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40. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning the proposed re- organisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Department has received some representations mainly from or on behalf of local authorities. They have been concerned primarily with the need to maintain existing lines of communication with inspectorate staff following implementation of the reorganisation proposals.
One of the objectives of the proposed reorganisation is to produce a more effective deployment of resources. The importance of effective links with local authorities is recognised and maintaining communication with them will be an essential element in developing the reorganisation proposals.
41. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he takes to ensure that advice is available to a young person without a parental home looking to be housed in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Trippier : I can answer only for England. In the current year my Department will provide grants totalling nearly £700,000 to over 20 voluntary housing advice agencies. Many of these provide assistance to young people without a parental home.
42. Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the business of the forthcoming meeting of the European Council of Environment Ministers, which is to be held on 8 June. 69. Mr. James Lamond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the
ss of the forthcoming meeting of the European Council of Environment Ministers, which is to be held on 8 June. 84. Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the business of the forthcoming meeting of the European Council of Environment Ministers, which is to be held on 8 June.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is for the Spanish presidency to decide on the agenda for meetings of the European Council of Ministers. It has not yet confirmed an agenda for the European Council meeting of Environment Ministers on 8 June.
43. Mr. Gow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many houses and how many flats are owned by local authorities ; and what new proposals he has to extend the opportunity for them to become owner- occupied.
Mr. Trippier : In April 1988 local authorities in England owned some 4.5 million dwellings, about a third of them flats or maisonettes. Following the new discount scale for flats introduced in January 1987 sales of flats increased from 9 per cent. to 17.6 per cent. as a proportion of all sales. Tenants of both houses and flats have recently been helped to buy their homes by an increase in the maximum discount to £50,000 and by a new power to have rent deducted from the purchase price if the landlord delays the sale.
Mr. Trippier : At 1 April 1988, the latest date for which figures are currently available there were 1,156 empty properties owned by the London borough of Lambeth. There are no separate figures for houses alone.
50. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council tenants in Lambeth were waiting for their applications to buy their homes to be processed at the latest date for which figures are available.
Mr. Trippier : On 30 April 1989, according to figures supplied by Lambeth, 2,086 applicants were waiting for the council to take the next step in processing the sale of their homes, either by confirming the tenant's right-to-buy or providing a valuation.
Mr. Howard : No. The 1986 White Paper "Privatisation of Water Industry in England and Wales" explained that we had rejected the statutory company model because it was an outdated method of operating a business. The controls on dividend and reserves do not give any incentive to achieve greater efficiency. We firmly believe that the plc company model with controls on prices and standards of service will provide a better and more efficient service, and will enable the privatised companies to develop in ways that will benefit their customers and investors alike.
49. Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action was taken to implement part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (a) between its enactment and May 1979 and (b) since May 1979.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The main provisions of part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 were implemented 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.
Prior to May 1979, only five relatively minor sections of part II were brought into force.
Mr. Trippier : Ballots will not take place until we are satisfied that tenants have had time to consider fully the consultants' reports on the areas and to put forward their own ideas for improving their estates.
Mr. Moynihan : This information is not held centrally. However, the regional offices of the Sports Council maintain records on the major sports facilities within their regions and the Sports Council is in the process of building up a sports facilities database for England.
Mr. Trippier : Estimates of numbers and proportions of dwellings in owner occupation in England in December 1979 and December 1988 appear in Table 2.22 of "Housing and Construction Statistics, Part 2", volume 36, a copy of which is available in the Library.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend receives three or four applications each year under schedule 24 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 to discharge or modify agreements made under section 34 of the Town and
Column 594Country Planning Act 1932 which restrict the planning, development or use of land ; some of these applications are opposed.
57. Mr. Harris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of sewage treatment works failed their discharge consents (a) in May 1979 and (b) at the most recent date for which figures are available.
Mr. Howard : Information on sewage treatment works failing their consents was not collected by the Government in May 1979. Numbers of sewage treatment works in each water authority area in England and Wales that have numerical discharge consent conditions, numbers tested and non-compliance in 1986 and 1987, together with the figures returned by authorities for 1988 are as follows.
Works in breach of consent Water authority Number Number tested Number Percentage of works tested |1986 |1987 |1988 |1986 |1987 |1988 |1986 |1987 |1988 |1986 |1987 |1988 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Anglian |782 |760 |775 |774 |754 |748 |309 |260 |208 |40 |34 |28 Northumbrian |196 |182 |178 |196 |182 |178 |37 |27 |26 |19 |15 |15 North West |458 |448 |441 |458 |448 |441 |62 |55 |43 |14 |12 |10 Severn-Trent |773 |753 |808 |762 |742 |751 |179 |160 |112 |23 |22 |15 Southern |282 |274 |273 |282 |274 |271 |54 |39 |41 |19 |14 |15 South West |226 |226 |232 |188 |219 |228 |55 |65 |68 |29 |30 |30 Thames |374 |382 |378 |374 |379 |378 |67 |70 |60 |18 |18 |16 Welsh |803 |764 |710 |668 |611 |650 |112 |108 |107 |17 |18 |17 Wessex |272 |272 |272 |272 |270 |272 |39 |39 |16 |14 |11 |6 Yorkshire |380 |360 |360 |380 |351 |354 |88 |74 |61 |23 |21 |17 England and Wales |4,546|4,421|4,427|4,354|4,230|4,271|1,002|887 |742 |23 |21 |17
Mr. Howard : Representations have been received from Oxfordshire county council and South Oxfordshire district council, suggesting some minor modifications to our proposals for the future development plans. These comments will be considered, along with those received from other organisations and authorities, as draft legislation is prepared to implement the White Paper proposals.
