needs in rural areas.

My Department has received a considerable number of inquiries and representations in response to our announcement which has been generally welcomed as a positive measure in helping to meet the need for suitable low -cost housing in rural areas.

Rate Support Grant (Basildon)

69. Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the rate support grant for Basildon district council 1989-90.

Mr. Gummer : Basildon district council is not entitled to block grant in 1989-90. Its block grant position has not changed since 1988-89. Basildon's proposed 74 per cent. rate increase cannot, therefore, be justified by changes in its block grant.

Sewage (Discharge Consents)

70. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many temporary relaxations in sewage works discharge consents have been allowed within the past 12 months.

Mr. Howard : This information is not at present held centrally. Details of applications made and consents granted under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 are held on each water authority's register although in the past the consents may not always have included details of any time limits which had been agreed. Current practice is however, that any time limits which apply to consent conditions are specified as part of the consent and therefore included on the register.

Competitive Tendering

71. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress local councils are making in putting their services out to competitive tender under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1988.

Mr. Gummer : The competition provisions of the Local Government Act 1988 are being implemented in stages under regulations made in July 1988. The first round of work won in competition has to be under way by 1 August this year with further rounds by 1 January and 1 August in subsequent years. A substantial number of authorities are going out to tender well ahead of the timetable and dividing up the work into sensible packages. Where anti-competitive practice is alleged by contractors my officials are following up the cases vigorously.


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Waterways (Pollution)

73. Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many miles of British waterways fall below acceptable European Community standards for pollution.

Mr. Moynihan : There is no European Community legislation setting general quality standards for waterways. However, the United Kingdom has designated some 50,000 km of waterways for the purposes of the EEC directive on the "Quality of freshwater needing protection or improvement in order to support fish life" (78/659/EEC).

In 1984, a survey showed that over 90 per cent. of these waterways met all the directive's mandatory standards.

Homelessness

74. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his current plans for addressing the problem of homeless families in the light of the recent Audit Commission report, "Housing the Homeless : the Local Authority Role".

Mr. Trippier : I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Patnick) on 22 February at column 700.

88. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assistance his Department is giving to help overcome the problems faced by the single homeless in London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : We have taken a number of measures designed to assist the single homeless who do not fall into a priority need category. These include funding the Housing Corporation's programme of hostels and shared housing, which nationally has approved at least 18,500 places since 1981, and giving priority to key workers through the Housing Corporation's mixed funding programme with a total of £58 million being made available in 1988-89 for this initiative. The Department has produced a leaflet which has been widely distributed, encouraging householders to take in lodgers ; and we have also funded a IYSH trust leaflet which informs young people of their housing options before they leave home. The Housing Act 1988 will, of course, increase the amount of private rented accommodation, in the sector where young people have traditionally sought accommodation.

94. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider reallocating capital receipts in stress areas to help local authorities provide homes for homeless households.

Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has no powers to do this. The incidence of homelessness is, however, taken into account when capital allocations for housing are distributed to local housing authorities.

Tenants' Incentive Scheme

78. Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce details of the tenants' incentive scheme.

Mr. Trippier : The Housing Corporation invited comments by 6 March on its proposal to introduce a tenants' incentive scheme in 1990. The corporation is considering the responses.


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Rent Arrears

79. Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the highest rental arrears recorded for (a) Langbaurgh borough council and (b) Middlesbrough borough council ; in which months they occurred ; and what is the present position.

Mr. Trippier : Tables showing the rent arrears outstanding to English local authorities as at 1 April 1987 and 1988 are in the Library. I have no information for other months of the year.

Rural Housing

80. Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further proposals he has for enabling local authorities in rural areas to make provision for local housing need.

Mr. Howard : I refer my hon. Friend to the announcement made by my right hon. Friend on 3 February at column 433. A further announcement, about increased Housing Corporation funding for housing associations, was made by my noble Friend the Minister for Housing in another place on 7 February. Together, they will significantly increase low-cost housing provision for local need in rural areas.

Drinking Water (Oxford)

81. Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the monitoring of the quality of drinking water supplied by the Thames water authority to the Oxford area.

Mr. Howard : Thames Water carries out daily monitoring for a number of substances in water supplied to the Oxford area, and undertakes about 7,000 analytical determinations a year. Further information may be obtained from the water authority.

Rented Accommodation

82. Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current trend in the supply of affordable rented accommodation.

Mr. Trippier : The annual number of lettings of local authority and housing association housing has held up well in recent years. Our plans to increase private investment in the housing association sector and the 80 per cent. increase in the Housing Corporation's programme should significantly raise the output of new subsidised housing association dwellings.

Rates (Derbyshire)

86. Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by how much Derbyshire county council's rate has increased since 1981-82 ; and what was the average for all other counties over the same period.

Mr. Gummer : Derbyshire county council's precept has increased by 161 per cent. since 1981-82. The average rise for all other counties since 1981-82 is 106 per cent.

