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Ivory

77. Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to curtail the global trade in ivory ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : Effective action to curtail world trade in ivory requires concerted international co-operation, principally through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). We strongly supported the ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory at the recent CITES conference. We were also successful in obtaining agreement to our resolution urging all parties to the convention to implement these more stringent controls immediately. The Indian elephant is already subject to a similar prohibition.

Litter

78. Mr. Favell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to enable local authorities to impose fixed penalties for the dropping of litter.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I am pleased to inform my hon. Friend that our proposals for legislation to tackle the problem of litter, published on 20 July, include a provision which will allow all district and borough councils to operate a fixed penalty scheme for littering.

Lower Grange Estate, Bradford

80. Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to approve grants enabling new homes for rent and for sale to be built on the Lower Grange estate in Bradford, and some existing homes to be modernised ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : An application for city grant in respect of 280 houses to be built for sale and 28 flats to be refurbished for sale was received on 6 October. It is being examined and my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities hopes to issue a decision as quickly as possible.

My Department has not yet received a detailed application for estate action support in respect of the houses which the city of Bradford metropolitan council intend to refurbish. The Housing Corporation has also not yet received a detailed appplication for housing association grant for the houses proposed to be built for rent by North British Housing Association. Both applications, when received, will also be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Northumbrian Water Authority

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will give the capital spending of the Northumbrian water authority for each year since 1983 and the total spending planned over the next five years.


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Mr. Howard : Northumbrian Water Group plc estimates that expenditure required in 1990-95 by the investment programme which was taken into account in setting K will amount to £540 million at November 1989 prices. Northumbrian water authority's capital expenditure since 1983, taken from the authority's annual report and accounts and repriced, was as follows :--


Northumbrian Capital Expenditure 1982-83 to 1988-89     

£ million (1988-89 prices)                              

              |DOE services |Land drainage              

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

1982-83       |49.1         |0.2                        

1983-84       |41.9         |0.2                        

1984-85       |34.3         |0.3                        

1985-86       |47.2         |0.2                        

1986-87       |42.8         |0.3                        

1987-88       |44.1         |0.2                        

1988-89       |41.2         |0.2                        

NATO Exercises

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the extent of involvement by his Department in NATO exercise Wintex/Cimex 1987 and exercise Wintex/Cimex 1989 ; what is the number of staff engaged in the exercise planning process and in the exercises themselves ; and what are the posts, ranks and responsibilities of the staff involved.

Mr. Chris Patten : My Department plays its part in testing those procedures in which we have an interest. Staff participate as required ; it would not be appropriate for me to supply the details requested.

English Heritage

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the total per head of the population of England that was spent by English Heritage in each of the past three years.

Mr. Trippier : On the basis of OPCS mid-year population estimates and English Heritage gross expenditure, the spend per head for the financial years 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89 was £1.42, £1.50, and £1.65 respectively.

Water Privatisation

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by individual water company the amounts proposed for (a) industry debt written off and (b) the injection of new Government capital.

Mr. Howard : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave on 26 October 1989 to my hon. Friend for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) [ Official Report, col. 555 ].

Seaforth Nature Reserve

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the reasons why the Seaforth nature reserve is being demolished ; how many appeals has he received in favour of the reserve ; and how many against.

Mr. Trippier : I have received 23 representations supporting the reserve, but I understand that Sefton MBC,


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the local planning authority, proposes to meet the Merseyside Docks and Harbour Company--the land owners--to discuss the issues of present concern at Seaforth. It is too soon to tell what the future of the reserve will be.

Radioactive Discharges

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has monitored the effect of radioactive discharges from the Health Service to air and water.

Mr. Trippier : Radioactive waste may be disposed of only if an authorisation has been issued under the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution (HMIP). Authorisations are issued only after careful assessment of the environmental impact of the proposed disposals. They impose strict conditions and activity limits, which are designed to ensure that any dose to the general public is well below the maximum permissible as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The premises concerned are subject to inspection to ensure compliance with the terms of authorisations.

Monuments (Policy Review)

Mr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to reply to the policy review on the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments--England, Wales and Scotland that was undertaken by Peat, Marwick and McClintock ; and when he expects to act on the report's recommendations.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 7 November 1989] : The consultant's review was commissioned as part of a policy review of the three commissions undertaken jointly by the Department, CADW Welsh Historic Monuments and the Scottish Development Department. We announced our decisions on the main points of principle raised in the PMM report's recommendations relating to the English Commission on 20 February at columns 496-97. There remain further points of detail which affect all three commissions. We aim to conclude this further work by the end of the year.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people have been affected by the use of local authorities' powers to restrict the amount of rent payable through housing benefit such that only part of the eligible rent is assessed for benefit ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have been asked to reply.

This information is not held centrally.

Local Government Finance

18. Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to prevent the circulation by councils to community charge payers of misleading information on (a) on the level of charge and (b) the sums by which it is calculated ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Hunt : The code of practice issued under the Local Government Act 1986 already requires publicity


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issued by local authorities to be accurate and balanced. In addition I propose to lay regulations before the House under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 prescribing the precise form of bills to be sent to charge payers next year.

79. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the proposed system for transitional relief for the poll tax.

Mr. Chope : The Government have issued two proposals papers on 11 October and 20 October, copies of which have been placed in the Library. Discussions are now taking place with the local authority associations following which a further consolidated paper will be issued. The paper will set out the detailed arrangements for the operation of the scheme.

66. Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning his recent statement relating to the community charge.

74. Mr. Barry Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning his recent announcement relating to the community charge.

Mr. Chope : I have received representations from individual local authorities and other bodies. The Department has also held a number of discussions with the local authority associations.

39. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on all those degenerative mental conditions which can now be assessed for poll tax exemption.

Mr. Chope : The revised exemption for people who are severely mentally impaired will not refer to specific conditions. Any person who is entitled to a qualifying benefit--which will now include attendance allowance and constant attendance allowance--and who has a certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating that his intelligence and social functioning are severely impaired, whatever the cause, will be exempt from the community charge.

33. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the likely administrative costs of the poll tax transitional relief scheme in 1990-91.

Mr. Chope : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities gave to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on 18 October at column 155.

29. Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the causes for the relative levels of base community charge in areas of greater social needs as against areas without such problems.

Mr. David Hunt : The proposals for Standard Spending Assessments which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 6 November take account of substantial research which has been discussed with the local authority associations over the last year.


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30. Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what costings have been undertaken by his Department as to the financial and manpower implications of implementing a two-tier system of local government finance, comprising a local income tax and a property tax.

Mr. David Hunt : A two-tier system of local government finance could, we estimate, cost up to twice as much to administer as the community charge.


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27. Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any intention to revise the indicators used in the calculation of revenue support grant in those local authorities whose amount of grant is adversely affected by the introduction of the community charge.

Mr. Chris Patten : I announced my proposals for the calculation of revenue support grant in my statement on 6 November.


 

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