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Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the revised numbers of approved places allocated under employment training ; what are the area budgets for the programme ; and what are the allocations of supplementary grant, for each training agency area.
Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the total number of employment training places occupied, by sex, in each of the standard regions and Wales at the latest date for which the information is available.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 19 May 1989] : Information about the numbers of men and women on employment training is not available separately. The number of those entering the programme and the proportions of men and women are given in the table.
Employment training entrants Region |Entrants to 12 May|Men<1> |Women<1> |Per cent. |Per cent. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- South East |17,200 |65 |35 London |26,400 |59 |41 South West |16,200 |68 |32 West Midlands |33,200 |69 |31 East Midlands and Eastern |23,400 |72 |28 Yorkshire and Humberside |41,200 |74 |26 North West |44,900 |72 |28 Northern |30,500 |75 |25 Wales |21,800 |71 |29 <1> Proportions of men and women for period September-end March.
12. Mr. Flannery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the cost for each urban development corporation so far in relation to the relocation of firms under the following headings (a) compensation for land and buildings, (b) disturbance and removal costs and (c) additional payments.
Mr. Trippier : A full, detailed breakdown is not readily available. But total expenditures to date on relocation of firms are as follows : LDDC £8.4 million, black country DC £3.4 million, Trafford park DC £1.4 million, Merseyside DC £0.7 million, Leeds DC £0.2 million.
Mr. Chope : Yes. As at 1 April 1989, 38 of the 433 residential properties owned by the Department of the Environment were empty. Of these only 13 are surplus to requirements and these are in process of disposal on the open market.
25. Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will seek guidance from local authorities and housing associations on the use of empty residential property possessed by his Department.
Mr. Chope : My Department takes every opportunity to advise other Government Departments on the best use of their residential property and to draw to their attention the need to bring empty residential property back into use as early as possible.
Mr. Chope : At present there are no empty properties owned by the Department of the Environment suitable for use as temporary accommodation for the homeless. Should empty residential properties not be required for further Government use and they cannot be sold because of legal restrictions or sold within six months they are offered first to the local housing authority and then to a housing association.
90. Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of properties owned by his Department and suitable for residential accommodation has been empty for more than six months.
Mr. Chope : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) earlier today. The 38 empty properties represent 8.7 per cent. of the total residential property owned by my Department.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will provide a table showing by region of England and Wales the number and percentage of empty residential property owned by his Department.
Region |Number |Percentage |Address ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scotland |11 |2.5 |Custom House, Campbeltown, Argyll (two units) |George Street, Dunoon, Argyll |Hamilton House, Glasgow |Veterinary Research Station, Lasswade, Midlothian (two units) |86 Lomond Road, Wemyss Bay, Inverclyde |9 Windsor Street, Shotts, Motherwell |52, 54, 56 School Road, Peterhead, Banss Buchan (three units) North East |3 |0.7 |Hawkills Estate, Easingwold Hambleton (two units) |Coastguard Station, Redcar, Lanbaurgh North West |1 |0.2 |Courts of Justice, Manchester Eastern |2 |0.4 |26 London Road, Brentwood |Coastguard Station, Felixstowe, Suffolk Coastal London |1 |0.2 |173 Ashley Gardens, Westminster South West |8 |1.9 |Fire Services College, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Cotswold (four units) |Strand House, Isle of Scilly |Shapwick Wireless Depot, Bridgewater, Sedgemoor South East |12 |2.8 |Osborne Estate, East Cowes, Medina (twelve units) |------- |------- |38 |8.7
Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to release property belonging to his Department, which has been empty for more than a year and is suitable for residential accommodation, for use by young people who are at present homeless.
Mr. Chope : At present there are no empty properties suitable for residential accommodation owned by the Department of the Environment which could be made available for use by homeless young people. Empty residential properties owned by my Department for which there is no further Government use are put on the open market for sale. If, because of legal restrictions, they cannot be sold or sold within six months they are offered first to the local housing authority and then to a housing association.
Mr. Trippier : Apart from occasional correspondence, we have received some recent representations on empty public sector housing in the context of our homelessness review. They emphasise the contribution these properties could make to the relief of housing pressures and the need for all public sector landlords to manage their stock efficiently.
