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Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will bring forward legislation requiring that all dogs for sale carry an identification tag and the tendering of a written specification prior to sale stating the purpose for acquiring a dog ; and if he will give district councils the power to operate a neutering service.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We issued a consultation paper on 10 August which set out a package of measures we propose on dog control. We do not propose to impose the requirements in respect of the sale of dogs suggested by the hon. Member. We believe that some local authorities already subsidise neutering under existing powers.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation requiring dogs to be on leads at all times in public places.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We are currently reviewing the operation and scope of dog-control byelaws and orders,
Column 250which include powers requiring dogs to be on leads on highways and other specified areas. The hon. Member's suggestion is one that was made in response to our recent consultation paper on dog control measures and we are considering it as part of our review.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what estimates he has made of the demand for housing in the year 2000 ; and what policies he has initiated to help meet this demand ;
(2) when he last met the National Housing Forum ; and what matters were discussed.
Mr. Chope : I will write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report the occasions since 1971 when he or his predecessors have called in a local plan under the provisions currently set out in section 14A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 giving details of the plans concerned and the decision recorded in each case.
Mr. Howard : Since 1971 the following local plans have been called in by the Secretary of State under section 14(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or section 14A(1) of that Act as substituted by the Housing and Planning Act 1986 :
Date of call-in |Title of plan |Decision ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 20 February 1985 |Berwick upon |Approved with | Tweed Town | modifications | Local Plan 28 January 1986 |North Southwark |Rejected | Local Plan 23 September 1987 |Wimbledon Town |Approved with | Centre Local Plan | modifications 13 June 1989 |Environment and |Still before the | Traffic on the | Secretary of State | A205 Local Plan | (LB Lewisham)
A further eight local plans prepared by former metropolitan county councils were called in in 1986 to enable them to be taken forward to approval following the abolition of the counties.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the failure of a local planning authority to implement a key recommendation of his inspector, following a local plan inquiry, constitutes grounds for him calling in the plans.
Mr. Moynihan : Authorities are not obliged to accept the inspector's recommendations following a local plan public inquiry, but failure to do so could constitute grounds for intervention by the Secretary of State.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he adopts in deciding whether or not to call in a local plan in accordance with the provisions of section 14A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.
Mr. Moynihan : The Government's policy on calling in local plans is set out in the memorandum on structure and
Column 251local plans accompanying DOE circular 22/84. This states that the Secretary of State's call-in power will be used only in a limited range of circumstances where central Government intervention is clearly justified--for instance, where the plan raises issues of national or regional importance or where the plan gives rise to substantial controversy.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to the number of cases brought against each European Community member state by the Commission for failure to reach European Community standards for (a) bathing waters and (b) drinking water in each of the past three years ; and if he will make a statement regarding cases involving the United Kingdom.
Mr. Howard : I will write to my hon. Friend.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to improve the effectiveness of the provisions of the Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste Regulations 1988 in controlling the import and movement of toxic waste in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : The regulations enable waste disposal authorities effectively to control imports of hazardous waste. The parent European directive is however to be reviewed in the light of operation experience, revised definitions of hazardous waste and the Basel convention. The Government are contributing fully to the review and have made proposals to reduce the volume of transfrontier shipments and to extend controls. We are considering legislation to enable us to extend controls in the future.
Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to issue a new code of guidance to local authorities about playground provision and safety ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : The Government regard it as essential that playgrounds should be as safe as possible and that children using them should not be at risk of accident. I have asked the national children's play and recreation unit to produce updated guidance on general aspects of play safety, including playground safety. This will make reference to the relevant British Standards and to the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, which requires local authorities and other playground operators to take reasonable measures to ensure safety in playgrounds which are under their control. We hope to issue this guidance in the spring of next year and copies will be sent to all local authorities and other interested organisations.
Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has yet completed the work to the former Cannon Row police station to provide additional accommodation for the benefit of the House.
Mr. Chope : With the agreement of the Accommodation and Administration Subcommittee No. 1 Cannon row, as
Column 252it is now known, has been modernised to provide short-term accommodation for the House pending redevelopment of the building as part of the Bridge street redevelopment scheme. I am pleased to advise my hon. Friend that the building is ready for occupation and the first occupants have already moved in.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that the listed building status of Battersea power station has not been infringed by work carried out by the current developers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 14 November 1989] : I will write to the hon. Member.
