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Mr Archie Hamilton [holding anwer 20 July 1989] : Electromagnetic interference has not been a contributory cause of any accident involving ground-based, seaborne, or airborne weapons systems in the United Kingdom.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Mobility Supplement

54. Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what advice is given to the Legal Aid Board's assessment officers in respect of applications for legal aid by war pensioners who are in receipt of mobility supplement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Department's asessment officers are instructed to disregard mobility supplement received by a war pensioner.

National Insurance

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will publish in the Official Report , (a) a list of the securities held by the national insurance fund, including the additions over the past 12 months, (b) his forecast of the surplus accruing to the fund in the current financial year for the purposes of the Autumn Statement, (c) the corresponding figures for the increase in revenue and (d) the purpose for which funds are being accumulated.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : (a) The national insurance fund securities, held by the national debt commissioners as at 30 June 1989 are as follows :


National Insurance Fund                                                          

Securities held by the National Debt Commissioners at 30 June 1989               

British Government                         |Nominal Value                        

Securities                                                                       

                                           |£                                    

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

Ways and Means                             |37,945,000.00                        

Treasury Bills                             |1,050,000,000.00                     

10 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1989          |124,185,081.66                       

11 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1989          |261,200,000.00                       

10 per cent. Exchequer Convertible Stock                                        

  1989                                     |36,046,819.20                        

11 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1990          |103,315,703.11                       

12" per cent. Exchequer Stock 1990         |208,500,000.00                       

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1987-90       |15,000,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                          

  1990                                     |10,002,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                          

  1990 NILO                                |50,000,000.00                        

10 per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                          

  1990                                     |154,836,210.19                       

10 per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                          

  1990 NILO                                |50,000,000.00                        

113/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 1991        |223,252,742.22                       

10 per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                          

  1991                                     |3,000,000.00                         

11 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1991          |173,910,000.00                       

11 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1991 NILO     |60,000,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1991           |138,500,000.00                       

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1991 NILO      |50,000,000.00                        

123/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 1992        |18,675,000.00                        

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 1992           |132,200,000.00                       

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 1992 NILO      |50,000,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1992           |205,200,000.00                       

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1992 NILO      |100,000,000.00                       

10" per cent. Treasury Convertible Stock                                         

  1992                                     |80,300,000.00                        

12 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1992         |166,785,789.21                       

12 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1992 NILO    |75,000,000.00                        

13" per cent. Exchequer Stock 1992         |36,200,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1993          |136,500,000.00                       

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 1993 NILO     |115,000,000.00                       

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 1993           |205,200,000.00                       

12" per cent. Treasury Stock 1993          |97,200,000.00                        

133/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 1993        |83,200,000.00                        

 8" per cent Treasury Stock 1994           |242,750,000.00                       

 8" per cent. Treasury Stock 1994 NILO     |50,000,000.00                        

13" per cent. Exchequer Stock 1994         |55,150,000.00                        

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 1994           |129,600,000.00                       

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 1994 NILO      |25,000,000.00                        

12" per cent. Exchequer Stock 1994         |182,500,000.00                       

 9 per cent. Treasury Stock 1994           |46,500,000.00                        

12 per cent. Treasury Stock 1995           |176,550,000.00                       

12 per cent. Treasury Stock 1995 NILO      |50,000,000.00                        

10 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1995         |154,500,000.00                       

10 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1995 NILO    |50,000,000.00                        

14 per cent. Treasury Stock 1996           |20,000,000.00                        

15 per cent. Treasury Stock 1996          |11,000,000.00                        

13 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1996         |46,500,000.00                        

10 per cent. Conversion Stock 1996         |242,520,000.00                       

10 per cent. Conversion Stock 1996 NILO    |75,000,000.00                        

13 per cent. Treasury Stock 1997          |50,265,000.00                        

10" per cent. Exchequer Stock 1997         |268,650,000.00                       

 83/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 1997        |141,800,000.00                       

 83/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 1997 NILO   |50,000,000.00                        

 93/4 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1998       |306,050,000.00                       

12 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1998          |183,800,000.00                       

 9" per cent. Treasury Stock 1999          |61,805,491.36                        

 9" per cent. Treasury Stock 1999 NILO     |50,000,000.00                        

12 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1999         |85,000,000.00                        

10" per cent. Treasury Stock 1999          |20,000,000.00                        

10 per cent. Conversion Stock 1999        |139,550,000.00                       

10 per cent. Conversion Stock 1999 NILO   |30,000,000.00                        

 8" per cent. Treasury Stock 2000          |163,800,000.00                       

 8" per cent. Treasury Stock 2000 NILO     |50,000,000.00                        

 9 per cent. Conversion Stock 2000         |297,917,597.76                       

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 2001           |112,300,000.00                       

