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Mr. Waldegrave : We see the principles concerning the constituent assembly and the constitution, which were agreed in 1982, as an essential part of the United Nations plan for Namibian independence. We are working to ensure that these principles are respected.
Mr. Robert Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement defining Her Majesty's Government's position as to what will constitute a clear and irreversible change in South Africa.
Mr. Waldegrave : We believe the first step is for the South African Government to implement the concept developed by the Commonwealth eminent persons group, to open the way for serious negotiations to start about the future of South Africa.
Mr. Robert Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the position of Her Majesty's Government on the five-year plan of the South African Government.
Mr. Waldegrave : It is not for us to comment on the plan. We have made clear to the South African Government repeatedly that we seek early progress on the creation of a non-racial South Africa with a government acceptable to all South Africans.
Mr. Robert Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to call upon the South African Government to lift the restrictions which currently prohibit South African citizens and organisations from advocating sanctions.
Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. Mr. Robert Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now call upon the Government of South Africa to cease all executions of opponents of apartheid to meet the preconditions proposed by the Organisation of African Unity to create a climate for negotiations in South Africa.
Mr. Robert Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he received a request to meet Thabo Mbeki, head of the international department of the African National Congress ; and what reply he has sent.
Mr. Waldegrave : A representative of the ANC asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in Kuala Lumpur on 22 October if he would meet Mr. Mbeki. He indicated that he was prepared to do so if Mr. Mbeki was willing to agree to the suspension of violence on the basis set out in the negotiating concept of the Commonwealth eminent persons group.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what improvements have been made for the conveyance of passengers and freight between RMS St. Helena and the quayside at Jamestown, St. Helena.
Mr. Sainsbury : No quayside improvements have been made, but we are providing, through the aid programme, a harbour launch which will ease the transfer of passengers and baggage between the RMS St. Helena and the quayside at Jamestown, St. Helena.
Mr. Stevens : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Comonwealth Affairs if he will publish up-to-date figures recording the number of unpaid parking fines incurred by each diplomatic mission in the first six months of the current year ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The information requested by my hon. Friend is given in the table, which also includes those international organisations which have incurred unpaid fines. The figures may be reduced by late payment.
The total of 4,292 for the first six months of 1989 indicates a 26 per cent. reduction over the same period of 1988. It compares with nearly 67,000 in the first six months of 1984 before publication of the 1985 White Paper (Cmnd. 9497). We welcome this further reduction in unpaid parking fines and appreciate the co-operation of diplomatic missions since the introduction of the parking policy. We shall continue to monitor carefully the level of unpaid fines and bring pressure to bear on diplomatic missions to reduce this still further.
