The Prime Minister : No. The housing benefit scheme for England, Scotland and Wales has a statutory disregard, currently set at £5 a week, of any war disablement or war widow's pension, and local authorities have discretion to enhance this disregard. The separate housing benefit scheme in Northern Ireland has a statutory disregard of all such pensions.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Prime Minister in the period of her premiership for which the latest figures are available, what percentage of Government expenditure on publicity has been spent to encourage people to register to vote.
The Prime Minister : Total expenditure over this period on Government publicity to encourage people to register to vote could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Expenditure on electoral registration advertising as a percentage of all Government advertising has been as follows :
Year |Percent|Year |Percent ---------------------------------------- 1979-80 |<1>n.a.|1984-85|0.57 1980-81 |0.03 |1985-86|0.59 1981-82 |<1>n.a.|1986-87|0.30 1982-83 |0.46 |1987-88|0.29 1983-84 |0.53 |1988-89|0.31 <1> Not available.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if his Department has placed any restrictions on any category of information that may be disclosed by nuclear power station operators to the World Association of Nuclear Operators established in May.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The World Association of Nuclear Operators is an association of nuclear power plant operators established to facilitate the exchange of information relating purely to nuclear power plant safety. The United Kingdom's members are free to exchange such information.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list how many natural circulation tests have been carried out in the United Kingdom's Magnox nuclear power stations giving their locations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : This is an operational matter for the Central Electricity Generating Board, and British Nuclear Fuels plc. They are responsible for the operation of Magnox power stations in England and Wales. I will ask their respective chairmen to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if the Central Electricity Generating Board has indicated to him how it intends to deal with the Wigner energy problem at Berkeley nuclear power station now that both reactors have been closed down ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : I am advised by the CEGB that Wigner energy does not present a problem in the decommissioning of Berkeley power station. The board will have to satisfy the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate before undertaking each stage of decommissioning.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if the Central Electricity Generating Board has any plans to carry out natural circulation tests at any of the operational Magnox power stations to further research into understanding the Wigner energy problem ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Spicer : I am advised that natural circulation tests on nuclear plant have no connection with research into understanding the Wigner energy phenomenon. Any natural circulation tests would be subject to the agreement of the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will bring forward provisions in the Electricity Bill to enable electricity meters to be repositioned so that they are accessible for disabled people and to ensure that any charges for this service will be borne by the supplier ;
(2) what provision he is proposing for the Electricity Bill to enable electricity meters to be adapted for use by disabled people ; (3) what provision he is proposing for the Electricity Bill to enable electricity meters to be installed in places that are accessible for disabled people.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The draft public electricity supply licence requires the licensee to produce a code of practice specifically aimed at the elderly and disabled. This code would cover special services available to these groups including such matters as the provision of special controls and adaptors for electrical appliances and meters and the placement of meters for convenient access. Where a meter is repositioned, the supplier would have the right to recover from the consumer any costs reasonably incurred. Community care grants are available from the social fund to those in receipt of income support to help with the cost of resiting meters to allow disabled people easier access.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The electricity industry currently operates a voluntary code of practice which offers a number of protections against disconnection for consumers in difficulty, and makes special provision for the blind, severely sick and the disabled. The draft public electricity supply licence requires the licensee to produce a similar code to ensure that this approach continues after privatisation.
Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) how much of the tonnage of rock likely to be required for a Severn tidal barrage will come from the limestone quarries of the Mendips and south Wales ; whether studies are proceeding as to the likely social effects of such quarrying ; and whether studies are proceeding as to the likely effects of such quarrying on road and rail links ; (2) what are his latest estimates of the overall capital cost of a Severn tidal barrage at current prices ;
(3) what assessment he has made of the implications of electricity privatisation on (a) the programme studies into the effect of the proposed Severn tidal barrage, (b) the consideration in committee of these studies, (c) consultation with the public and (d) the consultation process with the European Community ;
(4) what substantive decisions have been made with regard to a Severn tidal barrage since November 1987 ; and if he will make a statement ;
(5) when he expects the results of the further studies into the feasibility of a Severn tidal barrage to be available ; and what form their publication will take ;
(6) whether longer-term studies into potential damage to sensitive wildfowl species including wildlife and waders arising from the building of the proposed Severn tidal barrage will be undertaken before a decision is reached on the building of the barrage ; (7) which organisations will be represented on the committee to evaluate the information generated by the studies into a Severn tidal barrage ; who will be the members ; how significant environmental interests will be represented ; and how regional industrial and service interests will be represented.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Studies of a Severn tidal energy barrage are nearing completion and I expect to receive a report in the next few months. A summary document of the work will be published in the energy paper series, and supporting reports by the Severn tidal power group will also be published. It is premature at this stage for me to comment on the results of the study or any further work which may be necessary. Whilst the current work includes a study of regional aspects of the barrage project, financial and related issues will be examined in the time-scale of the privatisation of the electricity supply industry.
