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Mr. Trippier [holding answer 14 December 1989] : The reorganisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution was intended to facilitate the integration of the four regulatory functions which were combined when it was formed. It provides the organisational structure appropriate for the effective implementation of integrated pollution control. I am pleased that such good progress has been made to date.

Community Charge Video

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress being made in the production of a video on the poll tax in British sign language for deaf people.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 14 December 1989] : The Department has corresponded with four bodies--the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, the British Deaf Association, the British Association of the Hard of Hearing and the Royal Association in Aid of Deaf People--on the potential demand for a video in BSL on the community charge and the most effective way of making it. We await one substantive response.

Community Charge Leaflet

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that deaf-blind people have access to the information in the poll tax leaflet.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 14 December 1989] : Proposals for making information on the community charge available to the blind through braille and moon, which are currently being pursued with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, should assist some of the deaf-blind. We are considering other means of informing deaf-blind people, such as the production of a video specifically for the deaf. In addition, carers-- including those who care for deaf-blind individuals--are one of the groups we intend to address before the new system comes into effect with information on the community charge benefit scheme and transitional relief.

Environmental Audit

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to conduct an annual environmental audit within his Department ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chris Patten [holding answer 14 December 1989] : It is already my policy to take environmental concerns into account in the activities of my Department. I am considering whether procedures to achieve this should be strengthened.

Property Services Agency

Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received recent representations from trade unions opposing privatisation of the Property Services Agency ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Chope [holding answer 15 December 1989] : My right hon. Friend met the PSA trade unions on 26 September. No other direct representations from trade unions have been received.

Sewage Sludge

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the figures for sewage sludge dumped in British coastal waters for each of the last three years.

Mr. Curry : I have been asked to reply.

Disposals to sea of sewage sludge from the United Kingdom under licences issued under part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 were as follows :


             |'000 tonnes              

             |(wet weight)             

---------------------------------------

1986         |9,735                    

1987         |9,016                    

1988         |9,856                    

About 95 per cent. of the content is water.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessments his Department has made as to the environmental impact of dumping sewage sludge in British coastal waters.

Mr. Curry : I have been asked to reply.

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for monitoring disposals to sea from England and Wales. An extensive field assessment programme is conducted at each of the designated disposal sites ; each site is visited at least biennially although some sites are studied more frequently. In addition, licensees are required to carry out an approved programme of dumpsite monitoring as a condition of their licences. Detailed monitoring reports have been published for a number of sites and copies of these are in the Library. The results of these investigations have shown that the disposal of sewage sludge has caused no detrimental environmental impact at any of the designated sites.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what controls his Department imposes on the heavy metal content of sewage sludge dumped at sea.

Mr. Curry : I have been asked to reply.

Licences to deposit sewage sludge at sea provide for annual limits on the quantity of individual metals in the waste. A requirement is placed on licensees to monitor the composition of sludge as dumped and to report levels to the licensing authority. The composition of sludge is checked directly by sampling by the licensing authority.

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce legislation to provide a financial incentive to commercial and industrial firms for the recycling and re-use of materials ; and if he has investigated the feasibility of, and problems associated with, the kerbside collection of materials from domestic and commercial refuse for recycling.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We do not intend to introduce such legislation ; although proposed legislation on pollution control and waste disposal will provide a market incentive for recycling. We are however contributing, with


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the Department of Trade and Industry and the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, to the evaluation of the UK2000 recycling city project in Sheffield which includes a kerbside collection scheme for recyclable domestic refuse.

ENERGY

Coal Mining (Productivity)

15. Mr. Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the increase in labour productivity in the coal mining industry since 1983-84.

Mr. Michael Spicer : British Coal's productivity has increased by over 75 per cent. from pre-strike levels.

Greenhouse Effect

18. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the report of the Energy Select Committee on the greenhouse effect.

Mr. Peter Morrison : The Government's response to the select Committee's report was submitted on 8 November and has since been published by the Committee. We continue to monitor carefully this matter and take decisions accordingly.

35. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what assessment has been made by his Department of the implications for energy policy of global warming caused by the greenhouse effect.

Mr. Peter Morrison : My Department has produced a report entitled "An Evaluation of Energy Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Measures to Ameliorate Them', as a contribution to the work of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. A copy of the report is available in the Library of the House.

Offshore Oil and Gas

19. Mr. Watson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the trade unions involved in the offshore oil and gas industry ; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State an I met members of the AEU parliamentary group and the AEU executive on 28 November for a discussion on offshore safety.

Electricity Privatisation

20. Mr. Rost : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on progress towards his announced timetable for the privatisation of the electricity industry.

42. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the progress of plans for the electricity privatisation share issue and related matters.

Mr. Wakeham : The Government remain on target to complete the privatisation of the industry within this Parliament.

75. Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what provisions he has made to ensure a level playing field


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between fossil fuel industries, including coal, and nuclear fuel supplies to electricity generation subsequent to vesting day.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Coal will continue to be the major fuel for electricity generation for many years to come. The non-fossil fuel obligation will ensure that nuclear power continues to play a strategic role in ensuring security of supply and that renewable sources of energy will be able to fulfil their potential as soon as practicable.

68. Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his latest estimate of the total cumulative cost to his departmental public expenditure so far of consultancy, advertising and advice relating to privatisation of the electricity supply industry

Mr. Michael Spicer : The total cumulative cost to my Department (as at 30 November this year) is £12.4 million.

46. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what provisions he has made to ensure a proper valuation of the electricity supply industry's land and property assets before vesting day.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Valuers have been appointed to value the land and property of each of the electricity supply industry bodies.

31. Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the likely cost implications for major industrial users of the privatisation of electricity.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Major industrial users will be able to negotiate with the supplier or generator of their choice. The introduction of competition should enable such customers to obtain competitive contracts. There will thus be a downward pressure on costs and prices.

Coal Imports

21. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the latest figures for coal imports (a) by countries and (b) by quantity ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wakeham : During the period January to October 1989, 9.5 million tonnes of coal have been imported into this country. The table gives a breakdown by country of origin.


January to October 1989                

---------------------------------------

United States of America |3,879        

Australia                |1,822        

Poland                   |830          

Colombia                 |682          

Canada                   |622          

China                    |405          

South Africa             |323          

Federal Republic of                    

  Germany                |225          

Netherlands              |169          

USSR                     |163          

Panama                   |106          

Venezuela                |86           

Belgium                  |62           

Others                   |175          

                         |------       

Total                    |9,549        

Source: Her Majesty's Customs and      

Excise.                                


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59. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the volume of coal imports into the United Kingdom for the current year ; and if he will meet the chairman of British Coal to discuss levels of coal imports.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government do not produce estimates of coal imports for the current year. In the period January to October 1989 coal imports were 9.5 million tonnes.

My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of British Coal regularly to discuss all aspects of the coal industry.

30. Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of the coal burned in the United Kingdom in 1988 was imported.

Mr. Michael Spicer : A total of 11 per cent. of coal burned in the United Kingdom in 1988 was imported.

Electricity Council

22. Mr. Cunliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he next proposes to meet the chairman of the Electricity Council ; and what matters will be discussed.

Mr. Michael Spicer : My right hon. Friend meets the chairman of the Electricity Council regularly to discuss various matters of mutual interest.

62. Mr. Michael Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of the Electricity Council ; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Wakeham : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe) today.

Coal Industry (Pollution)

23. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what steps are being taken to assist the coal industry in reducing environmental pollution and using energy more efficiently.

43. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what steps are being taken to assist the coal industry in reducing environmental pollution and using energy more efficiently.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government will provide up to £8 million towards the cost of British Coal's work on the topping cycle at Grimethorpe. This offers a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with coal fired stations which should make a significant contribution to combating the "greenhouse effect".

Sizewell B

25. Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his latest estimate of the cost of completion of Sizewell B and the average operating cost per kilowatt hour.

Mr. Michael Spicer : This is a matter for the CEGB. I will ask the chairman to write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how frequently he intends to review the ongoing construction costs of Sizewell B.


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Mr. Michael Spicer : The CEGB is providing my Department with six- monthly progress reports on Sizewell B, including construction costs. Nuclear Electric will continue this arrangement and has made clear that it is committed to completing the station to time and present cost estimates.

British Coal

26. Mr. Steve Norris : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how much the Government have invested in British Coal since 1979.

40. Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how much the Government have invested in British Coal since 1979.

Mr. Wakeham : Since 1979 the Government have financed over £6.5 billion of new investment in the coal industry and continue to invest at a rate of over £2 million every working day.

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy on how many occasions in the past 10 years the auditors of British Coal or the National Coal Board have drawn his attention to inadequacies in their accounts.

Mr. Wakeham : In each of the years 1979-80 to 1988-89 there has been a qualification of the accounts of British Coal by their auditors.

British Coal's accounts have been qualified by its Auditors from 1983-84 to 1988-89 owing to the uncertainty over the recoverability out of future earnings of the total net book amount of the corporation's tangible fixed assets. British Coal's accounts were also qualified from 1983-84 to 1986-87 owing to the uncertainty over the amount of liability arising from future claims for surface damage ; and from 1979-80 to 1983-84 over provision for liabilities under the mineworkers' pension scheme and the voluntary early retirement scheme.

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of British Coal ; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Wakeham : I meet the chairman of the British Coal Corporation regularly to discuss all aspects of the coal industry.

57. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his most up-to-date estimate of the manpower employed by British Coal over the next three years.

Mr. Michael Spicer : It is not possible to predict manpower requirements over future years since this will depend on the performance of individual collieries and the success British Coal has in meeting the requirements of its customers. Manpower requirements are however, a matter for British Coal and I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.

36. Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he next proposes to meet the chairman of British Coal ; and what matters will be discussed.

65. Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of British Coal ; and what matters were discussed.


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Mr. Wakeham : I meet the chairman of British Coal regularly to discuss all aspects of the coal industry.

Alternative Energy Projects (Cornwall)

27. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the funding of alternative energy projects in Cornwall.

Mr. Peter Morrison : My Department is funding an extensive renewable energy R and D programme on projects in Cornwall and elsewhere. The major projects in Cornwall include :

The Cornwall Energy Project by Cornwall County Council ; The Geothermal Hot Dry Rock Project by the Camborne School of Mines ; The Proposed Wind Farm at Cold Northcott by the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Energy Efficiency

28. Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what improvements have been made in energy efficiency in the last 10 years.

32. Mr. Maples : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what improvements have been made in energy efficiency in the last 10 years.

73. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what improvements have been made in energy efficiency in the last 10 years.

Mr. Wakeham : The nation has substantially improved its energy efficiency over the last 10 years. Our energy ratio--the amount of primary energy used to produce each £1,000 of gross domestic product--has improved from 1.24 tonnes of coal equivalent in 1979 to 1.01 tonnes of coal equivalent in 1988 ; and average reduction in energy intensity of 2 per cent. per year.

45. Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what progress is being made with the promotion of energy efficiency in Government Departments.

70. Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what progress is being made with the promotion of energy efficiency in Government Departments.

Mr. Peter Morrison : I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave to my hon. Friends for Fylde (Mr. Jack) and for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on 13 November 1989 at column 95. The next meeting will take place on 31 January 1990.

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give for each year since 1978 the collective estimated expenditure on energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector consistent with the figure of £73 million given for 1987-88 in paragraph 3.7 of the National Audit Office's "National Energy Efficiency", breaking the figure for each year down into assistance for (a) owner-occupiers, (b) private sector tenants and (c) council tenants.

Mr. Wakeham : The main components of £73 million for 1987-88 quoted by the National Audit Office consisted of direct expenditure on domestic energy efficiency measures through the homes insulation scheme and the community insulation programme (the latter also supports


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training objectives and so cannot be attributed entirely to energy efficiency measures). Expenditure under these schemes is given below for each financial year from 1981-82. A breakdown of the figures in the form requested is not available.


            |Homes      |Community              

            |insulation |insulation             

            |scheme     |programme              

            |(£ million)|(£ million)            

------------------------------------------------

1981-82     |24.3       |n/a                    

1982-83     |30.0       |n/a                    

1983-84     |25.5       |5.5                    

1984-85     |25.3       |8.6                    

1985-86     |28.0       |19.4                   

1986-87     |26.5       |36.6                   

1987-88     |24.8       |45.2                   

1988-89     |9.9        |n/a                    

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the progress since June 1987 of the building research energy conservation support unit in (a) concentrating on the elderly and disadvantaged and (b) private sector housing research and development activities.

Mr. Peter Morrison : Since June 1987 the building research energy conservation unit, working for the Energy Efficiency Office : 1. Has completed 12 demonstration projects to promote more efficient energy use in sheltered accommodation and the refurbishment of older housing.

2. Is currently preparing a number of good practice guides and case studies for low income housing under the best practice programme. 3. Has developed a strategy under the best practice programme designed to achieve large scale improvements in energy efficiency in private sector housing. The results of the first of these initiatives is Wimpey's new "Superspec" home which my right hon. Friend opened earlier this month and which is built to standards considerably beyond those required to meet the 1990 building regulations for energy efficiency.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the relationship between the provision of information on energy efficiency by the privatised electricity distribution boards and the role of the Energy Efficiency Office.

Mr. Peter Morrison : Officials of the Energy Efficiency Office (EEO) have already had discussions with officials of the Office Of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) whose role is to supervise the obligations of licensees to promote energy efficiency under the terms of the Electricity Act 1989.

I have no doubt that the present constructive co-operation between regional energy efficiency offices and electricity boards will continue. For instance REEOs are members of judging panels of competitions on energy efficiency organised by electricity distribution boards. Electricity boards and the EEO frequently co-operate in the sponsorship of seminars and exhibitions on energy efficiency.

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) whether the new scheme of grants towards basic insulation measures announced on 22 November will extend to (a) cavity wall insulation and (b) double glazing ;


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(2) whether the new system of grants for house insulation announced on 22 November will involve contributions to the cost by the recipients of grants.

Mr. Wakeham : Details of the new scheme of grants will be announced in due course.

Mr. Doran : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what conclusions the Energy Efficiency Office has reached about questions of productivity of neighbourhood energy action projects under employment training ; and if he will place a copy of its conclusions in the Library.

Mr. Wakeham : The most recently available information on productivity was included in the Neighbourhood Energy Action publication "Energy Efficiency and Employment Training--One Year On". I have asked Neighbourhood Energy Action, from whom the report is publicly available, to send a copy to the hon. Member.


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