Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the frequency with which regional directors of the Department of the Environment have met together on a formal basis since 1984 ; what is the frequency with which full or partial meetings of the regional emergency committees are held ; and if he will place minutes of the meetings in the Library.
Mr. Chris Patten : In addition to any ad hoc meetings that may be required, the regional directors meet regularly, about once a month, to discuss departmental business. The regional emergency committees meet as required, at the discretion of the chairmen.
It would not be appropriate to make available the minutes of either type of meeting.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the annual weight and volume of the waste sent to Drigg for each of the years 1980 to 1988 inclusive ; and what are his estimates for the years 1989 to 2000.
Mr. Howard : This is a matter for Thames Water. It is referred to in the first paragraph of page 415 of the prospectus for the water share offers, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.
(2) if he will place a copy of the appendix to the 1985 leakage control policy and practice report in the Library.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what assessment he has made of the cost of tendering for public sector contract work under the Local Government Act 1988, in terms of time and resources ; and if he will make a statement ;
Column 212(2) what is the proportion of local authority contracts won by (a) the private sector and (b) direct labour organisations in (i) catering, (ii) refuse collection, (iii) vehicle maintenance, (iv) street cleaning, (v) grounds maintenance, and (vi) building cleaning.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : No figures are available at present. An in- depth research project is currently being carried out on behalf of the Department to assess the impact of competition policy and this will examine costs incurred as well as savings made. We expect the first phase of the project to be completed next May. Local authorities have been asked to complete a questionnaire which will provide information on the number of contracts awarded to DSOs and private contractors. I hope that the results will be available early next year.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance he gives to local authorities on the practice of using the schedule of rates in seeking competitive tenders from private contractors.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Advice issued by my Department in its circulars 10/81, 6/82 and 19/83 has encouraged the use of schedules of rates by local authorities. The Department has not issued guidance about the use of schedules but has, in those circulars, referred local authorities to guidance and practical advice produced by bodies such as the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the National Federation of Building Trades Employers (now the Building Employers Confederation), the Society of Chief Quantity Surveyors in Local Government, the Institution of Municipal Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
Mr Heathcoat-Amory : The Audit Commission's occasional paper "Preparing for Compulsory Competition" published in January indicated that local authorities can obtain savings of 20 per cent. or more in contract price irrespective of whether work has been won by the private sector or by authorities' own work forces.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to encourage local authorities to provide sufficient information to enable private firms to tender competitively for contract work.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Under the competition provisions of the Local Government Act 1988, authorities are required to prepare and make available a detailed specification of the work for which tenders are being invited. Any failure to include adequate information might be regarded as anti- competitive and lead to the exercise of the Secretary of State's sanction powers.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what has been the average annual percentage rise in house prices in (a) England and (b) Wales since 1968 ; and what information he has on the annual average building society interest rate for depositors since 1968 ;
Column 213(2) what has been the average annual percentage rise in house prices in Scotland since 1968 ; and what information he has on the annual average building society interest rate for depositors since 1968.
Year to year percentage change in BuildingBuilding Societyusted Price index<1> average net (UK) |share rate<2> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Year |England |Wales |Scotland |Percentage |Percentage |Percentage |Percentage 1968 |n/a |n/a |n/a |4.37 1969<3> |5 |5 |7 |4.82 1970 |8 |7 |7 |4.94 1971 |14 |13 |7 |4.95 1972 |31 |24 |19 |4.88 1973 |38 |38 |37 |6.51 1974 |7 |10 |15 |7.53 1975 |6 |9 |13 |7.21 1976 |6 |9 |18 |7.02 1977 |9 |5 |10 |6.98 1978 |16 |18 |14 |6.46 1979 |30 |26 |18 |8.45 1980 |21 |20 |15 |10.34 1981 |6 |8 |9 |9.19 1982 |3 |5 |7 |8.80 1983 |11 |10 |13 |7.27 1984 |11 |4 |7 |7.74 1985 |9 |8 |5 |8.69 1986 |15 |8 |6 |7.75 1987 |17 |9 |7 |7.42 1988 |27 |20 |8 |6.87 1989<4> |24 |41 |17 |<5>9.08 <1>Based on 5 per cent. building society mortgage survey which began in the second quarter of 1968. Figures for the fourth quarter of 1989 are not available. <2>Net share rates from Council of Mortgage Lenders/Building Societies Association. <3>Percentage change in index between last three quarters of 1968 and same period for 1969. <4>Percentage change in index between first three quarters of 1988 and same period for 1989. <5>Average rate paid at the end of June 1989 by largest 20 societies.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list all office relocations of his Department's staff since May 1979, stating in each case the location of origin and the location to transfer, together with the numbers of staff transferred ;
(2) what relocations of his Department's staff, or agencies relating thereto, are curently being considered ; and what are the numbers of staff affected.
