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Mr. Kenneth Baker : My Department will be sending to schools and LEAs on 31 May a circular on the provisions of section 5 of the Education Reform Act 1988, together with a list of qualifications and syllabuses approved for use in maintained schools for compulsory school age pupils. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
(2) whether he intends to consult with outside organisations about the recommendations in the Morris committee report about the future of research councils ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) whether he will place a copy in the Library of the Morris committee report on the future of research councils.
Mr. Jackson : The review of research councils' responsibilities for biological sciences, undertaken by a group chaired by Mr. J. R. S. Morris, was commissioned by the Advisory Board for the Research Councils. I understand that the board intends to submit detailed advice to my right hon. Friend taking account of the research councils' comments on the review group's recommendations, which it is currently eliciting. My right hon. Friend will be considering these matters later in the year in the light of the ABRC's advice. A copy of Mr. Morris's report was placed in the Library last month.
Mr. Butcher : My right hon. Friend has no current plans to introduce measures regarding the confidentiality of personal information pupils' education records. If the hon. Member has in mind a particular problem perhaps he would care to write to me.
Mr. Kenneth Baker [pursuant to the reply, 22 May 1989, c. 370] : I intend to publish the school teachers' pay and conditions document 1989 on Tuesday 30 May and on the same day to make the order which will give effect to the provisions in it. A copy of the 1989 document and its accompanying circular will be sent to each local education authority. Copies of the 1989 document will be placed in the Vote Office.
Mr. Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on proposals for the improvement of traffic conditions in Parliament square and the environs of the Palace of Westminster which would ease the flow of traffic, benefit pedestrians and make access easier for hon. Members ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Channon : Westminster city council as the responsible highway authority recently agreed a series of measures. New traffic signals will be installed at the south-east and south-west corners of the square to control traffic and improve access to the central island. There will be improved pedestrian facilities at the north-east and north-west corners, and at the junction of Storey's gate and Broad sanctuary, where the channelling of vehicles will also be improved. Congestion will be reduced at the junction of Storey's gate and Great George street by banning the right turn from Storey's gate and at the junction of Abingdon street and Great Peter street, by discouraging obstruction of traffic turning right from Abingdon street. Cyclists will be allowed to turn right from Bridge street to Parliament street. In addition the city council will ask consultants to re- examine the existing bus lanes, coach queuing in Abingdon street and pedestrian facilities to the Houses of Parliament across Abingdon street.
I welcome Westminster city council's positive proposals for these improvements. I am sure that they will bring appreciable benefits to traffic, pedestrians and to Members of Parliament. I shall be asking them to add a study of lorry controls. The Government are prepared to assist the city council in pursuing its aims. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is already
Column 798considering, in consultation with it, possible changes to improve the appearance of the square. When all these improvements are in place, Parliament square will be a more efficient route for necessary traffic and a safer and more pleasant place for other users.
Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list at 1987-88 prices capital and current spending on (a) the national roads system and (b) local roads in each year from 1974-75 to 1987 -88 and the estimated outturn for 1988-89.
National Roads £M Local Roads £M |Current<4>|Capital<4>|Current<3>|Capital ------------------------------------------------------------------ 1974-75 |315 |2,271 |1,408 |1,156 1975-76 |295 |1,868 |1,357 |1,138 1976-77 |273 |1,409 |1,261 |1,067 1977-78 |229 |902 |1,246 |707 1978-79 |235 |801 |1,350 |650 1979-80 |203 |708 |1,242 |760 1980-81 |96 |949 |1,247 |817 1981-82 |132 |969 |1,342 |705 1982-83 |104 |1,099 |1,328 |797 1983-84 |115 |1,037 |1,323 |810 1984-85 |123 |1,040 |1,296 |776 1985-86 |119 |999 |1,293 |790 1986-87 |135 |1,001 |1,379 |822 <2>1987-88 |116 |1,094 |1,383 |753 <1>1988-89 |129 |1,043 |1,350 |732 <1>All figures for 1988-89 are estimated outturn. <2>Local roads figures for 1987-88 are estimated outturn. <3>Excludes local authority professional and technical support. <4>Structural maintenance on national roads was re-classified as capital expenditure in 1983. Figures in the series 1979-80-1988-89 reflect this classification while figures in the series 1974-75-1979-80 do not.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We are making better progress than almost anywhere else in the world. Latest attitude surveys show an increasing understanding that drinking and driving do not mix. Changing attitudes are particularly marked among young men--our prime target group, although we still need to see faster progress among middle-aged men. The surveys found that over the last 10 years the numbers of men who admit to driving after drinking alcohol have nearly halved. The proportion driving after drinking six plus units of alcohol has fallen by over two thirds.
