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Internationally this Government have taken a lead in securing commitments to cut down ozone damaging chemicals, and in proposing in the United Nations a conference on global climate change. We shall build on these achievements in the years to come. At the centre of our efforts will be environmental protection legislation, and a White Paper on the environment to guide policy in the last decade of the century.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Prime Minister on what date she was informed of the difficulties that existed between the Strathclyde police investigating the crash at Lockerbie and the West German federal police ; and what action she took to facilitate a speedy resolution of the problems.
Column 295the assistance of Strathclyde and other forces report to my noble and learned Friend, the Lord Advocate, who has confirmed that a good working relationship has been maintained with the West German police and prosecution authorities.
From very early in this investigation arrangements have been in place to enable the police to obtain the Government's assistance in international aspects of their inquiries. These arrangements have operated very satisfactorily and it has not been necessary for any matters to be referred to me.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : It is not possible to provide a breakdown of all Scottish Office expenditure on environmental protection except at disproportionate cost. However, the actual expenditure on (a) the running costs of Her Majesty's industrial pollution inspectorate and of the hazardous waste inspectorate within the Scottish Development Department, and (b) grant paid to local authorities and other bodies are as follows :
Table 1 Year |HMIPI |HWI |£ |£ -------------------------------- 1983-84 |- |20,000 1984-85 |- |30,000 1985-86 |- |50,000 1986-87 |624,630|119,000 1987-88 |819,628|124,000 1988-89 |920,728|194,000 Note: Until 1987-88 the running costs of HMIPI were partly met by the Health and Safety Commission. The Scottish Office contribution in those years cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.
Table 2 Year |Clean Air Grants |Special Environmental|UK 2000 |Grants |£ |£ |£ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1979-80 |65,148 |- |- 1980-81 |65,938 |- |- 1981-82 |83,978 |- |- 1982-83 |94,320 |- |- 1983-84 |54,442 |- |- 1984-85 |105,843 |- |- 1985-86 |164,535 |- |- 1986-87 |130,967 |- |55,970 1987-88 |178,222 |150,000 |249,959 1988-89 |52,991 |200,000 |200,000
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The funding of the proposed European Environment Agency is not a matter for the Scottish Office. However, its location is under consideration and siting it in Scotland is one of the options advanced on behalf of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average time taken to decide planning appeals submitted to him ; how many such appeals are outstanding for the district of Angus ; and how long each such appeal has been before him.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The average time during 1988 was 34 weeks. There are 14 planning permission appeals currently being processed for the district of Angus. Of these four were accepted as valid appeals in July ; two in August ; two in September and the remainder in October.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to co-ordinate action against acid house parties ; and if he is considering the introduction of a police special intelligence unit similar to that set up in England.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend, in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, is keeping this matter under careful review. The policing of parties of this nature is an operational matter for chief constables. They are well aware of the problems which these events might cause and will take whatever action is necessary.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry seeking Government action to persuade the European Community to locate the proposed European Environment Agency in Scotland.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The council's north-east area committee has sent to the Secretary of State a copy of its submission to the Secretary of State for the Environment proposing a location for the agency in the Grampian region.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has made a study of the relevance to the Scottish nuclear industry of the 1989 report "Plutonium Fuel : An Assessment" by an expert group of the Nuclear Energy Agency at the Organisation for Environment Co-operation and Development.
Mr. Lang : I am aware of the report. Plutonium fuels are currently in use in Scotland in the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's prototype fast reactor at Dounreay. For technical reasons mixed uranium- plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel is unsuitable for use in Magnox reactors. I am advised that, for economic reasons, it is unlikely to be used in advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) in Scotland.
Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to publish the full details of the surveys on the transfer of housing assets and related matters undertaken in the new towns of Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Livingstone and Irvine.
Mr. Lang : It is intended that the full results of the tenants' survey will be published on 30 November 1989 as a Scottish Office central research unit paper. I will place a copy in the Library of the House. Further copies will be available from The Librarian, Room 144, New St. Andrew's House, Edinburgh, priced £3.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of young people under 18 years of age who are currently homeless ; and how these estimates have changed over the last three years.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what new initiatives he will take to reduce the present level of homelessness in young people under 18 years of age ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 298relation to young people has been demonstrated by the various initiatives taken to ensure that housing needs in Scotland are more closely matched by housing availability. In particular, the Government have pursued policies to introduce more choice in the housing market, including the revival of the private rented sector and the expansion of the housing association sector, both of which will benefit young people.
The Government are committed to maintaining an effective legislative framework for dealing with homelessness. Section 25 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 makes it clear that homeless families with dependent children have a priority need for accommodation. It is for local authorities to deal with cases of homelessness and the Scottish Development Department has emphasised to them in its code of guidance on the exercise of their homelessness functions that homeless young people who are at risk of sexual or financial exploitation should also have a priority need.
We have also been concerned to ensure that local authorities and other bodies which deal with homelessness are adequately resourced. We have provided grant aid to voluntary bodies such as the Scottish Council for the Single Homeless which are particularly concerned with homeless young people. Local authorities have been encouraged to take additional measures to deal with homelessness, including the adoption of cash incentive schemes to encourage their tenants to move into the private sector, thus releasing houses for homeless families. The Government will continue to monitor the problems of homelessness and will bring forward new initiatives when appropriate.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what statutory powers are available to environmental health officers to take action to prevent noise made by commercial premises situated in residential areas disturbing members of the public who live in the vicinity ; what plans he has to strengthen those powers ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Local authorities' duties and powers in relation to noise are defined in Part III of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and include provision to take legal action against the perpetrators of a noise nuisance. The Act also allows private individuals to take similar action on their own account.
