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Mr. Michael Forsyth : The numbers of AIDS cases in Scotland reported to the communicable diseases (Scotland) unit in each year for which figures are available are as follows :


        |Numbers        

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

1984    |3              

1985    |4              

1986    |7              

1987    |25             

1988    |36             

1989<1> |27             

<1>End of June.         

Hospices

Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow, Official Report , 19 June, column 49, he will outline the reasons for the delay in answering the hon. Member's letter of 28 March regarding Scottish hospices.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : The reason was simply the careful consideration that I gave to the hon. Member's letter, to which I have now replied.

Tree Planting

Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has evaluated the effect of the withdrawal of tax incentives for the private planting of trees upon the rate of new tree planting.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North on 9 May 1989 ( Official Report, column 332 ).

Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the progress of his Department's reforestation programme introduced to help combat the greenhouse effect.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Although forestry policy has not been aimed specifically at combating the greenhouse effect, over the past 10 years nearly 250,000 hectares of land has been afforested in Great Britain.

Labour Statistics

Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in respect of Strathclyde (a) the average rate of unemployment and the European community average in the last three years and (b) the percentage of industrial employment in total employment and the European Community average.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 7 July 1989] : The figures are as follows :


(a) Unemployment                       

Annual average percentage              

                   |1986|1987|1988     

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

Strathclyde region |19.2|18.4|15.8     

European Community |10.8|10.4|10.0     


(b) Industrial employment    

Share of industrial          

employment in total          

employment percentage        

                   |1984     

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

Strathclyde region |37.3     

European Community |34.3     

Note: The figures are not    

directly comparable as a     

result of definitional       

differences.                 


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Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (Redundancies)

Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total number of redundancies in the shipbuilding and ship repair industries in Strathclyde since 1 January 1984.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 7 July 1989] : There are no comprehensive statistics on redundancies. The number of redundancies involving 10 or more workers confirmed to the Employment Department/Training Agency as having occurred in Strathclyde region in the shipbuilding and shiprepairing industry since 1 January 1984 was 4,221. This figure relates to redundancies confirmed up to 31 May 1989 and figures for 1989 are provisional.

ENVIRONMENT

Atmospheric Pollution

72. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he plans to undertake any joint initiative to further reduce lead in the atmosphere.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : At the end of 1985, the maximum amount of lead permitted in petrol was reduced by 0.4 to 0.15 grammes per litre : This produced a 50 per cent. drop in airborne levels. However, lead from petrol still accounts for about 80 per cent. of lead in the air. The Government therefore fully support the move to unleaded petrol. The chancellor's budget incentive has resulted in unleaded petrol being on sale at about 10p per gallon cheaper than leaded fuel. The Government funded a major advertising campaign in April ; further promotional initiatives are co-ordinated by the unleaded petrol group which I chair. The measures taken so far have contributed to the rapid uptake of the fuel which now accounts for over 20 per cent. of the market ; the average for last year was just 1 per cent.

Community Charge

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is yet able to indicate what the average poll tax for England would be based on 1989-90 local government expenditure ; and which local authorities would be above or below that figure.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. Illustrative 1989-90 community charges will be published in due course.

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether a community charge registration officer asking for telephone numbers on the same form as chargepayers are meant to sign certifying that the information given on the form is complete is operating within the limits of his Department's guidelines.

Mr. Gummer : A registration officer may require only such information as is necessary to enable him to compile and maintain the community charges register. In the case of the personal community charge this will usually consist of the names and addresses of adults living in a particular poperty and the dates of birth of those who will become 18 during the lifetime of the register. Information about telephone numbers need not be provided to a registration


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officer, and the Department's model form and guidance advise registration officers that if they seek any additional information of this kind they should make it clear that there is no obligation on individuals to provide it, and that no penalty can or will be imposed if they do not.

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to ensure that (a) merchant seamen and (b) Royal Navy seamen, who are away from shore for more than six months in a year, are treated equally in respect of liability for the poll tax.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. The determination of a person's sole or main residence is a matter for community charges registration officers. I have no reason to believe that registration officers will adopt different criteria in relation to the two groups of people mentioned by the hon. Member.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the leaflets on the business rate and the collective community charge will be available ; for what reasons the leaflets on (a) poll tax rebates and "You and the Community Charge" and (b) "Exemption Students, Second Homes and Appeal" were produced in different styles ; and what are the estimated production and distribution costs of (i) the rebate booklet, (ii) "You and the Community Charge" and (iii) the other leaflets referred to above.

