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Mr. Forth : This is the responsibility of my Department.

EEC (Burden Sharing)

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions have been held with EEC Ministers regarding any burden-sharing arrangement applying to the import of textiles after 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs on 9 March 1989 at column 595. There has so far been no


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detailed Community discussion of future arrangements, including burden-sharing arrangements, for EC quotas on textiles and clothing.

Multi-fibre Arrangement

Mr. Madden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received in the current year, to date, urging the renewal of the multi-fibre arrangement.

Mr. Alan Clark : Support for the renewal of the multi-fibre arrangement was expressed by representatives of the Apparel Knitwear and Textiles Alliance and by a delegation from the all-party group for textiles and the textile industry support campaign when I met them on 11 April and 18 May respectively. In addition I have received seven letters in this sense from hon. Members and the United Kingdom industry.

Selective Investment Brokers Ltd.

Sir Charles Morrison : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) pursuant to his answer of 7 March, Official Report, column 480 , why his Department did not undertake an investigation into the affairs of Selective Investment Brokers Ltd. in December 1986, or earlier following letters to the company from Companies house, Cardiff, in 1984 and 1985 attempting to obtain information regarding the company's trading status ;

(2) what action was taken by his Department to initiate an investigation into the affairs of Selective Investment Brokers Ltd., using powers under section 447 of the 1985 Companies Act, or any other relevant powers, following the submission of the Wiltshire constabulary to the Director of Public Prosecutions and his opinion that the report did not disclose sufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude [holding answer 6 June 1989] : The purpose of the letters sent out by Companies house to Selective Investment Brokers Ltd. was to discover whether it was trading and whether dissolution action against it should be taken. Many such letters are sent out routinely every year. They do not in themselves indicate that investigations of the companies to which they are addressed are merited.

In December 1986 my Department received a complaint made on behalf of an investor in the company. The Bank of England was informed of this complaint in January 1987. Subsequently, there was liaison between the DTI, the Bank of England, and the Wiltshire police who made inquiries. A report was submitted by the police to the Director of Public Prosecutions who concluded that the evidence was insufficient to warrant a criminal investigation. The DPP did not refer the matter to my Department which did not receive any further information from any source concerning the company until after it was placed in voluntary liquidation in June 1988.

ENVIRONMENT

Rates

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average domestic rates bill in England and Wales for 1989-90.

Mr. Gummer : £502.


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Water and Sewage Charges

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is the average water rate and sewage charge made in England and Wales in 1989-90 ;

(2) what is the average water rate and sewage charge made to people on income support in England and Wales for 1989-90.

Mr. Howard : The average domestic bill for water authority customers in England and Wales in 1989-90 is £2.29 per week. Information is not separately available for customers on income support.

Aquatic Flora and Fauna

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his reply of 4 May to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby, Official Report , column 245 , whether he will estimate the extent of (a) short-term and (b) long-term damage to aquatic flora and fauna in inland waters and estuaries caused by pollution incidents.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Specific information concerning the impact of pollution incidents is not available centrally. Water authorities make their own detailed assessments in individual cases : these are to enable management to ensure that appropriate remedial measures can be carried out. The cumulative impact of all sources of pollution is assessed through routine river quality monitoring, the results of which are published comprehensively in the regular national river quality surveys. The most recent survey was carried out in 1985. In future this work will be carried out by the National Rivers Authority, which will also wish to review monitoring procedures. Work on the next river quality survey will commence in 1990.

Waste Disposal Authorities

Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from Suffolk county council on his consultation paper regarding the role and function of waste disposal authorities ; and what steps he is taking to avoid a hiatus in the search for and acquisition of new disposal sites as foreshadowed by the county council between the date of issuance of his Green Paper and the anticipated date of his implementing his proposed changes.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I have received from Suffolk county council detailed comments about the consultation paper on the role and functions of waste disposal authorities. These comments, along with many others, are being given careful consideration.

Until any changes are implemented, waste disposal authorities will retain their duties under present legislation to arrange, through public or private sector facilities, for the disposal of waste collected by the waste collection authorities. Under the arrangements proposed in the consultation paper public facilities would be provided by local authority waste disposal companies. On the due date all the waste disposal assets of a disposal authority would be transferred to the company which will be under the authority's control as shareholder and board member. There is no reason why a hiatus need develop in the search for and acquisition of new disposal sites.


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Water Privatisation

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to introduce provisions by which a privatised water industry could impose a price surcharge to discourage the use of water during a period of drought.

Mr. Howard : No.