Mr. Chris Patten : Approximately 60 posts in the Crown Suppliers were moved from central London to Bootle in 1982. The Department's Eastern Regional Office, comprising some 70 posts, was moved from London to Bedford in 1988. This year, the newly established Historic Royal Palaces Agency, with 20 posts, was transferred from central London to Hampton Court palace. The Department's rent charges unit, with 11 posts, has recently been moved from central London to the Department's north-west regional office in Manchester.
In April this year, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, for which the Department is responsible, moved its office dealing with properties in care in the northern region, with 20 posts, from central London to Newcastle upon Tyne.
Around 38 per cent. of the Department's staff of approximately 6, 000 (excluding the Property Services Agency) are already located outside London, 24 per cent. outside the south-east. All other posts have been assessed for relocation potential, and some 1,350 posts have been identified for detailed investigation. Studies covering 320 posts are complete, leading to proposals to move some 90
Column 214posts out of London. These proposals--which include the relocation of the Historic Royal Palaces Agency and rent charges unit--are now being implemented. Studies covering the other posts will be carried out over the next two years or so, as operational requirements allow.
Seventy per cent. of the PSA's staff of 22,400 (including the Crown Suppliers) are already located outside London, 45 per cent. outside the south-east. The agency is being restructured in preparation for commercialisation. The scope for further relocation is being examined through the business planning process.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to ensure that, wherever possible, methane from landfill sites and oil fields will be collected or flared efficiently.
Mr. Trippier : All those involved in landfill management have been urged to consider appropriate systems of monitoring and control for landfill gas in accordance with the technical memorandum in waste management paper No. 27. The Department of Energy is responsible for the control of gas from oilfields.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Government are taking measures to ensure that international exchange of data on global warming is not impeded by commercial considerations in the United Kingdom.
Column 215Mr. Trippier : The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology has similarly suggested the need for unimpeded exchange of data relevant to global climate change in the sixth report. The Government will respond to this and other conclusions of the Committee in due course. Much data generated by global monitoring programmes will be available on the same basis as is currently the case for world meteorological data. Arrangements are in hand to provide data from the ERS1 satellite to suitably equipped and qualified universities and institutes groups. Discussions under way on data dissemination in the longer term will take into account the recommendations of the Select Committee.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what consideration he has given to the conclusion contained in the Select Committee on Science and Technology report on the greenhouse effect about the Government's abandonment of research into fast reactor technology ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what consideration he has given to the conclusion contained in the Select Committee on Science and Technology report on the greenhouse effect about the United Kingdom's commitment to the proposal for a successor satellite to ERS1 (ERS2) ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what consideration he has given to the conclusion contained in the Select Committee on Science and Technology report on the greenhouse effect about the Government's commitment to the ocean drilling programme beyond 1991 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : The Government will be responding in due course when full consideration has been given to all the conclusions and recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology's sixth report.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what funds the Government intend to allocate in 1990 and 1991 to finance research and development into the field of fuel use and emissions control in road transport.