Mr. Gummer : As the information which the hon. Member requests is very detailed I am writing to him.

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to exempt children on approved full time courses at colleges of further education, and who are not in receipt of any maintenance grant, from the poll tax ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 4 July 1989] : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. Most young persons will be liable to the community charge either upon reaching their 18th birthday or at the date on which their parents are no longer entitled to child benefit, whichever is the later. Full time students will pay only 20 per cent. of the charge whilst others on low incomes can claim rebates of up to 80 per cent.

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to prevent landlords making an additional charge for poll tax purposes where rates were previously included in rent ; what steps he is taking to ensure that appropriate reductions in rent are made when rate revenue ends ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 4 July 1989] : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. Legislation would be neither necessary nor appropriate in this area. The Department will be producing shortly a booklet on the impact between the community charge and rents in the series "You and the Community Charge".

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent discussions his officials have had with the office of the Data Protection Registrar ; and what steps he is taking to monitor the information being requested by community charge registration officers as a part of the registration process in England and Wales.


Column 396

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 6 July 1989] : My officials are in regular contact with the office of the Data Protection Registrar. It is for individual community charges registration officers to ensure that their requests for information are within their statutory powers and that they comply with the Data Protection Act 1984.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to introduce a community charge concession for those who care for elderly friends or relatives in the community.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer, 6 July 1989] : No special provisions are necessary. I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave on 29 June 1989 to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) Official Report, column 502.

Mr. Couchman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the extent of mischievous registration for community charge in each local authority.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 6 July 1989] : I understand that the registration process is proceeding in a generally satisfactory manner. A few mischievous responses to registration forms have been reported in the press.

Football Spectators Bill

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Football League clubs have indicated their support for the Football Spectators Bill [Lords] ; and if he will indicate those doing so in the Official Report.

Mr. Moynihan : My consultations on the FSB have been with the Football Association and the Football League, who were represented on my working party on the national membership scheme last year. I have not formally consulted individual League clubs.

River Calder (Pollution)

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ask the North West water authority to implement the necessary work to prevent pollution of the River Calder in Burnley from Black Clough.

Mr. Howard : I understand that the North West water authority is considering measures to remedy this pollution. Under the provisions of the Water Act, it will become the responsibility of the National Rivers Authority.

Clifton Marsh Sewage Works

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what the effect would be on bacterial levels in the River Ribble of uprating Clifton Marsh sewage treatment works to include full conventional treatment and disinfection using environmentally benign methods ;

(2) If he willprovide estimates of what proportion of sewage pollution experienced by Lytham St. Anne's is due to (a) bacterial levels in the River Ribble and (b) existing local discharges of sewage.

Mr. Howard : Details of how much of the bacterial content of the bathing waters at Lytham St. Annes


Column 397

emanates from local discharges or from the river Ribble are not available. I understand that the North West water authority believes that the Ribble is a major influence and that the output from Clifton Marsh sewage treatment works is a major component of the bacteriological levels in the river. They are investigating a number of options for improving the quality of the discharge from Clifton Marsh sewage treatment works, including secondary treatment and disinfection.

Rate Arrears

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report the 30 local authorities in England with the largest amounts of rate arrears, with the amounts outstanding and the number of people owing in each case.

Mr. Gummer : The latest information from CIPFA published statistics on gross rate arrears, including non-domestic rate arrears, show that the 30 local authorities in England with the largest amounts of rate arrears are as below. Information about the number of people and businesses owning rates is not available.


Gross arrears outstanding                  

                       |£1000              

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

Lambeth                |<2>33,263          

Liverpool              |25,230             

Brent                  |16,661             

Southwark              |<3>13,856          

Camden                 |13,085             

Newham                 |<2>11,284          

Manchester             |<3>10,702          

Westminster            |9,816              

Hackney                |<1>9,559           

Birmingham             |8,490              

City of London         |7,828              

Lewisham               |7,419              

Ealing                 |7,242              

Leicester              |6,796              

Tower Hamlets          |5,443              

Waltham Forest         |<2>5,410           

Wandsworth             |5,390              

Bristol                |5,315              

Islington              |5,185              

Hammersmith and                            

  Fulham               |<2>5,031           

Newcastle-upon-Tyne    |4,943              

Greenwich              |4,544              

Haringey               |4,323              

Barnet                 |<1>4,007           

Wirral                 |3,856              

Kensington and Chelsea |<1>3,756           

Doncaster              |3,743              

Harrow                 |<1>3,704           

Wolverhampton          |3,301              

Sefton                 |2,947              

Notes: Gross arrears are at 31 March 1988  

unless otherwise indicated:                

<1>  As at 31 March 1987.                  