Sir Hugh Rossi : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table of all the London boroughs showing the current level of rent arrears for each of them.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 14 November 1989] : Local authorities report their rent arrears on their housing subsidy claim forms. 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. Figures for April 1989 are not yet available.
Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will fix a date earlier than 10 April 1990 for the inquiry into planning appeal reference APP/L5240/A/89/133451, lodged by London Blenheim Estates Ltd. on grounds of non-determination ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan [holding answer 14 November 1989] : The public local inquiry date of 10 April 1990 is the earliest practicable for this appeal. An earlier date will be offered if or when an inspector becomes available--for example, on the cancellation of an earlier inquiry--provided the local planning authority agrees to the change.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the recent investigations into the operation of the Derbyshire county council pension fund by the stock exchange and the Takeover Panel.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 14 November 1989] : This is a matter for the stock exchange and the Takeover Panel. I understand that the latter has stated that it has found no evidence of any breach of the code on the part of either Miss World or Derbyshire county council arising from any connection between them and, accordingly, that it does not intend to take the matter further.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all those measures which have been taken since 1985 to increase the supply of low-cost housing in rural areas ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 14 November 1989] : In July 1988 the Government announced their rural housing initiative which for the first time set out a specific policy on low-cost housing in smaller villages. The Housing Corporation established a special rural programme aimed at expanding the role of housing associations in villages with a population of under 1,000. Last Wednesday I invited the Housing Corporation to propose a further increase in this programme to allow 1,000 approvals next year, 1,200 in 1991-92 and 1, 500 in 1992-93. I also asked it to separately identify a rural element within its low-cost home ownership programme, to allow 250 approvals next year, 300 in 1991-92 and 350 in 1992-93.
We are introducing a scheme in certain rural areas whereby housing associations can repurchase former shared ownership dwellings at full market value when an occupier moves on. The Housing Corporation will guarantee to make the necessary funds available, without reducing the corporation's rural rented or shared ownership programmes. Last February we announced changes to planning rules which will enable local planning authorities exceptionally to release small pockets of land, not previously designated for housing, for low cost schemes to meet the needs of local people.
In his Budget statement my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced changes to capital gains and inheritance taxes on land sold at less than best price to registered housing associations.
Tax is now based on the actual proceeds of sale rather than the market value, thereby encouraging landowners to release small units of surplus land for low-cost local needs housing.
In addition rural areas can expect to benefit from the encouragement we have given to private investment in the rented sector through deregulation and the tax incentives available under the business expansion scheme. Areas with shortages of low-cost housing should also benefit from various measures that are being taken to improve the focusing of capital resources, both for local authorities and housing associations, on areas with the greatest needs.
Taken together these measures should make a significant contribution to increasing supply in rural areas with a need for more low-cost housing.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research has (a) been conducted by his Department and (b) been evaluated by his Department that examines the possibility that the intake of nitrates diluted in drinking water is harmful to human health.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 9 November 1989] : I will write to the hon. Member.
Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, what is his estimate of the numbers of adult residents of (a) each London borough and (b) each district council likely to be entitled to the maximum rebate, during the first year of operation of the community charge in England and Wales ; and if he will express these figures as a proportion of the estimated population of each local authority liable to community charge.
Mr. Christopher Chope : I will write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the numbers of jobs in his Department being relocated in the East Kilbride office.
Mrs. Chalker : We have reviewed recently the location of the work of the ODA and have identified a number of functions which might be transferred away from the ODA's London headquarters. About 100 posts are involved, a number of which are currently the subject of more detailed scrutiny. A substantial proportion of these jobs will be transferred to the ODA office in East Kilbride, but the exact number has yet to be decided.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the position of refugees voluntarily seeking repatriation from Hong Kong to Vietnam ; if, in pursuing compulsory repatriation, he will take into account the views of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on whether the authorities in Hanoi are able to cope efficiently with returning refugees ; and if he will make a statement on the use of force against refugees moved to a detention centre.