61. Mr. Watts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates he has of the relative effect of (a) a system of capital value rates plus local income tax and (b) the community charge on an average ward sister.
Mr. Gummer : Last year ward sister's earning £13,000 and living in properties valued at £40,000 would have paid on average about £450 in a system of capital value rates plus local income tax compared to £246 with the community charge.
78. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has had any representations to introduce a local income tax instead of the rating system and the community charge ; and what would be the amount payable in local income tax by a man on average earnings.
Mr. Gummer : Not surprisingly I have received hardly any representations in favour of a local income tax. Based on 1988-89 figures for local authority spending, the average local income tax rate needed in England would have been 6.4p in the pound. If the tax were at that level in a particular local authority area, the payment for a person on male average earnings, with only the single person's tax allowance, would have been about £650.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : On 1 January 1986 the permitted lead content of petrol was reduced from 0.4 g per litre to 0.15 g per litre. The Warren Spring laboratory has been monitoring the effects of the reduction on the concentration of lead in the atmosphere for the
Column 595Department. Its estimate, based on this work, is that currently 75 per cent. of the lead in the air is derived from lead in petrol.
65. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest figure for the number of applications by water authorities for the relaxation of sewage works discharge consents.
Mr. Howard : On 7 December at column 199, I announced a capital programme costing around £1 billion to bring sewage treatment works into compliance with their discharge consents by March 1992. Water authorities may apply for time-limited discharge consents for these works to regularise current performance while improvements take place. Some 785 such applications have been received from English water authorities. A list of those sewage works for which these applications have been made has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend announced on 16 March that detailed consultation would be carried out with tenants on the proposal to designate a housing action trust in Sunderland. This consultation process is under way.
68. Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to the effect of the privatisation of the management of sports facilities upon the public use of swimming baths and playing fields.
Mr. Moynihan : A number of local authorities have put the management of their leisure facilities out to competition. My Department does not have complete information on the impact of those decisions. However, to take one example, after eight months of private sector management at three leisure centres owned by Westminster city council, public use has increased on average by over 60 per cent.
70. Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received about the proposed new arrangements for capital receipts and the impact these will have on local authority housing programmes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : Over 450 responses were received to my Department's consultation paper "Capital Expenditure and Finance" and a number of further representations have been received following the introduction of the Local Government and Housing Bill. More than half of these have commented on the proposed arrangements for capital receipts in the new capital finance system. Those arrangements will ensure prudential provision for debt redemption when local authority assets are disposed of. They will also allow the Government to target resources efficiently on need, including the need for local authority housing programmes.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : On 10 January I met a delegation from the Ramblers Association at which a range of topics relating to access to the countryside were discussed. I also met representatives of the Country Landowners Association on 21 February. Officials are in regular contact with all the organisations concerned with countryside access.
Mr. Moynihan : The Sports Council funds the drug control and testing centre and conducts doping controls on behalf of and in co-operation with the governing bodies. In April 1988, following a report by Sebastian Coe and
Column 597myself, the council introduced more rigorous procedures for doping control requiring random testing of competitors. This includes testing out of competition and collection of samples by independent sampling officers. I have proposed a European convention on the use of drugs in sport based on these procedures. This will be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of European Sports Ministers in Reykjavik on 31 May and 1 June.
83. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by what amount spending by his Department on environmental research has increased over the past five years for which figures are available.
Mr. Ridley : Spending by my Department on environmental research, covering research on environmental protection, water, planning and local government, has increased by £7.8 million from £21.8 million in 1984-85 to £29.6 million in 1988-89.
85. Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the amount of recreational land currently available for general community use ; what was the comparable figure 10 years ago ; and what steps he is taking to monitor the situation and ensure that the local authorities are able to provide for increased public participation in sport and recreation.
Mr. Moynihan : This information is not held centrally. However, some local studies have been undertaken and these suggest that in a number of areas gains in provision outweigh losses. The regional councils for sport and recreation work with the local authorities to increase participation in sport and to monitor the provision of recreational land. The regional councils seek to ensure that well used recreational land is retained for that purpose.
86. Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many areas have been identified by the Nature Conservancy Council as suitable for marine nature reserves ; and when these reserves will be established.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Nature Conservancy Council has identified seven sites that, in its opinion, have the potential to be designated as marine nature reserves. One of these sites, Lundy Island, was designated as a marine nature reserve in November 1986. In view of the further scientific work that will be required, and the extensive consultation procedures that form a necessary part of the designation process, it is not possible to forecast when the other reserves might be established.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : One marine nature reserve at Lundy Island, has been designated under the 1981 Act so far. Proposals for a second MNR, at Skomer and the Marloes peninsula, are currently being considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
87. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next expects to review planning and development control policies for the conurbations of England and Wales with a view to possible legislative adjustments.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by year for the last 10 years, how many hectares of (a) statutory and (b) temporary allotment sites have been granted outline planning permission ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : This is a matter for English Heritage to determine, within its overall resources of grant-in-aid from this Department and other sources of income. In its budget of £72,399 million for the current financial year it has allocated £7.2 million for archaeological investigations and recording.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Department has no comprehensive information about the details of planning decisions made by local planning authorities. Information about planning decisions made by the Secretary of State, or decisions on scheduled monument consent applications, which have led to archaeological sites being covered by development could only be assembled at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much open space is included in the proposed HAT area in Lambeth ; and how much public open space will remain if the consultants' proposals for the HAT in this area are implemented.