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Mr. Chris Patten : The third Lome convention includes an allocation of 415 million ecu (about £280 million) for the Sysmin facility. Commitments up to 30 June 1989 totalled some 65 million ecu (about £44 million).

ENVIRONMENT

Radon

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) Official Report, 28 June, column 955, if he will publish the statistical evidence for radon emissions in Cornwall making it 80 times more dangerous to live there than in Copeland.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The average radiation dose per person from radon in Cornwall is 6.3 millisieverts per year. This is about 80 times the annual average dose of below 0.08 millisieverts for Copeland from the discharges at Sellafield. For further information I refer the hon. Member to the 1988 "Review of Radiation Exposure of the UK Population" published by the National Radiological Protection Board. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

Dioxines

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) Official Report , 28 June, column 955, he will identify by title and date of publication the report on dioxins to which he referred.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The title of the report is "Dioxins in the Environment", Pollution Paper No. 27 (ISBN 0 11 752229 5) published by HMSO on 22 June. Copies are in the Library.

Urban Development Corporations

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien) Official Report, 23 February, column 704 , concerning declaration of interest by chairs and members of urban development corporations, he will state any exception to the normal requirements of chairs set out therein ; and if he will make it his policy to publish, on request of any hon. or right hon. Member, for any urban development corporation, the occasions when members of corporations have written to the relevant chair, together with the circumstances and action taken on each occasion.

Mr. Trippier : We have made no exceptions to the normal requirements concerning declarations of interest. Chairmen and members are given full advice on this matter and their conditions are set out in their terms of


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appointment. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not wish to publish correspondence between members and their chairmen on such matters.

Pollution, River Dart

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many outlets empty raw sewage into the Dart between Totnes and Dartmouth ; how many of these outlets treat sewage in any way ; and if he will make a statement on the quality of water currently in the Dart.

Mr. Howard : There are three major discharges of sewage into the Dart estuary : the Dartmouth combined outfall which discharges macerated sewage, the Coronation park outfall at Dartmouth which discharges crude sewage and the Totnes sewage treatment works which discharges treated sewage. Smaller sewage treatment works at Dittisham, Galmpton and Stoke Gabriel discharge treated sewage. There are another 80 or so very small and intermittent private discharges from houses or farms which discharge crude sewage directly into the estuary.

The most recent river quality survey assessments showed that both the estuary and the river were of the highest quality (class A and class 1A respectively), except for a small stretch between Totnes weir and Riverford bridge which was class 1B. In recent weeks an algae bloom has developed in the estuary which has temporarily reduced the quality. Such blooms are a natural phenomenon in the early summer months.

Community Charge

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to ensure that no person pays more than one community charge in respect of second homes which are used by only one person.

Mr. Gummer : My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he has given to monitoring the impact of the arrangements for standard community charges on second homes on the effectiveness of the community charge in relating payment to services provided.

Mr. Gummer : The impact of the standard community charge on owners of second homes will vary with the personal circumstances of owners, and with both the levels of community charge determined and the multipliers chosen by local authorities. We shall keep these matters under review in the usual way.

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the liability to poll tax of (a) young people at school, (b) young people in sixth form colleges specified in the Personal Community Charge (Students) Regulations 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ridley : I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the community charge.

My Department discussed the definition of full-time students with representatives of local authorities and educational establishments before preparing these regulations. Young people who remain in full-time secondary


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education beyond their 18th birthday are exempt from the community charge for as long as their parents are entitled to claim child benefit on their behalf.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing the effects of the ring-fencing of housing revenue accounts on the level of community charge, using the illustrative 1988-89 figures, for each charging authority.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 13 July 1989] : As I have previously told the hon. Member, our practice is to publish only figures based on current responsibilities and expenditure patterns. There will be a number of changes in local government responsibilities from April 1990. It would not be appropriate to single out one particular change nor to attempt to predict the effect at the local level of one or more changes while details remain to be settled.

Shopping Centres, Manchester

Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to make a decision on the eight large out-of- town retail shopping centres around Manchester.

Mr. Howard : Consideration of these proposals is well advanced ; I hope to make announcements about them very soon.

Pollution Control

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money is to be made available to the National Rivers Authority for the establishment of a computer system for pollution control.

Mr. Ridley : The National Rivers Authority is at present considering its long-term requirements for information technology, including computer systems for pollution control. These, and their expenditure implications, will be considered in the context of discussions on the NRA's corporate plan. In the meantime, the schemes of transfer under schedule 2 of the Water Act 1989 will provide the NRA with the resources and equipment it needs to carry out its statutory responsibilities for pollution control and other matters.