I am not aware of any serious criticism of the noise provisions of the Act.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Scottish Office received a request from the organisers to provide a speaker at the Glasgow east end community conference on 28-29 October ; whom the Scottish Office provided ; what was the cost to public funds ; and if he will make a statement.
Total gross NHS expenditure per head of population in Scotland |£ ---------------- 1979-80 |205 1980-81 |259 1981-82 |296 1982-83 |321 1983-84 |344 1984-85 |369 1985-86 |392 1986-87 |419 1987-88 |455 1988-89 |504
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans for further consultations with residents throughout Skye and Lochalsh over the provision of Skye bridge ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : It is proposed that promotion of the Skye bridge will follow procedures similar to those for a publicly financed scheme in Scotland. There will therefore be the usual scope for discussion and comment on the scheme.
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye of 18 October, Official Report, columns 163-64, he will now, in the light of Highland Regional Council's recent decision concerning a Skye bridge, announce approval for replacement ferries on the Kyle of Lochalsh-Kyleakin route ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Caledonian MacBrayne and the Scottish Development Department have already begun a detailed appraisal of the case for replacement ferries in the light of Highland regional council's decision. This will take into account up-to-date information on all relevant factors, including the significant increase in traffic this summer. An announcement will be made as soon as the appraisal has been completed.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 1 November 1989] : It is estimated that at 31 March 1989, 3 per cent. of the public sector stock was vacant. Comparable figures for the private sector are not collected centrally.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information his Department has of the incidence of respiratory disease among the Scottish agricultural work force ; and what steps he is taking to promote improvement in this situation.
Only one case of occupational respiratory disease occurring in agricultural workers in Scotland was reported to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 1985, in the two years 1986-87 and 1987-88, the two years for which information is available. However, data collected under the regulations is regarded as an incomplete measure of the true incidence of occupational disease.
The Executive's employment medical advisory service is about to begin a publicity campaign lasting 12 months, on occupational lung disease with the objective of increasing the awareness of employers, employees and the medical community to this group of diseases. Also, the Executive is currently supporting a project on the surveillance of occupational lung disease from reports of consultant chest physicians and occupational physicians.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what research is sponsored by his Department on the use of robots for remote intrusive maintenance of nuclear plants ; what consultations he or officers of his Department have had with the United States Department of Energy over its research programme in this field ; and whether he has any information on developments in Japan and France in this specific use of robots.
Mr. Michael Spicer : My Department contributes towards the costs of certain UKAEA programmes which cover a number of robotics and remote handling applications, particularly in the areas of radioactive waste management and decommissioning. My Department is also participating in a European Community research and training programme (TELEMAN), which is concerned with the contribution that robots and remote handling equipment can make to nuclear safety in routine inspection and maintenance, in accident management, and in decommissioning. This programme keeps us in touch with the programmes of our Community partners, including France. (Further details of this programme are available in the Official Journal of the European Communities dated 3 August 1989 and 22 September 1988, copies of which are available in the Library of the House).
Consultations with the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) are carried out under a formal co-operation agreement with the UKAEA. There have also been discussions on the application of robotics to decommissioning with USDOE, both as part of a bilateral agreement and as part of the OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency exchange agreement on decommissioning.
Information on developments in Japan is received through published documents and through the atomic energy counsellor in the British Embassy in Tokyo.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has made a study of the relevance to the United Kingdom's nuclear industry of the 1989 report, "Plutonium Fuel : an assessment", by an expert group of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Co-operation and Development.
Mr. Michael Spicer : For technical reasons, mixed uranium/plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel is not suitable for use in Magnox reactors. As stated in the report, its possible use in advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) and pressurised water reactors (PWR) has been examined by the Central Electricity Generating Board in conjunction with British Nuclear Fuels Limited. The results suggest that there is more to be gained from MOX use in PWRs than in AGRs. However, it is not envisaged that the recycle of plutonium could be undertaken in the United Kingdom on any significant scale before the turn of the century.
Mr. Michael Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Doncaster, North of 30 October, if he will list the individuals appointed to the electricity boards and their respective backgrounds.
J. F. Harris
J. C. Smith, CBE
R. W. Gurney
The Rt. Hon. Baroness Gardner of Parkes, JP
J. A. Harmsworth
Mrs. V. Pollard
J. M. Griffiths, OBE, JP
M. J. Calvert, JP
A. G. Stoughton-Harris
Mrs. J. M. Wilson
R. T. Gales
I. D. Coutts, CBE
Professor R. J. Eden, OBE
G. A. Squair
R. V. Giordano
D. H. Jones
P. D. Nicholson
Dr. R. H. Cummings, OBE
A. G. Schroeder
J. W. Evans
D. A. Ross
D. J. Prosser
J. N. Hardman
G. M. W. Owen
J. A. Rigg, CBE
K. G. Harvey
G. H. Wilson
R. A. Cox, CBE
D. A. Davis
D. R. Morris
Mrs. D. J. Parker
A. P. Hichens
A. N. Thatcher
C. M. Fisher
D. S. Barber
R. N. Gunn
Sir Ian McLeod JP
P. W. L. Morgan
C. A. Prendergast CBE
A. N. R. Rudd