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Mr. Howard : Members of the public were given the right to prosecute polluters of rivers by sections 31 and 32 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which were brought into force by the present Government on 31 January 1985. This right is contained in the Water Act 1989.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will publish in the Official Report a list of all types of hereditament which will be exempt from unoccupied property rating after 1 April 1990 ; and when he anticipates making regulations to bring these exemptions into effect ;
(2) what proposals he has to exempt occupiers of empty industrial premises from payment of the national non-domestic rate after April 1990.
Mr. Gummer : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment intends to consult shortly on draft regulations, to be made in final form in the autumn, to replicate from 1 April 1990 the exemption from unoccupied property rating of those hereditaments which are currently exempt from such rates under paragraph 2(a) to (d) of schedule 1 to the General Rate Act 1967, the Rating (Exemption of Unoccupied Industrial and Storage Hereditaments) Regulations 1985 (SI No. 258) and the Rating (Exemption of Unoccupied Property) Regulations 1967 (SI No. 954).
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report , the market value of (a) all privately owned housing stock and (b) all publicly owned housing stock in England and Wales at the latest available date, indicating the amount it would be necessary to charge each householder to finance local government expenditure at current levels on the assumption that rate support grant levels remain static, should capital value taxation be introduced.
Mr. Gummer : My right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for the Environment placed in the Library on 19 July a table showing the capital value rate which could have applied in each local authority area in 1989-90 if introduced in conjunction with a local income tax. These are based on an assumed domestic rateable value in England of £1,200 billion.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many copies of the "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" have been (a) distributed and (b) sold in each year since 1979 ; and what efforts are made by his Department to ensure copies are placed in public, school and college libraries.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The latest estimates of the number of copies of the "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" distributed and sold since 1978, when the digest was first published, are as follows :
Issue number |Year |Distributed |Sold ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 |1978 |1,732 |1,332 2 |1979 |1,196 |746 3 |1980 |1,082 |682 4 |1981 |818 |568 5 |1982 |863 |613 6 |1983 |879 |629 7 |1984 |843 |543 8 |1985 |1,011 |596 9 |1986 |1,233 |833 10 |1987 |1,096 |716 11 |1988 |1,235 |<1>835 <1>Final sales likely to reach 1,000 and a reprint may be required.
There are over 250 regular purchasers of the digest, some of which are school and college libraries. The digest is listed in the Department of the Environment's annual list of publications, which is sent to all local authorities, and HMSO's sectional list No. 5, Department of the Environment. It is advertised in Social Trends and steps are being taken to publicise the volume in professional librarian journals.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received a copy of the report entitled "Solving the Greenhouse Dilemma", published by the Association for the Conservation of Energy on 2 July ; and if he will make a statement.
We, together with other Government Departments, will be considering this report as well as other proposals, as part of the
intergovernmental panel on climate change.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to obtain a copy of the video tape and transcript of the UNEP sponsored programme, entitled "Inside the Poison Trade" on hazardous and toxic waste disposal, for the departmental library.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will tabulate in relation to the London borough of Waltham Forest how much revenue would be raised from the individuals resident in the borough assuming (a) a system of capital value rates plus local income tax paid in proportions of 80-20, (b) the existing system of rates and (c) the community charge ; and how much Government grant would be given in each case.
Mr. Gummer : The amount raised in any area with a system of capital value rates plus local income tax would depend on the tax rates set. It is possible to calculate tax rates which would apply in each area from a comparison of grant-related expenditure and actual spending. The implication of these tax rates for specimen individuals, with defined incomes and property values, can then be assessed. I have published figures on this basis which are consistent with the illustrative 1989-90 community charge and with current levels of domestic rates.
I cannot estimate how much would be raised from the residents in any one local authority area if a system of
Column 688capital value rates combined with local income tax were in force. This is because data are not available for each local authority area for either the capital value of domestic properties or the taxable income of residents.
Based on the illustrative 1989-90 community charge levels placed in the Library on 19 July, the amount raised from the full community charge in Waltham Forest could have been up to £56 million. But part of this amount would have been met by the Exchequer through community charge benefit payments. The figure comparable with the present system of domestic rates is £51 million.