Unpaid Parking Fines Diplomatic mission |January to June 1989|January to June 1988 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Soviet Union |335 |324 Saudi Arabia |251 |157 Cote d'Ivoire |195 |146 Sudan |190 |190 Cameroon |173 |154 Egypt |132 |368 Greece |126 |141 Pakistan |120 |120 United Arab Emirates |113 |165 Spain |109 |158 Qatar |102 |104 Korea |99 |78 Poland |99 |213 Bulgaria |94 |47 German (Federal Republic) |82 |66 Israel |81 |116 Malaysia |81 |138 Thailand |72 |93 Morocco |71 |100 Iraq |67 |173 France |64 |69 Portugal |63 |62 Brunei |62 |130 Turkey |62 |123 Ghana |53 |52 Kuwait |52 |11 Cyprus |46 |32 Brazil |43 |42 Germany (Democratic Republic) |42 |56 Bangladesh |41 |40 Gambia |40 |28 Tanzania |40 |51 India |38 |40 China |36 |130 Algeria |35 |57 Jordan |35 |85 Norway |35 |36 Venezuela |32 |57 Canada |32 |33 Yugoslavia |31 |49 Angola |29 |13 Belgium |29 |25 Japan |29 |84 Tunisia |29 |113 Uruguay |29 |21 Barbados |28 |28 Finland |27 |38 Nicaragua |26 |10 Oman |25 |19 Sierra Leone |23 |101 Sweden |22 |38 Hungary |21 |22 Mauritius |21 |16 Cuba |20 |23 Ethiopia |20 |49 PDRY |20 |26 Czechoslovakia |19 |16 Ireland |19 |21 Burma |16 |21 Romania |16 |30 Yemen AR |16 |13 Liberia |15 |26 Italy |14 |53 Zaire |14 |82 Zambia |14 |24 Fiji |13 |20 Jamaica |13 |29 Guyana |11 |16 Senegal |11 |39 Somalia |11 |17 Trinidad |10 |7 Ecuador |9 |27 Lebanon |9 |23 Philippines |9 |9 Mexico |8 |12 Mongolia |8 |2 Nigeria |8 |67 Paraguay |8 |14 Uganda |8 |10 Austria |7 |6 Chile |7 |7 Iran |7 |24 Kenya |7 |36 Honduras |6 |7 Zimbabwe |6 |20 Gabon |5 |16 Iceland |5 |11 Lesotho |5 |9 Malawi |5 |17 Peru |5 |59 Seychelles |5 |8 United States of America |5 |15 Bahrain |4 |2 Guatemala |4 |5 Nepal |4 |5 Panama |4 |7 Denmark |3 |1 Indonesia |3 |18 Vietnam |3 |2 Bolivia |2 |1 Botswana |2 |7 Dominica |2 |3 Netherlands |2 |6 Singapore |2 |0 Switzerland |2 |3 Togo |2 |4 Australia |1 |2 Colombia |1 |8 Luxembourg |1 |3 Malta |1 |0 Mozambique |1 |0 Papua New Guinea |1 |0 Sri Lanka |1 |6 Swaziland |1 |0 Afghanistan |0 |6 Antigua and Barbuda |0 |9 Bahamas |0 |2 Belize |0 |0 Costa Rica |0 |3 Eastern Caribbean States |0 |2 El Salvador |0 |1 Grenada |0 |0 Holy See |0 |0 New Zealand |0 |0 South Africa |0 |1 Tonga |0 |0 International organisations Commonwealth Secretariat |10 |15 Cocoa |3 |9 IMO |3 |2 Inmarsat |3 |0 WEU |0 |32 UN |0 |0 EEC |0 |0 Coffee |0 |0 Sugar |0 |0 |------- |------- Totals |4,292 |5,838
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on sewage bacteria contamination from the Drax power station and its impact on surrounding areas and give details of any action to be taken by his Department.
Column 550pollution, in conjunction with other agencies, is investigating the position urgently. They will take whatever action may be needed to protect the public, if a health hazard is found to exist.
(2) how many tons of crude oil escaped from the Shell oil terminal into the Mersey in the summer ;
(3) how many tons of crude oil were recovered following the leakage into the Mersey in the summer.
Mr. Trippier : Aircraft from the Department of Transport's marine pollution control unit made two spraying sorties and sprayed a total of 6.4 tonnes of dispersant. In addition a vessel, commissioned and under the direction of the metropolitan borough of Wirral, sprayed a total of 12.6 tonnes of dispersant obtained from MPCU stockpiles. It is estimated that up to 150 tonnes of oil escaped into the river. Once a leak was identified a vacuum tanker was deployed to act on oil at the leak site and more than 50 tonnes was recovered in this way and returned to the refinery. Much of the oil that landed on beaches was mixed with sand and removed. It is not possible to estimate how much of the oil was dealt with in this manner. Most of the oil lying on mud flats and salt marshes has, after consideration of expert advice, been left to weather naturally to avoid causing further damage through disturbance of these sensitive sites.
Mr. Trippier : No. The hon. Member will be aware of the ongoing investigations of the Department of Energy's pipelines inspectorate and the prosecution proceedings being undertaken by the National Rivers Authority. Our assessment is that these, when taken with the work of the independent expert advisory committee, which is to look at the longer-term environmental effects under the chairmanship of Professor Bradshaw of the university of Liverpool, should adequately cover the public interest in this matter.
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received in favour of introducing a rents into mortgages scheme in England similar to those announced for Scotland and Wales.