<2>  As at 31 March 1986.                  

<3>  As at 31 March 1985.                  

Inspectorate of Pollution

Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the impact on dealing with emergencies of the regionalisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The inspectorate has no general responsibility for dealing with emergencies.


Column 398

However, one of the objectives of the proposed reorganisation is to increase the effectiveness of the inspectorate across the whole range of its activities, which includes for example the control of emissions from scheduled processes and discharges from premises subject to the Radioactive Substances Act 1960.

Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution's responsibility for dealing with the consequences in the United Kingdom of overseas nuclear accidents remains as set out in the Department of the Environment publication "The National Response Plan and Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network (RIMNET) --a Statement of Proposals", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what impact his proposed structural changes to Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will have on the county of Cleveland ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what impact the regionalisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will have on the county of Cleveland ; by what extent field work will be reduced as a result of increased travelling ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Cleveland will be the responsibility of the Northern region of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, based in Leeds. The detailed working arrangements that are being drawn up for each region are being designed to facilitate the integration of pollution control, and thus increase the effectiveness of the inspectorate.

Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what proposals he has to place Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution on a regional basis ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what structural changes he proposes to make to Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Proposals are being developed for the reorganisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution in order to integrate its responsibilities for air pollution control, radioactive substances, water pollution and other wastes on a regional basis. Three regions are being established to cover the North, South West and South East. This approach was adopted to ensure sufficiently large management units to secure an adequate mix of skills.

Toxic Waste

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future policy of the Government with regard to toxic waste incinerators.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Incineration will continue to play an important role in United Kingdom waste disposal arrangements. It is the only safe disposal route for some toxic wastes and it can reduce the volume and toxicity of many other wastes thus helping to conserve landfill capacity.


Column 399

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his best estimate of the species of mammals and birds most at threat from the dumping of toxic waste in the North sea.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Present levels of toxic waste entering the North sea do not represent a general threat to sea birds or marine mammals resident in United Kingdom waters. Moreover, as a result of important measures agreed at the second North sea conference in 1987 levels of toxic substances discharged to the North sea will fall substantially.

Persistent organic contaminants, including PCBs and pesticides, can accumulate in the blubber of marine animals which are at the top of the food chain. They have been implicated in damage to local populations of marine mammals in parts of the Wadden sea off the German and Dutch coasts. It has been shown that the heavy load of contaminants in this area comes largely from the Rivers Rhine, Weser and Elbe.

Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his priority to seek to ensure that each county authority has a toxic waste disposal facility capable of meeting the requirements of indigenous industries in each county.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. Waste disposal authorities have a responsibility to ensure that there are adequate safe disposal facilities for all waste arising in their areas, but they are not precluded from making agreements with other authorities. They are required to submit plans to my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment showing that satisfactory arrangements are in place or in prospect.

Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to tighten up and enforce existing regulations governing the disposal of toxic and other dangerous waste substances so as to safeguard the public from the effects of unsupervised disposals of these substances.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Stringent controls over the disposal of waste already exist. Waste disposal authorities (WDAs) are responsible for supervising disposal and safeguarding public health and the environment. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution monitor the performance of WDAs and aim by reports and advice to secure improvements. Legislation to strengthen and enhance existing controls is to be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

Bristol Channel (Pollution)

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what reports he has received and what reporting system is in the use from Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, in relation to pollution by sewage of beaches along the coastlines of the Bristol channel.

Mr. Howard : Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution does not report on bathing water quality or beach pollution. Water authorities report to the Department of the Environment on the quality of bathing waters under the terms of the EC Bathing Water Directive and local authorities are responsible for dealing with the pollution of beaches.


Column 400

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the water pollution inspectorate last reported on the water quality in the Bristol channel and the degree of sewage deposits on the beaches ; when the inspectorate will next make such a report, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave him earlier today.

Radio 1 Green Week

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the "green week" held by Radio 1, beginning 26 June ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : None.

Nature Reserves

Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement concerning the proposed sell-off of national nature reserves.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I refer the hon. and learned Member to the statement made by my noble Friend the Minister of State for Housing, Environment and the Countryside on 3 May in another place.

Cacti

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why his Department, to avoid the risk of rabies being introduced, requires a prospective importer of a cactus plant to notify the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of his intention.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The requirement to consult the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about rabies controls applies only to imports of live animals. I will ensure that this is made clear in the Department's standard letter acknowledging applications for import permits.

