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Mr. Allen : To ask the hon. Member for Berwick upon Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will take steps to ensure that all industrial injuries to staff of the House are in future recorded and readily available.
Mr. Beith : Yes. At present information on those accidents which have been referred to DSS and classified as industrial injuries is held in individual staff personal files. In future, records of industrial injuries will be separately recorded by the Establishments Office and maintained in a central file.
Mr. Allen : To ask the hon. Member for Berwick upon Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what hazardous chemicals are used in the House of Commons ; and what training is given to staff to deal with emergencies.
A wide variety of potentially hazardous chemicals are currently in use by the parliamentary works office ranging from proprietary brands of correction fluid used by typists and descaling agents required for the central heating boilers. All are safe when used in accordance with the accompanying manufacturer's instructions and in accordance with the Hazchem code of markings.
Job-related training is provided where necessary.
An assessment is currently being made of any action which will be necessary to comply with the new Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 1988, which, for the most part, come into force on 1 October 1989.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether the loss of production caused by the damage to Cormorant Alpha will require a review of the advice he gives the Ministry of Defence on the merchant shipping tanker requirements for the United Kingdom in the event of war or national emergency.
Column 409detected in his Department of computer (a) hacking, (b) viruses, (c) logic bombs, (d) Trojan horses or (e) other types of computer misuse, whether perpetrated by authorised or unauthorised users of computers ; and how many unsuccessful attempts have been recorded ;
(2) if he will make a statement on all recorded cases of unauthorised access to his Department's computer files.
Mr. Forth : It is not the policy of this Department to make public details and circumstances of computer security incidents, their perpetrators and their success or failure, since such information would be of assistance to potential attackers.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) whether he gives regular advice to the financial sector on how to guard against unauthorised penetration of their computer files by hackers ;
(2) whether his Department issues advice to business about computer security ;
(3) whether he gives regular advice to the financial sector on how to guard against unauthorised penetration of its computer files by hackers.
Mr. Forth : The DTI seeks to promote the development and application of standards addressing computer security, and criteria for the security evaluation of IT products, and to raise the awareness of the importance of computer security measures in business operations. Indivdual businesses should be addressing questions of computer security peculiar to them, as part of good business practice.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received on the use of bulletin boards for the transmission of private numbers, thereby enabling computer hackers to transfer charges to other people's accounts ; and if he will make a statement on the measures he proposes to take to eliminate this activity.
Mr. Forth : I am not aware of any such representations. The misuse of computers, and the use of bulletin boards by "hackers", are among the issues being considered by the Law Commission following the publication of its working paper on computer misuse. Its recommendations are expected before the end of the year.
In the case of sensitive but unclassified data, the Department can assess the risk of damage by hackers by using the CCTA's risk analysis and management methodology (CRAMM).
(2) if he will give details of his Department's policy on review of its computer files.
Column 410measures. In addressing the security requirement for computer systems, advice is taken from the appropriate Government authorities.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether staff are briefed about computer hacking and computer viruses ; whether there are contingency plans to deal with computer downtime caused by unauthorised penetration ; and what plans exist to deal with penetration of particularly sensitive systems.
Mr. Forth : Staff in the Department are briefed on computer security issues. Procedures exist for recovering from incidents resulting in downtime of the Department's computer systems. It is not the Department's policy to reveal details of recovery plans for sensitive systems.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he is taking to ensure that soaps containing mercury are not offered for sale to the public and that cosmetic preparations do not contain more than two per cent. hydroquinone ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : The Cosmetics Products (Safety) Regulations 1984 (Statutory Instrument 1984 No. 1260) prohibits the use of mercury in soaps and limits the presence of hydroquinone in cosmetic products to 2 per cent. Regulations banning the use of mercury an limiting the presence of hydroquinone were first made in 1978 and continue to be in force.
The enforcement of these regulations is a matter for local authority trading standards departments.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what action he has taken to encourage the chemical and hazardous waste-producing industries to give more attention to changes in their production processes to enable reduction or recycling of waste.