19. Sir David Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to protect green lanes and bridleways from use by motorised vehicles ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is already unlawful, by virtue of section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, to drive a motor vehicle on a bridleway. I am aware, however, of concern about legal, but irresponsible and inconsiderate, use by motor vehicles of byways and green lanes. Powers are available to highway authorities to prevent this but my Department is monitoring this situation closely and I will consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport if I consider further legislation necessary.
Mr. Ridley : After enactment of the Water Bill, the National Rivers Authority and the water and sewerage companies will be under the same statutory duties as the present water authorities in respect of public access and amenity on water industry land.
chlorofluorocarbons. The remaining 10 per cent. is accounted for by medical and some industrial aerosols for which suitable substitutes are not yet available.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I welcome the decision of the British Aerosol Manufacturers Association to recommend to its members that all aerosols be labelled, so as to indicate whether or not they contain ozone- damaging chlorofluorocarbons.
Sir Barney Hayhoe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what facilities there are in the United Kingdom for destroying chlorofluorocarbons in an environmentally safe way ; and whether he has any plans to improve upon present arrangements.
Mr. Ridley [holding answer 22 May 1989] : There are very limited facilities currently available in the United Kingdom for incineration of liquefied chlorofluorocarbons and, as yet, no practical methods for destroying foam in an environmentally satisfactory method. The best way forward is to encourage industry to minimise the use of CFCs, and to recycle where practicable. I shall keep disposal arrangements under review in the light of further consideration by the parties to the Montreal protocol.
Mr. Ridley : I estimate that nearly 70 per cent. of pensioner households will pay less with the community charge than they would with rates, and 83 per cent. of single pensioner households will pay less.
Mr. Trippier : Responsibility for the condition of housing in Greater Manchester, as elsewhere, rests with the owners. For properties in private ownership, grants may be available to help to improve them. Where the
Column 586owner is the local authority, my Department's estate action unit continues to provide significant assistance in improving housing conditions on rundown estates.
27. Mr. Burt : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will pay an official visit to Ramsbottom in order to examine the impact of the east Lancashire railway on the development of the local economy.
Mr. Trippier : I visited Summerseat, near Ramsbottom, in February of this year to speak at the launch of the "Irwell Valley Adventure" in which the east Lancashire railway features as a major tourist attraction. I am pleased both with the progress of the railway restoration project itself and the impact it is having on the local economy.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is estimated that 80 per cent. of new cars registered in Great Britain in 1988 could be using unleaded petrol. Of these 33 per cent. could use unleaded petrol straight away and the remaining 47 per cent. after adjustment. Estimates for January 1989 indicate that more than half of the cars currently being registered can now use unleaded petrol without adjustment.
45. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the increase in demand for unleaded petrol since the Budget ; what proposals he has for encouraging the wider use of lead- free petrol ; and what has been the response of other EEC member states to Britain's initiatives to promote lead-free petrol.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Government are firmly committed to the speedy changeover to unleaded petrol. Last year the average uptake of the fuel amounted to only 1 per cent. of the total petrol sales. Following the significant duty differential introduced by the Chancellor in his Budget this year together with the ongoing work of the unleaded petrol group, which I chair, our recent major television advertising campaign and a range of publicity initiatives by the Department, uptake is estimated to have risen to over 15 per cent. We shall continue to campaign vigorously to increase sales still further.
We led the way in securing agreement in the EEC on the introduction of this environment-friendly fuel. Britain now has the second largest duty differential in favour of unleaded petrol within the EEC and is in the top four countries for uptake.
Column 587The changeover to unleaded petrol now is important. It is good for the environment, it makes good financial sense and it paves the way for the introduction of stricter EC vehicle emission standards to which we are committed.
29. Mr. William Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice the Monopolies and Mergers Commission has given about the most effective way of transferring the water industry into the private sector.
Mr. Howard : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission stated in its report on Southern water authority in April 1985 that it did not regard the existing private statutory companies as a useful model for the privatised industry. It took the view that the statutory form of regulation, which limits profits and dividends, conspicuously failed to provide adequate safeguards for the consumer and a profit incentive to management to reduce costs and increase efficiency. I am confident that the Water Bill's chosen route to privatisation on plc lines offers a far more attractive future for the industry, the consumer and the investor.
44. Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will release money to those areas originally designated to be part of a housing action trust, which are not now to be included.