Possession Orders

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest available figures on the number of possession orders awarded to building societies and banks against mortgage holders during 1988 and the first two months of 1989.

Mr. Trippier : The number of possession orders awarded in England and Wales during 1988 against holders of private sector mortgages was 43,108. The figures do not distinguish between building societies, banks and other private mortgage lenders. The provisional figures for the first two months of 1989 are 3,819 during January and 3,564 during February. Most possession orders do not result in properties being taken into possession.

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the rise in interest rates on the number of mortgaged properties that will be taken into possession or where possession will be granted during 1989.

Mr. Trippier : Evidence available for the United Kingdom in the last decade does not indicate any simple


Column 401

correlation between changes in the number of mortgaged properties taken into possession and changes in interest rates.

Defective Houses

Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will waive the age limitation on defective timber framed houses purchased by residents under the right-to-buy legislation from Ashford council in Kent so that they can be designated as defective under the Housing Act 1985.

Mr. Trippier : There are no age limitations on the types of houses which can be designated as inherently defective under the housing defects legislation. Proposals to remove the current age limits under the home improvement grant system are contained in the Local Government and Housing Bill.

Land, Dorset

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report , for each of the last three years, details of all sites in Dorset, on the register of public unused and underutilised land, stating the ownership thereof, and the number of acres of each site.

Mr. Trippier : I am arranging for copies of tables giving this information in the most convenient form available to be placed in the Library of the House. Details of sites removed from the register are based on information provided by 30 June 1989.

Endangered Species

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether products made from the skin of the Nile crocodile require an import licence under CITES.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Yes.

Emergencies

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether expenditure incurred by a local authority in dealing with a major emergency, for which the Secretary of State provides discretionary financial assistance under the Local Government and Housing Bill, will be immune from grant penalties.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : There are no grant penalties under the new local government finance system.

Environmental Impact Assessment Seminar

Mr. Terry Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department will be represented at the 10th international seminar on environmental impact assessment to be held in Aberdeen during July.

Mr. Chope : No.

National Park Quarries

Mr. Hague : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the impact of the construction of de- sulphurisation plants at power stations on the demand for limestone from quarries in national parks.


Column 402

Mr. Trippier : No assessment has been made of the demand for limestone from quarries in national parks arising specifically out of the the CEGB's flue gas de-sulphurisation programme, although my Department has commissioned a research project into high purity limestone resources and the demand for non aggregate uses. The report will be published at the beginning of next year.

The CEGB has indicated that the complete 12 GW retrofit programme would account for less than 2 million tonnes of limestone per year (less than 2 per cent. of current production). The board also announced in August 1987 that it would not take limestone from quarries in national parks for the three existing power stations selected for retro-fitting with the flue gas de-sulphurisation process. The board went on to state that it hoped to follow a similar policy when obtaining limestone for new stations. That assessment was made in the knowledge of the Government's policy on mineral working in national parks set out in the statement by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West on 9 April 1987 (HC 393/394). I understand that the board's policy towards limestone supply has not changed since their August 1987 announcement.

Returnable Glass Bottles

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on the implementation of directive 339-185.

Mr. Atkins : I have been asked to reply.

Good progress is being made under the United Kingdom's programme for implementing the Beverage Containers Directive. For glass, we are on course to achieve the target of doubling the number of bottle banks to 5,000 by 1992, and the volume of glass being recovered is increasing rapidly : 275,000 tonnes were recycled in 1988. The amount of metal recovered from cans is also increasing and will be boosted still further by the Aluminium Can Recycling Association's recent launch of a nationwide scheme with 250 collection centres. British Steel is encouraging local authorities to become involved in extracting steel cans from household waste and about 900 million cans are now being recovered annually in this way. For plastic containers, both the British Plastics Federation and the British Soft Drinks Association are supporting recycling schemes and are actively participating in the Sheffield Recycling City experiment involving door-to- door collection and separate plastics bottle banks.

Packaging

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research he has commissioned into the environmental benefits of bio- degradable packaging and shopping bags.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 6 July 1989] : None. The plastics industry is continuing to develop bio-degradable plastics. We expect manufacturers and users of packaging to take advantage of such developments in responding to the demands of consumers.


Column 403

Regent's Park

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the acreage of land leased with St. John's lodge to which the public do not have free access ; what was the equivalent acreage in 1979 ; and whether any changes have been requested by the current lesses.


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