In 1989-90 illustrative community charges assume a standard spending grant of £78 million for Waltham Forest residents. In 1989-90 rate support grant payable to Waltham Forest amounted to £83 million. In addition, Waltham Forest residents presently benefit from grant paid to the Receiver for the Metropolitan police district and the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority.
With both the current system and the community charge the Government also provide additional amounts to the poorest in each area in the form of rebates to reduce their payments to the local authority. Specific grants are also paid to fund certain areas of local authority spending and other Government grants are paid from a variety of programmes.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many meetings his Department has convened of representatives of local authorities from Yorkshire to discuss strategy for gipsy site provision on a regional or sub-regional basis in each of the last five years ; if he will list the participating local authorities ; and when the next such meeting is scheduled to take place ; (2) if he will make it his policy to ensure that officials of his Department visit the permanent gipsy sites within the city of Bradford metropolitan district council before he takes any decision on any application Bradford council may submit for designation of such sites.
Mr. Trippier : Officials have meetings with representatives of county and district councils in Yorkshire jointly and individually as required to discuss gipsy site provision. Meetings drawing together representatives from local authorities throughout the country are also held regularly to discuss gipsy issues.
Officers from the Department have visited the City of Bradford metropolitan district council's gipsy site at Mary street and plane to see the one in Esholt in the near future.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is proposing to introduce legislation to consolidate the statutes relating to town and country planning before he introduces legislation to abolish structure plans.
Mr. Chope : I understand that the Law Commission does not now expect to finish preparing the consolidation of the planning Acts in time for introduction during the current parliamentary Session. I cannot anticipate when legislation relating to development plans might be introduced, but we are bearing in mind the interaction of these legislative proposals with each other.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the likely level of poll tax in Lambeth from 1 April 1990 on the assumption that patterns of expenditure in the current year by Lambeth and the Inner London education authority do not change.
Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. To estimate a 1990-91 community charge on the assumptions suggested by the hon. Member would be misleading, because there will be changes in local government responsibilities which will alter expenditure patterns. Based on current responsibilities, the illustrative full community charge in Lambeth for 1989-90 is £543.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is yet able to indicate the projected average poll tax for England based on 1989-90 local expenditure figures ; and which local authorities would be above or below that figure.
Figures placed in the Library on 19 July show the illustrative community charge in each English local authority based on 1989-90 rate levels. The average is £274.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the likely level of poll tax in (a) Burnley, (b) Pendle, (c) Rossendale, and (d) Hyndburn as from 1 April on the assumption that current patterns of expenditure are maintained within those boroughs and by Lancashire county council.
Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. I have made no estimate of the likely level of community charge in any area. Illustrative 1989-90 community charge levels were placed in the Library on 19 July.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to introduce legislation to strengthen the present provisions in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 for planning enforcement in line with the recommendations contained in the Carnwath report.
Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his holding answer of 26 June, when he intends to provide a substantive answer to the hon. Member for East Kilbride about the refurbishment and redevelopment of empty property held by the Property Services Agency.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is its statutory duty to complete the review by 31 March 1992. The rate of progress is a matter for the commission. I understand that the commission is considering separately the boundaries between the London borough of Bexley and the boroughs of Dartford, Bromley and Greenwich. They published draft proposals on the boundary with Dartford on 11 July 1988, and one small further draft proposal on 10 July 1989 ; they published draft proposals on the boundary with Bromley on 29 May 1989. They intend to hold a local meeting in connection with the boundary with Greenwich (at Thamesmead) in the autumn, which may result in draft proposals.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has concerning the increase or decrease in staff employed by each of the London boroughs since May 1986 ; if he will publish any such information in the Official Report in tabular form ; and if he will make an estimate of the contribution the increased payroll in the London borough of Hillingdon makes to overspending per adult.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The total numbers of full and part-time staff employed by each London borough are collected quarterly and published in table H of the joint staffing watch (until recently the joint manpower watch) press notice available in the Library of the House. No estimate is available of the contribution of Hillingdon's increased payroll to overspend per adult.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many deck chairs are available in Regent's park ; how much they cost to hire and what were the equivalent figures in and for each year since 1979- 80.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : There are approximately one hundred deckchairs in Regent's park. The cost per half-day session is 35p. Figures for the number of deckchairs in previous years are not available because the number of chairs provided is left to the discretion of the contractor. Hiring costs in previous years were as follows :
Year |pence ------------------ 1979 |20 1982 |25 1984 |30 1986 |35
Column 691financial and other status of Zoo Operations Ltd. in considering London Zoo's proposals for changes in Regent's park.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Zoological Society of London's current proposals for changes follow a full review of the society's finances and zoo operations carried out in 1987-88 by consultants employed jointly by the Government and the society. The Government's conclusions on that review were announced on 11 May last year. We shall await the Zoological Society of London's detailed proposals for the further 10 acres. Zoo Operations Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Zoological Society of London.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is Her Majesty's Government's policy concerning the renewal of leases of private demesnes in the centre of Regent's park and the addition of such land to the park for the benefit of the public ; when this policy was determined ; and what was the policy which it replaced.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Private properties leased in Regent's park are owned by the Crown Estate and, apart from Regent's college, are not generally open to the public. Two areas of Regent's park--the zoological gardens and the golf and tennis school which are both open to the public on payment of a fee--are occupied on lease from the Department of the Environment. This division of responsibility is based on the provisions of the Crown Lands Act 1936 and the Crown Estate Act 1961.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Crown Estate Act 1961 gives the Secretary of State power to grant up to 10 acres of neighbouring land. We await the Zoological Society of London's detailed proposals. Any new boundaries will have to be carefully landscaped by the society to minimise the impact on the park.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that London Zoo's rights in Regent's park under the Crown Estate Act 1961 are not assigned to any other body.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The current lease precludes the Zoological Society of London from underletting any part of its premises in Regent's park except for temporary use by a society or organisation with purposes similar to the society's. The new lease will include a similar restriction.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any lessees of land in Regent's park besides London Zoo have made proposals to him to charge for access to any part within the outer canal.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The only other holder of a lease in Regent's park from my Department is the golf and tennis school which already charges for the use of its facilities. Companies also hold licences to operate and charge for recreational and refreshment facilities. Other organisations and individuals occupy property on lease from the Crown Estate.
Column 692occupants of St. John's lodge, Regent's Park lane, proposed taking in any part of the park other than that required to change the public access to the public gardens behind the lodge.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Crown Estate made an informal inquiry to my Department in relation to the reinstatement of the original gardens of St. John's lodge as set out by John Nash. The Crown Estate was told that a formal request would not be looked on favourably and this has been accepted.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the land at Gloucester slips car park is included in the 10 acres of land in Regent's park of which the London Zoo may claim use under the Crown Estate Act 1961.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his agreement to the London Zoo taking over the Gloucester slips car park in Regent's park was by lease ; and on what date any agreement was signed.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Zoological Society of London took over management of the Gloucester slips coach and car park under licence and not by lease on 1 April 1989. The terms of the licence will be finalised shortly.
Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the assumed contributions to local expenditure for each authority from (a) Government funds and (b) business rates in the tables contained in the document "1989-90 Illustrative Capital Value Rates and Local Income Tax" published on 19 July.
Mr. Gummer : The illustrative capital value rates and local income tax figures published on 19 July assume that Government funds and business rates are distributed to achieve full equalisation of tax rates. This means that in every area the same tax rates would apply if all local authorities were spending at the level needed to provide a standard level of services. The level of grant entitlement would vary if expenditure were at a different level in order to ensure that each £1 per head of additional spending in any area would lead to exactly the same change in tax rates. Areas with high average house values and high average taxable incomes would receive less grant with higher spending, while areas with low taxable resources would receive more grant with higher spending.
Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total cost of producing and distributing the document published by his Department on 19 July entitled "1989-90 Illustrative Capital Value Rates and Local Income Tax."
Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received any recent representations about pilot or permanent workplace creches and similar incentives futher to encourage the return to employment of women in his Department ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how, in the new local government finance system, he intends that the relevant population of each charging authority in England should be calculated for the purposes of determining revenue support grant and non- domestic rate entitlement and for dividing precepts among charging authorities.
Mr. Gummer : I told the Consultative Council for Local Government Finance on 12 July that following representations from the local authority associations we now intend that the relevant population should be calculated from data supplied from community charge registers. We intend to take powers in the Local Government and Housing Bill to facilitate this. These data will, we believe, provide the most appropriate record of the adult population in an area liable to pay the community charge. We shall make provision for those occasions when the necessary information is not provided by a local authority. We also intend to make provision to enable the Secretary of State to substitute an alternative figure where there is doubt that the figure derived from the register is a realistic estimate of an area's adult population. For this purpose we propose that an alternative be adopted where the register figure differs from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' estimate of the area's adult population by more than a defined percentage.
Mr. Baldry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the results of consultation on the harmonisation of the decapitalisation rate used for rating assessment in Great Britain that he announced on 7 March.
Mr. Chris Patten : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have considered carefully the responses received to our proposal to set the decapitalisation rate for property valued by reference to the cost of construction somewhere in the range of 6 per cent. to 7 per cent. Respondents recognised that a common decapitalisation rate throughout Great Britain will assist in the harmonisation of rating. However, they generally argued that a figure as high as 7 per cent. overstated the
Column 694relationship between the decapitalisation rate and the 1988 cost of borrowing to finance construction. We have therefore decided to set the rate at 6 per cent. for most property, with a lower rate of 4 per cent. applying to educational property--schools, universities, polytechnics and to colleges of further and higher education provided by local authorities and non-profit making bodies ; this rate will also apply to hospitals and certain other health establishments. The necessary regulations will be made later this year.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is giving further consideration to the rates to be applied to sports grounds, amateur sports clubs and to church property valued on the contractors basis in Scotland.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance he provides (a) to parents about the eligibility of their children aged 18 or 19 years or over, who are required to remain in secondary education, to pay poll tax and (b) to young people, who leave secondary education after their 18th or 19th birthdays and are granted places as students at institutions of higher or further education, about their liability to pay a full personal poll tax between leaving school and entering university or college ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 20 July 1989] : No one has any liability to pay a poll tax as no such tax exists or is planned. Guidance on individuals' community charge liability is contained in the Department's free booklet "You and the Community Charge" and the associated series of free leaflets including that entitled, "Students".
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many full-time staff are employed by the Nature Conservancy Council in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Scotland ; how many contract staff are employed in each country ; and how many staff are employed by the Nature Conservancy Council pursuing (i) Great Britain or (ii) international functions.
Location |Permanent staff|Contract staff ------------------------------------------------------------------------ England HQ and regions |281 |189 Wales HQ and regions |88 |44 Scotland HQ and regions |160 |87 Great Britain HQ<1> |258 |132 International branch |5 |- <1> Except International branch.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the number and gradings of his officers who are currently working in the directorate of rural affairs ; and whether he proposes any increases following the changes announced to the Nature Conservancy Council and Countryside Commission.
|Number ----------------------- Grade 3 |1.0 Grade 5 |3.0 Grade 6 |2.0 Grade 7 |11.5 SEO/SPTO |9.0 HEO |16.0 EO |18.0 AO |26.0 AA |12.5 |-- |99.0
These figures include one additional SEO who has already been allocated to assist in work concerned with reorganising the conservation agencies. Further adjustments will be made if necessary.
Mr. Wilshire : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in the light of comments in paragraph 417 of the 1988-89 report by the Local Government Ombudsman, he has any plans to ban unfair trading practices in respect of funeral services by certain local councils.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 20 July 1989] : Behaviour such as that of Wear Valley district council, both in maladministration by discriminating between local traders and in refusing to implement the local ombudsman's recommendations for compensation, is unacceptable. However, on the information available, what appears to have occurred is an abuse of the council's power to provide information rather than any unfair trading practice.