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14. Mr. Adams : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he intends to proceed with changes in the operation of local government in Northern Ireland.

21. Mr. McCartney : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his plans for local government in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Needham : Two efficiency studies covering energy management and the provision of leisure services have been undertaken recently. Proposals for improving the general efficiency and effectiveness of local government were published last November. We are now considering 60 or so responses.

Crime Statistics

15. Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the recorded crime statistics in Northern Ireland for the most recent period for which figures are available.

Mr. Ian Stewart : As stated in the chief constable's latest annual report, the level of recorded crime in 1988 fell for the second year in succession. The downward trend in the level of reported crime is encouraging, especially in the light of the improving crime detection rate.


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Planning Applications

17. Mr. Clifford Forsythe : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning applications were approved in 1988 (a) in Newtownabbey borough council area and (b) in Antrim borough council area.

Mr. Needham : The figures are 448 and 426 respectively.

General Practitioners

19. Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the trend in the number of general practitioners since 1979.

Mr. Needham : The number of general practitioners has risen from 738 in 1979 to 934 in 1989.

EEC (Communications)

20. Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to improve communications between Northern Ireland and the rest of the European Economic Community.

Mr. Ian Stewart : Plans to improve transport and communication links have been included in the regional development plan submitted to Brussels on 28 March under the star programme and the transportation programme.

Payments for Debt

12. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he last met groups seeking a repeal of the Payments for Debt (Emergency Provision) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971.

Mr. Ian Stewart : There have been no such meetings on this subject recently.

22. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the operation of the Payments for Debt (Emergency Provision) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971.

Mr. Ian Stewart : The provisions of the Payments of Debt (Emergency Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 continue to make an important contribution towards the objective of reducing the high levels of public debt in Northern Ireland.

25. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has had seeking to repeal the Payments for Debt (Emergency Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971.

Mr. Ian Stewart : In the last year there have been a number of questions from hon. Members on this subject.

Handicapped Children

23. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the level of funding for services for handicapped children in the Province.

Mr. Needham : Services for handicapped children are provided by a wide range of Government Departments and statutory and voluntary agencies. It is not possible to identify separately the total expenditure committed to meeting the needs of these children.


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Homes

24. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many homes in Northern Ireland are privately owned ; how many are in the privately rented sector ; how many are owned by (a) local authorities, (b) the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and (c) other public bodies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Needham : In October 1988, 322,000 dwellings were privately owned and 29,600 were in the private rented sector, including housing associations. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is the sole public sector housing authority within the Province and owns 171,000 houses.

Statistics on the total number of houses owned by local authorities and other public bodies are not available but the number is small.

Student Loans

26. Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated cost of the introduction of student loans.

Dr. Mawhinney : The estimated total costs for introducing the top-up loans scheme were given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science in his statement to the House on 19 June. The Northern Ireland component of these costs will be related to the Northern Ireland share of total costs which are still being discussed.

35. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what annual level of inflation has been used to calculate the projected cost of the student loan scheme.

Dr. Mawhinney : In Northern Ireland the top-up loan scheme for students will operate on a parity basis with the rest of the United Kingdom. Details of the costs are outlined in annex E of the White Paper (Cm. 520) where the level of inflation is assumed to increase by 3.5 per cent. in 1990-91 and thereafter to run at 3 per cent. annually.

Government (Province)

27. Mr. Gow : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals he has for the better government of the Province.

Mr. Ian Stewart : We should like to achieve arrangements for the government of the Province which more fully involve local elected representatives. Steps towards that goal can be achieved only as the result of discussion and agreement between political representatives of both sides of the community. Meanwhile, the Government will continue their efforts to defeat terrorism, strengthen the economy, improve the public services and seek to ensure that Northern Ireland is a fair society for all.

Transport Policy

28. Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on transport policy.

Mr. Needham : The Government's policy on transport in Northern Ireland is to ensure that effective, safe and


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convenient transport services are provided to meet the needs of the travelling public. This policy is being pursued by continuing support within the financial resources available for public transport services and by a programme of investment in roads and related infrastructure.

Secular Education

29. Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent on the development of secular education in each of the years since 1979 ; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Mawhinney : The law requires that religious instruction is given in all grant-aided schools other than nursery schools. Disaggregation of costs in the form requested cannot be provided.

Transport

30. Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he proposes to seek European Community structural funds to improve transport infrastructure and minimise peripheral disadvantages to Northern Ireland within the European single market.

Mr. Ian Stewart : The broad strategy to improve transport infrastructure and minimise peripherality with regard to the European Community was one of the development priorities set out in the infrastructure section of the regional development plan which was submitted to the European Commission on 28 March 1989. This was the first stage in the new procedures in obtaining EC funds for Northern Ireland for this and future years.