Water

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy on the disclosure of information by water public limited companies in the event of the privatisation of the existing water authorities ; and what changes are proposed to the policies governing the information water authorities currently have to make available to the public.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 12 July 1989] : The Water Act 1989 and the proposed conditions of appointment of water and sewerage undertakers under the 1989 Act, contain a wide range of requirements for making information available to the public, either directly or through the Secretary of State, the National Rivers Authority, or the Director General. For example, water undertakers will be required for the first time to publish information about the quality of water supplied for domestic purposes, both regularly and in response to individual requests for information. The National Rivers


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Authority will be required to maintain a public register including matters such as details of analyses of samples of effluent discharged by sewerage undertakers into controlled waters.

The Director General's register, which will also be a public document, will contain all key matters concerning appointments, and include information such as undertakings under section 20(5)(b) relating to compliance programmes. Under section 34, the Secretary of State may arrange for the publication of information connected with the carrying out of water and sewerage functions as may appear to be in the public interest to publish. And the Director General's annual report which must be laid before Parliament, will contain a general survey of developments within the scope of his functions. These information requirements, in addition to those applicable to registered limited companies, will replace those applicable to the water authorities as public sector bodies. They greatly extend and improve the availability of published information.

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make it his policy that full information should be accessible to the public in respect of statutory water companies to at least the same extent as any ordinary public limited company.

Mr. Howard [holding answer 12 July 1989] : Under the Water Act 1989 statutory water companies would on the transfer date be appointed as water undertakers for their present areas of supply and the information requirements of that Act, which exceed those for an ordinary public limited company, will apply.

Uniform Business Rate

Mr. Neil Hamilton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the synopsis of the actual business property revaluations, as carried out by the Inland Revenue in preparation for the introduction of the uniform business rate ; and whether he will send a copy to the hon. Member for Tatton.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 14 July 1989] : Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 the valuation officer is required to deposit draft rating lists by 31 December 1989. It is unlikely that the lists will be ready much before that date. I placed in the Library on 15 February the summary of a sample survey by the Inland Revenue of the effects of the uniform business rate and the revaluation. I shall send the hon. Member a copy.

Land Reclamation, Leigh

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total cost in each year of the work, to each contributing body, of the Higher Folds, Leigh, land reclamation scheme.

Mr. Trippier : The total cost of the Higher Folds, Leigh land reclamation scheme was £2.4 million. The Department of the Environment paid derelict land grant on this scheme as follows :


        |£              

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

1976-77 |31,184         

1977-78 |395,767        

1978-79 |721,534        

1979-80 |226,803        

1980-81 |202,152        

1981-82 |181,898        

1982-83 |134,743        

1983-84 |62,713         

1984-85 |47,750         

1985-86 |1,739          

The balance was met by the Greater Manchester council. Information on the cost to it in each year of the work is not readily available.

Merseyside Development Corporation

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Merseyside development corporation ; what representations he has received about the construction of a power station within the Merseyside development corporation's planning area ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : I have regular discussions with the chairman of the Merseyside development corporation and recently I met the MDC board to discuss its corporate plan for the next three years. A proposal for the construction of a power station was considered by the Merseyside development corporation earlier this year, alongside other development options for the preferred site. I was informed of the issues under discussion by the MDC and other interested parties. It was for the MDC to decide the development strategy for the site, and it resolved to pursue a mixed-use strategy. Private developers are now drawing up proposals for consideration by the MDC.

TRANSPORT

Network SouthEast (Stock and Equipment)

Mr. Speed : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what investment proposals by British Rail he has approved for new passenger stock and equipment on the Network SouthEast lines to Tonbridge, Ashford and Dover.

Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend has received no recent investment proposals from British Rail about these lines. Network SouthEast's services will benefit from the resignalling works between Chislehurst and Dover, part of the major programme of investment which the Government have approved in principle, to allow Channel tunnel rail services to begin operating in 1993. Network SouthEast is planning to replace rolling stock on outer suburban services in Kent with new networker trains in the mid-1990s. I look forward to receiving British Rail's investment proposals for the new stock when they have been finalised.

Railways (Vacancies)

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will call for a report from the chairman of British Rail of the total of unfilled vacancies for each region of the rail network.

Mr. Portillo : These details are management matters for the British Railways board.


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Underground Ticket Gates

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects London Regional Transport to publish the independent review of the safety of the Underground ticket gates.

Mr. Portillo : LRT has published the report today. Copies are being placed in the Library of the House together with copies of LRT's response. The report is a comprehensive, independent assessment by consulting engineers, Mott MacDonald, of the safety of the new automatic ticket gates being introduced on the London Underground. The report concludes that the gate system is basically suited to the safe operation of the Underground. The consultants confirm that in general the gates provide better evacuation routes than the traditional barrier line by providing more exit aisles. The gates were not found to impede access for the emergency services or to present a fire or electrical hazard. Compared with totally open stations the consultants consider that the gates contribute to safety by providing a method of exercising crowd control.