Mr. Forth : My Department maintains very close links with the chemical industry through its trade association and by direct contact with individual companies. It is encouraging voluntary action by industry in the sphere of waste management which includes recycling and waste minimisation. I was pleased to note that the Chemical Industries Association introduced recently a programme of responsible care related to the environment which will be adopted by its member companies. This includes a code of practice and guidance on monitoring.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Government buildings are fitted with the wet-air cooling air conditioning systems ; what action is being carried out to have them replaced by a different type of air conditioning system ; what review he is instituting on the installation of this type of air conditioning in new buildings ; what consideration is being given to requiring a different type of air conditioning system to be fitted in buildings where these are already installed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : With regard to those buildings designed and/or maintained by PSA, it has been, and continues to be, the general policy that air conditioning should be installed only where there is no practical alternative. For new construction, the policy is to install dry cooling systems--where practicable--in those buildings where air conditioning is necessary.
For existing buildings with evaporative heat rejection equipment (wet air cooling) a strict water hygiene treatment regime is applied, involving regular inspections and a complete review of the water treatment regime at least once a year, backed up by independent audits to monitor the effectiveness of the regimes and establish where improvements can be made.
In those leased Government buildings where the landlord is responsible for maintenance, PSA estate surveyors ask landlords to give written assurances that they have or will introduce similar practices.
PSA does not hold a central record of the number of Government buildings with wet air cooling systems. The highest concentration of such systems is in London, where there are currently 151. Wet air cooling systems will normally be maintained in accordance with the strict regime explained above to the end of their economically useful life. The opportunity will then be taken to consider alternative arrangements utilising dry cooling principles wherever practicable.
Mr Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will assess the likely implications for the transmission by Channel 4 of public service broadcasts emanating from his Department of the White Paper "Broadcasting in the 90s ; Competition, Choice and Quality". Mr. Ridley : There is no reason to suppose that the proposals in the White Paper will alter the present arrangements whereby public service messages are broadcast by Channel 4.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Siemens ND3 printers are used by his Department, either in-house or through a private contract ; and what is the location of each.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, for each of the Crown Suppliers' product supply, transport and buying agency businesses, in each of the three years before Civil Service departments were untied and in each year since (i) total sales, (ii) sales to Civil Service departments, (iii) sales to British Telecom, (iv) sales to British Rail and (v) average price rises in each year over that period.
Mr. Chope : The Crown Suppliers will not be operating as three separate businesses until 1 January 1990. The current information and accounting systems do not enable the business, particularly for product supply and the
Column 412buying agency to be accurately identified. In addition, the sales figures shown include sales generated from activities which do not form part of the package for sale and which have been transferred to PSA during the last three months. The level of the Crown Suppliers' sales will, therefore, be markedly different in the future. The following analysis has been split on the best estimate available for those functions to be included in each of the three businesses. Government Departments were fully untied from the Crown Suppliers on 1 April 1987.
_ £ million |Product supply and|The buying agency |Transport |services ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1984-85 |124.4 |37.7 |16.0 1985-86 |130.8 |39.9 |18.7 1986-87 |142.1 |45.9 |20.0 1987-88 |145.5 |38.5 |21.7 <1>1988 |146.1 |36.6 |22.9 <1>Calendar year.
|c|Customer analysis|c| |c|Total product supply and buying agency business|c| £ million |British Telecom |British Rail |Top 10 Government|Others |Departments ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1984-85 |n/a |n/a |n/a |n/a 1985-86 |12.9 |0.8 |129.1 |27.9 1986-87 |9.6 |1.0 |144.5 |32.9 1987-88 |7.7 |1.4 |141.9 |33.0 <1>1988 |8.2 |2.4 |136.8 |35.3 <1>Calendar year. n/a-Not available.
Average increases in TCS prices were as follows :
£ million |Per cent. ------------------------------ 1985-86 |8.7 1986-87 |6.7 1987-88 |5.6 <1>1988 |5.9 <1>Calendar year.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how he intends to honour the commitment given to this House by his junior Minister that the pensions of the staff of the Crown Suppliers upon privatisation will be comparable to those they are entitled to under the principal Civil Service pension scheme.
