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Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many contracts over £92,500 have been let by his Department in the 1988-89 financial year and in the current financial year to date ; and how many of these were (a) automatically renewed and (b) open to competition through advertisement throughout the European Community.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The number of contracts awarded by Scottish Office and covered by the provisions of the EC supplies directive, for which the current threshold is £92,500, was one in the 1988-89 financial year and three in the current financial year to date. Of these, two were awarded following advertisement in the Official Journal of the European Communities and two were considered to be exempt from advertising. One of the exempt contracts was awarded to the previous supplier and one to a new supplier.
Mr. Buchanan-Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has now given consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of the report by the Williams committee into the future of the Scottish agricultural colleges ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Rifkind : Following receipt of the report of the Williams committee, I have listened carefully to the views of interested persons and organisations on it, and have given consideration to the report's conclusions and recommendations.
I welcome the report, and am very grateful to Sir Alwyn Williams and his colleagues on the committee for producing such a very carefully considered document to a tight timetable.
I agree with the central recommendations of the report that the three Scottish agricultural colleges and SAC Ltd
Column 878should be merged into one corporate body comprising a single national college, which would retain the functions of education, R and D and advisory services, under the management of a single board of directors and an executive director. I would at the same time confirm the Government's long-term commitment to the retention of the existing college centres across Scotland at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Auchencruive.
I believe that detailed questions of management structure and location of facilities should be for the new board of directors to consider in the first instance, including the question of the most appropriate location for the headquarters. But I believe that the name should be the Scottish agricultural college. I also consider it important that there should be some form of local body, deriving its authority from the new board, based on each campus and responsible for maintaining links with the local community. I wish to see the role of executive director separated from that of campus principal. I agree that the new national Scottish agricultural college should continue to occupy the middle tier of agricultural education in Scotland, but that there should be a shift in the nature of the provision towards higher education. With the exception of certain specialist courses, non-advanced further education provision should be phased out over a period of time yet to be determined. Advanced-level education should continue to be provided.
As for schools of agriculture, I am not minded to accept the Williams recommendation that these should cease to exist. While some restructuring of the relationship between the present colleges and their neighbouring universities will be an inevitable consequence of the establishment of a single national college, I attach the greatest importance to allowing the strong academic links and the productive sharing of resources established between colleges and universities to continue both now and in the long term. I would therefore in particular wish to see the concept and title "School of Agriculture" carry on at both Aberdeen and Edinburgh provided that the school was in future headed jointly by its respective campus principal and by a professor at the university. I expect the Scottish committee of the UFC to offer me advice on the balance of provision in agricultural education between the college and the universities, recognising that the universities' main strength lies in the sciences and that of the college in technological and vocational subjects.
I agree that the Government should continue to support research and development in the new college, alongside applied and near-market work funded by industry and other bodies. This support will include funding of policy-related work and some strategic research. I attach considerable importance to the new college improving the management of its research programmes through central direction.
I agree that the new college should continue to provide advisory services, and that there should be a clear statement by my Department of the work to be funded by Government. I particularly welcome the recommendation that the new college should be encouraged to expand the range of services that it can offer to facilitate rural prosperity, although it should not seek to offer a fully comprehensive service to the whole of rural society : it will be essential for other agencies and bodies to continue to provide services appropriate to their remits. I accept that the new college should offer a "gateway" service, so that through the development and maintenance of close
Column 879contact with other agencies, the knowledge acquired can be used to guide farmers and other interests to the appropriate organisation for advice, grant aid and other services. Further detailed consideration of how such a service could be provided will require discussion with my Department and other interests.
I have noted the recommendations related to the veterinary investigation service. These will require further consideration and I will return to them at a later date.
I believe it is important, in the interests of the staff, students, and users of services, that my Department, the board of SAC Ltd. and the governing bodies of the three colleges should move rapidly towards early implementation of the main recommendations. I know that the present board shares my view that I should make an early announcement of a part-time chairman for the new board. I will be looking thereafter to the early appointment of the directors of the board and the executive director. Arrangements for future appointments will be discussed with the new board.
I wish to record my very considerable appreciation to the chairman of SAC Ltd., Mr. Watson Peat, the chairmen of the college governing bodies, Mr. Barbour, Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Lennox, the members of the governing bodies, the senior management of SAC Ltd. and the colleges, as well as all their staff for the way they have responded so positively to the changes initiated by Government policies over the last five years. I believe that the changes which I have announced today will provide a stable structure for improving on that record of achievement into the next century.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is going to take to deal with the problem of homelessness in Scotland following the publication of Shelter's annual survey on homelessness.
