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29. Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a review of housing policy priorities with special reference to meeting the needs of the homeless and those in damp housing.
38. Mr. Salmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a review of housing policy priorities with specific reference to meeting the needs of the homeless and those in damp housing.
44. Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a review of housing policy priorities with specific reference to meeting the needs of the homeless and those in damp housing.
47. Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a review of housing policy priorities with specific reference to meeting the needs of the homeless and those in damp housing.
Mr. Lang : My right hon. and learned Friend received a private letter from Sir Robert Scholey on 11 December. The letter, inter alia, confirmed that the statement which Sir Robert made on 3 December 1987 concerning the Scottish steel plants still stands.
Mr. Lang : The total number of employees engaged in spirit distilling and compounding in Scotland in 1987 was 15,300, according to the census of employment conducted in September that year. The table gives an indication of the industry's recent export performance.
Exports of Scotch Whisky |Percentage |change |1987 |1988 |1987-88 -------------------------------------------------------------- Volume (mlpa) |240,174 |245,973 |+2.4 Value (£ million) |1,135,514 |1,288,771 |+13.5 Note: mlpa = million litres of pure alcohol. Source: Scotch Whisky Association.
In the year to September 1989 it is estimated that the value of whisky exports was 15 per cent. higher than in the year to September 1988.
Export prospects should be further improved by the tax reforms, presently under way in Japan and North Korea, which will ease the discrimination against Scotch whisky.
43. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people are estimated to be working in the whisky trade in Scotland ; what was the comparable figure 10 years ago ; what are the capacities in which they are employed ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 2831987 census of employment. The table shows the total number of employees in employment in the industry in September 1987 and September 1981, the nearest year to 1979 for which comparable estimates exist.
Spirit distilling and compounding-Employees in employment September ------------------------------ 1981 |21,300 1987 |15,300 Source:1981 Census of Employment. 1987 Census of Employment.
Although no official statistics exist, a recent survey undertaken by the Scotch Whisky Association found that in September 1988 around one quarter of the total work force was engaged in the primary production of Scotch whisky, a further 40 per cent. worked directly in the blending and bottling plants, and the remaining third in administration and other support work.
32. Mr. Andrew Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of those liable to pay domestic rates had not paid their rates by December 1988 ; and what percentage of those eligible to pay the community charge have not now done so.
52. Mr. Andrew MacKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of those liable to pay domestic rates had not paid their rates by December 1988 ; and what percentage of those eligible to pay the community charge have not now done so.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Comparison between the collection of the community charge and domestic rates cannot be precise because of significant differences in the administration of the two systems. The general flow of income from community charges does not appear very different from the flow from domestic rates, when allowance is made for these differences, including the much larger number of people liable for the community charge.
Mr. Douglas : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the cost to local authorities and central Government of the collection of (a) domestic rates and (b) the poll tax for 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989- 90.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The costs to local authorities of the collection of rates in 1987-88 was £12.1 million and in 1988-89, £17.3 million. No separate figures are held centrally on the collection costs for domestic rates only. The cost to local authorities of collecting the community charge in 1989-90 is estimated by authorities at £31.8 million. This figure includes the cost of registration work, but excludes the costs of operating the rebate scheme. For 1987-88 and 1988-89 no separately identified figures are available for any preparatory costs authorities may have incurred in respect of the collection of the community charge. There are no direct costs falling on central Government for the collection of either domestic rates or the community charge, although provision was made for such costs falling on authorities in the RSG settlements for the years concerned.
Mr. Rifkind : None. It is for local authorities to decide the most effective means of collecting arrears. Authorities will be familiar with the debt collection procedures available to them since they are broadly the same as were available under domestic rates.
Mr. Rifkind : I made no speech in Glasgow on 4 December. In my speech to the Edinburgh city business club on 4 December I referred to a number of aspects of the community charge as well as to a number of other matters. There is no copy of that speech. I will, however, send the hon. Member a copy of the press release which reported my main comments on the community charge.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Information about the number of people in arrears is not available for Scotland as a whole. Figures for the number of people who have made some community charge payments vary from region to region but are typically in the range of 85 per cent. to 95 per cent. of chargepayers, with a figure of 98 per cent. in one area.
39. Mr. Neil Hamilton : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many summary warrants were granted in respect of rate arrears for the financial year 1988-89 ; and how may summary warrants have been granted in respect of community charge arrears.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The number of summary warrants granted for rate arrears in calendar year 1988 was 468. A warrant may apply to a number of debtors. The figures for calendar year 1989 for rates and community charge arrears will be available in 1990.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Local authorities made allowances, in setting their community charges for 1989-90, for non-payment by a small percentage of persons liable to the charge. I do not have any reason to suppose that these allowances will be exceeded and, therefore, no reason to suppose that there will be any effect on community charges for 1990-91.
33. Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from general practitioners in Tayside about general practitioner budgets and from hospitals about self-governing status.