Mr. Trippier : It is for the local authorities concerned to decide, in consultation with their tenants, what future action to take on these estates. The work done by the HAT consultants will assist the Department in assessing any bids for HIP resources.
31. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will meet a deputation from the Ramblers Association to discuss the maintenance of free accessibility to land for the general public following privatisation of the water authorities ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from Cumbria county council and the Lake District planning board on the privatisation of water authority assets.
Mr. Howard : We have received a number of representations from the Lake District planning board about the composition of the regional rivers advisory committees of the National Rivers Authority, consultation arrangements between the national park authorities and the water industry, and the sale of non-operational land. The board's views have been carefully considered. I am not aware of any representations from Cumbria county council.
Mr. Howard : Token provision for this new service has been sought in the main supply estimate for class X vote 9. A supplementary estimate will be presented when the sale has been completed and the final costs are known. Pending approval of these estimates, urgent expenditure will be met by repayable advances from the contingencies fund.
33. Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received regarding the seven new town submissions affecting Appleton Cross and Grappenhall Heys ; and what proportion of them were in favour of the developments.
Mr. Trippier : I have received 2,095 proformas and letters about these submissions, most of which were opposed to the proposals. I have also received three petitions against the proposals containing in total some 7,000 signatures.
52. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many county councils in England currently include in their proposed revised structure plan schemes for building new towns in excess of 10,000 people on existing green belt land ; and if he will list them.
Mr. Chope : I know of no such schemes, other than that proposed in the south-east Dorset structure plan first alteration, of which my hon. Friend will be aware. My right hon. Friend hopes to publish modifications to the South-East Dorset alteration shortly.
34. Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the use of the delay procedure, since its introduction in March, by tenants wishing to exercise their right to buy their council home.
Mr. Trippier : A large number of tenants exercising the right to buy and held up by their landlord have sought advice on the delay procedure, and over 15,000 forms have been sent out, both to tenants direct and to hon. Members and tenants' advisers. But we have no precise information since there is no requirement to inform the Department when delay notices are served.
Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many appeals against valuations under the right-to-buy scheme were made by Greenwich council tenants during (a) 1988 and (b) the first three months of 1989 ; and in how many cases the original valuation was reduced on appeal.
Mr. Trippier : A total of 369 tenants of the council requested determinations of value by the district valuer in 1988, the value determined being lower than the council's in 360 cases. Two hundred and eleven tenants have requested determinations in the first three months of this year, the determination being lower than the original valuation in all the 114 cases dealt with so far.
77. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what instructions he has given to planning authorities to prevent erosion into the green belt ; whether the importance of presumption against development in the green belt still applies ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : Local planning authorities are expected to have regard to the very restrictive planning policies that continue to apply in the green belt, as set out in the Department's planning policy guidance note 2, published in January 1988 : a copy is in the Library. As the guidance makes plain, there is a general assumption against inappropriate development in the green belt.
93. Mr. Wolfson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he has given to the need for local housing authorities situated within the green belt to make provisions, on an exceptional basis, for low-cost housing in their rural area ; and what advice he has offered.
Mr. Trippier : In the first instance it is for local authorities to decide where new housing can be accommodated, taking account of existing planning policies and, where applicable, the relaxation I announced on 3 February for small developments to meet local needs in rural areas. The Government have made provision for a substantial increase in the total resources available to housing associations for subsidised rented housing and for low-cost home ownership, and an increased share of that total will be allocated to smaller rural communities and to those areas where high house prices make access to owner-occupation more difficult.
37. Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements he proposes to recommend to local authorities and housing associations to ensure that the initial benefit of a reduced price available to the purchaser of a house under the low-cost housing scheme can be passed on to subsequent purchasers.
Mr. Trippier : My noble Friend the Minister for Housing, Environment and Countryside recently announced that we have in mind a scheme where housing associations will have a pre-emptive right to buy back a shared ownership property at full market value when the owner sells :
(i) where the house is in a rural area where replacement of a shared ownership dwelling may be difficult ; or
(ii) where a private landowner has contributed a site on condition that it be retained for low-cost housing.
This repurchase arrangement enables the association to resell with the benefit of a reduced price, without restricting the right of the shared owner to become the full owner of his home.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : At the "London saving the ozone layer conference" 20 countries said that they would become parties to the Montreal protocol, and a further 14 said that they would give serious consideration to doing so.