Mr. Chope : When tender invitations are issued, prospective purchasers will be invited to offer pension terms to transferred staff broadly comparable to those in the principal Civil Service pension scheme. Detailed future pension arrangements will be a matter for the purchaser to discuss with the Government in the course of the sale.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will place in the Library the reasoned opinion received from the European Commission concerning compliance with the European Community drinking water directive ;
Column 413(2) at what date he anticipates that United Kingdom drinking water will comply with the requirements of the European Commission directive (80/778/EEC) on the quality of drinking water ; (3) when he intends to respond to the European Commission's reasoned opinion on the failure of the United Kingdom to apply correctly the European Commission directive (80/778/EEC) on the quality of drinking water ;
(4) when he intends to provide the European Commission with a timetable of compliance with the European Commission directive (80/778/EEC) on the quality of drinking water ;
(5) whether the programme, timetable and cost of compliance with the European Commission directive (80/778/EEC) on drinking water will be included in the prospectus of each water authority prior to flotation ;
(6) what will be the cost of compliance with the European Commission directive (80/778/EEC) on the quality of drinking water ; (7) when he intends to provide the European Commission with a costed programme of compliance with the European Council Directive (80/778/EEC) on the quality of drinking water.
Mr. Ridley : Both the European Commission and the Government regard the detailed, formal correspondence on infraction proceedings as confidential. The deposit in the Library of the recent reasoned opinion would be a breach of that confidentiality.
A formal response will be made shortly to the European Commission's reasoned opinion, which refers to the absence of United Kingdom legislation directly applying the EC drinking water directive and the fact that some supplies do not yet comply with the nitrate standard in England and the lead standard in Scotland.
The Water Bill and the regulations to be made under it will incorporate the provisions of the directive directly into domestic law. The Commission accepts that such legislation will enable them to close this part of the reasoned opinion.
Public water supplies to the United Kingdom are at present of a very high standard and most supplies already comply with the EC directive. We are fully committed to compliance with the EC directive as soon as practicable. Those supplies which regularly fail to meet a standard are being improved and should comply in the next year or two. However, two years after the directive came into force, and five years after we had notified the Commission that we were assessing compliance on an average sample basis, it informed us that every single sample had to comply. This has necessitated the preparation of detailed compliance programmes by water undertakers to meet the new interpretation, mostly for standards related to the taste and appearance of the water. These programmes are still being assessed and it is not therefore possible at present to state how long it will take to comply fully with the EC directive. However, discussions are taking place with the Commission about the time scale of the programmes and the technical difficulties involved.
The United Kingdom has already submitted to the Commission for its consideration detailed programmes by water undertakers to meet the nitrate standard in England and the lead standard in Scotland. We await the Commission's considered response to these programmes.
Column 414Each water undertaker has been formulating the long-term operating costs and capital expenditure programmes as part of setting the limit to price increases ( K') which is to be applied under the Water Bill to water undertakers. We are reviewing the cost projections which have been submitted to the Department and discussing them with water undertakers individually. We will not be in a position to give new forecasts until these appraisals have been completed. The compliance programmes, together with costings and timetables, will be included in the prospectuses to be published later this year.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if, following the letter of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Minister for Sport, to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill of 11 April, he will describe the circumstances in which he would act upon the complaints of the chief executive of a football club about the inadequacy of ticket allocations at a semi-cup final or cup final ; what account he took of police advice in reaching his conclusions ; and whether he will review ministerial involvement in overseeing ticket allocation at major fixtures ;
(2) what representations his Department received prior to the Football Association's semi-final scheduled for Hillsborough for 15 April about arrangements at the game ; what consideration he gave to these representations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : The hon. Member wrote to me on 22 March about the arrangements at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough on 15 April. No other representation was received. The arrangements for the match will be among the matters to be considered by Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account will be taken of the Hillsborough disaster and the judicial inquiry of Mr. Justice Taylor before the Football Spectators Bill is introduced in the House.
Mr. Moynihan : The timetable for the Football Spectators Bill will allow the House, in considering the Bill, to take account of relevant recommendations from Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster.
Mr. Curry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals for transferring the cost of pensions increase to the local government superannuation funds in England and Wales ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 415funds in addition to basic pension costs which they already bear. It would help to make the true cost of local government pensions more apparent ; it would accord with good accountancy practice ; it would utilise the current significant surpluses in the funds ; and, in the longer term, advance funding would generate its own investment income and reduce total costs.
For these reasons I have concluded that, subject to consultation with the relevant local government interests, regulations should be made to transfer these costs to the superannuation funds from 1 April 1990 onwards. I believe that such a transfer can be achieved without an overall increase in the total sum which local authorities currently spend on superannuation. I have in mind to remove the present requirement that the funds must be in a position to meet all foreseeable future liabilities, and to substitute a provision that they must be able at any point in time to meet three- quarters of their future liabilities. This would be entirely prudential, since the funds would at all times have sufficient capital to meet their obligations for many years ahead. In any case the entitlements of beneficiaries are underwritten by the employing authorities and do not depend on the funds as such.
