|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Trippier : The first part of the review of the building regulations has been completed and my right hon. Friend has today laid regulations amending the Building Regulations 1985. The main changes concern parts F (Ventilation), G (Hygiene), H (Drainage and Waste Disposal), J (Heat Producing Appliances) and L (Conservation of Fuel and Power). It is intended that the new regulations should come into force on 1 April 1990, to allow time for users to familiarise themselves with the new
Column 484requirements. Revised approved documents, which provide practical guidance on meeting the requirements, will be published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office later this month, together with a publication produced by the Building Research Establishment on good practice for securing effective thermal insulation in buildings. Proof copies of these documents have been placed in the Library, together with a summary of the changes that have been made. My right hon. Friend has decided not to proceed at present with amendments to the mandatory rules for means of escape in case of fire which were the subject of consultation in December 1988 and the need for these amendments will now be considered as part of the review of part B (Fire). Further consultation papers on this and other outstanding parts of the review will be issued later this year.
Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to review the current organisation of the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ridley : The Government are concerned to improve the way we handle the conservation of wild fauna and flora and the countryside. There are great differences between the circumstances and needs of England, Scotland and Wales in this respect. The present organisational arrangements do not match these differing requirements. The Nature Conservancy Council is responsible for nature conservation throughout the whole of Great Britain. The Countryside Commission is responsible for conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the countryside in England and Wales, while there is a separate Countryside Commission for Scotland. There are increasing feelings that these arrangements are inefficient, insensitive and mean that conservation issues in both Scotland and Wales are determined with too little regard for the particular requirements in these countries.
We have therefore concluded that the functions which the Nature Conservancy Council at present exercises throughout Great Britain and the functions which the Countryside Commission exercises in England and Wales should be exercised in future by separate bodies for England, Scotland and Wales. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales have decided that the nature conservation and countryside functions should be the responsibility of a single body in each country. They are making parallel statements about their detailed plans today. The Government believe that combining these responsibilities in one body for Scotland and one for Wales will allow a more comprehensive approach to pursuing the special inheritances of wildlife and natural beauty in these two countries.
We have also considered what would be best for England. In view of the much greater density of population and consequent pressure upon the land, we believe that it would be right to maintain the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission as separate bodies in England.
I shall continue to be responsible for representing the United Kingdom's interests on nature conservation matters within the European Community and under
Column 485international conventions. Arrangements will be made for all the necessary advice to continue to be available to me for that purpose. These changes require legislation, which we shall bring forward at the earliest opportunity, and which will be confined to organisational matters.
I should like to pay a warm tribute to the manifest achievements of the chairmen, members and staff of the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission. We have the most comprehensive administrative arrangements for dealing with wildlife and countryside issues anywhere in the European Community, and perhaps the world. It has become clear that these arrangements will be even more effective if they can take more account of differences in local conditions between different parts of Great Britain. These proposals will achieve that.
Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to issue further policy guidance about planning agreements, as envisaged in the White Paper "Releasing Enterprise."
Mr. Howard : My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales have today issued a consultation paper seeking views on proposals to amend section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and on draft guidance to local authorities about the proper limits of their statutory development control powers.
The three proposed legislative changes are : to enable a developer to give a unilateral undertaking to carry out certain works or to do whatever the undertaking specifies ; to make provision for a planning agreement or unilateral undertaking to be discharged when its planning purpose has ceased ; to enable the Crown to enter into section 52 agreements.
The proposed draft guidance substantially reaffirms, with some amendments, the guidance given in this Department's circular 22/83. (Welsh Office Circular 46/83.)
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 11 July 1989] : Leicester city council has given outline planning permission for the site, subject to a number of conditions. Several representations have been received, including those from the hon. Member for Leicester, East.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions over the past 10 years judicial reviews have been sought to change a decision on a town and country planning appeal determination ; and in how many of these cases the review has led to a change in determination.
