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Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We are considering placing a duty on local authorities to clean public areas, having regard to codes of practice which the Government would issue. We are also looking at ways of enabling local authorities to enforce the Litter Act more effectively.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The clean nineties campaign launched by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and being developed by the Tidy Britain group is proceeding well. I and other Ministers have been associated with projects and other activities designed to increase public awareness of the problem and involvement in solutions.
Column 579We expect the Tidy Britain group's projects to result in codes of practice, setting standards of cleanliness, in time for the launch of Tidy Britain Year-1990.
We will shortly be reviewing the City of Westminster's fixed penalty scheme for littering to see whether it should be extended nationally. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport launched a £1 million litter clearing campaign on 17 March and is monitoring the standards in his Department's code of practice for routine maintenance of roads.
Mr. Gummer : My right hon. Friend last met representatives of the local associations, including the Association of District Councils, on 29 November 1988. The subjects discussed were the new system of local authority capital finance and the Government's proposals for the treatment of local authorities interests in companies.
Basildon increased its rates by 57.2 per cent. in 1989-90 ; Brighton increased its rates by 56.7 per cent. in 1989-90.
32. Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment at what date he expects the United Kingdom to meet the Montreal protocol target of a 50 per cent. reduction in the use of chlorofluorocarbons.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Montreal protocol requires cuts of 50 per cent. in the consumption of cholorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 1999. We expect this to have been achieved by the United Kingdom by the end of this year, 10 years ahead of schedule.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Environment Council of the European Community has, in response to a United Kingdom initiative, called for the Montreal protocol to be strengthened so as to require production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons to be reduced by 85 per cent. as quickly as possible with a view to their elimination by the end of the century. We shall be pressing for this to be agreed as the protocol is reviewed over the next 12 months. Such a change would give further impetus to the search for and application of substitutes and to the recycling of existing CFCs. The question of the safe destruction of CFCs will be considered by the parties to the Montreal protocol at their first meeting in Helsinki next month.
Mr. Gummer : The Department will shortly be letting a research contract to monitor and evaluate the effects of the competition provisions of the Local Government Act 1988. The statutory deadline for the first round of services to be exposed to competition is 1 August 1989. Previous studies have therefore necessarily examined the effects of voluntary competition ; these have found savings of 20 to 30 per cent. of previous costs without any reduction in standards.
34. Mr. John Carlisle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions have taken place between the Minister responsible for sport and his European counterparts regarding the readmittance of English clubs to European soccer competition.
Mr. Moynihan : I have not discussed the re-admission of English football clubs to UEFA competitions with my European counterparts. The matter was discussed at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the European Convention on Spectator Violence on 13 and 14 April. The Standing Committee welcomed UEFA's decision to re-admit English clubs in the 1990-91 season subject to the conditions laid down by UEFA.
Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next intends to meet the president of the Union of European Football Associations to discuss the re-entry of English football clubs to European competition.
Mr. Moynihan : I understand that the President of UEFA has said that he will seek a meeting with me next April to discuss the re-admission of English clubs to Europe in the 1990-91 season. I shall be happy to meet him.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : In June 1988 the Department published a series of desk studies on "Possible Impacts of Climate Change on the Natural Environment in the United Kingdom". The report identified a number of research requirements for assessing those impacts. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. Further studies are now proceeding, including studies on the implications for sea defences.
Mr. Moynihan : No United Kingdom bathing waters had been indentified in May 1979 under the EEC bathing water directive. In May 1988, 397 coastal bathing waters had been identified. These are listed in the Official Report for 5 May 1988 at column 536 for Scotland, and at columns 571-577 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
41. Mr. Couchman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he is making on implementing those recommendations of the Widdecombe report which do not require primary legislation.
Mr. Gummer : We have established join working groups with the local authority associations to prepare a new set of model standing orders for local authorities ; and to revise the national code of local government conduct.
Mr. Trippier : This information is reported by English local authorities in their annual housing investment programme returns (HIPI). It is shown at column A84 of "Grossed Estimates--HIPI" for 1987 and 1988. Copies of these documents are in the Library. For Welsh figures, I refer the hon. Member for Manchester, Central to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Column 582or fair quality. Some stretches of river in the Soar catchment, at present not meeting their quality objectives, will be improved by 1992 as a result of planned capital expenditure by Severn- Trent water authority to improve unsatisfactory sewage treatment works.
Mr. Howard : Since 31 July 1985, the water authorities have kept public registers with details of applications for, and consents granted in respect of, discharges of effluent, both by the authorities themselves and by others. The registers also contain details of the results of the water authorities' sampling of effluent quality together with the results of their regular monitoring programmes for rivers and estuaries and coastal waters. The registers are kept in accordance with the Control of Pollution (Registers) Regulations 1985 and section 41 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.
44. Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress his Department has made in evaluating a system of local government finance based on a combination of capital value tax and a local income tax.
Mr. Gummer : We published figures illustrating the possible impact of such a system on 23 June 1988. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has undertaken to provide illustrative figures for any hon. Member who asks, on the same basis as those he quoted to my hon. Friends the Members for Fulham (Mr. Carrington) and for Kensington (Mr. Fishburn) on 25 January at column 1013.
47. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the bill paid by a ward sister living in a typical property in Cambridge under a system of (a) community charge and (b) capital value rates plus local income tax.
Mr. Gummer : A ward sister earning £13,000 living in a property in Cambridge worth £50,000 would pay a community charge of £213 (disregarding the transitional safety net) and £465 under a system of capital value rates plus local income tax.
48. Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest figures of households accepted as homeless by local authorities following mortgage repossession for England and Wales.
