The Attorney-General : Delays are occurring in some county courts because of staffing difficulties in conjunction with an overall increase of 6.5 per cent. in workload. An additional £2 million has recently been allocated to the court service, which includes county courts, from within departmental resources to stabilise staff numbers and maintain performance at the required level. The position will be kept under review to see if further action is required.
A level of checking is required by the Department which is intended to keep errors to a minimum and is the responsibility of local supervisory staff.
Sir Hugh Rossi : To ask the Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor will consider publishing a Green Paper on the subject of the drafting of legislation, its scrutiny and subsequent interpretation, following his rejection of the proposal for the scrutiny of selected Bills by High Court judges contained in the petition to this House on 17 April by George Bednar.
The Attorney-General : The drafting of legislation is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend, the Lord President of the Council. The Lord Chancellor has no plans to publish a Green Paper on this subject.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the progress of consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the director of the serious fraud office of the inspector's report on the takeover of the House of Fraser and the contents of the book entitled "A Hero From Zero."
Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what requests he has received for the issue of environmental impact assessments of planning applications for quarries of areas exceeding 50 hectares ; what action he has taken in each instance ; and if he will make a statement concerning any refusals he has made.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We will continue to encourage the reuse and recycling of bottles and other containers through a combination of improved collection and separation facilities, raising public awareness and urging manufacturers and retailers to take account of environmental considerations in the design and production of containers. Our proposals to introduce new arrangements for waste disposal and management will, among other things, help to identify the costs of disposal to landfill and incineration and the benefits of reuse and recycling.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish (a) his latest estimates of the total numbers of people who will be exempt from the poll tax, (b) the estimates for each category of exempt persons, (c) the exact mechanism for applying these figures to the calculation of relevant population for each local authority, and (d) the procedure for reimbursing local authorities for poll tax forgone due to exemptions.
Mr. David Hunt : The table provides the figures requested. On 6 November the Secretary of State placed in the Library a draft population report which sets out his proposals for calculating relevant population. It is the Government's intention that relevant population should be based on the number of people shown in community charge registers on 1 December 1989 as being subject to a personal community charge. Our estimates of numbers exempt do not feature in this calculation, except if community charge registration officers do not return the necessary information to my Department in time, or in other circumstances as specified in the draft population report. Revenue support grant will be paid to each receiving authority to ensure that if all local authorities spend at the level of their standard spending assessment, the community charge could be set at the same level in each area regardless of the number exempt. The grant calculation assumes that the community charge is paid only by the relevant population, which excludes exempt people.
Assumed number exempt in England (Rounded to nearest hundred) |Number ------------------------------------------------ Residents in hospitals or homes |400,000 Persons in detention |46,800 18 and 19 year olds |155,300 Visiting forces |50,800 Severely mentally impaired |160,000 Others |9,000 |------- Total |821,900
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report recalculations of the tables in annexe J of card 9714 "Paying for Local Government" on the basis of (a) his statement and consultation papers of 6 November, but without his scheme of transitional relief and (b) his statement and consultation papers of 6 November, including his scheme of transitional relief ; and if he will make a statement of the effect of his scheme of transitional relief on the pattern of gainers and losers under the poll tax.
Mr. David Hunt : Updated estimates of the distributional impact of the new system of local government finance will be provided shortly. These figures will include the impact of the transitional relief scheme.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the community charge liability of (a) deaf and blind adults living at home with their parents and (b) deaf and blind adults living in residential institutions.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will show for each charging authority area the difference between their actual level of expenditure in 1989-90 and the level assumed for calculating grant in the 1989-90 RSG settlement, expressed both in £ million and £ per adult, using the most recently assessed figure for relevant population.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will show for each local authority the budgeted increase or reduction in financial reserves for 1989-90, expressed both in £ million and £ per adult, using the most recently assessed figure for relevant population.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report the estimated amounts and the proportion these represent of total local government spending in England for (a) all grant towards local government spending from the Exchequer, (b) the total raised by non-domestic rates and (c) the total raised by domestic rates for each year since 1982.
Year |Net domestic rate income|Per cent. |Net non-domestic rate |Per cent. |All Government grants |Per cent. |income -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1982-83 |4,548 |13 |5,685 |17 |13,697 |40 1983-84 |4,382 |12 |6,042 |17 |15,985 |44 1984-85 |4,707 |12 |6,361 |17 |16,717 |43 1985-86 |5,094 |13 |6,740 |17 |17,246 |43 1986-87 |5,912 |14 |7,566 |18 |17,773 |42 1987-88 |6,539 |14 |8,088 |18 |18,624 |41 Notes: 1. Percentages shown represent proportions of gross expenditure; that is, both current and capital expenditure. The other major sources of income are fees and charges and borrowing. 1987-88 is the most recent year for which this data is available. 2. Domestic rate income is shown net of rate relief grant and net of rate rebate grants.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has reached conclusions on definitions on disability for community charge concessions and, in particular, with reference to blind people ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : The community charge transitional relief scheme will contain special provision for disabled people who are not former ratepayers or the partners of former ratepayers. A person will be regarded as disabled for the purpose of this scheme if he or she is in receipt of attendance allowance, mobility allowance, mobility supplement, invalidity pension, or severe disablement allowance ; or is registered blind.
