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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (which prohibits local authorities from intentionally promoting homosexuality) does not create any criminal offence : there can therefore be no prosecutions under it.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to inform people of their rights to protect their confidentiality during the period remaining for implementation of the community charge in England and Wales.
Mr. David Hunt : I am not aware that the implementation of the community charge in the manner advised jointly by the Department and the local authority associations poses any threat to confidentiality.
Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the quantity of waste paper removed from the House in an average week ; and what proportion of this consists of unsolicited mail or other unused matter.
Mr. Chope : The quantity of paper removed from the Palace averages 2 tonnes per day, with a maximum of 4 tonnes per day. It is not possible to estimate the proportion of this which is unsolicited mail, or other unused matter. The waste paper is sent for recycling.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will arrange for Property Services Agency employees' severance terms to be no less favourable than those granted to workers in ordnance factories and dockyards ;
(2) if he will make a statement on his discussions with the United States forces on the future of the Property Services Agency ; (3) when he hopes to announce the results of the study of the formalities of the relationship between the United States Air Force and the Property Services Agency when the Property Services Agency has been privatised.
Mr. Chope [holding answer 13 December 1989] : There have been several discussions with representatives of United States forces about their future relationship with PSA since my right hon. Friend's statement of 25 May 1988. Further discussions of the implications of privatisation are now in progress as part of the study I referred to in the debate on the Property Services Agency and Crown Suppliers Bill on 6 December. This study is being led by the Ministry of Defence with full PSA involvement. My right hon. Friend will make an announcement about the continuing role of a privatised PSA in providing services to United States forces in the United Kingdom as soon as conclusions have been reached.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has in relation to regulation 7 of the principal Civil Service pensions scheme concerning Property Services Agency employees.
Mr. Chope [holding answer 13 December 1989] : On pensions, we shall make it clear to purchasers that we expect them to offer terms which are broadly comparable with those of the principal Civil Service pension scheme. The terms that they offer will be subject to analysis by the Government Actuary. If they are assessed as not being as
Column 435good as the Civil Service scheme, some means will be found to ensure that the staff are not disadvantaged in respect of the overall terms and conditions of service.
On redundancy, the purchaser will be required to provide compensation terms which, as far as possible, are identical to those the staff have at present.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish for each water authority in England the estimated percentage held by (a) individual shareholders and (b) financial institutions as on the first day of trading in the new companies.
Mr. Howard [holding answer 19 December 1989] : The allocations to applicants in each of the nine English water companies were announced on 11 December. The offer of shares to the general public in each company was oversubscribed to an extent that the clawback arrangements set out in the prospectus were triggered. As a result, 39.25 per cent. of the shares in each company were allocated to institutions and 46.875 per cent. of the shares in each company were allocated to applicants in the retail public offer.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will call in the planning application submitted to the corporation of the City of London for the construction of a heliport adjacent to the Cannon Street railway bridge ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) if there will be a public inquiry on the planning application for the proposed City of London heliport ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : This application has been made only recently and my right hon. Friend is considering its implications. The corporation of the City of London, as local planning authority, is responsible for deciding planning applications within its area. In determining applications, the corporation is required to take into account all material planning considerations.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the outcome of the full consultation and discussion on MINIS 10 within Government promised by the then Minister of State in Standing Committee on 4 May.
Mr. David Hunt : I understand that the British Rail Property Board is today discussing its disposal plans for the land. It would be premature for the Secretary of State to become statutorily involved at this juncture.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The Environmental Protection Bill contains provisions to restrict or prohibit the import or export of any type of waste into or out of the United Kingdom, in order to prevent risk of harm to the environment or human health, or to conserve disposal resources.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment under what statutory enactment an individual is obliged to apply to the local planning authority for permission to erect a satellite dish on a private dwelling house.
Mr. Howard : Class H of part 1 of schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988 grants permission to install a single satellite antenna on or within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse provided the antenna's maximum diameter does not exceed 90 cm and it does not project above the highest part of the house's roof. Otherwise, specific planning permission is necessary under section 23(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further action has been taken in the cast of Coventry city council and Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Quin and Mrs. Havels ne e Quin since the answer to the hon. Member for Pembroke of 22 February at columns 696-97.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment who owns Nos. 1 and 2 Bridge street, London, SW1 ; whether the building is listed ; and whether there are any proposals to demolish or improve the building.
Mr. Chope : Nos. 1 and 2 Bridge street, which are Crown property, are listed grade II. They form part of the Bridge street site which is being redeveloped to provide additional parliamentary accommodation. Proposals for the second phase, which includes Nos. 1 and 2 Bridge street, were sent to the Services Committee last month.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Minister of State, the hon. Member for Wirral West, (Mr. Hunt) will be responding to the letter from the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby of 15 September in respect of the Norris Green housing estate in Liverpool.
