|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Michael Spicer : The operating lifetime of Magnox stations assumed for planning purposes by the CEGB is 30 years. The actual operating life of each station is a commercial matter for the owner of the station, subject to meeting the requirements of the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate.
Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the proposals submitted to his Department detailing the steps to be taken to ensure that each of the advanced gas-cooled reactors can reach its designed level of output.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The achievement of optimum operation of the advanced gas-cooled reactors is a matter for the Central Electricity Generating Board and the South of Scotland electricity board. I have asked the chairman of the CEGB to write to my hon. Friend.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what quality of service objectives have been set for British Gas with regard to priority attention for elderly customers and those with small children requiring work to be done on hot water and heating systems ; and to what extent the actual levels of service correspond to those objectives.
Column 297In relation to the elderly and disabled, British Gas has a code of practice on special services, as required by condition 13 of its authorisation.
The recent Gas Consumers Council report, "Review of British Gas Services for Elderly and Disabled Consumers", recommended that elderly and disabled people, particularly those with special heating or hot water requirements, should receive priority attention for emergency repair work.
The Director General of Gas Supply has called on British Gas to implement those recommendations in the GCC report addressed to it and to agree to a change in its authorisation that would give them legal force.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The report summarising the work by the Severn Tidal Power Group on the Severn barrage is being published today by HMSO in the Department's energy paper series. Copies are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. The £4 million study was jointly funded by the Severn Tidal Power Group, the Central Electricity Generating Board and my Department. I am grateful to them for their contribution to the study and also to the many other participants in the work.
The study gives a clearer picture, than hitherto, on costs and performance of a tidal barrage and on regional and environmental issues. However, much further work, particularly on environmental issues and the organisation and financing issues of a Severn barrage remains to be done. Work to address these issues will be undertaken during the next two years. In the meantime, essential site specific environmental work will continue.
As part of the privatisation and restructuring of the electricity supply industry the Government are setting up arrangements which should be very attractive to suppliers of renewable sources of energy but it will of course be for the industry to determine the financial viability of each project.
The Department will be funding generic tidal R and D in support of site specific work on the Severn, Mersey and other estuaries. This work mainly addresses environmental issues. The total cost of generic environmental studies completed since 1986 and currently under way amounts to £1 million.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if the Central Electricity Generating Board has calculated the level of wigner energy in the twin cores at Bradwell nuclear power station ; whether there are any plans to anneal the cores before decommissioning ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance his Department has received from the European Commission concerning the environmental assessment of projects being funded by or the subject of a grant application for European regional development funds ; and if he will place copies of such guidance in the Library.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the categories of information on which he is not prepared to answer parliamentary questions on grounds of (a) commercial confidentiality and (b) national security.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, 28 July, Official Report, column 1178, on the world clean air congress held in September, he will publish the letter he sent to the hon. Member.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I have arranged for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library. The hon. Member will recall that I was unable to answer his original question before the recess and so replied by letter.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Merionnydd Nant Conwy, 28 July, Official Report, column 1196, he will publish in the Official Report the letter sent in reply relating to environmental protection expenditure.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce legislation so that anonymous personal information cannot be disclosed by a registration officer to another person for purposes not connected with the community charge, if the anonymity of the information cannot be guaranteed by that person.
Mr. David Hunt : The collection, storage and transmission of personal data by registration officers are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984. No further specific provision is required.
Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take following the recommendations of the Carnwath report "Enforcing Planning Control", published in February.
Mr. Howard : Our consultations on the report's recommendations have revealed wide support for them. My right hon. Friend is seeking a legislative opportunity to strengthen the enforcement provisions in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to increase the present limit of £25,000 above which local authority contracts must be put out to tender.
