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Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to how many planning applications for development of recreational open space have been approved by (a) local planning authorities and (b) at appeal in the last 10 years.
Mr. Moynihan : Information about approvals given by local authorities is not held centrally. In the case of appeals, the Department does not keep records of decisions in a form which would enable me to provide the information requested.
Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which participation in sport and recreation is related to availability of facilities within walking distance for (a) car-owners and (b) non-car-owners.
Mr. Moynihan : Research carried out by the Sports Council show that on average 20 per cent. of those people using swimming pools and indoor sports centres travel more than five miles to reach the facilities. Thirty six per cent. travel less than one mile. Cars are the most popular mode of transport to sports facilities although there are variations from region to region. Fifty two per cent. of swimming pool users travel by car compared with 25 per cent. who walk. Studies of indoor sports centres show that 67 per cent. of users travel by car whilst only 8 per cent. walk.
Car ownership is one factor which determines the use of a facility. However other factors such as the size and management of the facility and the availability of competition are also important.
Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research has been undertaken or commissioned by his Department to determine the extent to which people who take part in vigorous sport on a regular basis smoke less than average ; and what measures are being taken to increase participation.
The measures being undertaken by the Sports Council to increase participation are described in the following publications : The Sports Council Corporate Plan 1989-90 ;
The Sports Council Annual Report 1987-88 ;
A Strategy for Sport 1988-1993 ;
Sport in the Community, Into the '90's
Copies are available from the Sports Council.
Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which the gap identified in the Wolfenden report between participation in sport before and after leaving school has been closed ; whether he is now seeking an increase in post- school participation in the next five years ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : The Sports Council has identified that participation in sport falls sharply once young people have left school. Figures taken from the general household survey (1986) show that there has, over the last five years been an increase, in percentage terms, in the number of
Column 221young people participating in indoor sports but a slight decrease in those participating in outdoor sports. The Sports Council has adopted a variety of policies and initiatives aimed at fostering increased participation among this age group.
Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to what extent the Sports Council campaign to increase sporting participation amongst young people has been successful ; and what are its present aspirations in this area.
Mr. Moynihan : The Sports Council has identified that participation in sport falls sharply once young people have left school. The council has adopted a variety of policies and initiatives, including the "Ever thought of Sport"? and "What's your Sport"? campaigns, aimed at reducing this trend.
Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria are established by his Department for the purpose of public inquiries as to how protection of (a) so-called "green lungs" and (b) view by residents are to be assessed.
Mr. Moynihan : The body or individual making the planning decision, whether a local authority, a planning officer or the Secretary of State, should consider the merits of the case having regard to the relevant provisions of the development plan and all other material considerations.
Mr. Moynihan : The Department hopes to issue a planning policy guidance note covering sport and recreation towards the end of this year. The PPG will consolidate and update the existing planning guidance, including that given in circular 33/70.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that private landlords who collect the community charge from their tenants keep accurate records of payments made by each tenant ; and how the money will be recovered if any such landlord fails to pay in these sums in full by the date of enforcement action for recovery taking place.
Mr. Gummer : Landlords will be responsible for collecting contributions towards the community charge only where a dwelling has been designated for the purposes of the collective community charge. There is a legal requirement on such landlords to keep records, and it is for charging authorities to ensure that the law is complied with. No recovery action for a collective community charge can be taken against a tenant, whose sole liability is to pay contributions to the landlord. Landlords who fail to pay the charge are subject to the same remedies as other charge-payers, and in addition, where a debt exceeds £1,000, a local authority may apply to the court for a charging order on the property.
Mr. Gummer : Imprisonment has always been available as a sanction of last resort where an individual refuses to pay rates, and where it is not possible to recover the outstanding amount through distraint. The remedies available to a charging authority for non-payment of a community charge have been widened to include, in addition to distraint, attachment of earnings and deductions from income support, to give people the opportunity to pay off arrears over time. If it proves impossible to recover the debt, a magistrates' court will be able to commit a person to prison but only if, having inquired into his means in his presence, the court are satisfied that his failure to pay was due to wilful refusal or culpable neglect.