Column 437Mr. Howard : I have written to the hon. Member.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his Department's estimates of the number of families who will present themselves as homeless in (a) London, (b) England in each of the years from 1990 to 2000 inclusive.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment approximately how many complaints Her Majesty's Government have received from private landlords about the poor maintenance and rundown appearance of Crown-occupied premises ; and what effect he estimates such complaints have had on the willingness of lessors to have the Property Services Agency as a tenant.
Mr. Chope : No information is held centrally about complaints by landlords of poor maintenance. The National Audit Office referred in its report "The Management of the Civil Estate" to the only two cases which came to light following a specific enquiry to PSA regions in 1986 for evidence of cases where landlords had refused to grant leases.
There is no evidence that those two cases have affected the general willingness of lessors to have PSA as a tenant.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the results of his evaluation of the Property Services Agency's selection of control properties experiment, terminated in the autumn of 1988.
responsibilities for property management from April 1990.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the outcome of his review of free assets, in relation to the value of accommodation, as described in the National Audit Office report on the Property Services Agency, section 4:28.
Mr. Chope : For 1990-91 it has been decided that opportunity cost rents will be charged on Departmental Estate properties in the same way as on common user estate properties. Property Holdings will act as agents for the Treasury in assessing rents and collecting them.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the result of his consideration of improvements in the Property Services Agency estate surveyors information system and in the longer-term estate support system.
Column 438considered in the context of the reorganisation of PSA from 1 April 1990 as announced in the statement by my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State on 25 May 1988. By that date PSA services will require a more flexible and responsive resource cost management system. A weekly diary capture system is now being developed. This will be in place by 1 April 1990 and the ESIS system will then be abandoned.
Mr. Chope : The occupying Department, Inland Revenue, vacated the premises since they were considered to be unsuitable either for adaptation under the computerised office programme or as a training centre. PSA (Scotland) is currently negotiating abandonment of the lease which is scheduled to expire on 24 March 2029. Annual costs vary from year to year but including rental approximate at £200,000.
Mr. Baldry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what provision has been made in the standard spending assessment of local authorities for next year in respect of pay awards for the police force and the fire brigade.
Mr. Chope : The control totals for each of the standard spending assessment service blocks take account of all the costs of providing a standard level of service. Provisional figures are set out in annex B to the draft distribution report which my right hon. Friend placed in the Library on 6 November.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will obtain information from the Yorkshire water authority as to why the local people in the Normanton meter trial area were not given the opportunity to consider the draft code of practice for water leakage before it was submitted to the director general as promised in the letter of 29 August from his Department to the hon. Member for Normanton ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : The draft code will apply to all Yorkshire Water's domestic customers who are metered, not just those customers in the trial area. We did, however, ask Yorkshire Water to give the local liaison committee on the south Normanton trial an opportunity to comment on the draft code before it was submitted for approval to the director general. I understand that Yorkshire Water subsequently passed the committee's comments, including those from the hon. Member, to the director general with the draft code.
Column 439Mr. Howard : A copy of the first interim report on the trials, which was published last February, was placed in the Library. A second interim report is expected to be published in the spring.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated cost to public funds for the compulsory water meter trials in the Normanton constituency ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : The Government have agreed to contribute up to half the cost of the south Normanton trial. The budget for the trial has yet to be finalised, but we expect the Government's contribution to be in the region of £240,000.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what mechanism is to be applied to monitor the total income, including the contribution from his Department to the compulsory water meter trials in the Normanton constituency, by the Yorkshire water authority during the trial period ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : The trial tariff has been designed to recover the same amount of income from the trail area as would have been recovered on a rateable value basis. We shall be regularly monitoring the level of income received from customers when charging starts in April 1991. The tariff will be amended if the income recovered from customers is greater than anticipated.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what value will be obtained from the investment of public money on the compulsory water meter trials in the Normanton constituency ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : The south Normanton trial is part of a programme of 12 trials in different areas designed to examine all aspects of metering, including the views of customers. The lessons learnt during the trials will help ensure that those water companies that decide to adopt metering as an alternative means of charging once the use of rateable values is no longer permitted, will do so cost effectively and with the least inconvenience to customers.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the number of water meters being installed in the Isle of Wight trial scheme which, when examined by the trading standards officer for verification, have fallen outside the tolerance area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : I understand that one meter has been tested by the local trading standards officer on the Isle of Wight at the request of a customer. The meter was found to be just outside the error limits prescribed in the Measuring Equipment (Cold-water Meters) Regulations 1988 and was subsequently replaced.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give a breakdown of (a) urban development grant, (b) urban renewal grant and (c) city grants approvals to the 57 urban programme areas to the end of November, authority by authority, category by category ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for leasing surplus space in the Crown buildings, Cathays park, Cardiff, subsequent to the departure of the insurance services group of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.