Mr. Parkinson : My Department's contacts with journalists are based on requests for information from the media generally, and on regular contact with relevant specialist correspondents. My Department has contact also with a wider spectrum of newspapers, broadcasting organisations, and specialist journals, as appropriate.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list in the Official Report the representations he has received regarding alleged anti- competitive practices by the Eastern electricity board.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The public electricity supply licence, which, subject to passage of the Electricity Bill, will be granted to the successors of the area boards, will prohibit cross subsidies between a licensee's separate businesses.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigated and reported (Cmnd. 8812) on the direction and management by the London electricity board of its business of retailing domestic electrical goods, spare parts and ancillary goods. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission also considered retailing activities in its reports on some other area boards.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what progress has been made regarding proposals for the application off shore of regulations dealing with safety representatives and safety committees.
Mr. Parkinson [pursuant to the reply, 31 January 1989, c. 156] : I have today laid before each House the Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989. Prior to the making of these regulations extensive consultations were carried out with organisations representing those persons likely to be affected by them including Government bodies, employers and trade unions. They have been made on the advice of the Health and Safety Commission under the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971. The effect of the regulations will be that every offshore worker, including contractors' employees, can make a positive contribution to promoting health and safety on offshore installations through elected safety representatives and safety committees.
Mr. Butcher : The proposal to establish St. Benedict's school was approved by the Secretary of State on 2 April 1987. The total cost of the building project to extend and adapt the school premises is £1.8 million. A total of £1.4 million of this will be met by the governors, who will receive 85 per cent. grant from the Department on that expenditure. The local education authority intends to meet the remaining costs of approximately £400,000, including the cost of necessary internal redecoration, and this was taken into account in determining its prescribed capital expenditure allocation for 1989-90.
Mr. Jackson : The White Paper "Top-up Loans for Students" (Cm 520) contained, in annex G, a discussion of possible objections which had been expressed in evidence to the review of student support. The potential participation by the banks and other financial institutions in the administration of the scheme is under consideration ; my right hon. Friend will announce his conclusions in due course.
Mr. Jackson : The estimated costs to public funds of the Government's proposals of top-up loans were set out in annex E of the White Paper "Top-up Loans for Students" (Cm 520). That estimate excluded administrative costs, which have yet to be determined.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to provide the extra specialist training and resources necessary to enable children with special needs to have access to the national curriculum.
Mr. Butcher : I refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave to the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) on 15 May at column 2 and the hon. Member for Redcar (Ms. Mowlam) on 6 June at column 16.
Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will appoint a nursery teacher to the group examining a curriculum for the under-fives, chaired by the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold).
Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to announce his proposals for the restoration of collective bargaining for the determination of teachers' pay and conditions.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Attorney-General if he will give the total numbers of staff employed by the Crown Prosecution Service in the year prior to the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, and for each subsequent year stating whether such staff are qualified or unqualified ; and if he will give also (a) the number of cases reviewed and (b) the number of cases conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service in each such year.
The Attorney-General : The Crown Prosecution Service did not employ any staff prior to its formation on 1 April 1986. The total numbers of staff employed by the Crown Prosecution Service since April 1986 are :
|Total staff |Total lawyers included -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 April 1986 |1,360 |585 1 April 1987 |3,374 |1,245 1 April 1988 |3,864 |1,311 1 April 1989 |4,322 |1,398
The figures for the year of its formation reflect the fact that until 1 October 1986 the service was established only in the metropolitan counties excluding Greater London ; elsewhere it operated in parallel with county prosecuting solicitors' departments. In addition to the lawyers in post on 1 April 1989, 133 unestablished lawyers were also employed, reducing the shortfall to 261 or 15 per cent.
The Crown Prosecution Service does not collect statistics on the number of cases received or conducted, but does collect statistics on the number of defendants. The available figures, based on the number of defendants, are :
|Received by Crown |Prosecuted in Magistrates|Prosecuted in Crown |Prosecution Service |Courts |Courts ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 October 1986-31 March 1987 |824,000 |611,000 |40,000 1 April 1987-31 March 1988 |1,548,000 |1,335,000 |135,000 1 April 1988-31 March 1989 |1,574,000 |1,328,000 |143,000
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he intends to make any arrangements in order to enable those married couples who wish to share the benefits of the married couple's allowance equally between them from 1990 to do so.