Archaeological Sites

89. Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to ensure that


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unscheduled archaeological sites of importance discovered in the course of site clearance following the granting of planning permission for redevelopment can be excavated and recorded prior to redevelopment.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The desirability of preserving an ancient monument and its setting is a material consideration for the determination of planning applications, whether or not that monument is scheduled. Local planning authorities may also wish to impose conditions requiring developers to allow access for archaeologists to observe work and record items of interest.

Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation

90. Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the section 7(1) submissions received by him from the Warrington and Runcorn development corporation in the last three months.

Mr. Trippier : In the last three months the development corporation has submitted one section 7(1) application in respect of housing, associated uses and open space on a 16.7 ha site at Norton Fields, Runcorn. Statutory consultations in relation to this application are being undertaken.

Water Privatisation

91. Mr. Madel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he is making in his discussions with private water companies concerning his request that they shall not raise water charges for 1989-90 by more than 10 per cent. ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave him on 14 March at column 211-12 pursuant to the answer I gave to his question of 23 February.

Association of County Councils

92. Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met the officers of the Association of County Councils ; and what matters were discussed.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. Friend met representatives of the Association of County Councils and the other local authority associations on 29 November last year. The matters discussed were the associations' responses to the consultation papers "Capital Expenditure and Finance" and "Local Authorities' Interests in Companies".

Enterprise Zones

93. Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to revise the granting of tax allowances to large corporations in enterprise zones ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : I have no plans at present to revise enterprise zone benefits.

District Plans

95. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether planning inspectors take into account draft district plans before they complete their statutory confirmation.


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Mr. Chope : In dealing with called-in planning applications and appeals, inspectors may have regard to local plans that are going through the statutory procedures leading to their adoption or approval. The weight to be accorded to such a plan will increase as successive stages in the statutory procedures are reached. Further advice is given in DOE circular 22/84.

Sewage Discharges

96. Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many sewer outfalls discharge untreated sewage into coastal waters.

Mr. Moynihan : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) on 20 March at column 420.

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when concessions were granted by his Department to South West Water to discharge raw sewage into fresh watercourses in the South Hams constituency ; for how long the concessions last ; and if he will review the arrangements ;

(2) what quantity of raw sewage is discharged into fresh watercourses, following concessions granted by his Department to South West Water ; how regularly it is permitted ; and what steps are taken to neutralise that discharge so that the waters are purified to an acceptable standard ;

(3) how many concessions have been granted by his Department to the South West Water authority to discharge raw sewage into fresh watercourses on the South Hams constituency ; and how many have been granted for the towns of Dartmouth, Salcombe, Totnes, Ivybridge, Brixham and Kingsbridge.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 20 March 1989] : No such concessions have been granted by the Department.

Information is not held by the Department in a form which would allow the identification of discharges in any particular area or, where appropriate, any time limits imposed. Details of all consents granted a water authority are, however, held on the register maintained by the water authority which may be inspected, free of charge, at all reasonable hours.

The only discharges of untreated sewage to inland waters are from storm and emergency overflows. By definition, the operation of these is intermittent and thus conditions imposed reflect this and prescribe when a discharge may take place.

Business Rates

98. Mr. Jim Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next proposes meeting representatives of small businesses to discuss non-domestic rating.

Mr. Gummer : Ministers and officials from my Department frequently meet representatives of both large and small businesses to discuss the Government's arrangements for a fairer and more stable non-domestic rating system from 1 April 1990.


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Pollution Control

102. Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action has been taken by Her Majesty's Government to implement part II of the Control of Pollution Act since 1974.

Mr. Moynihan : The main provisions of part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 were brought into force between July 1984 and October 1986. These provided for more effective protection of inland surface and underground waters, the extension of controls to cover all coastal and estuarial waters and public involvement, for the first time, in the water pollution control system.

These provisions are to be re-enacted and where appropriate strengthened in the Water Bill.

Water Rates

106. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the average percentage increase in water rates to be charged by the statutory water companies over the coming year.

Mr. Howard : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) on 14 March at columns 211-12 , pursuant to his question on 23 February.

Urban Dereliction

109. Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made by urban development corporations in tackling urban dereliction over the last year.

Mr. Trippier : Excellent progress has been made. Many illustrations were recorded in "Progress on Cities", produced on 9 March to mark the anniversary of the action for cities initiative. Three particular projects announced that day give an indication of the scope and diversity of UDC activities : a major subsea research, development and testing centre (Teesside DC) ; a £1.8 million environmental improvement scheme for the historic Castlefields area of Manchester (Central Manchester DC) and a construction industry training centre in conjunction with Henry Boot Training Ltd. (Black Country DC).

Housing (Brent)

112. Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the housing investment programme allocation for 1989-90 for the London borough of Brent.

Mr. Trippier : An initial allocation of £15,233 million has been made.