Mr. Irving : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to encourage housing departments and associations to work on the issue of AIDS/HIV and housing ; whether he intends to make resources available either through a special allocation or through the housing investment programme ; and if he will support the recommendations of the local authority officers working group on AIDS and HIV report, "Housing and HIV Infection."
Mr. Ridley : The Civil Service Commission is responsible for recruitment of top grades to all Departments of the Civil Service. Recruitment is carried out on the principle of fair and open competition.
Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many and what percentage of officers in grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively, and overall in his Department are (a) women and (b) members of ethnic minorities.
|c|(a) Percentage of officers who are women|c| DOE PSA Grade |Number of women |Percentage of women|Number of women |Percentage of women ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 |0 |0 |0 |0 2 |0 |0 |0 |0 3 |3 |8.3 |0 |0 4 |1 |10.0 |0 |0 5 |21 |12.8 |2 |3.8 6 |19 |7.8 |2 |1.1 7 |105 |14.1 |21 |3.1 |--- |--- |--- |--- Total |149 |12.3 |25 |2.7 |--- |--- |--- |--- All grades |3,051 |42.8 |4,087 |28.8
|c|(b) Percentage of officers who are members of ethnic minorities|c| DOE PSA Grade |Number ethnic |Percentage ethnic|Number ethnic |Percentage ethnic |minorities<1> |minorities<1> |minorities<1> |minorities<1> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 |0 |0 |0 |0 2 |0 |0 |0 |0 3 |0 |0 |0 |0 4 |0 |0 |0 |0 5 |3 |2.1 |1 |2.4 6 |2 |1.0 |2 |1.3 7 |4 |0.7 |12 |2.2 |--- |--- |--- |--- Total |9 |0.9 |15 |1.9 |--- |--- |--- |--- All grades |350 |7.3 |412 |3.8 <1> Non-respondents to surveys not included.
Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Department last conducted a survey of the ethnic origin of its employees ; when it next plans to do so ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Ridley : The Department completed its voluntary survey of the ethnic origins of staff already in post in the autumn of 1987. This information is kept up to date on a continuous basis by asking job applicants to complete a questionnaire about their ethnic origin.
Mr. Howard : I estimate that the average increase in all water charges is likely to be 9.8 per cent. for the water authorities and about 22 per cent. for the water companies. Information on the average rates levied on customers charged by rateable value is not yet available. I will publish the information requested in the Official Report as soon as practicable.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will indicate the average domestic water rate bill in (i) the current financial year and (ii) the financial year 10 years ago for (a) the Thames water authority region and (b) nationally ; and if he will indicate the extent of the increase in real terms.
Mr. Howard : The average domestic water rate bill in 1979-80 for the Thames water authority region was £38.62, and for the whole of England, £41.47. Corresponding data for 1989-90 are not yet available.
Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to bring forward the tenants' incentive scheme and other measures to assist housing association members to attain home ownership ; and if he will make a statement.
|c|County councils with highest precept increases between 1981-82 and|c| |c|1989-90|c| Rank and county council |Increase Percentage ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Humberside |164.5 2 Derbyshire |160.8 3 Nottinghamshire |140.4
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the announcement by Barratts Housebuilders of an intention to build on land at Burtenshaw farm, Bolton, which was the subject of his decision to uphold a restrictive covenant on 23 November 1988.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the rent due, excluding rates, was collected by inner London boroughs in 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89.
Mr. Trippier : Details of the treatment of housing investment programme allocation for leaseback payments under section 100 of the Housing Act 1988 appear in paragraph 22 of the Department of the Environment circular : "Tenants' Choice" : The Housing (Change of Landlord) Regulations 1989 and the Housing (Change of Landlord) (Prescribed Forms) Regulations 1989. The prescribed expenditure arising from leaseback will not present a drain on the authority's housing investment programme.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on what authority officers of his Department phoned Gloucester district council with consent for a proposed voluntary transfer ; what was the legal status of that consent ; and on what grounds the valuation of the sale was changed.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the total amount and the average per tenant of (a) local authority subsidy for council housing, (b) central Government subsidy for council housing and (c) housing benefit payable in respect of council tenants in (i) England, (ii) Wales, (iii) Scotland and (iv) Northern Ireland in 1978-79 and 1988-89 for the latest year for which figures are available.