Negotiations with the Commission are continuing on the overall level of funding and the type of projects which will be eligible for EC assistance.

31. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the transport needs of Northern Ireland in the context of the single European market.

32. Mr. Watson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what preparation he is making to improve transport links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the EEC.

Mr. Needham : The Government recognise the importance to Northern Ireland of transport links in its peripheral position in the European Community. Therefore, the Government are taking steps to improve transport to allow Northern Ireland industry to take advantage of the enhanced business opportunities offered by the single European market. These steps include the development of a transportation programme which is to be submitted for aid from the European regional development fund and which includes projects to improve port, airport and rail facilities and the roads network.

Short Brothers

33. Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in the completion of the sale of Short Brothers ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Viggers : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Cran).


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Disabled People (Funding)

34. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on Government funding of services for people with disabilities.

Mr. Needham : Services for people with disabilities are provided by a wide range of Government Departments and statutory and voluntary agencies. It is not possible to identify separately the total expenditure committed to meeting the needs of these people.

Education Reform

36. Mr. Michael Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has received regarding the problems for education reform.

Dr. Mawhinney : The proposal for a draft Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order was published for consultation on 13 June with a closing date of 12 September. No formal representations have yet been received.

Emigration

37. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the latest available figures for annual emigration from Northern Ireland to (a) Great Britain, (b) the Republic of Ireland and (c) the rest of the world.

Mr. Needham : The information is as follows :

(a) 16,000

(b) 1,400

(c) 4,200

Figures are derived from the 1988 mid-year estimates of population and cover the period 1 July 1987 to 30 June 1988.

Local Government Consultative Document

38. Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received concerning the local government consultative document issued by the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.

Mr. Needham : Over 60 responses to the local government consultative paper were received from district councils, political parties, trades unions, professional associations and others. The comments made by these respondents are presently being considered.

Transport Groups

39. Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has received from transport groups.

Mr. Needham : None.

Structure Investment

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether his Department will be responding to the report by the Institution of Civil Engineers on structure investment ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Needham : I shall write to my hon. Friend.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Welsh Farming Unions

Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received recently from Welsh farming unions on the state of agriculture in Wales.

Mr. McGregor : My Department has in recent months received representations from the Welsh farming unions on a range of matters, including the general state of agriculture in Wales, the Commission's price -fixing proposals and the organisation of ADAS activities in Wales.

Egg Producers

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many representations he has had on the problems of very small- scale egg producers in the context of the Testing of Poultry Flocks Order 1989 ; and whether he has any proposals to amend this order.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I have received a number of representations from the operators of small flocks about the effect of the monitoring requirements contained in the Testing of Poultry Flocks Order 1989. A new order laying down registration requirements for laying flocks is in preparation, which will also contain provisions on the monitoring of poultry flocks to replace those in the Testing of Poultry Flocks Order.

Nuvan

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the chemical Nuvan can be used to increase the shelf life of salmon.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Nuvan is not a permitted food additive.

Potato Marketing

Mr. Knapman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will announce his conclusions following the consultation exercise on potato market policy in Great Britain after 30 June 1990.

Mr. McGregor : My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales and I have received a wide range of representations. A number of growers, supported by the processing industry and the multiple retailers, favour a free market (option (i) in the consultation paper). The majority of growers wish to retain the essentials of the present potato marketing scheme but accept the need for non-producer interests to be represented (option (iii)). There was no support for option (ii)--retention of the scheme but without the board's basic area and quota powers.

My colleagues and I have decided that we would propose to retain the basic elements of the existing potato marketing scheme in view of the need to maintain stability in the potato industry at a time of major adjustment in the arable crop sector generally. This is subject, however, to review in the longer term, and on condition that the following changes are made to the existing arrangements.


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First, we believe it is essential to ensure that consumers and other non-producer interests are given a greater influence in market management decisions. I have therefore invited the board to enter into discussions with other interests with a view to proposing modifications to the present scheme along the lines of option (iii). Secondly, it remains the Government's intention to abolish the guarantee arrangements as soon as parliamentary time permits. But in the meantime we shall be seeking substantial changes to the financial agreement between the Government and the board. We shall, therefore, be discussing with the board and the farmers' unions--as required under the Agriculture Acts 1947 and 1957 :

(i) A significant revision of the formula for allocating intervention costs with a view to enabling the industry to accept financial responsibility for its own affairs.

(ii) A switch from pre-season contracts to direct intervention with a view to rendering intervention more cost-effective and strengthening the board's reserves.

(iii) Elimination of the Government's contribution to the board's administrative costs.

We aim to reach final conclusions on these matters by the end of September.