Pollution Inspectorate

Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the first report of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will be published.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The first report of HMIP was published today.

The report gives a full account of the inspectorate's activities and achievements in its first year of existence,


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from April 1987 to March 1988, and touches on some of the major developments in 1988-89. HMIP's first annual report comes at a time of increased awareness of environmental and pollution issues. It should be of interest to everyone with a direct concern in pollution control including central and local government, industry, pollution specialists, pressure groups and researchers.

We set up HMIP in 1987 to provide a more effective and efficient basis for carrying out pollution control. Its formation laid the foundation for an integrated approach to pollution control. We accept that improving environmental standards demands high levels of monitoring and enforcement and adequate resources. The inspectorate's first report demonstrates the vitally important contribution that its activities are making to the protection and enhancement of the environment.

We have already taken the lead in Europe in preparing an integrated pollution control system. Integrated pollution control is the way legislation on environmental protection will develop across Europe in the 1990s.

The system will enable us to achieve a real and lasting overall reduction in pollution. We have recently strengthened the inspectorate's professional capability by the addition of 13 posts. This will ensure that they will remain in the vanguard of the Government's initiatives on environmental policy.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Rate Defaulters (Imprisonment)

Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people were imprisoned in England year by year since 1979 for defaulting on their domestic rate payments ; and what was the average term of imprisonment.

Mr. Gummer : The number of people imprisoned in England and Wales since 1979 because of non-payment of rates was :


       |Number       

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

1979   |525          

1980   |465          

1981   |415          

1982   |483          

1983   |461          

1984   |420          

1985   |384          

1986   |366          

1987   |350          

Information for England only and on the average term of imprisonment could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Magpies

Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further studies he has made, since 1985, of the increase in the number of magpies in England and Wales, and the effect of this on the songbird population, particularly in the south of England ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Nature Conservancy Council has supplied information on the magpie population from the results of the common bird census


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carried out annually by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). The NCC advise that magpie numbers in parts of southern England have increased markedly in recent years. Present evidence, pending the outcome of further studies, is that predation by magpies is only one of a number of complex factors affecting the population of small birds.

I understand that a research project by the BTO and the university of Sheffield, sponsored by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, will commence shortly to assess the effect of magpies on songbird populations. The Game Conservancy has a study under way of magpie predation of gamebirds.

Housing Associations

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average housing association rent in Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington, Westminster and the City of London ; and what this is predicted to be for (i) fair rent tenancies and (ii) assured tenancies by 1991 and 1994-95.

Mr. Trippier : In 1988 the average annual registered rents for housing association property in the London boroughs specified, with the exception of the City of London for which no information is available, were as follows :


                       |£          

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

Camden                 |1,424      

Hammersmith and Fulham |1,382      

Kensington and Chelsea |1,339      

Islington              |1,299      

Westminster            |1,630      

The figures include both furnished and unfurnished accommodation, but do not include rents for property let under assured tenancies or occupied under licence for which information is not available. No predictions are made of future rent levels.

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many housing associations and local authority homes have been completed annually between 1978-79 and 1988-89 in the central London boroughs of Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington, Westminster and the City of London.

Mr. Trippier : Housebuilding completions reported as taking place in these housing authorities in each calendar year from 1980 to 1987 appear in the "Housebuilding in England by Local Authority Areas ; 1980 to 1987". Figures for 1978, 1979 and the first half of 1988 were published in "Local Housing Statistics" issues 49, 59 and 87 respectively.

Copies of these publications are available in the Library.

Water Quality

Mr. John Garrett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list in the Official Report the number of breaches in 1988 in the EEC guide levels and maximum concentrations for (a) iron, (b) manganese, (c) copper, (d) zinc, (e) phosphorus, (f) barium, (g) cadmium, (h) chromium, (i) mercury, (j) nickel and (k) lead in water intended for human consumption supplied by the Thames water authority from the Hampton treatment works ;


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(2) if he will list in the Official Report the number of breaches in 1988 in the EEC guide levels and maximum concentrations for (a) herbicides, (b) fungicides, (c) PCBs, (d) insecticides, (e) total bacteria counts, (f) faecal coliforms and (g) faecal streptococci in water intended for human consumption supplied by the Thames water authority from the Hampton treatment works ; (3) if he will list in the Official Report the number of breaches in 1988 in the EEC guide levels and maximum concentrations for (a) chlorides, (b) sulphates, (c) magnesium, (d) sodium, (e) potassium, (f) nitrates, (g) aluminium, (h) nitrites and (i) phenols in water intended for human consumption supplied by the Thames water authority from the Hampton treatment works.

Mr. Moynihan : I understand from Thames water authority that the water leaving the Hampton treatment works complied with the standards set in the EC drinking water directive for all the parameters listed by the hon. Member during 1988 except for a single sample which exceeded the herbicide standard.

I have no information in relation to EC guide levels.


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