Mr. Chope : The Department commissions research from time to time into the factors which influence tenants' decisions on buying their homes, and will study the outcome of the experimental schemes in Scotland and Wales.
Discounts on all council house sales |Corby |East Northamptonshire |£ thousands |£ thousands ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1980-81 |256 |634 1981-82 |<1>2,807 |2,155 1982-83 |3,616 |799 1983-84 |2,846 |791 1984-85 |2,278 |686 1985-86 |2,870 |873 1986-87 |2,488 |1,470 1987-88 |4,241 |2,372 1988-89 |8,183 |3,699 1989-90 |<2>2,039 |<3>1,169 <1> April-December 1981 only reported. <2> April-June 1989, latest information available. <3> April-September 1989, latest information available.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why the advice contained within community charge practice note 23, paragraph 4.8, suggests that the names and addresses of all students should be disclosed to the community charges registration officer ; what steps he is taking to safeguard the privacy of students not resident in the requesting CCRO's charging authority area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The guidance given in paragraph 4.8 of community charge practice note 23 reflects regulation 5 of the Personal Community Charge (Students) Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/443) which were laid before Parliament on 17 March 1989. Paragraph 4.8 of the practice note also outlines the steps to be taken by educational establishments to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1984. It is the responsibility of these establishments to ensure that they do so.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from, or on behalf of, house owners with long-term leaseholds regarding difficulties created by the freehold owners.
Mr. Chope : Local authorities in England report their rent arrears on their housing subsidy claim forms. I am arranging for details of the rent arrears at April 1986 to be placed in the Library of the House. A table was placed in the Library on 1 March this year showing rent arrears reported at April 1988 and those arrears as a percentage of rent roll. Corresponding information on the position at April 1989 is not yet available. For corresponding information about Welsh local authorities I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ask Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution to assess the potential dangers to the public of the polychlorinated biphenyls waste disposed of by the Purle Waste Company in quarries in south Wales ; and if he will assess the danger to local housing from PCBs dumped at the Brofisken site.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is the responsibility of the district councils in Wales to ensure that waste disposal operations do not give rise to risk to public health. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is able to provide guidance or advice if required.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to instruct Her Majesty's pollution inspectorate to make a site evaluation of the Ty Llwyd quarry in the Sirhowy valley ; to assess the danger to local public health from the polychlorinated biphenyl wastes tipped at the quarry.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is the responsibility of the local district council, the waste disposal authority, to ensure that waste disposal operations do not pose a threat to public health. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is able to provide guidance and advice if required.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to instruct Her Majesty's pollution inspectorate to assess the potential dangers from the dumping of polychlorinated biphenyls waste at Alvanley on Merseyside.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is aware of the potential problems that may arise from the former landfill at Alvanley and is liaising closely with the relevant waste disposal and local authorities that have responsibility for the disposal of toxic wastes.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions sections 65 and 197 of the Town and Country Planing Act 1971 have been applied to clean up contaminated land ; and how much money has been recovered from each polluting party in each case to pay for the clean- up.
Column 553exercised by local authorities. There is no requirement to notify the Government when these powers are used and therefore this information is not readily available. Section 197 of the Act does not contain appropriate powers for dealing with contamination.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions sections 9 and 16 of the Control of Pollution Act have been applied to clean up contaminated land ; and how much money has been recovered from the polluting party or parties in each case to pay for the clean-up.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to evaluate the necessity to use section 115 of the Water Act 1989 to recover costs for the clean-up of contaminated land.
Mr. Howard : Section 115 of the Water Act enables the National Rivers Authority to carry out anti-pollution works, including to prevent polluting matter from entering watercourses where it considers this is likely to occur, and to recover the costs it has reasonably incurred from any person responsible. It would therefore be for the authority to consider, in any particular case, the extent to which the use of these powers might be appropriate in dealing with problems of water pollution associated with contaminated land.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on how many occasions sections 92 to 100 of the Public Health Act 1936 have been applied to clean up contaminated land ; and what financial resources have been recovered from the polluting party, or parties in each case to pay for the clean-up.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Information about the use of sections 92 to 100 of the Public Health Act 1936 by local authorities is not held centrally. It could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Problems of contamination are dealt with by landowners and local authorities depending on the circumstances of each case ; Government Departments are not normally consulted.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he has given to the effect of community charge capping upon the ability of local planning authorities fully to evaluate environmental assessment statements submitted in planning applications under the new European Community directive.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list for each water authority area the water supplies (a) which will meet the European Community directive on tap water quality, 80/778/EEC by 1992, (b) which will not, stating the criteria each water
Column 554supply fails to meet, the number of people affected and the planned date for compliance and (c) to what extent the position will have improved by 1995.
