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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 29 June 1989

NORTHERN IRELAND

Tourism

Mr. Kilfedder : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is now able to announce the result of the review of tourism policy in Northern Ireland which was commissioned in October.

Mr. Viggers : Following the recent review, a statement of the Government's proposals for tourism is being published today, and copies of the document "Tourism in Northern Ireland--A View to the Future" are available in the House of Commons Library.

The review concludes that tourism in Northern Ireland has not prospered in line with its opportunities. One feature of difficulty in the promotion of tourism in Northern Ireland is its image, but that does not reflect the full picture, and should not prevent the implementation of change in the marketing of the product. The Government intend to create a body which will have responsibility for both marketing and product development, bringing together the present promotional role of the Northern Ireland tourist board, and the grant-aiding functions of the Department of Economic Development.

Implementation of the proposed changes will require legislation in due course.

Irish Language

Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pupils passed (a) O-level and (b) A-level Irish language in the years 1985 to 1988.

Dr. Mawhinney : The information is as follows :-


Passes in Irish language        

        |O-level|A-level        

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

1985    |1,221  |230            

1986    |1,208  |209            

1987    |1,072  |223            

1988    |1,046  |203            

Notes:                          

O-level passes for 1985-87      

comprise CSE Grade 1 and GCE    

Grades A-C. In 1988, GCSE       

replaced GCE and CSE: figure    

given is for GCSE Grades A-C.   

A-level passes comprise grades  

A-E.                            

Post-graduate Awards

Mr McCusker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the principal differences in the granting of post-graduate awards between Northern Ireland and Great Britain ; and how many such awards have been granted in Northern Ireland during the past five years.

Dr. Mawhinney : The principal differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in the granting of


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post-graduate awards are (a) in Northern Ireland the Department of Education is responsible for making awards to Northern Ireland students for those areas of study which in Great Britain are the responsibility of the science and engineering, the natural environment, and the economic and social research councils, the British Academy, the Department of Education and Science and the Scottish Education Department ;

(b) the Department of Education offers up to 20 postgraduate distinction awards each year to enable graduates from anywhere in the United Kingdom who have gained first-class degrees to undertake research at the two Northern Ireland universities.

New awards made in each of the last five years are as follows :-


             |Studentships|Bursaries                

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

1984-85      |311         |131                      

1985-86      |307         |131                      

1986-87      |311         |134                      

1987-88      |311         |133                      

1988-89      |<1>337      |133                      

<1>Includes 20 Distinction Awards.                  

Police Complaints (Report)

Mr. Jessel : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will arrange for copies of the first annual report of the Independent Commission for Police Complaints for Northern Ireland to be laid in the House.

Mr. Tom King : I have arranged to do so today. This is the first report of the commission which I set up in February last year and, therefore, relates to a settling-in period. However the report clearly demonstrates that the commission has established a very firm foundation for the thorough and impartial consideration of complaints against members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. As the new commission develops its role I have every confidence that it will make a material contribution to strengthening good relations between the RUC and the whole community in Northern Ireland.

Human Rights

Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has received the 14th report of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Tom King : The report has been published today, and copies have been laid before Parliament. It covers the period 1 November 1987 to 31 March 1989.

The report covers a wide range of matters which the commission has considered during the period under review. These include fair employment, the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988, electoral law, broadcasting restrictions, emergency legislation, the draft Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order and education.

Copies of my response to the commission's report and of the report itself have been placed in the Library.


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THE ARTS

Museums (Repairs)

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Minister for the Arts, what is the estimated cost of necessary repairs and fabric at the national gallery, the national portrait gallery, the Victoria and Albert museum, the Tate gallery and the natural history museum ; and what is the estimated cost of modernising the plumbing at each of the above-named institutions.

Mr. Luce : The maintenance and repair of these historic buildings is a continuous process which will always require a rolling programme of expenditure. Major maintenance projects are in hand at all of these institutions, but I accept that further investment is necessary. I have allocated £72 million in the current three-year funding period for the building and maintenance programmes at these institutions and hope to announce further allocations later in the year.

Horniman Museum and Library

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Minister for the Arts when he will appoint a shadow board of trustees for the Horniman museum and library ; and when he will announce what resources there are available for the institution.

Mr. Luce : I hope that some members of the shadow' board of trustees for the Horniman museum and library will be appointed this autumn. I will announce in due course the financial provision which will be made for the museum from the arts programme.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Child Car Restraints

Mr. Gregory : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the revenue from value added tax on child car seat restraints for the current year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley : I regret that the information requested is not available.

ENVIRONMENT

Community Charge

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has taken legal advice to test whether the community charge registration form produced by Trafford council is ultra vires ; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : It is not for the Department to test whether the registration forms issued by community charge registration officers (CCROs) are intra vires. We have issued detailed guidance on community charge registration and a model registration form. If CCROs use the model form and follow the guidance, I am confident that they will be acting intra vires.

Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the effects of his policy on community charge exemptions on the future of care in the community.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have provided a number of exemptions from the community charge


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including those for certain residential care workers and those for severely mentally impaired people. These, combined with rebate arrangements and uprated income support, ensure that our policy on community care is unaffected.

Sewage Treatment Works

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what ministerial permission has (a) been requested and (b) been granted, for relaxation of sewage treatment works discharge consents for Yorkshire water authority ; and what period of time they cover.