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 2 March, Official Report, column 283, to the hon. Member for Don Valley, what have been the results of his deliberations in respect of changes to section 19 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We have not yet reached any decisions on this matter. We shall report to the House as soon as we have done so.

Nitrate Pollution

Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has of additional nitrate pollution in water induced by run-off through the use of urea to clear frost from highways and runways.

Mr. Howard : We have no evidence to suggest that the use of urea to clear frost from highways and runways contributes significantly to nitrate pollution of water.

Housing Statistics

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing housing starts in each region in the quarter to March showing the percentage change in starts from the quarter ending February 1989 and the quarter ending March 1988.

Mr. Trippier : Housebuilding starts for regions in England in the March quarter of 1989 and the corresponding period a year earlier are given in the table.


                      Housebuilding starts                                                       

                      in thousands                                                               

March quarter 1988   |March quarter 1989|Percentage change                                       

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

North                |2.1               |2.6               |+23                                  

Yorkshire and                                                                                    

  Humberside         |4.3               |4.4               |+4                                   

East Midlands        |5.2               |4.7               |-9                                   

East Anglia          |3.9               |3.3               |-15                                  

South East:                                                                                      

  Greater London     |4.0               |4.3               |+8                                   

  Rest of South East |14.6              |12.2              |-17                                  

South West           |7.3               |5.4               |-26                                  

West Midlands        |5.2               |4.4               |-16                                  

North West           |4.5               |5.0               |+12                                  

                     |-------           |-------           |-------                              

England              |50.9              |46.2              |-9                                   

Provisional estimates of housebuilding starts in the three months to February 1989 were given in my answer to the hon. Member on 4 May 1989.


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Seal Pups

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations have been received by his Department seeking a continuation of the European Community ban on the import of harp and hooded seal pup skins and products ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Department has received a number of representations seeking a continuation of the EC ban. The United Kingdom fully supported the European Commission's proposal for an indefinite extension of the ban and we were successful in securing our European partners' agreement to this at the EC Environment Council meeting on 8 June.

Water Supplies (Chlorine)

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the levels of chlorine in water supplies in England and Wales.

Mr. Howard : This information is not held centrally. It is for individual water undertakers with their knowledge of local conditions to determine the level of chlorine necessary to disinfect the water supply and to maintain bacterial quality of the water during distribution.

Peregrine Falcons

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to ensure the safety of peregrine falcons in Wales under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The peregrine falcon is listed on schedule 1 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as a species protected by special penalties. The Act makes it an offence to kill, injure or take a peregrine ; destroy or take its eggs or damage or destroy its nest. Anyone found guilty of such an offence is liable to a fine of up to £2,000. Enforcement of these provisions is a matter for the police authorities and the courts.

Wolf Hybrid Dogs

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now halt the sale of wolf hybrid dogs as pets and have them registered as wild animals.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 provides controls over the keeping of wild animals by requiring people who wish to do so to obtain a licence from the appropriate local authority. These licences are issued only if stringent conditions concerning safety and welfare have been met. The term "dangerous wild animal" is not defined in the Act, other than by reference to a list of species, which includes wolves, in the schedule to the Act. Mammal hybrids (arising from cross breeding of domestic and wild animals) are covered by the Act if at least one parent is of a species listed in the schedule to the Act. Separate legislation, the Dogs Act 1871, exists to control dangerous dogs, and empowers the police to take action against anyone failing to control a dangerous dog.

Birchfield Estate, Handsworth

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on what date Birmingham city council


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submitted a proposal for a security project on the Birchfield estate, Handsworth, Birmingham ; and when he expects a decision to be made.

Mr. Trippier : The idea was first suggested in December 1987. An urban programme scheme proposal was received from Birmingham city council on 7 September 1988 and approval in principle was issued on 29 September 1988. Detailed costs and plans allowing the go-ahead to spend have not been received to date.

Birds

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps the Government are taking to ensure the continued survival within the United Kingdom of the following species of bird : (a) the bittern, (b) the red-backed shrike, (c) the corncrake, (d) the red kite, (e) the white-tailed sea eagle and (f) the marsh-warbler.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : All these species are listed in schedule 1 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as being protected by special penalties. Anyone attempting, in contravention of the Act, to kill, injure or take such a bird or to destroy its eggs or nests is liable on conviction to a fine of up to £2,000. In addition, important habitats are safeguarded through the Act's provisions for the notification of sites of special scientific interest. Where appropriate, further action is taken through the classification of special protection areas under article 4 of EC directive 79/409/EEC.