Mr. Howard : I will place copies of the undertakings accepted by my right hon. Friend under Section 20 of the Water Act 1989 and relaxations granted under the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989 in the Library.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those beaches which will comply with the European Community bathing water quality directive, 76/160/EEC, by 1992, and those which will not.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish details of his agreements regarding the drinking water standards according to EC directives with the new water companies.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Mace Head monitoring station, which monitors atmospheric methane, as a part of the global atmosphere gases experiment is funded by the Department. The Harwell laboratory has made a study of methane emissions from landfill waste disposal sites. Both these activities are expected to continue, together with an important new study of advanced measuring techniques by the national physical laboratory.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State announced on 25 May 1988 that the Property Services Agency should operate on business lines. Since then, good progress has been made and as a result the Government have decided that it will be in the long-term interest of the PSA and its staff to privatise its commercial activities as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made, which include the introduction of commercial accounts and the restructuring of its organisation. The earliest practicable date is likely to be in the second half of 1992.
The PSA's customers will be fully untied from 1 April 1990 and I will be giving the PSA some immediate freedom to compete for work in new markets so that it has an opportunity to establish itself in them in advance of privatisation.
Column 555The bulk of the PSA's activities relate to project management, design services, maintenance of property and estate management services and these will be the core of the new private organisation. Those of the PSA's current activities that are essentially governmental will be retained within the Department. These activities include management of the Government's common user estate, for which executive agency status will be considered.
Mr. Howard : The Government have announced their intention to restructure the finances of the 10 water plcs, by writing off all their debt to the Exchequer and providing a substantial injection of cash. The restructuring will enable them, among other things, to fund major new capital investment in England and Wales.
In order to achieve this, I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales intend to take the following steps. We propose by orders under section 86(1) of the Water Act 1989 to extinguish all the liabilities to the Exhequer of the 10 water plcs. Debts amounting to £5 billion will be written off on 15 November, as follows :
Water plc |£ million ------------------------------------------------- Anglian Water plc |859 Northumbrian Water Group plc |450 North West Water Group plc |1,055 Severn Trent plc |831 Southern Water plc |276 South West Water plc |129 Thames Water plc |121 Wessex Water plc |315 Yorkshire Water plc |559 |--- Total English plcs |4,595 Welsh Water plc |433 |--- Total |5,028
Two of the companies, Anglian Water plc and Thames Water plc will be required to pay to the Government the sums of £61 million and £11.9 million respectively. In order to achieve this I propose to make directions under section 83(2) of the Water Act to Anglian Water plc and to Thames Water plc to issue debentures to the Treasury, also on 15 November, for these amounts. These debentures are expected to mature on 29 December.
We also propose to enter into agreements on 20 November, under section 87(1) of the Water Act, to subscribe for shares in each of the other eight water plcs, paying a total of £1.57 billion as follows.
Water Plc |£ million ------------------------------------------------- Northumbrian Water Group Plc |122.6 North West Water Group Plc |329.7 Severn Trent Plc |361.0 Southern Water Plc |46.3 South West Water Plc |265.9 Wessex Water Plc |81.3 Yorkshire Water Plc |89.4 |---- Total English Plcs |1,296.2 Welsh Water Plc |276.0 |---- Total |1,572.2
These sums are expected to be paid on 29 December. The shares so subscribed will be included in the offers for sale of shares in the water plcs in November.
Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for class X, vote 9 will be increased by £1, 296,200,000 from £1,000 to £1,296,201,000. The increase will be charged to the reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure. A separate cash limit increase in respect of class XVII, vote 13 will be announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Wales.