Financial year 1990-91 : £2.015 million
Financial year 1991-92 : £1.150 million
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to develop better facilities for climate modelling at the Meteorological Office and if he will offer generous access to those facilities to relevant university research departments.
Mr. Trippier : As the Prime Minister announced in her speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 8 November, the Government intend to establish a new centre for climate prediction. It will build on the existing expertise at the Meteorological Office, which is of the
Column 216highest international repute. An important function of the centre will be to identify research work including that done in universities, of relevance to climate prediction and to encourage and facilitate its incorporation into improved predictive modelling. International collaboration with other centres of expertise will be a fundamental aspect of the centre's work.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much grant his Department will make available in the next financial year to fund the United Kingdom centre for the prediction of climate change.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many tonnes of (a) special waste, (b) toxic waste and (c) radioactive waste have been imported through Newhaven for each of the last three years.
Mr. Trippier : The Department's records do not differentiate between toxic waste and special waste which is also classified as toxic waste. In 1986-87 23 tonnes were imported through Newhaven, and in 1987-88 48 tonnes. We have no record of any imports in 1988-89. Radioactive waste is not imported into the country.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any proposals to increase the frequency of visits by inspectors of Her Majesty's inspectors of pollution to landfill sites ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : No. A primary role of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is assessing the performance of the waste disposal authorities. This involves visiting a selection of landfills to assess standards and performance. Sufficient landfills are inspected for the inspectorate to reach a balanced view on how well the waste disposal authority discharges its statutory duties.
Mr. Chope : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, on 15 November, on the conclusions of the Government's review of the homelessness legislation. A copy of the full report is in the House Library.
Column 217littering, similar to that currently operated by Westminster city council. In addition, we propose to increase the maximum fine for littering in England and Wales under the Litter Act 1983 from £400 to £1,000.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what responses he has received to the consultation document on the proposed amendments to the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 and for a cost recovery charging scheme.
Mr. Trippier : Organisations responded to the consultation document issued jointly by myself with my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Wales, for Scotland and for Northern Ireland, and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. A list of these has been placed in the Library of the House : copies of individual responses may be obtained through the Library. Respondents gave a broad welcome to the proposals put forward in the paper.
In particular, there was enthusiastic support for the proposal to establish practicable de minimis levels of radioactive material and waste. Many comments were received on the section regarding the disclosure of information concerning possibly contaminated land and our proposals have been amended to clarify this section taking into account the suggestions made.
The proposal to introduce a cost recovery charging scheme attracted many comments with only a small minority objecting to the principles of charging. In developing the scheme we will take into account the helpful suggestions and comments received as a result of the current consultation exercise.
Mr. Brazier : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what response his Department received to the questionnaire sent to local authorities on 3 May about their progress in implementing the new community charge arrangements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Hunt : A total of 267 out of 366 local authorities in England responded to this questionnaire. The picture which emerged was generally reassuring. All authorities which responded were implementing the new arrangements and all confirmed they would meet the requirement to send community charge register entries to their residents by 1 December 1989. A report on the results of the questionnaire has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the organisations which have (a) supported him and (b) criticised in writing to him his proposals for changes in the Nature Conservancy Council ; and what representations he has had from Mr. Derek Ratcliffe on the future of science in the Nature Conservancy Council.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 4 December 1989] : My Department has received a large number of representations about the proposals to reorganise the Nature Conservancy Council. It is not possible to allocate these in a meaningful way to the categories requested. A number of
Column 218representations contained elements both of support and of criticism. A letter from the former chief scientist of the NCC, Mr. Ratcliffe, made a thoughtful contribution on the need for cohesive operational strategies, the maintenance of high standards in conservation science, evaluation and practice and on maximising the use of scarce resources. We took account of all the points made in the representations received in formulating the Government's proposals (announced on 23 November) to establish a statutory joint committee of the new country agencies to maintain scientific standards and take responsibility for the scientific aspects of nature conservation issues which have a Great Britain or international dimension.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the planned level of inspection of factory discharges into rivers by National Rivers Authority officials over the next 12 months ; and what percentage of factory discharges this is estimated to represent.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 4 December 1989] : I understand that the National Rivers Authority is currently reviewing its monitoring programmes, including the level of inspection of discharges by factories to rivers and other controlled waters.