Mr. David Hunt : New Direct Labour Organisation Competition Regulations were laid before Parliament recently whereby, from 1 October this year, local authorities are required to subject all their building maintenance and new construction work to competition with the private sector. From the same date the de minimis exemption for small authorities was reduced from 30 to 15 employees. The emergency work exemption has been redefined to cover only genuinely unpredictable work with effect from 1 April 1990, the date from which authorities are also prohibited from awarding extension "contracts" for maintenance work to their DLOs.
As regards highways work, the competition-free allowance was reduced significantly from 1 April 1987 and again from 1 April 1988. Any increase in the present threshold of £25,000 above which all local authority highways contracts must be put out to tender would not be desirable as it would reduce the benefits of competition.
Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the progress of the investigation by the National Rivers Authority into the death of dogs and sheep at Rutland Water, following the growth of toxic algae in the water ; and whether it is intended (a) to bring prosecutions against Anglian Water under the Water Act 1989 or (b) to recommend the payment of compensation to the owners of the dead animals or of affected businesses.
Mr. Howard : I understand that the National Rivers Authority has been monitoring the sites it had identified as affected, or potentially affected, by toxic blue-green algae, including Rutland Water, and that the incidence is declining.The results of its tests are available on the public registers maintained by the NRA, and have been notified to the land owners, who have been given suggestions as to appropriate precautions. The NRA's investigations into the causes are continuing, though algal blooms are a normal seasonal phenomenon, and it is not thought that these are the result of specific polluting incidents. Any decisions on follow-up action including questions of possible prosecution would be for the NRA.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has concerning the number of local authorities in England and Wales who are making arrangements for community charge payers to pay the charge by means of monthly payments ; what is his policy towards encouraging local authorities to accept monthly payments ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : Every community charge payer has a statutory right to pay the community charge in 10 monthly instalments. There is no need for chargepayers to apply for this facility ; and local authorities are statutorily obliged to accept montly instalments of one tenth of the charge. It is open to chargepayers and authorities to agree different arrangements if they wish ; but an authority may not specify payments other than by monthly instalments without the agreement of the chargepayer.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what contribution the Government will make towards the shortfall on capital allocation incurred by Calderdale council in implementing the poll tax.
Mr. David Hunt : We have made allocations of £160 million to charging authorities towards the capital costs associated with implementing the community charge in 1988-89 and 1989-90. Calderdale's allocation was £513,071.
Mr. Bevan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, when he will consult representatives of local government and relevant professional bodies on his determination under part VI of the Local Government and Housing Bill of housing revenue account subsidy for 1990-91 ; and what proposals he will be making.
Mr. Howard : My Department is today sending local housing authorities, the local authority associations and other interested bodies consultation papers on the proposed new housing revenue account subsidy. The papers contain the Secretary of State's detailed proposals for a method of calculating the new subsidy for which the Local Government and Housing Bill makes provision. They also include details of the guideline rents, and of the allowances for expenditure on management and maintenance which we propose to take into account in calculating each authority's entitlement to subsidy in 1990-91. Comments are invited within six weeks. I am putting a copy of the consultation papers in the Library together with a list of the guidelines proposed for each authority.
For the rent guideline we propose to follow the practice of the past two years and assume next year an average rent increase in England of 5 per cent. above the allowance for inflation. But this year we propose to use the provisions in part VI of the Bill to allow the aggregate notional rental income for England to be apportioned between housing authorities by reference to variations in the aggregate
Column 301values of houses and other property. This leads to different guideline rents for different authorities. A set of rules to limit changes ensures that no guideline rent would represent an increase of more than £4.50 a week over the average rent in any authority this year, and permits at the lower end of the scale guidelines which assume modest reductions in real rents of up to 9 pence per week. This should begin the process of encouraging authorities towards sensible levels of rents in different parts of the country, while ensuring that rents can remain within the reach of people in low paid employment.
For the management and maintenance expenditure guideline we propose to assume an increase for each housing authority of 3 per cent. above the allowance for inflation next year. This should enable the level of expenditure on council housing maintenance to continue to grow. The "guidelines" both for rent and for management and maintenance spending are no more than the assumptions the Government will make in calculating subsidy. Each council will have to decide for itself what level of rent it wants to set, and how much it wants to spend on managing or maintaining its stock.
Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is now taking to ensure that there are changes in the law concerning the importation and movement of toxic waste so as to prevent the recurrence of the experience suffered in the Wath on Dearne area this year.
Mr. Chope : Agricultural land is exempt from rates. Where the land is used for purposes other than that for which it is exempted, it may be brought into rating depending on the degree and frequency of that other use.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if there are any plans for the Bradwell nuclear power station site to be used as a national repository for radioactive debris and equipment resulting from the decommissioning of the Magnox programme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. Nirex's disposal facility for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste is intended to accommodate both operational and decommissioning wastes. The Government have made it clear that it intends to keep open the sea disposal option for large items arising from decommissioning operations.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further steps he is taking to encourage and facilitate the recovery of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerators in (a) the liquid, and (b) the foam ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has commissioned a study from independent consultants on the recovery of substances--including CFCs--which are controlled under the Montreal protocol. The Government will consider the conclusions of this study which are expected early next year.
A number of retail outlets and local authorities have already set up schemes to reclaim CFCs from domestic appliances. ICI has recently announced their intentions to help establish a national network of sites for the collection and recycling of reclaimed CFCs.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the paper used for ministerial correspondence in his Department consists of (a) mill off-cuts and (b) previously used paper.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to counter the illegal trade in hawksbill and green turtles ; when he last raised the matter with the Japanese Government ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Infractions of the CITES controls would be matters for the CITES Secretariat. the United Kingdom strictly implements the provisions of the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) under which commercial trade in hawksbill and green turtles is already prohibited. We have not raised the matter with the Japanese Government.
Mr. Chope : The estimated numbers of households for whom English local authorities accepted responsibility to secure accommodation under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Act are as follows :
|Numbers ------------------------ 1979 |57,200 1980 |62,920 1981 |70,010 1982 |74,800 1983 |78,240 1984 |83,550 1985 |93,980 1986 |103,560 1987 |112,440 1988 |117,550
However, because of changes in the reporting system in 1980 and 1982 the figures for the earlier years are not strictly comparable with those since 1983.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, by region (a) all those sewage works which have been granted applications for relaxations of their discharge consents by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, (b) all those for which applications were refused and (c) the number of objections to proposed relaxations received by his Department for each sewage works.
Mr. Chris Patten : I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the applications for time-limited consent which have been submitted in the context of the water industry's capital investment programme for sewage treatment works. No such applications have yet been granted or refused although a number have been withdrawn by the water authorities' successor companies. Temporary consents have been granted pending completion of the process of considering applications and objections to them. Some 10,000 representations have been received as a result of advertising these applications.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to publish schemes made under schedule 2 to the Water Act with regard to the transfer of property, rights and liabilities to the National Rivers Authority and the water authority successor companies.
Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice the Building Research Establishment is able to offer owners and lending institutions on the structural condition of Wimpey no-fines houses and flats.
Mr. Chope : The BRE's report on The structural condition of Wimpey no-fines low-rise dwellings" is published today. I commend this report to the House. Its conclusions are reassuring for owners and lending institutions alike.
The BRE inspected a range of houses and flats built in the 1950s and 1960s. They found most properties were constructed as designed, although minor variations in the type and distribution of reinforcement were found.
The BRE considers that these constructional variations do not materially affect the structural adequacy of the dwellings. In the vast majority of cases reinforcement was in a reasonable condition ; where corrosion had occurred,
Column 304its effects on no-fines construction were no greater than would be expected in traditional masonry-walled dwellings.
Indeed, the structural system of Wimpey no-fines low-rise dwellings is essentially the same as that of traditional solid-walled masonry dwellings : such systems are simple and robust and are unlikely to be significantly affected by minor variations in workmanship or isolated cracking in the concrete.