If we proceed on this basis, I would expect that most local authorities in England and Wales would be able to reduce their total expenditure on superannuation below its present level, on average by about £6 per head of adult population. If, however, local authorities wish to suggest other ways of achieving the same objective, I will be ready to consider them. Meanwhile, I look to the funds' actuaries to work on the basis that the objective from 1 April 1990 will be as I am proposing.
Mr. Moynihan [holding answer 20 April 1989] : Responsibility for controlling and monitoring water quality and pollution in the River Mersey rests with the North West water authority. The Department, through Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, is responsible for the control of discharges by the North West water authority itself and had one full-time principal water inspector plus support staff engaged on this task.
Sir Anthony Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much a single adult in the county of Cambridgeshire would pay under (a) the community charge and (b) a local income tax based on national average earnings for 1988-89.
Mr. Gummer : Based on 1988-89 figures, a single adult on national average earnings with just the single person's tax allowance would pay a local income tax bill in Cambridgeshire district council of between £465 and £595. This compares with a community charge of between £186 and £231, disregarding the transitional safety net.
Mrs. Rumbold : The interim advisory committee estimated in its reports in 1988 and 1989 that fewer than 1 per cent. of teachers leave teaching for other paid employment and commented that this wastage rate was low. The attraction of teaching as a career can only be enhanced by the Government's education reforms.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the comments on teacher shortages made by the senior chief inspector in his report, "Standards in Education 1987-88".
Mrs. Rumbold : The Department already collects data annually on vacant teacher posts and we shall continue to do so. Information regulations to be made under section 22 of the Education Reform Act will enable us to obtain annual information on the curriculum offered in schools and on teacher deployment.
Mr. Jackson : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster represents the United Kingdom at the Community's Council of Ministers (Research). He last attended a meeting of the Council on 14 March and gave a full report to the House in the reply given to the hon. Member for Ynys Mo n (Mr. Jones) on 7 April, at columns 314-15.
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if his Department has issued any guidance to chief education officers regarding comments and information they are able to issue following a vote by parents in favour of a secondary school opting out of local authority control.
Mrs. Rumbold : The Department wrote on 13 February to the chief education officer of every local education authority in England setting out my right hon. Friend's views on the conduct of ballots on whether a school should seek grant-maintained status. That letter made it clear that it is in the interests of parents, governors and others that all discussion about a possible application by a school should be well-informed. Accordingly, it asked local education authorities to ensure that any information they
Column 417provide is factually correct, and represents a proper use of public money. The same principles apply after a ballot as before.
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to use his powers under the Education Reform Act to prevent a local education authority from issuing material designed to influence support for an opting-out proposal following a ballot by parents in favour of such a proposal.
Mrs. Rumbold : No. Where parents vote to seek grant-maintained status for their school the governing body must publish formal proposals to my right hon. Friend within six months. The local education authority and other interested parties may submit comments on or objections to those proposals within two months of publication, and my right hon. Friend will take these into account in considering and determining the application on its merits.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many Siemens ND3 printers are used by his Department, either in-house or through a private contract ; and what is the location of each.
Mrs. Rumbold : Our policy is not to make public details and circumstances of computer security incidents, their perpetrators and their success or failure, since such information would be of assistance to potential attackers.
(2) if he will give details of his Department's policy on review of the security of its computer files ;
(3) if he can quantify the risk of damage by hackers to sensitive computerised files in his Department.
Mrs. Rumbold : The Department takes advice from the appropriate government authorities on security matters. In the case of unclassified but sensitive data this includes the CCTA IT security and privacy group (part of HM Treasury) which is the central Government advisory authority in this area, and uses its risk analysis and management methodology (CRAMM). It would not be sensible to publish details of actual counter-measures, reviews and risks.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether staff are briefed about computer hacking and computer viruses ; whether there are contingency plans to deal with computer downtime caused by unauthorised penetration ; and what plans exist to deal with penetration of particularly sensitive systems.
Mrs. Rumbold : The Department has contingency plans and staff education programmes as part of its wider information systems strategy, but their effectiveness would be reduced if details were made public.