Mr. Howard [holding reply Monday 4 December 1989] : I understand that approximately 430 officers are engaged in pollution control duties in the field. They are involved in inspecting all forms of discharge, including those from factories.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all those who have been excluded from the proceedings of the M11 extension inquiry ; and if he will give the reason for exclusion in each case.
Several people have been excluded to prevent further disruption of proceedings. Their names are not known to the Department.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the proceedings of the M11 extension inquiry to be concluded ; and what assurances he has received that all points of view will be properly aired and fully considered during the inquiry.
Mr. Atkins : The inquiry will conclude when the independent inspector is satisfied that he has heard all statutory objectors and those others with material points who, at his discretion, he chooses to hear. The inspector has already announced that this will mean the continuation of the inquiry in the new year.
Column 219It is for the inspector to decide whether representations made to him are appropriate to the specific purposes of this inquiry.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all office relocations of his Department's staff since May 1979, stating in each case the location of origin and the location of transfer, together with the numbers of staff transferred.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what relocations of his Department's staff, or agencies relating thereto, are currently being considered ; and what are the numbers of staff affected.
Mr. Atkins : It is planned to relocate the headquarters of the Driving Standards Agency from London to Nottingham in mid-1990. About 100 posts are involved. The location of certain other London headquarters directorates is being reviewed : up to a further 430 posts are involved.
This is the most recent 12-months-period for which full data are available.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children of school age have been injured in traffic accidents involving designated school buses in the last 12 months ; and how many have been killed.
Mr. Atkins : In 1988, 317,253 people of all road users were injured in road traffic accidents and 5,052 were killed. This is the most recent 12 -months period for which full data are available. Provisional estimates for the 12 months up to June 1989 show 320, 576 injured and 5,082 killed.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of statutory regulations for operators of designated school buses which require standards of safety to be met (a) in the other member states of the European Community and (b) elsewhere ; and what assessment he has made of their comparable figures for accidents involving children of school age and designated school buses.
Some European countries require a special sign showing two children in silhouette on a yellow background to be displayed on school buses. We think that this simple, cautionary sign has much to commend it and as I told the House on 14 November, we shall shortly circulate for comment proposals along these lines.
In Japan all minibuses, buses and coaches, except those providing a local bus service, are required to be fitted with seat belts on every seat. I have received many representations requesting similar legislation in the United Kingdom. At present we are prevented from enforcing legislation while the European Community seat belt directive specifies that no seat belts need be fitted to minibuses and coaches. We shall continue to press for change, but the view of most of the other member states is that coaches and minibuses are so safe that seat belts would not be worth while except on the front seats. This we have already required. We believe that seats themselves can give a measure of protection in a frontal accident, but seat belts generally prevent ejection and can thus reduce death and injury in a roll-over accident.
We have no figures for accidents involving children of school age using buses either in the United Kingdom or in other countries. Our own figures show that in 1988 409 children were killed and 7,923 were seriously injured on the roads in all.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of traffic accidents involving designated school buses where children of school age have been injured or killed ; and what consideration he has given to (a) the state of the road, (b) the type of vehicles involved and (c) the time of year as contributory factors.
Mr. Atkins : It is our established practice to make a detailed investigation covering every possible contributory factor leading to a spectacular and major crash. This applies equally to crashes involving buses carrying children of school age as to other vehicles.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he has given to the need for an additional adult to be carried on designated school buses to ensure proper safety procedures are followed.
Column 221Mr. Atkins : There is no regulation requiring any driver to be trained in first aid.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what safety requirements exist for transport operators of school project trips ; and if he will ensure that any new safety standards imposed on designated school buses must also be met on school project trips.