Mr. Trippier : Of the 730 privately owned Parkinson houses identified by local authorities, three have been registered for repair under the PRC Homes Ltd. warranty scheme and 211 had been reported as repurchased up to 31 March 1987.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all current publicity campaigns being conducted by or for his Department or ones planned for the first three months of 1989-90, indicating those which involve television advertising and the starting and finishing dates of each campaign.
Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice he intends to give charitable housing associations on the circumstances in which they may acquire tenanted dwellings from local authorities and other public landlords.
Mr. Trippier : 1. Housing associations now have wider opportunities to acquire tenanted stock from public authorities in three ways : under the tenants' choice provisions of the Housing Act 1988, proposals by a number of local housing authorities to dispose of their dwelling stock,
the forthcoming wind-up of the remaining new town development corporations in England.
The Department of the Environment and the Housing Corporation, in consultation with the Charity Commissioners, have prepared the following guidance for charitable housing associations with regard to the acquisition by them of tenanted housing stock.
2. The main objects of many charitable housing associations are on the following lines :
"to carry on for the benefit of the community the business of providing housing and any associated amenities for persons in necessitious circumstances upon terms appropriate to their means' and/or providing for aged persons in need thereof housing and any associated amenities specially designed or adapted to meet the disabilities and requirements of such persons".
3. This guidance relates to associations with main objects expressed in the terms set out in paragraph 2 or terms which do not depart substantially from them. However, in all cases, an association's purposes, objects and powers must be carefully considered by its governing body, if necessary seeking legal advice and advice from the commissioners, before the acquisition of tenanted stock is embarked upon. Moreover they must be construed as a whole, and a proposed acquisition must be consistent not only with the main objects and powers but also with any others there may be. This guidance will refer to the various categories of qualifying needy or aged persons as "beneficiaries".
The purpose of the proposed acquisition
4. (i) In order to abide by the requirements both of its rules (or other governing instrument) and of general charity law, a charitable asociation may only purchase tenanted housing stock when it is satisfied that the acquisition will enable it to further its charitable objects and where the acquisition is capable of being regarded objectively in this way.
(ii) A charitable association is likely to have two main reasons for contemplating an acquisition of tenanted stock : to provide a better service for the existing tenants than the present, or in some circumstances some other alternative landlord ; and to increase the association's ability to provide, in the longer term, for beneficiaries of the kinds specified in its objects as vacancies arise in the acquired stock. A purchase for these reasons is capable of being within the association's main objects, depending on the circumstances. If for some reason one of them does not apply in a particular case (for example if the association is not confident of being able to provide better or more efficient management for existing tenants) correspondingly greater weight would have to be attached to the other for the transaction to be comparable with the objects.
(iii) If the main reason for the acquisition of the tenanted stock is to provide vacant possession gradually
Column 227over a long period the association may to that extent also be looking at the acquisition as an investment. Accordingly, it may be considered desirable for associations contemplating the acquisition of public sector housing to ensure that their constitution allows the acquisition and holding of land as an investment.