Sixty detailed recommendations are made. The recommendations cover modifications to the design, installation and layout of the gate equipment and improvements to the maintenance, operations and staff training arrangements. Where extra gates are considered necessary at particular stations to cope with the growing number of passengers, appropriate recommendations have been made. The railway inspectorate and the London fire brigade have been consulted about the findings. London Underground has agreed to implement all the recommendations with the exception of one temporary measure for which an alternative arrangement is proposed to achieve the same objective.

The majority of recommendations will be implemented within 12 months. LRT reports that 18 of the recommendations have already been completed or work put in hand. The estimated cost of complying with all the recommendations is estimated by LRT to be between £5 million to £10 million.

Motor Fishing Vessel Inspire

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to examine why his Department's report on the foundering of motor fishing vessel Inspire on 5 September 1988 does not mention that a mayday call to the coastguard was made at about 3 pm on 5 September and not acted upon ; whether he will institute a further inquiry to establish the true facts, circumstances and cause of the loss, taking account of all the information made available at last week's inquest ; whether he will consider if any disciplinary action is appropriate ; if he will examine the effect of the delay on the fate of the fishermen and whether any recompense to their families is appropriate as a result ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : The Department's report does mention the call which was sent. Paragraph 6.8 of the report says :

"When he"

(Mr. Skinner, the sole survivor)

"knew the boat was sinking he sent a distress signal over the VHF but had no time to give a position as the boat turned over upside down. This call evoked no response."


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The Department's inquiries included examination of why this was so, and found that no call recognisable as a distress call from the Inspire was received by Her Majesty's Coastguard. No delay was found in search and rescue once the alarm was raised, and I note that at the inquest the coroner said

"The Coastguard acted with promptness and efficiency. No question of disciplinary action or of recompense because of delay therefore arises."

The inspector carried out a most thorough investigation into the casualty, and I am satisfied with his conclusions as to its cause. There is no intention of ordering any further inquiry.

River Terminal (Liverpool)

Mr. David Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects a decision to be made by the European Commission on the proposal by the port of Liverpool to construct a river terminal for Irish sea traffic ; when the application was lodged ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Portillo : The port's application for a grant from the European regional development fund was lodged with the Commission on 1 December 1988. I have no information as to when the Commission will reach a decision.

Motorway Service Areas

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals there are to (a) provide additional motorway service areas and (b) extend existing motorway service areas ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Government's strategic programme for the provision of new motorway service areas (MSAs) is as follows : M4 Reading area

M11 Birchanger J8

M18 Hatfield J4-5

M20 Hollingbourne J8 ; Westenhanger J11

M25 Thurrock J30-31 ; Clacket Lane J5-6 ; Iver J15-16

M27 Meon J9-10

M40 Ardley ; Barn Hill ; Stokenchurch area

M42 Tamworth J10 ; Solihull area

M54 Telford J4

M56 Hapsford J14

Birmingham Northern Relief Road

Completion of the new MSAs depends on success in obtaining planning clearance and acquiring the land.

In addition, we are considering the possibilities of MSAs to serve the proposed Blackburn southern bypass and the proposed Birmingham western orbital.

All these MSAs are to be developed by competitive tender, enabling the private sector to play a full and active part and in conformity with Government policy which I reaffirmed in this House on 17 March at columns 372-73.

The increase in the road building programme announced in the "Roads for Prosperity" White Paper, coupled with the new national road traffic forecasts which are shortly to be published in full, will require additional provision of MSAs, including :

new MSAs for new motorways ;

modifications to some of the proposals in the existing programme, to accommodate motorway widening and increased traffic ;

modification of existing MSAs, to accommodate motorway widening and increased traffic ; and

expansion of facilities at MSAs on unwidened motorways to cope with increased traffic.


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Assessment on these lines is under way but will take some time to complete.

In addition, we continue to assess plans by operators of existing MSAs for extensions to their facilities or sites.

Passenger Ferries (Sewage)

Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total number of passenger ferries operating from the United Kingdom ; how many have sewage treatment plants ; and what constraints exist over the discharge of raw and treated sewerage in the Channel and other confined water.

Mr. Portillo : Annex IV of the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships 1973-78, which deals with sewage, would prohibit the discharge of all untreated sewage into the sea within four miles from land and place stringent conditions on discharges beyond that distance. It has yet to come into force. Although there is no present obligation on shipowners, it is believed that about half the United Kingdom -registered class II ferries are fitted with sewage treatment plants and most of the others with sewage holding tanks.

Dockland Light Railway

Sir Hugh Rossi : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications for the ozone layer of the use of halon gas in equipment to protect from fire hazard the new tunnel being built to Bank underground station for the Dockland light railway.