Veterinary Products Committee

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent members of the veterinary products committee have to declare an interest ; and if he will list their interests.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Members of the veterinary products committee are required to declare all their interests which might affect the impartial discharge of their functions. Their personal interests are to be published shortly in the committee's annual report for 1988.

Unregistered Fishing Vessels

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps his Department has taken to notify all vessels not registered as British under the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 to stop fishing on the British quota.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The fishing licenses issued by Fisheries departments make clear that they are valid only if the vessels are registered. Fishing by unregistered vessels is illegal, and where offences are detected prosecution action will be considered in the normal way.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many fishing vessels not registered under the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 are still (a) fishing in the British quota, (b) in FPOs and (c) have been notified by his Fisheries Department to stop fishing in the British quota.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Fishing vessels which are not appropriately registered are not legally entitled to fish against United Kingdom quotas. To date we have evidence which points to illegal fishing by 19 unregistered vessels (of which seven are members of producer organisations). The owners involved are being notified of possible prosecution action in the usual way.


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Arctic Corsair and Arctic Range

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the registration status of the Arctic Corsair and the Arctic Range currently fishing in Greenland waters under the British quota in those waters.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Registration is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. I understand that both the Arctic Corsair and the Arctic Ranger have been accepted for registration under part II of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988.

Marine Farms (Licensing)

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what criteria determine whether operators of marine and shell fish farms require a licence from his Department prior to commencing operation.

Mr. Donald Thompson : A licence is not required for the operation of marine fish and shellfish farms. However, such operations must first obtain consent from the Crown Estate Commissioners and are also subject to statutory controls on aspects such as discharge and fish disease.

Pesticides

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Caerphilly, of 27 June, Official Report, column 446, what exemptions on account of age apply to regulations on the handling of certain pesticides.

Mr. Ryder : In clarification of the reply given on 27 June the only exemption on account of age applies to people born before 1965 who are not required to hold an appropriate certificate of competence when using pesticides on their own land or on their employer's land. The requirement to hold an appropriate certificate of competence when providing a commercial service applies regardless of age. Age does not exempt anyone from the general obligation on users of pesticides to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of people, creatures and plants and to safeguard the environment. In addition, anyone using pesticides in their business or employment must have had adequate instruction and guidance so as to be competent in what they are doing.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all those pesticides cleared for use in Britain under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 ; and what percentage these form of the total number of pesticides currently approved for use in Britain.

Mr. Ryder : All pesticides currently approved for use in the United Kingdom have been approved under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. A list of approved products is published annually and is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many of his Department's scientists are currently engaged in reviewing pesticides under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 procedures.


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Mr. Ryder : It is not possible to give a precise figure, as explained in my reply to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) on 23 March at column 726.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many older pesticides he expects to be reviewed by (a) the end of 1989, (b) the end of 1990, (c) the end of 1994 and (d) the end of 1999 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : It is not possible to predict how long reviews of particular pesticides will take.

Farm Diversification Scheme

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Caerphilly of 18 May, Official Report, columns 293-94, if he will give a full description, by type, of the 23 environmental facilities established under the farm diversification scheme by that date ; and if he will state the number of schemes including proposals to create wetland habitats such as ponds, reed beds, marshes, etc., and the area which such habitats cover.

Mr. Ryder : These projects cover nature trails, woodland walks and associated interpretation centres and educational facilities. Most of the nature trails incorporate existing wetland habitats or newly established ponds. Statistics on the precise area covered are not readily available.

Fishing Vessels (Grants)

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has regarding the total sums awarded by the European Community grants for fishing vessels to each maritime member state in the fourth round of European Community regulation 4028/86.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The information requested is as follows :


Regulation 4028/86-4th Round                                                    

Member state        |EC vessel grants   |Stirling equivalent                    

                    |Mecus              |£ million                              

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

Belgium             |0.18               |0.12                                   

Denmark             |1.83               |1.18                                   

Germany             |1.38               |0.89                                   

Greece              |2.84               |1.83                                   

Spain               |15.69              |10.12                                  

France              |5.37               |3.46                                   

Republic of Ireland |0.48               |0.31                                   

Italy               |5.62               |3.63                                   

Netherlands         |0.03               |0.02                                   

Portugal            |5.31               |3.43                                   

United Kingdom      |1.99               |1.28                                   

                    |---                |---                                    

Total               |40.72              |26.27                                  

Fisheries Multi-annual Guidance Programme

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has regarding the steps taken by each maritime European Community member state regarding steps to meet the objectives set in the fisheries multi-annual guidance programme.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Member states have adopted various measures, including a decommissioning grants scheme, to meet their programme objectives.


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