Mr. Trippier : In the quarter ending December 1988 local authorities accepted responsibility to secure accommodation for an estimated 1,800 households under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act, where the immediate reason for homelessness was mortgage arrears.
For Welsh figures, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Trippier : As I announced in my answer of 10 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes), section 124 of the Housing Act 1988 came into force on that date. It enables tenants whose applications are delayed by the landlord to have rent payments put towards the purchase price of their home. Section 136 of the Act helps local authorities equip themselves to deal with applications by allowing them to use the proceeds of sales to meet the administrative costs.
Mr. Trippier : The Government have provided for an 80 per cent. increase over the next three years in the finance available to the Housing Corporation to provide new houses to rent and to promote low-cost home ownership including shared ownership. The deregulation of new private lettings will also encourage landlords to make more homes available to rent.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Ministers hold regular discussions with the Nature Conservancy Council which cover a range of issues affecting policies for nature conservation and the environment. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State last met the chairman of the council on 26 January. Both my noble Friend the Earl of Caithness and I have met the chairman and the deputy chairman at meetings held during the last three months.
Mr. Trippier : I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's answer to the hon. Member for Wyre (Mr. Mans) on 16 March at column 322 announcing the publication of the consultants' reports on the proposed housing action trust areas. Copies of the consultants' reports on all the proposed areas were placed on that day in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Trippier : The cost of carrying out the report on the proposed Sunderland housing action trust will amount to £198,233, including VAT, when all bills have been paid. This figure covers consultants' fees and the cost of producing reports and leaflets about the proposal.
83. Mr. Faulds : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will release the necessary funds to local authorities for improving the areas identified as potential housing action trusts.
Mr. Trippier : The Government have made extra public expenditure provision available for housing action trusts. It will be for tenants in the areas proposed for trusts to decide whether they wish my right hon. Friend to proceed with the orders necessary to set them up.
60. Mr. Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the total amount of commercial space (a) completed, (b) under construction and (c) with planning permission in the Isle of Dogs enterprise zone ; and if he has an estimate of the total allowances they will be eligible for.
Mr. Trippier : As at 31 March the London Docklands development corporation estimated that 320,000 sq m of commercial floorspace has been constructed since 1981 with another 830,000 sq m under construction. Planning permission is not generally required in enterprise zones but the estimate of commercial floorspace committed in the Isle of Dogs EZ is a further 895,000 sq m.
Estimates of the cost of capital allowances to the Exchequer are based on the total level of investment in construction in enterprise zones and other national data ; they are not available for individual zones.
Mr. Trippier : Under part VI of the Local Government and Housing Bill, local authorities will retain the responsibility for setting rents for their own properties. A number of factors can affect the levels at which councils choose to pitch their rents, including the determinations which my right hon. Friend will make each year as a basis for calculating entitlement for housing revenue account subsidy. A calculation of future rents can be made only one year at a time, when the relevant determinations have been made.
Mr. Trippier : At the latest date for which we have information, 1 April 1988, there were nearly 103,000 local authority dwellings empty in England. Of these, nearly 22,000 were available for immediate letting, and could thus, in theory, have taken every homeless family out of bed-and- breakfast accommodation twice over. However, the right dwellings are not all in the right place at the right time for homeless families. Nevertheless, it is urgent and essential for authorities to make effective use of their empty property. The new financial regime for local authority housing will increase the pressure on councils to do so.
66. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received a copy of the report from the London research centre entitled "The London Housing Survey 1986-87" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : Yes. The Government's housing policies and, in particular the provisions in the Housing Act 1988, which are designed to secure a greater diversity of housing supply, will address many of the issues mentioned in the report.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The main provisions of the Act have all been implemented, with the exception of a few sections of part II which are contained in the water legislation currently before Parliament. The remaining provisions are either reserve powers or are now thought inappropriate.
Mr. Trippier : Over 200 local authorities in England have participated in discussions and received advice under our estate action initiative and by 31 March 1989, 110 had received additional resources totalling £260 million. A further £190 million is being made available under the estate action programme in the current financial year.
71. Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many regional offices of the Housing Corporation have now been established ; and what resources have been committed to the corporation to ensure effective dissemination of the services available.
Mr. Trippier : The Housing Corporation has nine regional offices in England. The Government are providing grant-in-aid of £19.8 million in 1989-90 to meet the administrative costs of the corporation in carrying out its functions.
Mr. Chope : The information requested is not available. I gave my hon. Friend some MAFF data for 1958-68, 1968-78 and 1978-85 in my answer to him on 14 December. My Department's land use change data, which are not comparable with the MAFF series, show that in 1985-87 the average annual area of land recorded by the Ordnance Survey as changing from agricultural to urban use in England was around 5,500 hectares, of which around 3,400 hectares were for residential use. Figures for 1988 will be published later this year.
74. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any proposals to bring empty residential property in the private sector into Housing Association or local authority ownership on a temporary or permanent basis to provide homes for the homeless.
75. Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next intends to meet the president of the Football League and the chairman of the Football Association to discuss identity cards.
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. The average increase for all consumers is likely to be about 11 per cent. Information on the average rates levied on customers charged by rateable value is not yet available.
Mr. Trippier : None. Responsibility for the approval of applicants for the tenants' choice provisions in part IV of the Housing Act 1988 lies in England with the Housing Corporation under its powers in section 94. Once approved, and provided the applicant has secured the necessary degree of tenant support for its application and complied with the Housing Corporation's own procedures, applications can, under section 96 of the Act, be made direct to the appropriate public sector landlord.