Mr. Portillo [holding answer 13 July 1989] : Halon fire fighting equipment has been provided at a small number of strategic locations on the Docklands light railway where, if a fire occurred, there would be significant direct risk to life.

Questions concerning the ozone layer are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, but the impact on the ozone layer of intermittent use of halons in this particular example would be negligible.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has held with British Rail regarding the environmental considerations of the route and design of the new railway that it is proposing to construct in Kent and south-east London ; what assessment he has made of whether the present plans are the best design proposals in engineering and environmental terms and the most suitable for both British Rail and the people of London ; what steps were taken to ensure that a full and proper period of consultation took place between British Rail and local communities ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo [holding answer 13 July 1989] : Before agreeing to the introduction by BR of a private Bill the Department will need to be satisfied that all the relevant environmental concerns have been considered by BR. Ultimately, however, it will be for Parliament to decide whether BR's proposals are acceptable.


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Driving Tests (Manchester)

Mr. Terry Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving test examiners were employed at each driving test centre in Greater Manchester in 1979 and 1988.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The average number of examiners in post, in 1985 and 1988, for each driving test centre in Greater Manchester are listed in the table. Earlier figures are not available.


              |1985     |1988               

Centre        |Examiners|Examiners          

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

Hyde          |4        |4                  

Sale          |4        |5                  

Withington    |2        |4                  

Reddish       |6        |6                  

Bolton        |7        |9                  

Bury          |6        |6                  

Rochdale      |5        |6                  

Didsbury      |5        |3                  

Failsworth    |6        |8                  

Whalley Range |6        |6                  

Cheetham      |7        |7                  

Wilmslow      |3        |3                  

Wigan         |6        |7                  

              |--       |--                 

Total         |67       |74                 

Mr. Terry Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how often driving test examiners have been seconded to other areas from each test centre in Greater Manchester (a) during 1988 and (b) in the current year to date.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The table shows the amount of time examiners from test centres in Greater Manchester spent on temporary postings outside the area.


Centre                |1988                 |1989 (first 6 months)                      

                      |Man/Weeks            |Man/Weeks                                  

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

Hyde                  |0                    |0                                          

Sale                  |0                    |0                                          

Withington            |4                    |4                                          

Reddish               |8                    |8                                          

Bolton                |32                   |12                                         

Bury                  |12                   |16                                         

Rochdale              |8                    |20                                         

Didsbury              |0                    |0                                          

Failsworth            |20                   |20                                         

Whalley Range         |8                    |0                                          

Cheetham              |12                   |8                                          

Wilmslow              |4                    |4                                          

Wigan                 |8                    |8                                          

                      |--                   |--                                         

Total                 |116                  |100                                        

Mr. Terry Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what circumstances his Department's driving examiners are seconded to other areas from north-west examination centres.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Driving examiners are temporarily posted from centres with lower than average waiting times to those with longer waiting times in order to maintain, as far as possible, an even balance.

Mr. Terry Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the current waiting time in weeks for a motor vehicle driving test at each of the driving test centres in Greater Manchester.


Column 20

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Current waiting times for an L test at each of the test centres in Greater Manchester are :


Centre        |14 July 1989               

              |Waiting Times              

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

Hyde          |13                         

Sale          |5                          

Withington    |8                          

Reddish       |8                          

Bolton        |10                         

Bury          |8                          

Rochdale      |8                          

Didsbury      |13                         

Failsworth    |8                          

Whalley Range |14                         

Cheetham      |11                         

Wilmslow      |10                         

Wigan         |9                          

Mr. Terry Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what has been the number of motor vehicle driving test cancellations in the current year at each of the test centres in Greater Manchester, due to staff absence.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Unexpected staff sickness led to the following short-notice L test cancellations :


Centre               |1989 (up to 30 June)                     

                     |Cancellations                            

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

Hyde                 |31                                       

Sale                 |2                                        

Withington           |13                                       

Reddish              |66                                       

Bolton               |16                                       

Bury                 |13                                       

Rochdale             |33                                       

Didsbury             |17                                       

Failsworth           |25                                       

Whalley Range        |12                                       

Cheetham             |49                                       

Wilmslow             |11                                       

Wigan                |23                                       

Minibus Permit

Mr. Gow : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why his Department's south-eastern traffic area office has refused to issue a permit under section 19 of the Transport Act 1985 to Miss Annette Gerry of Victoria House, 71 Victoria road, Polegate, East Sussex, in respect of Ford Transit minibus registration number LYL 244K owned by Victoria house rest home.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Decisions on the granting of minibus permits are a matter for the Traffic Commissioner who is the independent licensing authority in these matters. The south-eastern traffic area office has sought legal advice on this case and will be writing shortly to the hon. Member.


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