Mr. Howard : Lists of sewage treatment works for which applications have been made by water authorities for time-limited relaxations to discharge consents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Details of the applications, including the period for which the temporary variation has been requested, may be obtained from the public register maintained by Yorkshire water authority. The duration of any time-limited relaxation granted will, within the constraints set out in my announcement of 7 December 1988, Official Report column 199 reflect the expected time scale of the capital improvements to be carried out. None of the applications from the authority has yet been granted.

Sport

Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will respond to those parts of the report "Sport and Young People, Partnership and Action" produced by the school sport forum in July 1988 which relate to his departmental responsibilities.

Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Education and Science will issue their joint response to the report "Sport and Young People, Partnership and Action" shortly.

Domestic Property (Compensation)

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire, 17 January Official Report, column 149, if he is now in a position to publish his proposals for dealing with the compensation code for domestic property which, under current legislation, is based either upon gross, net annual or rateable values for implementation on 1 April 1990, under the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Mr. Chope : Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Department's consultation paper on land compensation and compulsory purchase legislation issued on 7 March, include proposals for amendments to the method of calculating home loss payments when domestic rateable values are abolished on 1 April 1990. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the consultation paper to which we have received many interesting responses which we are now considering.

Valuation and Community Charge Tribunals

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the selected valuation and community change tribunal offices where he proposes to use his Department's valuation office staff for user computer support ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Gummer : The valuation and community charge tribunal offices proposed as regional centres for computer user support are : Cleveland and Durham

Essex North and South

Greater London (South Eastern)

Greater Manchester North

Greater Manchester South

Hereford and Worcester

and Kent

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the valuation and community charge tribunal offices that received in January an interim pay award to its staff of (a) three increments and (b) one increment ; and if he will make a statement as to why there was a differential pay award.

Mr. Gummer : Staff in 16 offices set out in list (a) received an interim pay award equivalent to three increments while the staff of the remaining 26 offices in list (b) received one increment. The award to offices in list (a) reflected local market factors affecting recruitment retention of staff. Since January 1989 a further seven offices indicated by an asterisk in list (b) have been added to list (a) in the light of evidence of similar market factors.

List (a)

Central London, Holborn

London North East, Ilford

London North West, Harrow

London South East, Croydon

London South West, Hounslow

Avon and Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

Befordshire and Hertfordshire, Hertford

Berkshire, Wokingham

Coventry, Solihull and Worcestershire, Leamington Spa

Essex North and South, Chelmsford

Hampshire South and Isle of Wight, Southampton

Hampshire North and Wiltshire, Winchester

Kent, Maidstone

Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, Nottingham Surrey, Woking

West Sussex, Chichester

List (b)

Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury *

Cambridgeshire, Peterborough

Cheshire, Chester

Cleveland and Durham, Darlington

Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Plymouth *

Cumbria, Whitehaven

Derbyshire, Chesterfield

Dorset and Somerset, Yeovil

Hereford and Worcester, Worcester

Humberside, Bridlington

Lancashire, Preston

Lincolnshire, Horncastle

Merseyside, Liverpool

Manchester, North, Bolton

Manchester South, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester *

West Midlands West, Dudley

Birmingham, Birmingham

Norfolk, Norwich *

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, North Shields

Oxfordshire, Oxford

Staffordshire and Shropshire, Stafford

Suffolk, Ipswich *

East Sussex, Eastbourne *

North Yorkshire, Middlesbrough *

South Yorkshire, Doncaster

West Yorkshire, Leeds

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why his Department proposes to use


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valuation office staff for user computer support and place them in selected valuation and community charge tribunal offices ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : Computer systems in 42 valuation and community charge tribunal offices become operational in September this year. By then a fully effective support system must be in place to help the offices overcome any problems. We propose to achieve this by seconding experienced computer staff from the Inland Revenue to selected tribunal offices within easy reach of other offices.

Water Stocks

Mr. Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any further information in relation to impounded water stocks following his answer to the hon. Member for Kingswood, 8 June, Official Report, column 87.

Mr. Howard : There are some impounded stocks below normal in the Southern and South West water authorities areas.

Wild Birds

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, by reference to site location, the occasions since 1 December 1981 when the European Commission has initiated inquiries with his Department concerning development proposals or other activities which may have an adverse impact on areas qualifying for special protection under article 4 of EC directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Such inquiries are confidential between the European Commission and Her Majesty's Government, and details are not normally made public.

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 6 June, Official Report, column 89, what additional legal protection to that given under section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is given to areas which meet the criteria for designation under article 4 of EC directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds or wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer my hon. Friend to the last paragraph of my reply to him on 6 June at column 89 in respect of SPAs. Ramsar sites are a further subset of SSSIs. The fact of designation in accordance with this international convention would influence decisions on development proposals affecting these areas ; the factors to be taken into account when considering development proposals are set out in detail in DOE circular 27/87--"Nature Conservation".

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next intends to announce the designation of an area either as a site under the Ramsar convention on the conservation of wetlands of international importance or as a special protection area under EC directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds, or both.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : A number of proposals are currently being considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. The next classification of a site will be announced as soon as the necessary consultations have been satisfactorily completed.


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