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Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he is making for the payment of increased tuition fees for courses of higher education on behalf of students who receive awards under the students' allowances scheme.
Mr. Lang : The Government announced on 6 July 1989 that the maximum tuition fee for most courses for which awards are made under the students' allowances scheme will be £1,675 from the 1990-91 academic year. In order to ensure that public funds are not paid in advance of need, I have decided that tuition fees will be paid in termly instalments. The arrangements will replace the present systems, which vary among universities, grant-aided colleges and other establishments of higher education. Scottish universities and grant-aided colleges will be consulted about detailed arrangements for termly fee payments. The Universities Funding Council and the Scottish Education Department will adjust the profile of their recurrent grant instalments to institutions to take account of the change.
A similar change will be made in the payment of increased fees to local authority further education colleges at a later date. I have also considered what fee levels would be appropriate for reimbursement through the students' allowances scheme for courses where a student spends at least a year away from an institution--for example, students on "thick" sandwich courses. In these cases, the costs to the institution are usually less during the year away than for the main part of the course. I have decided that the maximum fee reimbursed in such cases should be half the standard tuition fee.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement defining Government policy on the funding of hospices.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 10 November, 1989] : We regard the hospice movement as making an important contribution to health care. This valuable contribution is already acknowledged by the use made by some health boards of hospice services on a contractual basis and by the assistance given by other boards by way of financial support or provisions of supplies.
We wish to develop and foster the co-operation that already exists and to encourage the creation of new and stronger links between the public sector and independent hospices. We wish particularly to ensure that the development of hospices, and the improvement and extension of their services is not hampered by lack of funds. For this purpose with effect from 1 April 1990 we shall be increasing significantly the financial support available to the hospice movement to ensure that all hospices obtain support from public funds of up to 50 per cent. of their running costs.
We shall also be looking at other ways in which the hospice movement might be supported in the future in the light of the implementation of the policies which we have set out in our White Paper "Working for Patients".
Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what impact he assesses the proposed European Community trade measures with Poland and other eastern European states will have in the raspberry-growing area of Tayside.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 13 November 1989] : No final decisions have yet been taken on the proposed measures. I can assure my hon. Friend that the position of the raspberry growing area of Tayside is being taken into account in our consideration of this matter.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to reply to the letter sent in July from the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North's constituent, Dr. Malcolm Kerr, regarding Rhu Narrows.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 13 November 1989] : The proposal by the Property Services Agency, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, to widen Rhu Narrows adjacent to the Clyde submarine base at Faslane was advertised in the local press in July and persons who wished to express a view on the proposal were invited to write to my Department. The letter to which the hon. Member refers was one of a number of standard format letters received objecting to the proposal. It is not normal practice to reply individually to those who have made representations in this manner. Copies of the letter of 12 October announcing my right right hon. and learned Friend's decision to allow this development to proceed were sent to the major parties involved in the proposal and an announcement was made in the press.
Dr. Kerr raised this matter with my Department on 2 November and a reply was issued on 8 November advising him of my right hon. and learned Friend's decision.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make a statement about the anticipated availability of generating capacity at Torness power station during the coming winter ;
(2) if he will make a statement about the delay in completing the store for dismantling irradiated fuel at Torness power station.
Mr. Lang [holding answer 13 November 1989] : These are operational matters for the South of Scotland Electricity Board. I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the delay in obtaining approval from the nuclear installations inspectorate for the refuelling equipment at Torness power station.
Mr. Lang [holding answer 13 November 1989] : Progress with the commissioning of refuelling equipment at Torness is regulated by a series of formal consents required under the conditions of the nuclear site licence issued by the nuclear installations inspectorate on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive.