Column 486the Library, include tables for England and for Wales showing the number of High Court challenges from 1981 to 1987-88 to different kinds of appeal decision and their outcome. In relation to appeals under sections 36 or 37 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, in 1986-87 the original decision was reversed in 14 out of 27 inspectors' cases redetermined ; in 1987-88 eight out of 18 such decisions were reversed. Similar information is not available for the outcome of the redetermination of appeals decided by my right hon. Friend, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of the Environment whether he is satisfied that adequate advice is available to the general public on the preferable means of disposal of the various types of plastic waste other than by burning ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 7 July 1989] : The Government are concerned to ensure the highest possible standards in the management of waste. Our proposed new environmental legislation will have the effect of further improving these standards. All producers and holders of waste, except private households, will be placed under a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the legal disposal or reclamation of their waste. A code of practice will be issued together with technical advice on how to meet this duty. Most domestic plastic waste is put out for collection with other domestic waste. Its safe disposal is the responsibility of the disposal authority. The Government support a number of experimental schemes, for example in Sheffield, designed to evaluate the feasibility of recycling domestic plastic waste. We hope that these will demonstrate ways of overcoming the problems associated with recycling this material. Appropriate advice is offered to those concerned. The Government also support Waste Watch, which provides advice to industry and voluntary organisations on all aspects of recycling. These initiatives have resulted in industry recycling an increasing proportion of its own plastic waste.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to commission the building research establishment to evaluate the energy savings that could be achieved in installing energy efficient light bulbs in differing sectors of the economy.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 6 July 1989] : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has instituted programmes at the Building Research Establishment to promote all aspects of energy efficiency in buildings, including energy-efficient light bulbs, in differing sectors of the economy.
The work will draw on research on the performance of lighting systems carried out by the establishment on behalf of the Property Services Agency and the construction industry directorate. Cost-effective applications will also be promoted, to ensure widespread take-up, through the energy efficiency demonstration scheme and through the best practice programme of the Energy Efficiency Office of the Department of Energy.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Secretary of State for the Environment has received several individual letters and a number of pre-printed letters from members of the public residing in Cleveland. Twelve letters have also been received from several hon. Members on behalf of constituents about the proposed siting of industrial and special waste incinerators.
16. Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the current amount of research work his Department is financing at British universities (a) in total and (b) into the development of nuclear weapons ; and what percentage increase that represents over the last five years.
34. Mr. Flannery : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the current amount of research work his Department is financing at British universities (a) in total and (b) into the development of nuclear weapons ; and what percentage increase that represents over the past five years.
80. Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the current amount of research work his Department is financing at British universities (a) in total and (b) into the development of nuclear weapons ; and what percentage increase that represents over the last five years.
Mr. Sainsbury : My Department currently has 690 research agreements and contracts with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education, with a total value of some £55 million, of which the Atomic Weapons Establishment has 40 with a total value of some £2 million. In real terms, from 1985-86 to 1989-90, total annual spending on these arrangements has increased by 6 per cent. and the Atomic Weapons Establishment's element by 9 per cent.
17. Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum height for NATO warplanes overflying the south-west on exercise ; whether he will reduce the number of these flights overflying from outside the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement on his policy on low-level flying over centres of population.
Mr. Neubert : NATO aircraft authorised to conduct low flying training in the United Kingdom are required to follow United Kingdom low- flying regulations which stipulate a normal minimum separation distance of 250 ft. Low flying by non-RAF aircraft based outside the United Kingdom accounts for under 2 per cent. of total low flying activity in the United Kingdom and will continue to be kept under close review. Military pilots are instructed to avoid overflying the centres of major conurbations and built-up areas at low level. It is not possible to avoid overflying the outskirts of major towns or every small community, but pilots will make every effort to avoid populated areas wherever possible.
Mr. Neubert : Low flying exercise activity in 1989 is expected to be similar to that in previous years. I will, as is usual, seek to notify members whose constituencies are likely to be affected, prior to individual exercises taking place and as soon as detailed planning permits.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend regularly holds discussions with the United States Secretary of Defence on a wide range of matters of mutual interest. However, it is not our general practice to disclose the details of such discussions.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : As part of the studies related to modernising the United Kingdom's theatre nuclear weapons capability, consideration is being given to the replacement of the full spectrum of United Kingdom tactical nuclear weapons, including sea-based systems. However, no decisions have yet been taken.