The report also contains much useful information on no-fines construction which should be particularly helpful to lending institutions and their surveyors when considering mortgage applications, and also to local authorities and private owners when approaching the repair and maintenance of these dwellings. The report will be distributed to all major lending institutions and to interested local authorities.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing, for each local authority in England (a) the party in control, and (b) the budgeted overspend on settlement for 1989 -90 expressed in percentage terms.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total cost of the services provided by his Department in connection with security requirements at the 1989 Conservative party conference.
Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give his latest information as to how many new jobs in Sunderland have been created by the activities of the Tyne and Wear development corporation from its inception.
Mr. Mudd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne can expect a reply to his letter of 3 August to the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier) concerning Mr. Richard Hall and Resicon Ltd.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any application to list the Theatre Royal in Bradford has been submitted over the last ten years ; whether any buildings adjacent to the Theatre Royal are listed buildings ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has not received an application to list the Theatre Royal in the last 10 years. However, the building would have been assessed for listing during the resurvey of the area in 1983, following which several buildings in Manningham lane were included on the statutory list, including the Theatre tavern and the Royal Standard public house, which are adjacent to the theatre. My right hon. Friend is always prepared to reconsider a building for listing if fresh evidence is produced which shows that it possesses special architectural or historic interest.
Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will state the number of (a) Royal Ulster Constabulary patrols, (b) Regular Army patrols and (c) Ulster Defence Regiment patrols, as a percentage of the total number of patrols carried out by the security forces for each month since November 1985 and (d) Ulster Defence Regiment patrols which were accompanied by the Royal Ulster Constabulary as a percentage of the total number of patrols conducted by the regiment for each month since November 1985.
(2) if he will make a further statement on the operation of his proposed rents into mortgages scheme.
Mr. Grist : The flexi-ownership scheme which I announced in September will be introduced on an experimental basis by the Development Board for Rural Wales. By combining a mortgage loan, discount entitlement and a deferred payment, the board's tenants will be able to buy their homes at a weekly outlay broadly the same as their existing rent payments. Next month I expect to be able to announce the formal start of the scheme. At this stage I cannot anticipate the possible take-up but I am confident that the experiment will have most positive results.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will list those applications under section 31 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and section 107 of the Water Act 1989, respectively, for consents to discharge to the rivers Taff and Ely which are currently under consideration by Welsh Water authority ; (2) to what extent, in considering whether to issue consents under section 31 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and section 197 of the Water Act 1989, respectively, to discharge into the rivers Taff and Ely, the Welsh Water
Column 306authority takes account of down stream build -up of pollutants which will arise when the Cardiff bay development corporation constructs a barrage across the mouth of the two rivers.
Mr. Grist : Schedule 26, part III of the Water Act 1989 provides that all applications made to a water authority under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which were under consideration on the transfer date of 1 September, are to be considered as if they were made to the National Rivers Authority (NRA). All new applications made under section 108 of the 1989 Act also fall to be considered by the NRA. I therefore suggest that the hon. Gentleman contacts the NRA's regional headquarters in Cardiff.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what action is being taken by his Department to ensure that circulars which are identical or nearly identical with those issued by English Departments of state are issued at the same time as those published by the English Departments of state.
Mr. Peter Walker : Many of the circulars issued by my Department are issued jointly with the relevant Whitehall Department. Where they are separate, however, my Department seeks to issue them concurrently with their English equivalents unless there are good reasons for not doing so. In such cases they are issued as soon as possible.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to ensure that there is effective, independent and balanced representation of Welsh consumers in the membership of the customer service committees covering the water industry in Wales.
Mr. Grist : Appointments to the customer service committees are a matter for the Director General of Water Services. My Department has on behalf of the director sought nominations in Wales from various interested groups.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many beds there were at West Wales general hospital, Glangwili, Carmarthen, on the 1 January of each year from 1979 to the present time ; and what are the projected figures for 1 January 1990.