Mr. Maude : There is no question of refugees being repatriated to Vietnam against their will, although five refugees have returned at their own request. So far, 507 people have returned voluntarily to Vietnam under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and arrangements are being made with the Vietnamese authorities for the return of a further 1,000 volunteers as quickly as practicable. These are overwhelmingly people who have not yet been screened to determine whether they are refugees. Of those who have completed the screening procedures, and whose appeals have been heard, only 13 per cent. are found to be genuine refugees. The Hong Kong authorities have taken careful note of the comments made by the UNHCR representative in Hong Kong. We have full confidence in the manner in which the Hong Kong authorities have handled this matter.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings have been held by Her Majesty's ambassador or his staff in El Salvador with representatives of trade unions or human rights groups during the last six months ; and what subjects were discussed.
Mr. Sainsbury : Her Majesty's ambassador to El Salvador and his staff maintain regular contact with Salvadorean and other human rights groups, as well as
Column 255with trade unions and representatives of all shades of opinion in El Salvador. These exchanges cover a wide range of subjects.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much money has been granted in loans to Indonesia by Her Majesty's Government during 1988 and 1989.
Mr. Sainsbury : We have made two concessional loan facilities worth a total of £240 million available to the Government of Indonesia. Loans worth around £55 million have so far been signed for five projects. Of these, two, worth around £19 million, were signed in 1988 and one, worth around £17 million, has been signed in 1989. Contracts have been signed recently for two further projects worth around £40 million, and it is expected that loan agreements for these will be concluded shortly.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list, by cost, all schemes in South Africa aided by the United Kingdom Government.
Mr. Sainsbury : We expect to spend some £3.9 million in 1989-90 on programmes of scholarships and training in the United Kingdom for South Africans. The United Kingdom share (expected to be some £3 million in 1989) of the European Community's programme of positive measures is attributed to the British aid programme. We also support the following schemes in South Africa : the costs given relate to forecast expenditure in the current financial year only :
|£'000 -------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Scholarships tenable in South Africa British Award Scheme in South Africa |525 British Awards Scheme |150 2. Projects Alexandra Health Centre |250 Contribution to Urban Foundation loan guarantee fund |250 Science Education Project |100 Assistamce to the University of Western Cape |90 Training Programmes for South African Trades Unions |75 Molteno Literacy Project |60 Primary Mathematics Project |40 Assistance to Early Learning Centres |40 Assistance to the READ Education Trust |35 English Language Training Seminars |30 Adult Education Project |30 Assistance to Get Ahead Foundation |25 Small business consultancy |5 Assistance to Business Skills Development Centre |5 Assistance to Programme for Technological Careers |10 3. Other schemes Small Projects approved by the Head of Mission |650 Gifts approved by the Head of Mission |100 Book Presentations |70 4. Emergency aid Operation Hunger |95
Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department intends to provide (a) lighting, (b) improved access roads, (c) improved drainage and (d) roadside emergency telephones on that section of the A19 which runs through the Easington constituency.
Mr. Atkins : A study of the length of the A19 trunk road in County Durham in 1988 recommended a number of improvements in priority order which could be made to the A19. All the matters to which the hon. Gentleman refers were taken into account by the study. The study findings are being up-dated in accordance with the new national road traffic forecasts and costs of road accidents. The report recommendations will be included in a future regional roads programme of improvements and maintenance works to be implemented by the Department's agent authorities having regard to other regional priorities and available funding.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what national statistical information he has on the proportion of buses in Britain which are fully accessible to (a) people with disabilities and (b) people who are wheelchair-bound.
Mr. Atkins : There is no national statistical information available on these points. But I am glad to say that a growing number of operators, manufacturers and local authorities are now adopting the recommended specification drawn up by the disabled persons transport advisory committee.
A new information video, "Welcome Aboad" is available from my Department on free loan to interested organisations.
More work needs to be done to develop efficient and effective wheelchair accessible buses. We are working with our European counterparts on this.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what national statistical information he has relating to the proportion of British Rail passenger services which have toilets which are fully accessible to (a) people with disabilities and (b) people who are wheelchair-bound.
Mr. Atkins : Many ambulant disabled people are able to use the standard design of toilets available on long distance British Rail services.
All services on the InterCity network on the Euston to Glasgow Central service are already equipped with wheelchair accessible toilets. By October 1991 services on the King's Cross to Edinburgh service will also have this facility.