 9" per cent. Conversion Stock 2001        |2,562,270.00                         

 93/4 per cent. Conversion Stock 2001      |34,000,000.00                        

 93/4 per cent. Conversion Stock 2001 NILO |100,000,000.00                       

12 per cent. Exchequer Stock 1999-2002     |20,500,000.00                        

10 per cent. Conversion Stock 2002         |45,200,000.00                        

 9" per cent. Conversion Stock 2002        |1,704,750.99                         

 93/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 2002        |138,600,000.00                       

 9 per cent. Exchequer Stock 2002          |221,200,000.00                       

 9 per cent. Exchequer Stock 2002 NILO     |50,000,000.00                        

 93/4 per cent. Conversion Stock 2003      |6,860,738.55                         

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 2003           |52,550,000.00                        

11" per cent. Treasury Stock 2001-04       |9,000,000.00                         

10 per cent. Treasury Stock 2004           |2,450,000.00                         

 9" per cent. Conversion Stock 2004        |176,500,000.00                       

 9" per cent. Conversion Stock 2005        |217,000,000.00                       

10" per cent. Exchequer Stock 2005         |15,000,000.00                        

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 2002-06        |264,118,200.00                       

 93/4 per cent. Conversion Stock 2006      |19,500,000.00                        

113/4 per cent. Treasury Stock 2003-07     |35,000,000.00                        

 8" per cent. Treasury Stock 2007          |190,831,042.37                       

 9 per cent. Treasury Stock 2008           |160,000,000.00                       

 8 per cent. Treasury Stock 2009           |75,000,000.00                        

 9 per cent. Conversion Stock 2011                                               

                                           |-------                              

                                           |9,662,239,436.62                     

                                           |-------                              

                                                                                 

Local Authority Bonds                                                            

11" per cent. 23 August 1989               |539,000.00                           

 9er cent. 15 May 1991                     |340,000.00                           

 9er cent. 2 December 1992                                                       

                                           |-------                              

                                           |1,129,000.00                         

                                           |-------                              

Local Authority Securities                                                       

 63/4 per cent. GLC Stock 1990-92          |3,000,000.00                         

                                           |-------                              

Local Authority Mortgage Loans             |210,035.08                           

                                           |-------                              

                                                                                 

Loans to Local Authorities                                                       

Temporary Loans                            |141,590,000.00                       

Under one year                             |153,425,000.00                       

Over one year                              |77,450,000.00                        

Secondary mortgages                        |26,300,000.00                        

                                           |-------                              

                                           |398,765,000.00                       

                                           |-------                              

                                                                                 

Total nominal value of securities held     |10,065,343,471.70                    

                                                                                 

Cash uninvested                                                                  

                                           |-------                              

Total                                      |10,065,346,914.40                    

(b) and (c) :

The forecast of the surplus and increase in revenue to the national insurance fund for the purposes of the Autumn Statement are provided by the Government Actuary's Department. The Government Actuary provided in his report on the drafts of the 1988 Benefits Uprating and Contributions Rerating Orders (Cm. 537) the following figures in respect of the tax year 1989-90 :


                                                        |£ million          

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

Surplus of income over expenditure                      |519                

Increase in total income to the national insurance fund |197                

  over 1988-89                                                              

Equivalent estimates for the 1989 autumn statement will be published by the Government Actuary's Department when the uprating and rerating orders for 1990-91 are laid before Parliament towards the end of the year.

(d) The national insurance fund pays for all contributory benefits ; the fund is administered so that contributions collected and paid into the fund are paid out as benefits. The fund has no borrowing powers, so that it must have a balance to insure against unexpected contingencies. The minimum target balance recommended by the Government Actuary is not intended to be a fixed target, but a prudent limit below which the balance should not be allowed to fall continually.

Disability Benefits Review

Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will announce the proposed timetable for the disability benefits review; and if he will make a statement.


Column 563

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if, following the publication of the final Office of Population Censuses and Surveys report he will make a statement on (a) the timescale for a review of the conclusions, (b) the terms of reference of such a review body and (c) the likely membership of the review team.

Mr. Nicholas Scott : The sixth and final OPCS report on disability in Great Britain was published on 17 July. This marks the point at which both the Government and organisations of and for disabled people can begin to look at the survey findings in the round. Once we have done so, I hope to be able to announce a timetable for further action.