I am advised by the NII that consents for the early stages of commissioning have been granted, the inspectorate having satisfied itself on the safety case made by the South of Scotland Electricity Board. The SSEB is expected to apply shortly for consent to progress to the next stages which cover the loading of more fuel into the reactors.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any plans to relocate his Department's offices to the north-west of England ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : The Treasury is currently reviewing the location of its activities under the policy which my right hon. Friend the then Paymaster General announced on 31 March 1988 at c. 610-11. No decisions have yet been taken.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evidence he has that the liberalisation of trade and payments has led to an increase in the rate of economic growth in the United Kingdom ; and if he will provide illustrative figures for the growth in gross domestic product less North sea oil and gas together with changes in the balance of payments.
Mr. Ryder : There is a vast economic literature on the benefits of free trade. I refer the hon. Gentleman to a recent survey article by J. David Richardson, published in the spring 1989 issue of OECD Economic Studies, and its extensive bibliography.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has on the effect that membership of the ERM has had on manufacturing
Column 180output in France and Italy ; and if he will publish figures showing for each the average annual rate of growth in output in 1959 to 1969, 1969 to 1979 and 1979 to 1988.
Mr. Ryder : ERM membership is only one of many possible influences on manufacturing output in France and Italy. Following is the further information requested on manufacturing output.
Manufacturing output growth Average annual percentage change |1960-69|1969-79|1979-88 ---------------------------------------- France |5.8 |3.6 |0.4 Italy |7.3 |3.6 |1.5
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what powers the Federal Reserve Banks in the United States have which it is not proposed to accord to any comparable institution in the member states under the Delors proposals.
Mr. Ryder : I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's statement in the House on 2 November at columns 490-91 which made clear the Government's fundamental objection to the Delors approach beyond stage 1.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report any evidence he has on income distribution per head in (a) the United States of America and (b) the European Commuity.
Mr. Ryder : Data on income distribution in the United States are published by the United States Department of Commerce in "Survey of Current Business" and "Statistical Abstract of the United States." Data on GDP per head in EC member states are published by the OECD in "Annual National Accounts Vol. 1" ; and more recent estimates can be derived from the OECD's "Main Economic Indicators". Data on GDP per head in individual regions of member states are published by the CSO in Regional Trends.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report any evidence he has on the percentage change in income per head between states in the United States of America over approximately the past 30 years and as the national average.
Mr. Ryder : Data on personal income per head in the United States, both the national average and figures for individual states, are published by the United States Department of Commerce in "Survey of Current Business" and "Statistical Abstract of the United States".
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish his latest estimate of the amount of the net United Kingdom contribution to the EEC budget and the actual figures for 1988.
Mr. Ryder : The Government's latest estimate of the United Kingdom's net contribution to the European
Column 181Community budget was published in the "Statement on the 1989 Community Budget" (Cm. 680, April 1989). The estimated outturn figure for 1988 was £1,362 million. A revised estimate of the United Kingdom's net payments to European Community institutions for the financial years 1989-90 to 1992-93 will be published in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what Government Departments, agencies or other bodies not currently using the Government data network he assesses as possible participators in the network.
Mr. Ryder : The Government data network is available to all central Government Departments and agencies and, subject to approval of the GDN management board, their use of the network is actively encouraged.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his policy on inviting tenders to the expansion of the network from companies not currently contributing to the Government data network.
Mr. Ryder : The Government data network is provided under contract by Racal Data Networks Ltd. as a service and it is the responsibility of the contractor to tailor the network to meet user demands. The contract requires open systems connection to international standards to ensure that users have the widest possible choice of suppliers for systems which use GDN for connections. Those standards also give the contractor the widest choice of equipment and every inducement to use the most cost-effective technology as it becomes available. It is the intention that development of the network to carry value added data services will assure a competitive network in those services.
Sir Hal Miller : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates the loss of revenue in the fiscal year 1989-90 would be if the standard rate of income tax had been reduced to 20 per cent., all other tax rates and thresholds remaining unchanged ; and, to make up that loss of revenue, at what income scale the threshold of the 40 per cent. higher rate tax would have to be set.
