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Mr. Chope : I understand that the London borough of Lambeth is currently suspended by the joint committee of the London area mobility scheme from the Greater London mobility scheme because it has not been contributing sufficient lettings to it. The suspension will, however, be lifted as soon as performance improves. In the meantime tenants wishing to move from the borough can still do so through the other schemes operated by the London area mobility scheme--including the inter-borough nomination scheme and the mutual exchange bureau.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : An initial analysis of the effects of air pollution, including acid deposition, on trees was made by the United Kingdom terrestrial effects review group (TERG) in a report published in July 1988. Copies of the report are available in the House of Commons Library. Since then, additional scientific data have come to light both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Consequently a sub-group of TERG has been set up specifically to evaluate these extra data. The group will report in January 1991.
In order to mitigate the effects of acid deposition on the environment as a whole we are making substantial reductions in sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from large combustion plants at a cost of over £2 billion. In addition we have agreed major reductions of NOx emissions from motor vehicles at a cost of about £1.5 billion per annum.
Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total value of dwellings owned by Blyth Valley local authority calculated on the basis of 1988-89 right-to-buy sales and the total loan debt outstanding.
Mr. Chope : Under part VI of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, in determining housing revenue account subsidy, the Secretary of State may infer aggregate values of houses and other property within local
Column 733authorities' housing revenue accounts from the average values of any of the houses and other property they have disposed of. The latest figure calculated on this basis for Blyth Valley is £158 million. This is subject to variation in the light of any futher information supplied by the local authority.
The total outstanding loan debt on dwellings in the ownership of Blyth Valley district council for 1988-89 as reported to the Department of the Environment by the local authority was £40.2 million.
Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated business rate, in tabular form, for shops with a floor space of 500 sq ft, 2,000 sq ft, 5,000 sq ft, and 10,000 sq ft for each of the years 1989-90 to 1994-95 if situated in Sheen road, Richmond, showing percentage increases for each year over the actual for 1989-90.
My right hon. Friend announced on 6 November his provisional view that the national non-domestic rate poundage for 1990-91 would be 36 pence. In subsequent years the poundage will increase by the rise in the retail price index or by such lesser amount as the Chancellor of the Exchequer determines.
The valuation office is currently carrying out a revaluation of non- domestic property and is required to deposit with local authorities the new rating lists in draft by 31 December. There will be transitional arrangements to phase in the effect of the uniform business rate and the revaluation. The maximum increase in rate bills for properties in London will be 20 per cent. in real terms for those with new rateable values of £15,000 and above and 15 per cent. for those with values between £500 and £14,999. Large reductions in bills will also be subject to phasing.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what considerations of policy led to his decision to retain the Countryside Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council as separate bodies in England.
Mr. Trippier : The Government took into account the ecological, demographic and social circumstances in England and decided that the needs of nature conservation and the protection and enjoyment of the countryside would be best served by the retention of separate bodies for those purposes in this country.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he will adopt to provide environmental auditing and accountability of the proposed new conservation agencies in Great Britain.
Mr. Trippier : The new conservation agencies in England, Scotland and Wales will be directly accountable to the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Scotland and Wales, respectively for the stewardship both of their individual and joint functions.
Column 734Environmental auditing is normally understood to mean the quantification of environmental costs and benefits in the economic or development context, rather than a means of assessing the work of public agencies.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps are being taken to clean up the radioactive contamination at the Harwell tank farm, following the discovery of radioactive waste contamination on 24 May ; what assessment has been made of the effects on Atomic Energy Research Establishment workers and members of the public of this leak ; and what has been the cost of the clean-up operation to date.
Mr. Trippier : Low level radioactive contaminated water from the tank farm area is being treated in the Harwell effluent plant. The effect of the contamination on workers and members of the public is insignificant. Approximately £20,000 has been spent on the clean-up operation to date.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to introduce regulations governing the height of trees and hedges which form part of boundaries between private properties, similar to planning regulations which currently govern the height of boundary walls.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current level of understaffing at Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ; and what proposals he has to meet the problem.