Mr. Norman Lamont : No. The married couple's allowance which will be introduced under independent taxation in April 1990 will be given in the first instance to the husband. If he has insufficient income to use part or all of the allowance himself he will be able to transfer the surplus to his wife. Allowing married couples generally to share the married couple's allowance between them would add considerably to the complexity of independent taxation and would delay its introduction. Fewer than one in 300 couples would gain any financial advantage from this additional complexity.
Mr. Lilley : Fishing licences, which are issued by water authorities, are not liable to VAT. It is proposed that the National Rivers Authority will take over responsibility for the issue of these licences. Their correct VAT treatment, when this happens, is currently being discussed by Customs and Excise, the Department of the Environment and MAFF.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was accrued to the Exchequer from Wales, for the last year for which figures are available in (a) income tax, (b) corporation tax, (c) value added tax and (d) Customs and Excise duty.
In 1986-87, the income tax liabilities of residents of Wales were estimated to be about £1,500 million.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will obtain a copy in English for his departmental library of the speech by Commissioner Scrivener with regard to the harmonisation of value added tax.
Mr. Lilley : I assume that the hon. Member is referring to Commissioner Scrivener's draft communication to the Council of 17 May. I am making arrangements for the final English version of the communication to be placed in the House Library as soon as it is available.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has in respect of the figures given by him to the House on 7 June of comparative inflation rates in the United Kingdom and in Italy on the precise components in each of the two calculations of housing costs.
Mr. Lilley : The inflation rate given for the United Kingdom was for the increase over the year to April in the all items RPI excluding mortgage interest payments. In the quoted Italian index of consumer prices owner- occupier housing costs are not included.
Mr. Brooke [holding answer 6 June 1989] : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer attended the informal meeting of European Community Finance Ministers in S'Agaro, Spain on 19 to 21 May. Ministers examined the report on economic and monetary union in the European Community as requested by the European Council at its meeting on 27 and 28 June 1988. It was not the intention of the discussion to reach conclusions. Ministers also had a further discussion of the approximation of indirect taxation and of proposals on taxation of savings including mutual assistance, which will be discussed again at a future ECOFIN Council.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to the Exchequer of accepting, as effective, non-charitable deeds of covenant executed prior to 15 March 1988, but not notified to the Inland Revenue before 30 June 1988, for which repayments have been made in respect of convenanted payments due prior to 15 March 1988 ;
(2) in respect of how many deeds of covenant executed prior to 15 March 1988, but not notified to the Inland Revenue before 30 June 1988, a repayment has been made in respect of a covenant payment due before 15 March 1988 ;
Column 273(3) what information he has regarding the number of non-charitable deeds of covenant executed prior to March 15 1988 but not notified to the Inland Revenue before 30 June 1988.
Mr. Chris Patten : We hope to discuss with the Government of India in the next few months what further help we can give to supplement the substantial family planning assistance being provided through our primary health and slum improvement projects. There will be a family planning component in the primary health care project we are preparing in eastern Nepal.
47. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received any representations about his Department's support for charities overseas ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chris Patten : I regularly meet representatives of many of the British non-governmental organisations. My Department has a productive relationship with them ; and they play a distinct and valuable role in developing countries.
I have increased substantially the money allocated for jointly funded development projects and for British volunteers overseas. In 1987-88 aid expenditure of all kinds through British non-governmental organisations exceeded £42 million.
Mr. Chris Patten : Zimbabwe is an important recipent of British aid. We have provided over £200 million in development assistance since independence. In recent months, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pledged a further £25 million in capital aid for agreed development projects.
53. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in his Department dealt with how many aid projects (a) in the past year and (b) 10 years ago ; what was the cost of the project in each case ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 274but in 1978 gross expenditure on aid was £752 million and the number of officials employed in the headquarters of the Overseas Development Administration (as at 1 April) was 1,411. In 1988 the equivalent figures were £1,637 million and 1,196 officials.
54. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the combined percentage of gross national products given in overseas aid by members of the development committee of the OECD, except the United Kingdom, in 1988 or the latest available year.
Mr. Chris Patten : In 1987, the latest year for which figures are available, the combined percentage of GNP devoted to official development assistance by development assistance committee members of the OECD, excluding the United Kingdom, was 0.35 per cent.
In October 1988 we offered a new grant of £10 million for expenditure on agreed development projects over the next few years.