Nene Washes (Bird Reserve)

Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether it was a condition of the grant application recently discussed between the Nature Conservancy Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to extend the existing Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve on the Nene Washes, near Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, by the purchase of 16.5 acres of adjoining land within the existence site of special scientific interest, that no grant would be given unless the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds allowed shooting over it.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I understand that the NCC considered the application by RSPB for the purchase of land to extend their existing Nene Washes reserve strictly in the light of the policy agreed with my right hon. Friend that traditional country rights and uses should not be interfered with wherever they are not in direct conflict with conservation interests. Since there was no evidence that the continuation of sporting rights over the site was incompatible with conservation interests the NCC felt unable to offer grant assistance to RSPB if the extinguishment of those rights formed an integral part of the purchase objectives.

Chlorofluorocarbons

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether restrictions relating to products using chlorofluorocarbons will include inhalers used for medicinal purposes.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Members of the British Aerosol Manufacturers Association have agreed to end all


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non-essential use of chlorofluorocarbons in their products by the end of this year. The industry is actively researching alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons in medical equipment and we expect these to be introduced as soon as they are commercially available and have been approved by the appropriate authorities.

Community Charge

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether the community charge regulations allow for delivery of community charge registration forms by registration officers in England to addresses in Scotland ;

(2) whether the community charge regulations allow registration officers in England to take action against occupiers of houses in Scotland for non- registration for community charge purposes.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 6 June 1987] : A community charge registration officer may request information from anyone he reasonably believes is, or has been, or will be subject to a community charge in his area. Anyone failing without reasonable excuse to supply the information, or knowingly supplying wrong information, may be subject to a penalty. Nothing in the legislation precludes requests being made to an address in Scotland, or penalties being imposed on individuals with an address in Scotland, in connection with a community charge arising in England or Wales.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on (a) the progress being made in making fully operational the valuation and community charge tribunals, (b) the additional costs involved and (c) the role of his Department's staff in this process.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 9 June 1989] : The Department's staff are working closely with members and clerks of the valuation and community charge tribunals to ensure that they have the resources to carry out their functions. Good progress has been made in designing and installing computer systems, in providing enlarged accommodation, and in recruiting and training the staff needed for this task. The cost of running the tribunals in England in 1989-90 is expected to exceed the cost of the old local valuation panels in 1988-89 by about £4 million.

Effluent

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those applications which have been sent to his Department in the current year for the lowering of effluent standards by water authorities.

Mr. Howard : No. On 11 May, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced at column 520 that a list of those sewage works for which applications for time-limited consents had been made had been placed in the Library of the House. These consents will regularise current performance while improvement work is undertaken as part of the £1 billion capital programme to bring sewage treatment works up to standard by March 1992. On completion, long-term consent conditions for these works, no less stringent than those which presently apply, will be imposed. The overall programme will result in significant improvements to river quality.


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DEFENCE

MARILYN

Mr. Baldry : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with MARILYN.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made in the House on 8 June at columns 388-90, in which I announced that copies of an abridged version of the MARILYN report, which will underpin much of the Ministry of Defence's future work on the problems of army manpower supply in the years ahead, had been placed in the Library of the House.

Nuclear Missiles

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many nuclear missiles have been stationed in the United Kingdom since the United States-Soviet intermediate nuclear forces treaty came into effect ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : At the time the INF treaty came into effect last summer there were 96 operational United States group-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) at RAF Greenham Common and 16 at RAF Molesworth. Since then RAF Molesworth has been closed as a GLCM forward operating base and all the missiles removed.

Half the missiles from RAF Greenham Common will be withdrawn in late 1989 ; the rest will return to the United States in the first half of 1991.

US Air Force Aircraft (Missiles)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many United States Air Force aircraft based in the United Kingdom are equipped with (a) AGM-69A short-range attack missiles and (b) air-launched cruise missiles ; if he will name the types of aircraft that would be used to deploy these weapons, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : None.

Who Framed Colin Wallace"

Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the allegations concerning the activities of the information policy unit of the Army information services reported during the 1970s made by former serving army officers and civil servants reported in the book, "Who Framed Colin Wallace" by Mr. Paul Foot.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : No.

Destroyers and Frigates

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many destroyers and frigates of the surface fleet were available for service at 24 hours notice on 1 June 1988, 1 January 1989 and 1 June 1989.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Details of ships available for operations at precise periods of notice are classified. However, the table shows the total number of destroyers and frigates in service together with those that were available for operational deployment immediately or within a short period for each of the dates requested.