Mr. Trippier : The staff compliment for Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution was increased from 219 to 240 from 2 October 1989. Staff in post at 1 November 1989 was 199. Most of the vacancies are for pollution inspectors and to fill these posts Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution are undertaking a recruitment campaign offering exceptional salary increases of 28.5 per cent. over those offered in the last recruitment round.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how often samples of the flue gases from the Rechem plant at Pontypool are analysed for dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl content by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ; and if he will summarise the results of such analysis by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution since 1987.
Mr. Trippier : Flue gases from the Rechem plant at Pontypool are sampled by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and analysed specifically for polychlorinated biphenyl approximately twice a year. Figures are
Column 735considerably less thay 0.01 mg/m . Sampling and analysis for dioxins and dibenzofurans is carried out less frequently. The latest summary figures for January 1989 are :
Tetrachlorodibenzodioxins (total)--less than 0.025 ng/m Tetrachlorodibenzofurans (total)--0.12 ng/m
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest total number of staff employed by (a) Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and (b) the National Rivers Authority.
Staff in post in the National Rivers Authority at 31 October were 6,332.
Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which regional office of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will be responsible for meeting the environmental demands of Cleveland ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 12 December 1989] : One senior member of staff resigned from Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution in 1989 and will leave at the end of the year. Arrangements are in hand to appoint a successor. Two senior members of staff resigned in 1988. Their posts have been absorbed into the reorganised structure of the inspectorate, details of which were announced on 2 October 1989.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what reasons were tendered by the individuals concerned for the resignations from Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution by Mr. Michael Thayer and other senior inspectors.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to publish the proposed White Paper on the environment ; and whether it will outline the structure of the proposed Scottish heritage agency.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on how many people are involved in monitoring air pollution in (a) the United States of America, (b) Britain and (c) other member countries of the European Community.
Mr. Trippier : This information could be obtained only at excessive cost. However, the United Kingdom acid deposition and air pollution monitoring networks, referred to in my answer of 7 December to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) are co-ordinated by about 33 staff at Warren Spring laboratory. Some of these sites are run by other consultants.
Many local authorities and other organisations in the United Kingdom monitor air pollution for their own purposes.
Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations have been made to him by the local authority associations and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy on the funding of pensions liabilities ; and when he will respond to such representations.
representations on this subject. I shall be responding shortly.
(2) when he next intends to consult trade unions about the privatisation of the Property Services Agency and the Crown Suppliers.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend met the PSA trade unions on 26 September. It was a constructive meeting and he looks forward to having further meetings with them as the PSA progresses towards privatisation.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, pursuant to his reply of 6 December, Official Report, column 412, he will specify in what respects the briefing document sent to hon. Members by trade unions in respect of Property Services Agency legislation, was tendentious.
Mr. Trippier : As Britain's national mapping organisation, the Ordnance Survey has earned wide respect and recognition for its surveying and cartographic activities. At the same time, the Government have encouraged Ordnance Survey to develop and expand its business on increasingly commercial lines. It is therefore proposed that Ordnance Survey should become a next steps agency and this is expected to take place in 1990.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 12 December 1989] : The information requested is not available. The hon. Gentleman will, however, find some information on this subject in a report called "The Nature and Effectiveness of Housing Management in England" by the centre for housing research, university of Glasgow. Copies of the report, which was published earlier this year, are available in the Library.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 4 December 1989] : The water quality of the Mersey estuary has improved since 1980 as a result of North West Water's programme of building interceptor sewers to divert sewage from outfalls to sewage treatment works. This continuing programme, which includes construction of a major new sewage treatment works at Sandon dock in Liverpool due to open next year, now forms part of the Mersey basin campaign project to improve the water quality and landward aspects of the Mersey system at an overall estimated cost of £4 billion. The project involves North West Water, central and local government, and business and voluntary organisations.
The National Rivers Authority is responsible for monitoring river and estuarial quality, and for securing any improvements which it considers are needed to meet new statutory water quality objectives to be set by the Secretary of State.