Column 285Mr. Michael Forsyth : Three GP practices in Tayside are interested in becoming budget holders and establishing a self- governing hospital.
36. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has made to the doctors and dentists review body with regard to the remuneration of general practitioners in Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.
41. Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the numbers of convictions recorded last year for violent crime in Scotland where alcohol was directly or indirectly involved ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : In the period 1 April 1979 to 30 September 1989, the proportion of houses sold by Scottish Homes and its predecessor the Scottish Special Housing Association was 32.6 per cent. the comparable figure for Scottish local authorities was 14.7 per cent.
Scottish Homes alone has sold 6.7 per cent. of the stock it inherited from the SSHA on 1 April 1989.
69. Mr. Gow : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses and flats owned previously by local authorities in Scotland have been sold to their former tenants ; and what further proposals he has to encourage the spread of home ownership in Scotland.
The position on home ownership is reviewed constantly. A number of detailed changes to the right-to-buy legislation will be brought into force by the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.
45. Mr. Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many miles of new motorway, dual-carriageway and other trunk roads have been completed in Scotland since 1979 ; at what cost ; and if he will give details of other road projects in the pipeline.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : One hundred and two schemes, each costing over £1 million, have been completed since May 1979. These have provided 282 miles of new trunk road, comprising 24 miles of new motorway, 108 miles of dual carriageway and 150 miles of single carriageway. So far as details of future road projects are concerned I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) on 15 May 1989, c. 31-37.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Future spending on trunk primary roads in south-east scotland will depend on the decisions to be taken following the recent consultation on the routes south of Edinburgh study. The position within the trunk road programme of any scheme proposals that result from these decisions will then have to be considered in the light of the resources likely to be available and the competing priorities of projects already in the programme. Priorities for expenditure on non-trunk primary roads are a matter for the relevant local roads authorities in the context of their tansport policies and programmes and available capital allocations.
46. Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many major job announcements have been made in the past 12 months.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Health boards continue to make significant progress. By the end of November, 155 contracts had been awarded and these are expected to release savings of more than £60 million over the periods of the contracts. These savings are available to boards for
Column 287reinvestment in direct patient care. Of the 155 contracts awarded, 119 (over 75 per cent.) have been won by in-house teams. The total savings released could buy over 5,500 renal dialysis machines or pay for over 20,000 hip replacement operations or around 9,500 heart bypass operations.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : An independent company has recently carried out a snapshot survey of cleaning and catering contracts both in-house and private in Scotland. The report of the survey indicates that with respect to domestic services, cleaning standards overall were good. In 14 out of 24 hospitals visited, the standard of cleanliness was rated as very good, nine hospitals were rated as adequate, and only one (a geriatric hospital with problems related to incontinence) was rated poor/not clean. With regard to catering, 29 hospital contracts were assessed, of which 25 were reported as producing food which was good or very good and served at an acceptable temperature. Four were rated either as adequate or poor, with in four cases less than acceptable temperature (not hot) being the main complaint. Where shortcomings have been found, these are being drawn to the attention of the board general manager. In light of this survey I am satisfied that standards are at the very least being maintained and that steps will be taken to put right such shortcomings as were found.
60. Mr. McAvoy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will instruct health boards to make public the details of all contracts with private companies for the provision of services to health board patients.
Mr. Forsyth No such instruction is required : health boards normally issue news releases giving information on important contracts awarded. Additionally, boards have in the past given detailed information in response to requests from hon. Members.
Mr. Lang : My right hon. and learned Friend met the chairman and director-designate of the Confederation of British Industry, Scotland informally on 24 November. Matters of mutual interest were discussed.
Mr. Lang : My right hon. and learned Friend met the general council of the Scottish Trade Union Congress on 10 November to discuss a range of matters affecting the Scottish economy and industry. He drew attention to the sustained improvement in the Scottish economy over the past year as reflected in falling unemployment ; record levels of employment and output ; and continuing strong performance in manufacturing productivity and exports.
Mr. Lang : A number of representations have been received. My noble Friend the Minister of State has had several meetings with the industry recently to discuss the approach to be taken in negotiations on EC fisheries arrangements with third countries, and the level of total allowable catches and quotas for 1990. He also met the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald), along with industry representatives, on 14 December. In addition, fisheries departments are in regular contact with the industry.
Mr. Lang : The Secretary of State has had a number of discussions with representatives of Federal Express, the details of which cannot be disclosed as such discussions are held on a commercial in confidence basis.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend and my noble Friend the Minister of State have regular meetings with the union. My noble Friend last met representatives on 25 October when issues concerning farming in the hills and uplands were discussed.
70. Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has received any representations from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in favour of the privatisation of the water industry.
71. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the number of people who live in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than six months per year ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The information available on the numbers of households placed in bed and breakfast accommodation by local authorities under the homelessness provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 does not enable estimates to be made in the form requested.
The code of guidance issued to local authorities on the exercise of their homelessness functions makes it clear that bed and breakfast accommodation should be used only as a last resort and then only for as short a period as possible.