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Number of DD/FF available for operational deployment immediately                            

or within a short period                                                                    

                       |Total DD/FF in service|Number                                       

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 June 1988            |47                    |40                                           

1 January 1989         |48                    |40                                           

1 June 1989            |47                    |40                                           

Press Briefings

Mr. Grocott : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines he follows in determining which journalists are invited to press briefings by his Department.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Invitations to press briefings depend very much on the subject under discussion.

NATO (Binational Divisions)

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards the creation of binational divisions within NATO, on the model of the Anglo-Dutch marine force.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The United Kingdom/Netherlands amphibious force has an important part to play in NATO's plans for reinforcement of the northern region. We welcome such practical bilateral co-operation within the Alliance where it serves to enhance overall defence capabilities.

Service Personnel (Children's Education)

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many children of service men are being educated in the private sector on Ministry of Defence grants ; and how many of these children are being educated at Crookham Court school, Newbury, Berkshire.

Mr. Sainsbury : As at March 1989, the latest date for which figures are available, there were some 22,400 children of service personnel for whom boarding school allowance was being claimed ; this figure includes those attending state boarding schools. At Crookham Court school, there are at present 32 children of service parents.

Rosyth Dockyard (Share Sales)

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action he intends to take to prevent a foreign sale of shares in Rosyth dockyard.

Mr. Sainsbury : The term contract requires that the prior approval of the Secretary of State must be sought to any change in the ownership or structure of the management company, and the parent companies FKI, Babcock and Thorn EMI are required to ensure that any foreign shareholding in the dockyard management company is less than 30 per cent.

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he had before 7 June with Thorn EMI over the sale of its stake in Rosyth dockyard.

Mr. Sainsbury : None.

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies have indicated an interest in purchasing the Thorn EMI stake in Rosyth dockyard.


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Mr. Sainsbury : My Department is not aware of any expressions of interest.

HMS Southampton

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make an announcement on HMS Southampton.

Mr. Sainsbury : Shortly.

Rosyth Dockyard

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he proposes to meet Thorn EMI to discuss the future of Rosyth dockyard.

Mr. Sainsbury : I have no plans to do so at present. My officials are however in touch with Thorn EMI and also with FKI Babcock, the majority partner in management company at Rosyth (BTL).

Royal Dockyard Management

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for defence whether he will review the contract for royal dockyard management as a result of the uncertainty created from company takeovers.

Mr. Sainsbury : No. The term contract requires that the prior approval of the Secretary of State must be sought to any change in the ownership of, or structure of the management company.

Nuclear Weapons (Germany)

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards the Palme commission proposal to negotiate a 150 km nuclear weapon free zone on either side of the inter-German border.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : This Government oppose the creation of a nuclear weapon free zone in Europe, which we believe would not increase but reduce security and stability. The territory of such a zone would still be under threat from weapons positioned outside the zone but targeted on it. Verification would be difficult, if not impossible, since the small size and mobility of many nuclear weapons means that they could be rapidly deployed back into the zone at a time of tension, thus increasing rather than reducing the risk of war. Such a zone would also undermine NATO's strategy of forward defence.

Mr. Colin Wallace

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when, pursuant to the undertaking given by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert) on 8 June during the debate on the Army the hon. Member for Linlithgow may expect a detailed reply to points raised during the debate on former officer Colin Wallace and the role of Army intelligence in BBC statements relating to alleged blackmail of Labour hon. Members.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I will write to the hon. Member in due course.


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HOME DEPARTMENT

Prisoners

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what mechanism exists to allow for reconsideration of the allocation of a prisoner to a particular prison ;

(2) what weighting is given to the needs of a prisoner when the allocation to a particular prison is made ; and at what stage in the process of allocation an assessment takes place.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The allocation decision is made as soon as possible after the prisoner is received under sentence, and takes account, inter alia, of an assessment of the prisoner's needs which is based on information from records and from interview. The weight which it is possible to give to this factor varies according to circumstances and each case is considered on its merits. Prison service procedures require the allocation decision to be reviewed at least annually following reassessment of the prisoner's security category. It is open to any prisoner to apply at any time to be reallocated.

Police Car Chases

Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deaths there have been during the current year as a result of police car chases (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in the west midlands.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Full information will not be available until returns are submitted by individual forces to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary after the end of the year. However, I am aware of 12 specific accidents which have occurred since 1 March 1989 in cases where the police were pursuing a vehicle, or responding to emergency calls, which have resulted in a total of 15 fatalities. Two of these accidents occurred in the west midlands police area. I understand that there was one other fatal accident in the west midlands police area in February 1989.

Press Briefings

Mr. Grocott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines he follows in determining which journalists are invited to press briefings by his Department.


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