Mr. Lilley : The direct revenue cost in a full year, at 1989-90 income levels, of a 5p reduction in the basic rate of tax would be to reduce income tax receipts by £7.5 billion. This reduction would be approximately revenue-neutral if at the same time the basic rate limit was reduced from £20,700 taxable income to £9,000.
Estimates exclude the effects on capital gains tax and possible behavioural effects. They are based on a projection of the 1986-87 survey of personal incomes and are provisional.
Mr. Clelland : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many visits were made to non-profit making clubs in connection with bingo duty by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise officers in each month of the current parliamentary Session.
Mr. Ryder [holding answer 13 November 1989] : This question could be answered only at the cost of disproportionate time and effort.
Mr. Denzil Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what will be the number of individual members of the board of the European system of central banks as proposed in the Delors report.
Mr. Major [holding answer 13 November 1989] : The Delors report does not specify the number of individual members of the board of its proposed European system of central banks.
Mr. Denzil Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is envisaged that the decisions of the board of the European system of central banks as proposed in the Delors report will be made by means of weighted voting.
Mr. Major [holding answer 13 November 1989] : The Delors report says that :
"modalities of voting procedures would have to be provided for in the Treaty".
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what restrictions remain on the movement of capital and currencies within each European Economic Community nation which participates in the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system ; and what assurances have been given about their removal.
Mr. Lilley [holding answer 13 November 1989] : A number of Community countries still retain some form of exchange control. The capital liberalisation directive requires most member states to remove all remaining restrictions on movements of capital within the Community by 1 July 1990. Ireland, Spain, Greece and Portugal are required to comply with the directive by the end of 1992, although the last two (which do not participate in the exchange rate mechanism) may be permitted a further extension to the end of 1995.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be (a) the administrative cost and (b) the total cost of a child tax allowance, assuming all taxpayers with children received an allowance equivalent to £7.25 per week.
Mr. Lilley [holding answer 13 November 1989] : A child tax allowance of £1,510 per child, which would be worth about £7.25 a week to a basic rate taxpayer, would cost about £3 billion in a full year at 1989-90 levels of income. Administrative costs would depend on the details of the scheme.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research his Department is undertaking or commissioning into developing less allergy-inducing strains of oil seed rape.
Mr. Curry : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) on 9 November ( Official Report, column 782 ).
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research or investigation his Department has made into the health problems connected with the oil seed rape crop ; what finance has been allocated to such projects ; and what plans he has to develop further the recent research financed by Angus district council and Ninewells hospital.
Mr. Curry : I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health on 8 November ( Official Report, column 684-85 ).
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what conclusions his Department has reached on the results of the oil seed rape research project funded by Angus district council and Ninewells hospital on the relationship betwen oil seed rape and allergies, a copy of which has been sent to him ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health on 8 November ( Official Report, col. 684-85 ).
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has yet completed his study of the potential for relocating his Ministry's offices outside London and the south-east ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : The detailed study my officials are carrying out on the potential for further relocation of headquarters' work is nearing completion, but it is too early to make a statement on the outcome.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the techniques and practices encompassed within the term food agricultural practice in his Department's guidance on nitrate sensitive areas.
Mr. Curry : The good nitrate practice advisory measures for the nitrate scheme areas are still being finalised, but they will concentrate on the need to avoid excessive or untimely applications of nitrogen fertiliser, including animal manure, and to minimise both the ploughing up of grassland and bare land during the autumn leaching period.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any proposals to introduce legislation in respect of the milk marketing board.
Mr. Curry : I have no such plans at present.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether there are any regulations governing the farming of brown hares ; and if there are any such breeding farms in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Curry : As far as I know brown hares are not farmed in this country.
Mr. Paice : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what encouragement and assistance his Department is giving to industry into researching and developing ways in which straw can be successfully incorporated into the manufacture of new products or utilised in other ways.