In the provincial sector about 200 trains representing many hundreds of journeys per day are already similarly equipped. By the beginning of 1992 the whole of that sector will have wheelchair accessible toilet facilities. Improvements are also in place on Network SouthEast.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many representations he has received, and from whom, in relation to the policy of competitive tendering for the salvage of Government-owned wrecks and cargoes ;
(2) if he will list the Government-owned wrecks and cargoes which have been put out to competitive tender for salvage since his Department adopted such a policy ; what were the dates on which tenders were solicited ; and what are the numbers of such wrecks and cargoes upon which recovery work has commenced ;
(3) what were the considerations which influenced his decision to suspend the award of salvage agreements ; when he anticipates that he will lift that suspension ; and if he will make a statement ; (4) what were the considerations which influenced the adoption of a policy of competitive tendering in the salvage of Government-owned wrecks and cargoes.
Mr. McLoughlin : The policy of competitive tendering for the salvage of Government-owned wrecks and cargoes has been introduced to obtain the best return to the taxpayer. One representation has been received in relation to this policy, from Deepwater Recovery and Exploration Ltd. So far one cargo, on the SS Gairsoppa, has been put out to tender. Tender invitations were issued on 29 September 1989 and the closing date for bids is 28 November 1989. Further invitations will be considered in the light of the results of the Gairsoppa tendering.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents there have been at automatic railway crossings during the last year ; and how many people have been (a) killed and (b) seriously injured.
Mr. Portillo : Provisional figures for 1988 show 26 accidents at automatic level crossings, in which there were five deaths and 13 injuries.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many automatic railway crossings malfunctions were caused by (a) equipment failure, (b) vandalism and (c) reasons unknown in the last 12 months ;
(2) how many reports of faults or malfunctions there have been with automatic railway crossings during the last year (a) in Wales and (b) in Britain.
Mr. Portillo : The statistics requested for the last 12 months are not readily available. Provisional details for 1988 show that no faults or malfunctions with automatic level crossings were caused by equipment failure, vandalism or unknown reasons. There were five "systems failures", two of which were in Wales, caused by (a) grease on rails (2)
(b) train passing signal at danger (2)
(c) train running into a barrier which had been damaged by a road vehicle.
A systems failure is defined as any occasion, not resulting in a train accident, when a train runs onto a protected crossing when not authorised to do so.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many automatic railway crossings there are in (a) Wales and (b) Britain.
Mr. Portillo : At the end of October 1989, there were 53 automatic level crossings in Wales and 764 in Britain as a whole.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether trains are required to stop when the warning lights for motorists at automatic railway crossings fail ; and what failsafe mechanisms are provided.
Mr. Portillo : Arrangements vary for the different types of automatic level crossing. Those for the two major types are as follows. At automatic open crossings locally-monitored, such as Raven crossing near Ammanford, failure of the road traffic signals would extinguish the intermittent white light on the railway approach to the crossing. If this light does not show, drivers are instructed to bring their trains to a stand short of the crossing and may thereafter proceed with caution over the road when it is safe to do so.
At crossings with automatic half-barriers, the barriers would descend automatically if the road traffic signals failed and an indication of the malfunction would be given to the signalman. He would set the railway signals at danger. After being warned of the problem, train drivers would be allowed to proceed with caution in the way described.
Mr. Summerson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the north circular road was closed at the Hanger lane interchange on Sunday 12 November ; how long it had been closed ; when it will be reopened ; what is his estimate of the costs of repair ; and what is his estimate of the costs of the delay to the travelling public affected by the closure.
Mr. Atkins : The north circular road was closed between Park avenue and Lytham grove in the London borough of Ealing from 1900 hours on Saturday 11 November until 0600 hours on Monday 13 November, to enable work to start on reconstruction of the London Underground, Piccadilly line bridge, at a cost of £2.099 million. The bridge reconstruction is part of the advance works for the improvement of the north circular road between Harrow road and Hanger lane. This was the first of a series of weekend closures announced in a recent press notice. No closures will occur during December. The closures have been arranged in consultation with the local authority and other bodies. No current estimate of the cost of the delays to the travelling public is available.
Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the strengthening of bridge structures on local roads, and about the possible reclassification of local structural maintenance expenditure as capital.
Mr. Atkins : Hitherto, expenditure by local authorities in England on structural maintenance has been treated as current expenditure in the local government finance regime just like that on routine maintenance. Structural maintenance by central Government is, however, treated as capital, as is such maintenance by local authorities in Scotland. The appropriateness of this classification has
Column 259been reconsidered in the light of the recommendations of the Audit Commission, and of the implications of the need to have a national network of roads able to carry 40 tonne lorries from 1 January 1999. In accordance with what is proposed in the Local Government and Housing Bill 1989 it is proposed that structural maintenance should be treated as capital by local authorities, become subject to the capital finance regime, and eligible for transport supplementary grant.