The capital restructuring described above--the write-off of debt, issues of debentures and subscriptions of shares--is designed to give effect to the proposals announced by the Government on 2 August. The figures in those announcements related to estimates at that time of the cash in balance sheets at 31 March 1990 resulting from the restructuring of the 10 water plcs. These estimates have now been modified to reflect updated information. The price ceilings are as announced on 2 August.
Mr. Chope : Three cars fitted with catalytic converters have already been obtained for use by Ministers and a further one is on order. It is our intention to purchase only vehicles equipped with catalytic converters to meet the Government car service fleet replacement programme.
Sir Charles Morrison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any research has been undertaken into the effects of winter salting of roads on the quality of river water and on the breeding capability of brown trout and other fish ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 17 October 1989] : I am not aware of any research which has been undertaken into the effects of the winter salting of roads on the quality of river water. However, I am advised that past research shows that limited amounts of salt in freshwater has negligible effects on the breeding capability of brown trout and other fish.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the likely range of total liability carried by the new water undertakings for repair or renewal of the sewers now in their ownership.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 17 October 1989] : My Department and the water service companies are in the process of finalising estimates of their future investment programmes including on sewerage and I will send details to the hon. Member as soon as I can.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will place in the Library any material submitted, requested or commissioned by him concerning any matters relating to Horton Bank top reservoir in Bradford, since 1979 ;
(2) what powers he has to ensure the safety of any reservoir ; and what powers he has to direct or request a water authority or a water company to retain a reservoir, emptied on safety grounds, to be refilled and kept for recreational purposes ;
(3) what representations he has received concerning the future of Horton Bank top reservoir in Bradford ; and if he will make a statement ;
(4) if he will list the statutory provisions that govern the sale by water companies of land owned by them close to reservoirs ; (5) if he will list the statutory provisions which relate to the imposition of right and obligation on public agencies to make inquiries into the safety of any reservoir owned by a water authority or water company.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 24 October 1989] : The Secretary of State appoints panels of independent civil engineers, under the Reservoirs Act 1975, to ensure the safety of all reservoirs with a capacity of more than 25,000 cu. m. County councils and metropolitan district councils are responsible for securing that owners comply with the requirements of the Act, which include having their reservoirs inspected and supervised by panel engineers and carrying out any safety measures they recommend. The Secretary of State requires reports from the local authorities every two years on any enforcement action they have had to take and he may, in the case of default, direct an authority to carry out any of its enforcement functions.
Under section 8 of the Water Act 1989, water undertakers have a general duty to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to make water or associated land available for recreation. And in considering proposals in relation to their functions they are subject to various environmental duties, including a duty to take into account any effect which the proposals would have on the beauty or amenity of a rural or urban area.
The Secretary of State is required by section 20 of the 1989 Act to enforce these general environmental and recreational duties. In taking enforcement action he could require a reservoir to be refilled once it had been made safe. But he would not take such action where the breach of duties was of a trivial nature, or where enforcement would be precluded by his general duties, for example, to secure that water and sewerage services are provided properly, to ensure that the interests of customers are protected, and to promote economy and efficiency on the part of the undertaker.
Under section 152 of the Act, water service companies are prevented from disposing of land transferred to them from water authorities unless they have the consent of the Secretary of State, or if that disposal is in accordance with a general authorisation given by the Secretary of State. The Act, the conditions of appointment and the general authorisation together ensure that no land is disposed of which is still required for water supply purposes. Special arrangements apply to the disposal of land which is in a national park, in an area of outstanding natural beauty or a site of special scientific interest.
As regards the Horton Bank top reservoir, the
Column 558Secretary of State has received two letters asking for copies of the report on an inspection of the reservoir carried out earlier this year. The report was made to the Yorkshire water authority, the owner of the reservoir, and a copy was sent to Bradford metropolitan district council. It is for Yorkshire Water, as successor to the water authority, to decide on the future of the reservoir in the light of the report and of its duties under both the 1975 and 1989 Acts. The Department has no material relating to the reservoir.