Mr. Maclean : My Department funds research, totalling £706,000 in 1989-90, into alternative uses for straw, including work on incorporation techniques, straw handling and packaging equipment and use of straw as a fuel. In addition, grants are available for the supply and installation of straw burning fires and furnaces.
Mr. Speller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 7 November, Official Report, column 546, when he assumed responsibility for restaurants and the catering aspects of tourism.
Mr. Curry : My right hon. Friend assumed responsibility within Government for the interests of the food industry which includes the non- residential catering sector on 24 July 1989, on his appointment as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment remains responsible for hotels and tourism, including the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his Department has discontinued (a) the collection or (b) the publication of any statistics since 1979.
Mr. Curry : My Department collects and publishes statistics on a wide range of topics. It regularly carries out reviews to ensure that statistics are relevant to current needs. As part of this process, some statistics which were collected and published in 1979 have been discontinued ; some new ones have been collected and published and there have been improvements in others.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many (a) oral and (b) written questions were asked of his Department in 1988-89 ;
(2) how many written parliamentary questions he refused to answer in the parliamentary Session 1988-89 ;
(3) how many written parliamentary questions to him in Session 1988-89 received answers that the information (a) was not available, (b) was not separately recorded, (c) was not centrally recorded, (d) was not recorded in Government statistics or (e) could be provided only at disproportionate cost ;
(4) what was the cost to his Ministry of answering parliamentary (a) oral and (b) written questions in the parliamentary Session 1988-89.
Mr. Curry : As of 13 November, 592 oral and 2,457 written questions had been asked of the Minister of
Column 185Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the 1988-89 parliamentary Session. The other information requested is not readily available.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received any representations concerning the import of prawns and shell fish which have been irradiated ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : Allegations on this subject have been made on a number of occasions, but hard information is limited to one known case in 1985 that was dealt with by the Dover health authority.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when his veterinary service first received reports that cows were dying as a result of eating lead-contaminated feedstuffs ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : Bovine carcases, aged six and nine months, were submitted to two veterinary investigation centres (Starcross, Devon and Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire) on Monday 30 October for post-mortem examination. As a result of these post-mortem examinations and subsequent laboratory tests, lead poisoning was diagnosed as the cause of death.
Follow-up inquiries included the examination of environmental and feed samples and the presence of lead in the feed eaten by these two animals was confirmed by Sutton Bonington on 31 October and by Starcross on 1 November.
At the same time our legal department was notified by the Dutch authorities of a danger to animal health due to a specified consignment of contaminated feed being exported to two companies in the United Kingdom.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cattle have died since the end of September from the farms where lead-contaminated feed was used ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 13 November 1989] : As of Monday 13 November 1989, lead poisoning has been diagnosed by the Veterinary Investigation Service on carcases and other material submitted from 12 premises where feed contaminated with lead has been fed. It is understood that 32 cattle have died on these premises.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has any plans to relocate his Department's offices to the north-west of England ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : The Ministry of Defence is currently examining a number of relocation possibilities, primarily from London and the south- east. The advantages of transferring defence work to the north-west, as to other regions, will continue to be borne in mind when evaluating potential candidates for relocation.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on delivery of the first United Kingdom Trident missile of the result of the recent test launches in the United States of America.
Mr. Alan Clark : I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish on 26 October 1989 column 560.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to announce his decision on a nuclear stand-off missile ; which weapons are being considered ; and what criteria will influence his decision.
Mr. Alan Clark : We are continuing to study both United States and French options. The details of the requirements which the studies are taking into account are classified. It is not yet possible to forecast when a decision may be taken.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards the conventional armaments planning system ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Clark : The United Kingdom has strongly supported the trial of the conventional armaments planning system from its outset early last year. The trial has recently been completed and the NATO conference of national armaments directors (CNAD) debated the results of this first trial cycle of the system at their meeting last month. The NATO council, reinforced by Ministers, will be meeting later this week to review the system and consider the recommendations put to it by the CNAD. It would not be appropriate to prejudge the outcome of that meeting.