The immediate transfer of all structural maintenance would involve a substantial readjustment of local authorities' financing and accounting practices and a major adjustment to the TSG system. It is therefore proposed that the transfer should be phased over a period of years. In 1991 -92--the first practicable year--£90 million would be transferred. This would be sufficient in the Government's view to cover all structural maintenance and renewal expenditure on bridges necessary in 1991-92 as part of a programme to enable the 1999 EC deadline for heavier lorries to be met without bridge restriction on any key routes. It is envisaged that the programme should be continued with the transfer of a further £100 million in 1992-93 ; the Government consider this sufficient to restore major road carriageways to a satisfactory condition in order to meet the increased traffic flows and heavier lorries expected by the second half of the 1990s. There will be further transfers in later years. The transfer would take the form of an addition to TSG, and an addition to credit approvals each covering half of the total transfer. The latter would feed through into standard spending assessment for the financing costs of capital expenditure. They would be balanced by a reduction in standard spending grant equivalent to the full amount of the transfer. The standard spending assessment total for road maintenance would similarly be reduced by the full amount of the transfer and the weighting for traffic in the assessment formula could be adjusted if necessary to reflect the change. The transfer is intended to be neutral in overall public expenditure terms ; there is no reason why total local authority spending or community charges should be affected by this switch in accounting practices.
Next year's TPP circular will give local authorities guidance on the way in which the first tranche will be
Column 260allocated and how to bid for the relevant TSG. The local authority associations will be consulted about this in the usual way. In the interim authorities will need to plan composite bridge strengthening programme in consultation, where appropriate, with the regional offices of DTp in order to be able to meet the EC deadline and to achieve a significant improvement in carriageway condition, first on major roads.
Local authorities are expected to respond to the change in classification by increasing capital expenditure, and reducing current expenditure, by the amount of the transfer. Authorities are expected to increase their effort on structural maintenance, and the amount transferred to capital will be greater than authorities are currently spending on this. Conversely, the overall reduction in current expenditure will need to be greater than the amount currently spent on structural maintenance ; this can be achieved through efficiency savings in routine maintenance which have been recommended by the Audit Commission. Overall there should be no overall increase in local authority spending ; the increase in capital expenditure should be offset by an equivalent reduction in current expenditure. The Government will take steps to monitor closely both capital and current expenditure on maintenance in the first year, and in subsequent years. Second and subsequent year transfers will be dependent on authorities responding in the desired way.
The Government believe that this change will help to ensure that the nation's road system is well maintained and is able to provide for heavier lorries from 1999.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will request London Underground Limited to inform him of the occasions since 1 October when it has had to close part or all of King's Cross underground station, indicating for each occasion the period it was closed inside normal working hours together with the reason ; and if he will publish its reply in the Official Report.
Mr. Portillo : The following is the information :
Date |Station closed on |Duration of closure |Reason |specified line ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4 October 1989 |Metropolitan |22 minutes |Insufficient staff to meet statutory requirements 6 October 1989 |Northern, Victoria, Piccadilly lines |18 minutes |Congestion 9 October 1989 |All lines |25 minutes |Congestion 20 October 1989 |Northern |30 minutes |Safety check by LFCDA 25 October 1989 |Piccadilly, Victoria |82 minutes |Bomb alert 26 October 1989 |Metropolitan |37 minutes |Insufficient staff to meet statutory requirements 26 October 1989 |Northern, Victoria |47 minutes |Insufficient staff to meet statutory requirements 27 October 1989 |Northern, Metropolitan |15 minutes |Bomb alert 27 October 1989 |Piccadilly |5 minutes |Safety check by LFCDA 28 October 1989 |All lines |79 minutes |Safety check by LFCDA 1 November 1989 |Victoria |15 minutes |Congestion 3 November 1989 |Metropolitan |20 minutes |Congestion 4 November 1989 |Metropolitan |118 minutes |Insufficient staff to meet statutory requirements 12 November 1989 |Metropolitan |45 minutes |Insufficient staff to meet statutory requirements