Departmental Press Releases

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will ensure that when his replies to letters sent to him are issued as his Department's press releases, copies of such letters are included in the press releases.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : When issuing press releases, we will continue to include any information that we judge to be appropriate in the circumstances.

Benefits (Children)

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) of 3 July, Official Report, column 41, if he will give a breakdown of his figure of 3 million children getting an extra 50p a week, showing how the figure is split between recipients of income support and of family credit, how it is distributed between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and giving the percentage of children in each region who are affected.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : On the basis of the assumptions underlying the Government's expenditure plans (Cmnd. 615), it is estimated that in the year 1989-90, 0.8 million children in families in receipt of family credit and 2.2 million children in families in receipt of income support in Great Britain will receive an extra 50p per week in their child allowances above the normal uprating increase. I regret that it is not possible to provide statistically reliable estimates of how these children are distributed among families in England, Scotland and Wales.

Lone Parents

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the number of lone parents ; how many are in paid work ; how many are on income support ; how many are on other out-of- work benefits ; and how many are receiving family credit.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The most recent estimate of lone parent numbers is for 1986 and the income support and family credit schemes did not commence until April 1988. Information for 1986 is as follow : Estimated numbers of lone parents 1,010,000

Estimated numbers in paid work 440,000

In receipt of supplementary benefit 602,000

In receipt of Family Income Supplement 85,000

Notes :

No information is held on number of lone parents receiving unemployment benefit.


Column 564

There were 722,000 lone parents in receipt of income support at May 1988 and 108,000 in receipt of family credit at March 1989. OPCS estimate see Population Trends 55 Spring 1989.

FES 1986, includes those in receipt of Supplementary Benefit with part-time earnings.

February 1986 ASE figure excludes prisoners' wives and the temporarily separated.

May 1988 ASE--figure excludes prisoners' wives and the temporarily separated.

February.

Means-tested Benefits

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the public expenditure savings as a result of the low take up of means-tested benefits.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer my right hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) on 7 February 1989 at columns 628-29. Estimates of the take-up of the main income-related benefits for 1985 will be published before the summer recess.

Mortgage Interest

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures giving the disposable incomes, after taking into account means-tested benefits of single-wage married couples with two children under five years and mortgages of (a) £20,000, (b) £30,000, (c) £40,000 and (d) £50,000, firstly when out of work and receiving income support and secondly when in work earning £100, £150, £200, £250 and £300 a week.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : No precise figures are available. There are a variety of different mortgages, and mortgage interest fluctuations mean that mortgage interest payments can vary during the course of any given year. Social security provision for income support claimants with mortgages varies with the period benefit has been in payment.

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the maximum amount of mortgage interest payable with income support ; and whether he will consider aligning the family credit regulations to take account of mortgage interest.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : There is no maximum amount of mortgage interest which can be met in income support, but the amount can be restricted in certain circumstances. We have no plans to allow for mortgage interest in the assessment of family credit.

Small Businesses

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the achievements of his Department and his policies in helping small businesses over the last 12 months compared with the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.

Mr. Moore : The Government's general policy towards small businesses is to create a climate in which they can flourish and to provide measures that support and help stimulate their development. Over the past 12 months my Department has continued to identify ways to help small businesses. Specific measures which have been introduced included :


Column 565

(i) In February 1989 we issued a new communications package for employers which provided guidance on the collection of national insurance contributions and the payment of statutory sick pay. We enlisted the help of external consultants and in line with their recommendations, the structure and design of the guidance was completely revised. The aim was to make our instructions easier for employers to understand, in particular for the small employer who may have to carry out payroll functions personally.

At the end of February 1989, immediately after the dispatch of the new guidance material, a small survey was undertaken to sample initial reactions to the new material. The survey showed that 83 per cent. thought that the updating was a good idea and 69 per cent. agreed that they would be more likely to use the new guides than the old ones. A larger survey is currently under way to examine reactions to the material in use and to seek further improvements. The results are expected by September 1989.

(ii) We have produced a video, specifically aimed at small employers, which outlines the basics of the calculation and payment of statutory sick pay, and which has been available since March 1989. Copies can be obtained from CFL Vision, PO Box 35, Wetherby, Yorkshire, LS23 7EX, price £14.50.

(iii) In October 1988 we embarked on a series of experimental seminars for employers which provided instruction on the administration of statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay. The pilot seminars were based in Scotland and found to be of value to both small and large employers. We intend to extend the service nationally and are currently selecting the staff to do this. (

(iv) We have worked with the Department of Employment in producing a starter pack for the newly self-employed and those who may be contemplating self-employment. The pack, "Working for Yourself : What You Need to Know" became available in July 1989.