Factors to be considered by the association in assessing a proposed acquisition
5. In assessing the compatibility of a proposed acquisition with its objects, the association's governing body will need to consider the following factors in good faith and with open minds (although the list is not intended to be exhaustive) :
(i) how the acquisition fits in with the association's policy for fulfilling its objectives. The association must consider what the purchase is really likely to achieve for present and future beneficiaries, and whether it is an effective use of money and manpower which might otherwise be used elsewhere ;
(ii) the proportion of non-beneficiaries to the existing tenants as a whole. This will be a major factor. It is impossible to lay down a maximum acceptable percentage, because circumstances will vary too much from case to case, but beneficiaries should normally be a substantial majority ;
(iii) the extent to which the association may pick and choose particular dwellings within the portfolio on offer, and, conversely, the extent to which this might lead to difficult or inefficient management or other disadvantages to the beneficiaries. Where the portfolio on offer contains a substantial number of dwellings occupied by those who do not qualify as beneficiaries, the association may want to see if some or all of them can be excluded from the purchase. However, the vendor will not always be prepared to sell on this basis and there may in any event by management or social considerations which would make acquisition only of selected properties relatively disadvantageous to the beneficiaries ; (iv) the expected rate of turn-over of non-beneficiary tenants. The higher the proportion of non-beneficiary tenants, the more important this will be. But the rate of turnover of beneficiary tenants may also be important if one of the reasons for the purchase was to get long-term access to vacant housing stock.
(v) the opportunity to buy on advantageous terms. These transactions will normally take place not at unrestricted market value but at a lower "tenanted market value" assuming, among other things, that the dwellings will generally be kept available for letting and that rents will be kept down to levels within the reach of the lower paid.
The preserved right to buy and other rights of tenants 6. Existing tenants taken over from the public sector may have a preserved right to buy under section 171 A to 171 H of the Housing Act 1985 and section 127 of the Housing Act 1988. The association will need to take this factor into account, (and indeed the rights of or attributable to sitting tenants more generally, including security of tenure and a surviving spouse's right of succession) in considering how far the acquisition will enable it to provide for beneficiaries in the longer term (though these matters may of course be reflected in the purchase price). The right to buy might be disadvantageous if the association wanted a portfolio of properties as an integrated whole, to be kept intact as long-term housing stock for present and future beneficiaries, and the
Column 228association would have to consider how far its plans might be undermined by some tenants exercising their right to buy. But the fact that existing tenants, beneficiaries or non- beneficiaries, will have statutory rights including the right to buy does not of itself make the purchase inconsistent with the association's charitable objects.
Mr. John Garrett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Norwich, South on 6 April, Official Report, column 281, concerning bathing water standards which are the responsibility of the Anglian water authority, what steps he proposes to require the authority to report on breaches of the European Economic Community guide and mandatory levels for pollutants which are not recorded in its report in the Library.
Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, how much is being spent in the parliamentary constituency of Stockton, South under the urban programme ; and on what schemes it is being spent.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 18 April 1989] : The current anticipated spend on the eight approved projects located in the Stockton, South constituency from the inner area programme of Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees borough councils for the 1989-90 financial year is £258,400. One further scheme valued at £13,000 is subject to discussion between the Department and Stockton-on-Tees borough council. The schemes are listed below :--
|£ -------------------------------------------------------- Security/Environment Grants to Industry |52,500 Thornaby Impasse |4,200 Riverside Stockton Landscaping |500 Neighbourhood Worker, Thornaby |16,200 CEDEMP Mobility Centre Test Track |61,000 Neighbourhood Management and Community Resource Centre |42,000 Whinney Banks Site 6 |62,000 Street Lighting Whinney Banks |20,000 |----- |258,400
In addition, the Stockton, South constituency will benefit, directly or indirectly, from a number of boroughwide projects totalling £306,545. Again, this figure could increase by a further £50,300 depending upon the outcome of forthcoming discussions between the Department and Stockton- on-Tees borough council.
Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average percentage increase in water charge for 1989-90 announced by the statutory water companies in England ; and if he will list the percentage increase announced by each company in descending order of magnitude.
Column 229in my reply on March 14 to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel), Official Report , Vol. 149, column 211 .
The detailed information requested by my right hon. Friend is not yet available. I will publish a list when returns now being received by the Department have been analysed.
Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all local authorities which operate businesses themselves in competition with the private sector and the nature of each business concerned ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which London boroughs currently supply his Department with information about development decisions in London ; which boroughs do not ; and what steps he is taking to ensure that all boroughs supply the information necessary for his proposed development monitoring system in London.