I should point out that the Shelter survey fails to provide a reasonable basis on which to assess Government policies. The extent of homelessness alleged by the Shelter survey is greater than that indicated by the statistics published by the Scottish Development Department. These statistics, which are compiled from returns made by local authorities, record that in 1988-89 about 25,000 households applied to local authorities under the homelessness provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 ; about 9,500 were assessed by local authorities as homeless and a further 7,500 as potentially homeless. Moreover, these figures are very similar to those for 1986-87 and 1987-88.
The Government are committted to maintaining an effective statutory framework for dealing with homelessness and will continue to ensure that local authorities and other bodies involved are properly resourced to meet the challenge of homelessness. The capital resources allocated to local authorities take full account of homelessness. I announced earlier this month an increase of £64 million in the provisional net allocations to local authorities for capital expenditure on the HRA block in 1990-91, compared with the equivalent figure for this year. In addition, the measures the Government have taken to expand the housing association movement and to revive
Column 880the private rented sector will be of particular benefit to the homeless. We are continuing to provide financial assistance to organisations in the voluntary sector which are concerned with homelessness.
I am also encouraging local authorities to make use of their powers in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 to provide cash incentives to persuade tenants to move into the private sector, thus releasing housing for homeless families. Experience of such schemes in England has shown that they are a worth while and cost-effective means of helping the homeless.
The Government will continue to monitor homelessness closely and will take all necessary action to ensure that housing provision in Scotland matches housing needs more closely.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report tables showing the proportion of all part- time employees who are (a) manual and (b) non-manual earning less than (i) £4.16, (ii) £4.32, (iii) £3.12 and (iv) £2.80 per hour for (1) men, (2) women and (3) all full-time employees, excluding overtime, shift and payment-by-results premia, for Scotland and in each regional authority and borough.
Mr. Rifkind : I refer the right hon. Member to the reply which my hon. Friend the Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment in Scotland gave to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) on 7 November 1989, at column 488.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the Training Agency has referred any cases of the misappropriation of funds on employment training schemes to the police or procurator fiscal judicial.
Mr. Lang [holding answer 14 December 1989] : No cases of misappropriation of funds have arisen to date on employment training. Where such cases occur they would be considered in accordance with Training Agency guidelines and where appropriate referred to the police. Thereafter it is for the procurator fiscal to decide whether a criminal prosecution is appropriate in any particular case.
Mr. Lang [holding answer 14 December 1989] : This information is not currently available, but the Training Agency has initiated a 100 per cent. follow-up survey of employment training leavers which should eventually provide information about vocational qualifications obtained by trainees.
Mr. Lang [holding answer 14 December 1989] : All supervisory staff of employment training providers are required to be competent to undertake such work and in addition these training providers are expected to have plans to develop and update the skills of their staff. Compliance with these requirements is examined during the ongoing programme monitoring carried out by Training Agency staff and is a prerequisite for attainment of approved training organisation status.
Mr. Eadie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the deaths of males and females in Scotland from lung cancer in every year since 1979 to the nearest available date giving the respective ages and the parliamentary constituencies they resided in.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 11 December 1989] : Information in the form requested--listing individual deaths--could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. I have, however, arranged to provide the number of deaths from cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung from 1979 to 1988, classified by parliamentary constituency, age and sex. There are some 4,000 such deaths a year in Scotland, so the detailed information is lengthy and I shall therefore have it placed in the Library.
|Officers|Soldiers (£) |(£) ---------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Married Personnel Higher rate<1> |1,200 |900 Lower rate<2> |689 |517 Special rate<3> |310 |232 Child element<4> |95 |95 2. Single Personnel Higher rate<1> |900 |675 Lower rate<2> |517 |388 Private rented accommodation rate<5> |297 |223 <1> The higher rate is payable to homeowners, who move to a new home on posting to a new duty station. Single homeowners must be aged over 30 years, except for the Navy, where the limit is aged over 25 years. There are no age restrictions for married personnel. <2> The lower rate is payable: (1) To married personnel-when, as a result of a posting, the family is moved to: a residence at a new duty station which is a public married quarter; their own home, which they are reoccupying; their first ever purchase of a private home; or private rented accommodation, where they previously occupied either a public married quarter or private rented accommodation at the old duty station. (2) To single personnel-when they re-occupy their own home; on first ever occupation of their own home; or, where public accommodation is not available and they are required to move into private rented accommodation and no other accommodation allowance is paid. <3> The special rate is payable for second or subsequent moves from accommodation, which has been occupied by the family, while remaining at the same duty station, for example, to enable major repairs or renovation of a married quarter to take place. <4> The child element is payable in adition to disturbance allowance in respect of each child changing school as a result of a house move. <5> The private rented rate is payable, where an individual chooses to occupy private rented accommodation for personal reasons. Note: Rates of disturbance allowance are currently under review with new rates due to come into effect on 1 January 1990.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to Cm. 675-I (Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988) page 39, where the information requested is given for each NATO country. My Department does not hold such information on the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the locations in the United Kingdom for which the Meteorological Office can readily supply information regarding average daily temperatures allowing for a wind chill factor ; and if he will make a statment.