The number of accidents where drink is a factor also appears to be decreasing. The number of drivers in an accident who failed a breath test reached a peak of 14,000 in 1979, and has since fallen to 13,500 in 1980 and to 11,000 in 1987. The proportion of drivers or riders killed in accidents who were found to have an illegal blood alcohol level fell from 31 per cent. in 1980 to 23 per cent in 1987.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Eastwood on 18 May, Official Report, column 279, if he will place in the Library a detailed note of the views he received from political parties both for and against a review of Scottish lowland airports policy.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Views of members of political parties on the case for a review of Scottish lowland airports policy have been put to Ministers in private correspondence and at private meetings. It would be for those concerned to make their views public, if they wished.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Eastwood, 18 May, Official Report, column 279, if he will list those organisations who made representations to him against a review of Scottish lowland airports policy.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Representations to my right hon. Friend about Scottish lowland airports policy have taken the form of private correspondence. It would be for those concerned to make their views public, if they wished.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he has given to the survey of the views of hon. Members on Scottish lowland airports policy published on Friday 19 May ; what conclusions he has reached ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider introducing amending legislation to facilitate the creation of a statutory consumer body to receive complaints about services run by the BAA plc at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Prestwick airports.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : My right hon. Friend is satisfied that the interests of airport users are sufficiently secured by the economic regulation provisions of the Airport Act 1986, by the Fair Trading Act 1973 and the Competition Act 1980.
Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport inspected overcrowding and safety at the Wembley tube station tunnel during his visit to the cup final last Saturday.
Mr. Orme : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had, and what representations have been made to him, to rectify the overcrowding in the Wembley tube station tunnel at Wembley way during football matches and pop concerts.
Column 800Department has been discussing with the London borough of Brent a scheme to replace the tunnel. Wembley Stadium plc along with the Metropolitan and British Transport police, London Underground Ltd. and officers from Brent council liaise closely not only on the day of events by additionally on a six-weekly basis throughout the year.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire of 18 May, Official Report, column 276, what methods of assessment and forms of monitoring are being adopted by his Department to assess how far local authorities are co- operating actively and fully in the ownership, development, management and running of airports.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what caused the incident at Stratford station in the London borough of Newham on 24 May ; how many passengers received hospital treatment ; what members of staff of London Underground Ltd. were present at the scene of the incident ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : A Central line train was halted at Stratford station at about 08.30 when overheated brake blocks began to emit smoke. The problem was dealt with by the train crew, but the fire brigade was called as a precautionary measure. British Rail manages all train services at this station and its staff correctly detrained passengers from the defective train and from following trains. One passenger was taken to hospital.
London Underground's main concern was to release passengers on the two trains halted in tunnel between Stratford and Leyton. Instructions were passed by radio from the line controller to the drivers of those trains. A London Underground carriage examiner was in attendance at Stratford and was able to declare the previously defective train fit for service at 09.35.
Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what estimate has been made of the costs of shutting down advanced gas reactor nuclear power stations in circumstances where the facilities for the storage of spent fuel prove inadequate.
Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has as to the results of assessment by BNFL and the Central Electricity Generating Board of the corrosive qualities of spent advanced gas reactor fuel.
Mr. Parkinson : British Nuclear Fuels plc has carried out considerable research into techniques incorporating the use of corrosion inhibitors in its fuel-handling plants. These techniques are being successfully applied to the storage of spent advanced gas-cooled reactor fuel at Sellafield.
Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether there are any proposals to improve the facilities at BNFL for the wet storage of spent nuclear fuel from advanced gas-cooled reactors ; and what length of time it is estimated that the spent fuel can be kept in wet storage without a significant risk of corrosion.
Mr. Parkinson : I understand that the spent fuel from advanced gas- cooled reactors can be kept in wet storage at Sellafield, without significant risk of corrosion, until it is reprocessed in the thermal oxide reprocessing plant. The fuel will be stored in existing facilities and no improvements to them are necessary.
Ample storage capacity exists at Sellafield to handle spent AGR fuel, both before the completion of THORP and well into the future.
Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he now expects the THORP reprocessing plant to be completed ; if he proposes to increase BNFL's borrowing limit to speed the progress of construction ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many female police officers are currently qualified to carry firearms ; what were the figures for five and 10 years ago ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the level of financial support given to date, including the cost of preparing the site, to the Health Care International proposed hospital at Clydebank.
Mr. Lang : Financial support levels are negotiated with individual companies on a commercially confidential basis. Expenditure to date in direct support of this project has been confined to assistance with feasibility studies, funded through the Scottish Development Agency. The
Column 802cost of site works cannot be regarded as specific to this project, since these would have had to be undertaken in any event, for environmental and safety reasons.
Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how many Scottish Development Association staff are currently employed in dealing with the Health Care International proposed hospital at Clydebank.
Mr. Lang : No Scottish Development Agency staff are currently or have ever been employed full time in dealing with the Health Care International project. In view of the major investment and employment potential of the project, a number of people in the agency have dealt with aspects of the project as the need arose.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Eastwood on 19 May, if he will list the other factors he took into account in commenting on the BAA's request for a review of Scottish lowland airports policy.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Yes, in a number of ways. It was intelligence- gathering and research by the state veterinary service which identified bovine spongiform encephalopathy as a new disease of cattle in November 1986. Further research at the CVL and neuropathogenesis unit, Edinburgh, has shown that it is one of a group of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
The most likely cause of the disease, which is the feeding of ruminant- based rations originating from scrapie-infected sheep, was established through research at the CVL as part of a comprehensive study of herds with affected cattle. As soon as this became clear the Government imposed, from 18 July last year, a feed ban on ruminant based protein.