Mr. John Carlisle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Football Association and the Football League following the scenes of disorder on the pitch during the match between Arsenal and Norwich on Saturday 4 November.
Mr. Moynihan : At my request, officials at my Department discussed the incident with the Football Association on 6 November, since early press reports suggested that the association was unable to take action. We were informed that those reports were misleading. During the afternoon, the Football Association charged both clubs with misconduct and with bringing the game into disrepute.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many football matches the Minister for Sport has attended since becoming Minister for Sport ; and on what date he last attended a League Division fixture.
Mr. Moynihan : I have attended 27 league, cup and international football matches since my appointment as Minister for Sport. The last Football League fixture I attended was the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers on 30 September 1989.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list the companies currently given deemed consent to pollute the River Mersey, stating what pollutants they are empowered to discharge ; and on what scale ;
(2) what fines were levied on companies and individuals responsible for polluting the River Mersey over the past 10 years.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what direct consultation is taking place between his Department and organisations working with homeless people in its review of homelessness ; and when the results of the review will be published.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend announced the conclusions of the review on Wednesday 15 November. In conducting the review, we have appreciated the advice and information which organisations working with homeless people were able to give us.
Our review has looked at the role and purpose of the homelessness legislation and at its effects. The legislation--now part III of the Housing Act 1985--was enacted in 1977 as the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act, an all-party measure. Briefly, it requires local housing authorities to find accommodation for people they judge to be homeless according to the criteria specified in the Act.
We believe that the Act remains important, as a "long stop" measure to help people in need who have become homeless through no fault of their own. The present terms of the Act strike a reasonable balance between the interests of the genuinely homeless and others in housing need. We do not intend therefore to change the law, but we have proposals to make it work better.
We have also concluded that local councils remain the right bodies to take the lead responsibility in helping homeless people ; and some of them are very good at it. However, it is clear from my Department's research and other reports that there is room for improvement. Some councils need to be much faster processing applications, for example ; some need to try harder to keep families out of temporary accommodation like bed and breakfast ; and in general all councils ought to aim for a better, more consistent service. I propose to amend the code of guidance (to which councils must have regard) and my Department will shortly put a draft out for consultation.
The pressures of homelessness vary around the country. Statistics are neither as reliable nor as sensitive as I would like. For example, those figures most quoted--the numbers of homeless acceptances--can be affected as much by local policy as by real needs. But it is apparent that the problems are concentrated in London and the south-east. I propose to designate those regions as
Column 244"pressure areas" and to target to them additional resources and help. In particular, we are providing an extra £250 million for these areas over the next two years--£148 million next year, and £102 million in 1991-92--to help councils and housing associations provide more homes for homeless people. This £250 million is on top of the major increase in the Housing Corporation's programme which will be more than doubled from £815 million this year to £1,736 million in 1992-93. We are reviewing with the Housing Corporation and the National Federation of Housing Associations how this programme can best be distributed to make the maximum impact on housing need, including homelessness.
We must also make the most of the housing we already have ; and this means effective management. Councils and housing associations have empty houses they must bring into use and the extra resources will help where necessary. Helping tenants to move, where they want to, is also important especially if this frees vacancies in the pressure areas. I will provide 100 per cent. funding and support for a new mobility organisation, formed from the three existing bodies, to provide a better targeted service.
I will continue to encourage the important contribution of the voluntary sector and greatly increased grant aid will be available from next year for homelessness projects. We also want to stop people becoming homeless, as well as helping them when they have got to crisis point. Good practical advice can be vital and I want to set up a comprehensive, national service. Urgent discussions will be held with the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux and other voluntary bodies.
There is concern--which we share--about proper protection and help for young people who leave home and come to live in our inner cities. This affects the responsibilities of a number of Departments, which are reviewing at present the way their policies work together. The Government will make further announcements about this soon. We believe it is essential to make this concentrated attack on the problems of homelessness, but these must not be regarded as separate issues, outside the scope of housing policies in general. We cannot just try to treat symptoms, when causes lie deeper. The real and long-term remedies are to be found in an effective housing strategy, based on the contributions of the private and the public sectors, on the harnessing of the market to deliver opportunities and choice, on the targeting of resources to meet needs and on the efficient management of the stock. That is the strategy of the Government and we shall pursue it vigorously for the benefit of the community and those who are homeless or in need.
Mr. Chope : The estimate of the average annual cost of keeping a household in bed and breakfast accommodation based on figures provided by English local authorities to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in 1985-86 is £9,500 (£7,000 net of offsetting income such as DSS allowances). For 1987-88 the estimate is £12,500 (£9,500 net of offsetting income). Figures for 1988-89 are not yet available. There is a wide range of costs for authorities in different areas.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with member states of the European Community regarding the illegal dumping of dangerous chemicals at sea ; and whether he will propose amendments to the flag of convenience system to take into account the level of dumping.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many companies responsible for pollution have been successfully prosecuted over the past 10 years ; and what were the total of fines imposed.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Information on prosecutions in respect of offences under legislation controlling polluting activities in the form requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Some information is published in the annual "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics", and other public sources.
Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment at how many sites in London are pollutant levels of air monitored ; for each of the last five years, on how may days air at each of these sites failed to meet the World Health Organisation safety level for (a) carbon monoxide ; (b) nitrogen oxides and (c) ozone.