Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, at any time since June 1979, any person has acted as an inspector for any of the Department of Trade and Industry's investigations whilst that same person was under investigation by other inspectors.
Mr. Redwood : Inspectors are appointed to investigate the affairs or membership of companies, not individuals. In one case an accountant was appointed to be an inspector during the course of another investigation which involved his firm as auditors of the company under inquiry, and in which he was subsequently criticised. These appointments were made in 1975 and 1977 respectively.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government have taken against auditors Arthur Young following the criticism of them in his Department's report on Milbury plc.
Column 703Mr. Redwood : A copy of the inspectors' report was sent to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. It subsequently announced that a committee of inquiry had been set up under the joint disciplinary scheme to look into certain matters arising out of the report.
Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received in the last 12 months concerning the operation of the scheme of banana import quotas ; and what reply he gave.
Mr. Redwood : During the last 12 months a few representations have been received from importers about the allocation of the dollar banana quota. We have explained that this is shared out amongst existing traders on the basis of past trade in dollar bananas. Newcomers are required to demonstrate their commitment before receiving an allocation. "Past trade" is the method used to distribute all other import administered quotas.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his response to the proposals in the European Economic Community consultative document on the import of footwear from Korea and Taiwan.
Mr. Redwood : My noble Friend the Minister for Trade is giving urgent consideration to the Commission's consultative document in the light of their findings and the views expressed by the United Kingdom industry and others. He expects to reach a decision on the appropriate action to be taken very shortly.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many seminars on the subject of the single European market have been organised by his Department during the last two years, broken down by region.
Mr. Redwood [holding answer 12 December 1989] : My Department has organised 20 regional breakfast presentations and provided ministerial and official speakers for 1,423 conferences and seminars in the United Kingdom, primarily organised by private sector bodies, since the Europe "Open for Business" campaign was launched in March 1988.
The regional breakdown of these figures is as follows :
|Breakfast |Conferences |presentations|seminars etc. ------------------------------------------------------------------- East Midlands |1 |159 North East |1 |85 North West |3 |155 South East |5 |620 South West |2 |121 West Midlands |1 |150 Yorkshire and Humberside |2 |115 Northern Ireland |1 |5 Scotland |2 |7 Wales |2 |6
The figures for conferences and seminars exclude speakers provided by the relevant Government Departments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Column 704My Department also organised a major conference on Europe "Open for Professions", held in London on 4 October this year.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made towards the recycling of batteries ; and if he will make a statement about the role of the Warren Spring laboratory.
Mr. Forth [holding answer 12 December 1989] : Battery recycling is well-established in the United Kingdom, but is mostly concentrated upon the larger land-acid and nickel-cadmium cells, and upon silver oxide and mercuric oxide button cells. Commercial recycling of the consumer types of alkaline manganese and nickel-cadmium batteries has not so far proved economically viable. Warren Spring laboratory, as part of a collaborative project, is carrying out research into methods of recovering these batteries from the domestic waste stream and the environmental, economic and technical issues which recovery involves.
Mr. Terry Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he has taken in response to proposals relating to the Inland Revenue from British Aerospace referred to in a letter which was sent by Professor Roland Smith to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry between 6 July and 12 July 1988.
Mr. Ridley [holding answer 11 December 1989] : It was agreed that British Aerospace could seek a view in advance from the Inland Revenue about the applicability of section 768 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 to proposals to be made by British Aerospace following its acquisition of Rover Group.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : No. The number of environmental health officers needed to discharge statutory functions is a matter for each individual local environmental health authority to determine in the light of local circumstances.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 introduced for the first time in Great Britain comprehensive statutory protection for endangered wild species and their habitats. Protection is given to many species of wild animals and plants and to all birds ; the lists of animals and plants are reviewed every five years.
17. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to issue any further planning policy guidance notes or introduce any legislation on planning matters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : My hon. Friend will know that the Gracious Speech contained no proposal for planning legislation in this Session. We do propose, however, to issue several new or revised planning policy guidance notes in the coming months.
123. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider seeking to amend legislation on planning procedures to include permission to demolish dwelling houses in the scope of planning applications.
Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friend receives a number of representations about planning procedure. In particular, over 400 individuals and organisations have responded to a consultation paper entitled "Efficient Planning" which we issued on 28 July.
18. Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the planned expenditure of his Department on the royal parks, the royal palaces and other historic buildings in 1990-91 and 1991-92.
Mr. Trippier : The gross planned expenditure figures are £165.9 million for 1990-91 and £169.7 million for 1991-92. They include the re-use of income such as trading and visitor receipts for the occupied palaces, parks and the new Historic Royal Palaces Agency, and include grant -in-aid to English Heritage. This expenditure will permit improvements in the standards of presentation and preservation of our heritage and increase the enjoyment of visitors, and represents a significant increase over the current year.
27. Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the reorganisation of the Nature Conservancy Council ; and if he will make a statement.
62. Mr. Gill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations from Welsh hon. Members he has received on the decision to set up separate bodies to deal with nature conservancy issues in England, Scotland and Wales.
Mr Trippier : My Department has received a large number of representations about the reorganisation of the NCC covering a wide spectrum of views. Common to almost all the representations has, however, been the need to maintain a sound science base and for appropriate arrangements for addressing nature conservation issues with a Great Britain or international dimension. All representations received were taken into account in the formulation of the Government's proposals for a statutory joint committee, announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 23 November.
Mr. Chope : Local authority figures for 1988-89 are not yet available. However, in 1987-88, local authority rent arrears amounted to £226 million or 5.7 per cent. of the total rent roll. This constituted a 15 per cent. increase over the arrears outstanding in 1986-87 of £195 million.
Mr. Chris Patten : Government policy on sporting links with South Africa is set out in the Gleneagles agreement. We remain fully committed to the agreement and take every opportunity to give effect to that commitment.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Regular monitoring for a wide range of purposes and substances takes place in the Irish sea, undertaken mainly by the National Rivers Authority in the case of rivers and estuaries and the Fisheries Departments for offshore site. The Department of the Environment also contributes, as does the work of dedicated research agencies such as the Natural Environment Research Council.
25. Mr. Lofthouse : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many single person households with an existing rates liability can expect to benefit from the poll tax transitional relief scheme.
54. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what help will be available under the poll tax transitional relief scheme to private tenants who presently pay a combined rent and rates bill to their landlord.
Mr. Chope : Private tenants who pay a combined rent and rates bill to their landlord will be eligible for community charge transitional relief on the same basis as other chargepayers. They will be entitled to transitional relief provided that a comparison between their assumed rates bill for 1989-90 and either one or two assumed community charges (depending on the number of community chargepayers in the property) shows an increase of more than £156 a year.
55. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what allowance he has made for local factors when setting the levels of community charge or poll tax which he considers will meet standard spending needs for local authorities in Northumberland.
Mr. David Hunt : My right hon. Friend's detailed proposals for the calculation of standard spending assessments were set out in the draft revenue support grant distribution report issued at the time of his announcement to the House on 6 November. The same method will apply to all authorities with similar functions and will make use of a large number of indicators to reflect local conditions.
Column 708made on the light of a study being undertaken for the Department by Peat Marwick McLintock and discussions with the local authorities associations.
77. Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his analysis of the effect on various households types of the losses and gains upon introduction of the poll tax using the charges listed in his 6 November statement will be available.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take note of the representations made by Stoke on Trent city council expressing its concerns about the Department of Environment letter of 6 November about the loss of £18 million of Government grants to charge payers in the city ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : All representations, including those from Stoke on Trent city council, will be taken into account before my right hon. Friend makes final decisions about the revenue support grant settlement for 1990-91.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 5 December, Official Report, column 120, what were the changes in the regulations to ensure that people being cared for in the community will receive the same relief from the standard community charge as those in residential care homes.
Mr. David Hunt : Regulation 6 of the Community Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Regulations 1989, which were laid before the House on 7 December, prescribes, among other things, two extra classes of property for the purposes of the standard charge. One class covers property which is unoccupied because the person who formerly lived there is resident somewhere else for the purpose of receiving personal care. The other covers property which is unoccupied because the person who formerly lived there has moved in order to provide personal care to someone else. The maximum multiplier for both classes is zero for 12 months after the property becomes unoccupied. Charging authorities have discretion to allow a longer period of relief for such properties.
Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many students there are in full-time education and receiving an increase from their employers since qualifying for the 80 per cent. student discount under the poll tax rules.
Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate has been made of the number of student nurses who will give up their training because they are unable to meet the full cost of their poll tax obligation.
Column 709(2) what is the likely number of full-time student nurses who will be obliged to pay the full cost of the poll tax.
Mr. Patten : I understand that there are approximately 43,500 pre- registration nursing students in schools of nursing, and that by the end of March next year there will be approximately 1,500 nurses being trained under Project 2,000. Project 2,000 student nurses will qualify for student relief from the community charge. Over the next few years the scheme will be extended to cover all pre-registration nursing trainees receiving their training in schools of nursing. Based on these figures, and an average community charge of £278, the revenue forgone from extending student relief to all pre-registration students would be about £9.3 million.
Mr. Fishburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give for each local authority the total as returned by community charges registration officers of (a) the numbers of persons subject to a personal community charge, excluding students eligible for relief under section 13 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, (b) one fifth of students eligible for relief under section 13 of the 1988 Act and (c) the estimated full-year equivalent of the number of individuals liable to contribute to a collective community charge of the authority in 1990-91, in response to the notice issued on 21 November under section 139A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Hunt : The response to the notice was excellent and the results demonstrate that authorities have been very successful in compiling their community charges registers. Every community charges registration officer made a return although one return received at the last minute was illegible having been corrupted in the course of facsimile transmission.
The total of the forms received is 99.95 per cent. of the Government's estimate based on OPCS information. The information for individual authorities has been laid in the Library of the House. I do not propose to recalculate the figures circulated with the consultation letter of 6 November 1989 to local authority associations using this new information until I have completed my consideration of the representations made in response to that letter.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he could give the total amounts of support from central Government for the expenditure of Somerset county council in the years 1987 -88, 1988-89, and 1989-90 and the latest estimate for such support for 1990 -91.
- Central government grants<1> to Somerset county council |£ million ------------------------------ 1987-88 |89.7 1988-89 |94.3 1989-90 |93.5 <1>Comprising rate support grant, specific and supplementary grants.
Somerset county council, as a precepting authority, will not receive revenue support grant in 1990-91 and no estimates of specific grants payable in 1990-91 are available for individual authorities.
Mr. Trippier : The second report of the Department's acid waters review group, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House, identified those areas of the United Kingdom that are susceptible to acid deposition as well as the location of known acid waters. Further studies under the Department's air pollution research programme are continuing and will be published.
113. Mr. Haynes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent discussions he has held with representatives of the small business community on the introduction of the unified business rate ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has received a number of representations from individual businesses and business organisations on aspects of the new unified business rate in England.
45. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from businesses in the south-east of England regarding the implementation of the unified business rate.
As a result of representations from bodies representing small businesses, my right hon. Friend announced on 27 July that the threshold for more generous transitional arrangements would be doubled to £15,000 and £10,000 rateable value for properties, respectively, in London and elsewhere. He also announced on 6 November his provisional view that the non-domestic rating multiplier for 1990-91 would be 36p, a figure below that expected by the business community and generally welcomed by it. And, on 7 December, he laid before Parliament an order to allow where necessary for larger annual reductions in rate bills during the transitional period than previously expected.
Column 711Mr. Trippier : Having considered the advice of his professional advisers English Heritage and representations received, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has today included the remains of the recently discovered Globe theatre on the schedule of ancient monuments. I should like to acknowledge the leading part which the developers, Hanson, played in financing the archaeological excavation which led to the discovery of the remains.
31. Mr. Flannery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to expand the numbers of council houses and cheaper rented houses in rural communities to deal with the increase in homelessness and the developing queues for rented housing.
Mr. Chope : We have planned for a major increase over the next three years in public funding through the Housing Corporation for new subsidised rented housing development by housing associations. Some of the extra resources will go to rural areas, and we have recently announced an increase in the targets for the Housing Corporation special rural programme aimed at smaller villages. Rural areas should also benefit from the encouragement we have given to private investment in the rented sector through deregulation of rents and tax relief under the business expansion scheme.
Meetings with ministerial colleagues, DOE Ministers and Officials.
Cabinet Committee meeting.
First order questions.
Address national parks conference.
Cabinet Committee meeting.
DOE official engagement.
Meeting with colleagues and officials.