(v) We have undertaken a comprehensive review of all the inquiries local and central DSS offices make of business. Implementation of the report's recommendations will result in a lessening of the burden departmental inquiries place on business.

We are continuing to take positive steps to give small firms opportunities to do business with the Department. Local purchasing staff are encouraged to make contact with small firms and they are doing a substantial proportion of their business with them. As yet we have not designed performance indicators specifically for monitoring achievements in this area, but my Department has a system to monitor proposals which impact on business to ensure the needs of small businesses are fully taken into account. We attach particular importance to action taken to help small firms and will continue to explore further ways of doing so.

Community Charge

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list by each charging authority in England the income level at which (a) a single person aged under 25 years, (b) a single person aged over 25 years, (c) a single pensioner, (d) a pensioner couple and (e) a couple with two children all with no savings would lose entitlement to community charge rebate assuming the Department of the Environment's illustrative community charge figures for 1989-90.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested has been placed in the Library.


Column 566

Benefits (Dundee)

Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how much was spent on community care grants and social fund loans by the Dundee, East and Dundee, West offices of his Department in 1988-89 ; what proportion of their budgets for these benefits this represents ; and how much they have been allocated for these benefits for 1989-90.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Such information is available from the details held in the Library.

Pensioners

Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners in receipt of less than full basic national insurance retirement pension, because of insufficent contributions (a) also receive income support, (b) are living with partners whose income added to their own, takes them as a couple up to or beyond the basic income support level.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Information collected centrally on retirement pensioners in receipt of income support does not indicate the rate of basic state pension in payment to those individuals.

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security why leaflet NP1 advises only pensioners not receiving income support or housing benefit to read on and decide whether to claim income support ; and whether he will take steps to amend the leaflets so as to avoid giving the impression that pensioners receiving only housing benefit cannot gain by claiming income support.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The leaflet does not refer to

"only pensioners not receiving income support or housing benefit" but to people who do

"not at present get either benefit".

I do not consider that this gives the impression suggested, particularly as the next column of the leaflet sets out clearly the conditions of eligibility to income support.

Elderly People (Evictions)

Mr. Madden To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make arrangements to collect information about elderly people who are evicted from residential homes for the elderly in the private/voluntary sector ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have no plans to do so.

Women Pensioners and War Widows

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any information concerning the current average income of (a) women pensioners and (b) war widows.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 13 July 1989] : The average weekly gross income of all single women pensioners in 1986 was £73.30 (at 1986 prices). Comparable information is not available for war widows.

Source : Family Expenditure Survey 1986.

Information on the gross income of all women pensioners is not given because the available data on this group includes the income of the husbands of married women.


Column 567

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any information concerning the percentages of all women pensioners which fall into different total income brackets ; and if he will give comparable figures for war widows.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 13 July 1989] : The proportion of single women pensioners in gross equivalent income quintiles is as follows :


                     |Number       

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

Quintile 1 (lowest)  |26.8         

         2           |49.5         

         3           |13.7         

         4           |5.4          

         5 (highest) |4.6          

Comparable information is not      

available for war widows.          

Source: Family Expenditure Survey  

1986.                              

<1>Information on the income       

distribution of all women          

pensioners is not given because    

the available data on this group   

includes the income of the         

husbands of married women.         

<2>Equivalisation is a method of   

adjusting incomes to allow direct  

comparisons to be made between     

different family types, for        

example single and married people, 

those with and without children,   

householders and non-householders. 

ENERGY

EC Energy Policy

16. Mr. Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on progress towards the development of a European Community energy policy.

Mr. Peter Morrison : The Commission has recently drafted instruments on price transparency, transfrontier trade in gas and electricity, and on notification of certain energy investments.

Fast Breeder Reactors

19. Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what assessment he has made of the future of fast breeder reactors ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Spicer : My right hon. Friend announced the results of the Government's review of fast reactor policy to the House on 21 July last year at column 1288.

Renewable Energy

24. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he intends to review the non-fossil fuel quota in the light of the study of renewable electrical energy potential in the north-west of England carried out by NORWEB and the energy technology support unit, Harwell.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government recently announced their intention to reserve a privileged place for renewables within the non- fossil fuel obligation. This will be done by setting special extra tranches of capacity which can be filled only by renewable forms of energy. The proposed levels of the tranches will be kept under review to ensure that when the obligations are laid they take fully into account the potential availability of renewable capacity. There is no need for further review at present.

27. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish the recently completed study of


Column 568

the renewable energy resource potential in the north-west of England carried out by NORWEB and the energy technology support, unit, Harwell.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The report and the accompanying overview report were published on 6 July. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

44. Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the next regions to be studied by the energy technology support unit at Harwell for renewable electrical energy potential.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The potential for the use of renewable energy was assessed for the country as a whole and published in "Energy Paper 55". Since then two further studies considering electricity generation have been published ; the "Cornwall Energy Project" by Cornwall county council and "Prospects for Renewable Energy in the Norweb Area" by the North Western electricity board and the energy technology support unit. No other specific proposals are in hand at present, but it is hoped that other electricity boards will follow Norweb's lead.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has evaluated which renewable energy projects currently being developed or studied by the energy technology support unit at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, might prove suitable for export to (a) the Indian sub-continent and African states and (b) European Economic Community member states.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Department's programme on renewable energy is focused primarily on the development of commercially viable and environmentally acceptable renewable technologies for the United Kingdom. Although at an early stage of development, many of the Department's projects could lead to products suitable for export to both industrialised and less well-developed countries. The United Kingdom is already involved in collaboration or information exchanges in a number of areas.

Many of the technologies being examined as part of the Department's R and D programme should offer considerable export potential for United Kingdom industry.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the energy technology support unit, Harwell's, medium-term and long-term projects for renewable electrical energy generation in the North West of England.

Mr. Michael Spicer : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) earlier today.

Combined Heat and Power

26. Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what consideration is being given to enabling electricity generated through combined heat and power schemes in the home to be fed into the national grid.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Our privatisation proposals are specifically designed to encourage competition in generation and to ensure that all economic sources of electricity supply have access to the market. Any surplus electricity generated by CHP schemes is however more likely to be used locally than to be fed into the national grid.


Column 569

Coal and Oil Combustion (Tax)

28. Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what proposals exist for international negotiations on the taxation of coal and oil combustion in advanced western countries.

Mr. Michael Spicer : I am aware of no formal proposals for such international negotiations, although several ideas have been floated for a carbon tax or levy as a way to discourage CO emissions. The proper forum for consideration of such ideas is the intergovernmental panel on climate change, which is examining strategies for responding to the greenhouse effect.

Insulation

29. Mr. Ray Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the proposal by the Select Committee on Energy of a target of 250,000 low-income households to be insulated in a year.

Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make it his policy to set a target of a minimum of 250,000 low-income households to be insulated in the current financial year.

Mr. Peter Morrison : I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Ms. Quin) earlier today.

38. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his latest estimate of the number of low-income households which will be insulated under neighbourhood energy action programmes in the current financial year ; and what are the resulting energy savings.

Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment announced on 10 February a package of special measures to help boost the project network. The most recent quarterly monitoring returns relate to the period before those measures took effect, so we are not yet able to produce reliable estimates of the number of households which will be treated in the current financial year.

51. Dr. Moonie : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will hold urgent discussions on ways of stepping up the number of low- income households to be insulated over the next three years.

Mr. Peter Morrison : The Secretary of State for Employment announced on 10 February a special package of measures designed to boost the network of community insulation projects which provide practical help to low-income households. Officials from my Department and the Training Agency are now discussing ways of maintaining and building upon the improvement which stemmed from those measures.

52. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the progress being made to date in insulation schemes for private dwellings in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Morrison : Amendments to the Building Regulations were laid before the House on 11 July. These will require improvements in insulation standards for new housing (and other new buildings) which should achieve a


Column 570

saving of about 20 per cent. in heating requirements compared with standards under existing regulations. The amendments will come into operation on 1 April 1990.

Community insulation projects, which provide a low-cost insulation (mainly draughtproofing) service for low-income households, have so far insulated over 600,000 homes, about half of which are in the private sector. Over 3.5 million grants have been paid under the homes insulation scheme for loft, tank and pipe insulation. Over 90 per cent. of homes with accessible lofts now have some degree of loft insulation.

Coal Liquefaction

30. Mr. Raffan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects the coal-to-oil liquefaction pilot plant at Point of Ayr to be commissioned ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The commissioning phase of British Coal's liquefaction project has already commenced, and I would expect this phase to be completed next year. My Department has offered to contribute up to 9 per cent. of the project cost up to a maximum contribution of £3 million, and is contractually committed to support the commissioning phase.

Coal Orders

31. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to announce the level, duration and tonnage of coal to be ordered from British Coal by (a) National Power and (b) PowerGen from January 1990 onwards.


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