Mr. Neubert : Wind chill factors which essentially relate to humans or animals in outdoor conditions can be calculated in a number of ways. The simplest involves temperature and wind speed. Such data are received hourly by the Meteorological Office every day of the year from 97 stations in the United Kingdom.
I will write to the hon. Member listing the name and location of each of these stations.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria the Government apply when deciding whether to comment on operational matters ; and if he will make a statement on the means by which parliamentary scrutiny is provided over operational matters.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Ministers are accountable to Parliament for all matters related to the armed forces. The extent to which it is possible to comment on the detail of operational matters will depend on security considerations.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those nuclear tests since May 1979 of which he has knowledge, their location and kilotonnage and the countries that performed them.
Mr. Archie Hamilton [holding answer 8 December 1989] : The Government do not hold such information in an unclassified form. The details of all British nuclear tests are included in the US Department of Energy publication "Announced United States Nuclear Tests", copies of which have been placed in the House of Commons Library. Other organisations, such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, provide their own estimates of the numbers of nuclear tests.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We intend to bring forward measures to encourage waste minimisation and recycling by ensuring the proper costing of waste disposal and requiring waste collection and disposal authorities to pay particular attention to recycling as part of their waste management programmes. In addition, we will continue to support projects such as the recycling city in Sheffield which are developing innovative ways of collecting and processing household recyclables.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures are being taken to tighten up monitoring of killing of seals by fishermen in British waters in defiance of international protection agreements ; and if he will make a statement.
Additional measures were taken in December 1988 to extend the close season for common and grey seals in England and Wales and common seals in Scotland. These measures remain in force.
In addition, we are currently considering possible ways of securing voluntary reporting about seals shot under the defensive provisions or outside the close season of the 1970 Act.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has been consulted with respect to the proposed development of a heliport adjacent to the Cannon Street railway bridge ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the noise impact upon the Palace of Westminster arising from the construction of the proposed City of London heliport.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to update Department of Environment circular 10/73 on planning and noise and the noise insulation regulations 1975.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 13 December 1989] : We are considering the need to update Department of the Environment circular 10/73 on planning and noise as part of the review of noise legislation announced on 5 December by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. The Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.
Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment in relation to his forthcoming campaign on community charge benefit and transitional relief, what considerations led him to conclude that it is necessary to have a publicity proposal going beyond what could be achieved by way of parliamentary announcement and ministerial speech ; what is the precise goal and precise target audience of his campaign ; what considerations led him to choose the balance of publicity between various media in order to achieve this goal and target ; what is that balance ; how much is planned to be spent on the campaign ; and how the results of the campaign are to be measured, distinguishing between publicity effects and non-publicity effects.
Mr. Chris Patten [holding answer 13 December 1989] : Levels of awareness of the community charge benefit system, especially among groups most likely to include potential claimants, indicated that a wider dissemination of information was required than would have been achieved by a parliamentary announcement and speech.
The campaign will be spread between television, the press and radio, with a preponderance in the first two media, to reach the main target audiences effectively. Research is planned both before and after the campaign to measure its effectiveness and impact. The cost has to remain commercial in confidence for the time being, but we will provide costs in due course. For other parts of the question, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 7 December, Official Report, volume 163, column 322.
Mr. Chris Patten [pursuant to his reply, 22 November 1989, c. 4] : I have decided, in the light of representations from the individual local authorities, that the profile of revenue support grant (RSG) payments next year should be advanced. Authorities will receive 25 per cent. of their entitlement to RSG in the first two months of the financial year. This is equivalent to an additional £400 million in April and £390 million in May compared with what they
Column 885would have received if the profile of RSG grant had reflected a pattern of uniform income and expenditure throughout the year. I hope that local authorities will endeavour to issue community charge bills next April which reflect entitlement to both community charge benefit and to transitional relief. However, if authorities experience any delay in issuing community charge bills as a consequence of the community charge transitional relief scheme, these advance payments of about £800 million will be sufficient to ensure that their cash flow is not disadvantaged by the introduction of the scheme.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give a breakdown of urban development grant, urban renewal grant and city grants approval in the 57 urban programme areas and elsewhere in the United Kingdom to the end of November ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan [holding answer 14 December 1989] : Three hundred and eighty-five urban development, urban regeneration and city grants totalling £247.2 million have been approved for projects within the 57 priority areas.
A further 21 grants totalling £6.2 million have been approved elsewhere, including projects in former priority areas.