Mr. Neubert [pursuant to his reply, 5 July 1989, c. 155] : In addition to the accident in 1984, there were two other accidents in the 1980s involving F111E aircraft from RAF Upper Heyford. The details of these are as follows. In April 1980 there was an accident to an F111E near Wimborne in Dorset while en route to France, and in March 1981 an F111E was involved in an aborted take-off at RAF Fairford. The latter was an airfield accident to an aircraft which had diverted from Upper Heyford. Although there was considerable damage to the aircraft, there was no danger to the general public.
under-utilisation of armed services hospitals.
Mr. Neubert : The utilisation of service hospitals was considered by the Public Accounts Committee in its 9th report of the 1987-88 Session. The Government replied in a Treasury Minute in February 1989. The Committee's 21st report of the 1988-89 Session, which also deals with service hospitals, was published on 22 June. It contains further observations which are now being considered and will be answered by Treasury Minute.
22. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has as to the current size of the Soviet Union stockpile of chemical weapons ; and what proportion of such weapons he estimated are stationed in eastern Europe.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer my hon. Friend to page 9 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989 (Cm 675-I). We believe the size of the Soviet stockpile of chemical weapons to be several times higher than the 50,000 tonnes that the Soviets have claimed. We also have good grounds for believing that the Soviet Union has stationed chemical weapons in eastern Europe, but I am unable to say what proportion of the total Soviet stockpile these might currently comprise.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said in the House on 22 May, it is expected that the future Gurkha force will have roles that lie within the mainstream of the Army's defence commitments.
Mr. Neubert : I refer my hon. Friend to recent Statements on the Defence Estimates, which confirm the considerable importance that we attach to conservation and archaeology. This applies on Salisbury plain, as elsewhere on the defence estate.
28. Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy that, following the closure of royal ordnance factories, he will take steps to ensure that defence materials formerly produced by them continue to be produced from within the United Kingdom.
Mr. Sainsbury : In considering alternative sources of production, we take into account the needs of an efficient defence industry and the value of continuing production within the United Kingdom, but we purchase from overseas when the advantages of cost, performance and timescale outweigh the benefits of procuring a British alternative.
32. Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his most recent calculation of the difference between the sale price and current market value of the sale of royal ordnance factories, land and patent rights.
40. Mr. Ray Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his most recent calculation of the difference between the sale price and current market value of the sale of royal ordnance factories, land and patent rights.
63. Mr. Graham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his most recent calculation of the difference between the sale price and current market value of the sale of royal ordnance factories, land and patent rights.
77. Mr. Maxton : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his most recent calculation of the difference between the sale price and current market value of the sale of royal ordnance factories, land and patent rights.
Mr. Sainsbury : My Department has had no reason to attempt to calculate the current market value of the assets of Royal Ordnance plc since the company was sold in April 1987. Royal Ordnance plc was sold as an entity, with all its liabilities as well as its assets for £190 million to the highest bidder in keen and open competition. There was therefore no sale price for any of the assets of the company.
The National Audit Office, for its recent report on the sale of Royal Ordnance plc, commissioned surveyors to carry out an alternative use valuation of the three company sites (Enfield, Waltham Abbey and Patricroft) for which there have been highly speculative and exaggerated estimates of development value. The assessment of the current market value of the three sites prepared for the NAO was between £26 million and £38.5 million.
Mr. Neubert : On 30 April 1989 the Army was about 3,500 below strength. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces made a statement to the House on 8 June, column 388, about the measures that the Army was taking to improve recruitment and retention.
37. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has received any recent evidence to suggest that the Warsaw pact forces are adopting a defensive rather than an offensive strategy.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The military reductions and restructuring of forces along defensive lines recently announced by Warsaw pact states have, of course, only just begun to be implemented. They are due to be completed by the end of 1990. Although they will to some extent reduce Warsaw pact offensive capability, we will not be able to judge their full impact until then. However, in terms of fielded capability, the Warsaw pact would still possess a significant advantage over NATO in all the systems needed to conduct conventional operations deep into an enemy's territory.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the annual salary of the head of the defence exports services organisation and the extent of the bonuses for which he could be eligible.
38. Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the annual salary of the head of the defence exports services organisation and the extent of the bonuses for which he could be eligible.
39. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recruits were taken into the armed forces over the last three years for which figures are available ; and what are the projections for the next three years.