When the clinical symptoms of the disease and techniques available to confirm it were firmly established through the examination of brain tissue it was, on 21 June 1988, made notifiable.
In April 1988 the Government set up an independent working party under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Southwood, professor of zoology at Oxford university, to look at bovine spongiform encephalopathy and to advise, particularly on any human health implications.
Column 803An interim recommendation was made in June 1988 that, although there was no evidence of a risk to humans, as a precautionary measure all cattle suspected of having bovine spongiform encephalopathy should be slaughtered and destroyed to take them out of the food chain. The Government acted promptly on this and the slaughter policy began on 8 August.
A research committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. David Tyrrell, has been established to advise on research in relation to bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies following another interim recommendation. Further interim recommendations were made in November 1988, first, again as a precautionary measure, to destroy milk from suspect cattle and secondly to extend the feed ban indefinitely. Legislative measures came into force in December to prohibit the use of that milk for human or animal consumption (except the cow's own calf) and to extend the feed ban. It will continue in force unless methods which destroy the bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent can be identified.
Following the publication of the Southwood report on 27 February 1989, which welcomed the Government's action to deal with the disease, including the pre-empity and present implementation of interim recommendations, and which concluded that the risk of transmission to humans was remote, the Government agreed to take further measures as part of a comprehensive response to all the working party's recommendations. These are :
Following expert advice, the establishment shortly of a research project which will continue the study already under way to determine whether cattle to cattle transmission can take place.
The issuing by 15 March of additional guidance to medicine manufacturers using bovine material on good manufacturing practice. A continuing and thorough research programme into the epidemiological background to the disease, its transmissibility, and genetic and microbiological aspects. The Government will also be taking into account the advice given to them by the Tyrrell committee.
A review by the Health and Safety Executive to determine what guidance may be appropriate in relation to all diseases of animals, including BSE, that may present a hazard during occupational exposure.
Although there is no evidence of a link between Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease and scrapie, the monitoring of the former so that any change in the pattern of the disease is detected.
As a matter of extreme prudence, following a suggestion in the Southwood report, the introduction of legislation to guard against any future use of certain offals in baby food, even though they are not currently used in their manufacture.
The Government's commitment to protecting human and animal health following the emergence of BSE is clearly shown by the action already taken and the further action which will be taken if it is shown to be necessary. In financial terms it will probably mean a resource commitment in excess of £6 million in this financial year.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Caerphilly of 18 May, Official Report, columns 291-92, what methods are used in attempting to transmit spongiform encephalopathies to the various species involved in the experiments.
Column 804Member for Caerphilly of 18 May, Official Report, columns 294-95, what certification is supplied to Germany and Israel in respect of meat and bone meal and bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; what monitoring and analysis of the meat and bone meal is carried out by the United Kingdom authorities ; how long this certification has been required ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : At the request of the authorities of the Federal Republic, the certification will confirm that the consignment does not contain material derived from cattle which, when slaughtered, were under official restriction due to suspicion of BSE. No analysis or monitoring in respect of BSE is required. Local veterinary inspectors appointed by the Ministry sign export certificates and are responsible for ensuring that consignments have been produced in accordance with the requirement of the importing country. No certification is being supplied at present for the exports to Israel. We are entering into discussion with Israel about its requirements. We were first advised by Israel and Germany of new certification requirements in November and December 1988 respectively.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Caerphilly of 22 May, Official Report, column 375, whether he intends to initiate legal action for libel against the BBC Radio 4 "Face the Facts" programme over its allegations concerning the Southwood committee's recommendations on compensation for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice he has received concerning the level of infectiousness of protein derived from bovine spongiform encephalopathy infected cattle which have been slaughtered prior to the onset of clinical symptoms of the disease.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been done to ensure that meat and bone meal exported from the United Kingdom are free of the agents causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy or scrapie.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has received any representations or interim reports from the Tyrrell committee on research into transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.
Mr. Donald Thompson : We have no specific programme to combat crayfish plague which has been established in our main crayfish river systems for a number of years. To combat this disease effectively would be both difficult and costly.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Spring viraemia of carp is one of eight notifiable fish diseases in England and Wales. My Department investigates suspected cases of this disease, designates those sites found to be infected, and imposes appropriate movement restrictions. In February this year we issued an advisory leaflet on the disease including guidance on the steps that could be taken to safeguard against its spread.
Mr. Donald Thompson : As my noble Friend the Minister of State at the Scottish Office announced on 4 May, the Government have decided that further consultations should take place on schemes for salmon dealer licensing in England and Wales and in Scotland. We intend to issue consultation papers shortly inviting early comments. The details of the schemes, and their timetables for introduction, will be considered in the light of comments received.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The salmon advisory committee is continuing to work on aspects of its remit on the factors affecting salmon stocks though I cannot predict when the committee will be ready to submit its next report to Ministers.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he carries out tests on strawberries imported from Holland to establish whether they have been irradiated ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) whether he carries out tests on vegetables imported from Holland to establish whether they have been irradiated ; and if he will make a statement.