Mr. Chope : Any surplus space in the Crown building, Cathays park, subsequent to the departure of the insurance services group of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, will be reallocated to meet the requirements of another Government Department or Departments.
Mr. Howard : The housing revenue account subsidy determinations for 1990-91 have been made today. Every local housing authority in England has been sent a copy of the determinations together with provisional figures on which its subsidy entitlement will be based. The figures for each individual authority are subject to change in the light of new information supplied by the authority itself. Copies of the determinations and of the provisional figures for all authorities will be placed in the Library and the Vote Office. The new housing revenue account subsidy was introduced by the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. It replaces the existing main housing subsidy, housing benefit subsidy for rent rebates and the element in rate support grant related to authorities' own housing costs. The total Exchequer subsidy for 1990-91 is estimated to be some £3 billion, a similar sum to the combined figure for the different subsidies this year.
Each authority's subsidy will be calculated in accordance with the formula which is prescribed in the determinations. For 1990-91, the formula assumes that there will be a national increase of 10 per cent. in gross rent income. That produces an average guideline increase of £2.08 a week compared with £1.95 last year. However, unlike previous years, the determinations this year provide for different guideline rent increases in different authorities. The rent guidelines are set by reference to the
Column 441value of each authority's housing stock, but are subject to a minimum and a maximum guideline increase. We estimate that the maximum guideline increase of £4.50 will apply to 66 authorities, and that 156 authorities will benefit from the minimum guideline increase of 95p which is less than would be required nationally to keep pace with inflation. Over half of all council tenants are on housing benefit and will not have to pay for any increase in rent because this will be fully rebated.
Overall, the effect is that guideline rent increases are lower in parts of the country where the value of housing is lower, and higher where it is relatively high. Within any area, guideline increases are also lower for authorities with high rents at present than they are for authorities where rents are lower. In this way authorities will be encouraged to move towards a more sensible pattern of rents across the country which reflects the value of the housing being provided. For 1990-91, the subsidy formula provides for an 8 per cent. increase in the provision for management and maintenance expenditure which allows for at least 3 per cent. growth. The allowance will in most cases be related to authorities' past actual expenditure. There are two additional safeguards for authorities whose past expenditure has been low. First, if their past spending was lower than their allowance for management and maintenance spending under the existing housing subsidy system, then we will base their allowance for 1990-91 on the previous allowance. Secondly, we have set a minimum allowance per dwelling which will benefit the 10 per cent. of authorities whose allowances would otherwise (after adjustment for regional cost variations) have been the lowest in the country. To provide for the cost of the minimum allowance we have transferred £30 million from the local authority housing capital expenditure programme for 1990-91. In future years we intend that the provision for management and maintenance should be progressively directed towards those authorities with the greatest needs.
The subsidy formula also takes into account the full cost of loan charges and of rent rebates, subject only to safeguards to prevent double subsidy and to provide an incentive for efficient operation of the rent rebate scheme. The existing system of admissible cost limits for capital works, under which subsidy is paid only on loan charges where the average cost of schemes falls within unit cost limits prescribed by the Government, will be dropped. Rents on leasehold property will also be taken into account in subsidy, but in this case the admissible cost limits will continue to apply for the time being.
The draft determinations were the subject of consultation with local authorities, their associations, and other professional bodies. A large number of representations have been received, in response to which we have clarified and simplified the determinations wherever possible. We intend to publish a new edition of the "Housing Subsidy Manual", with practical guidance on the operation of the new subsidy system, early in the new year.
The combined effect of these proposals is to direct the £33 billion of taxpayers' money which will be paid out in HRA subsidy towards the authorities that most need it.
Mr. Howard : Section 60 of the Water Act 1989 empowers my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales to appoint technical assessors to act on their behalf in relation to the new provisions on drinking water quality and supply. This is the statutory basis for the new drinking water inspectorate which will begin work on 2 January 1990. Their principal task will be to ensure that water undertakers in England and Wales are fulfilling all their statutory requirements for the supply of wholesome drinking water. They will check for failures to comply with the standards set by the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989 which come fully into force on 1 January 1990. If a failure occurs the inspectorate will ensure that appropriate action is taken.
Mr. M. G. Healey has been appointed chief inspector. Mr. Healey is head of the drinking water division of the Department of the Environment and is an engineer by training.
Mr. Howard : Each housing authority is today being informed of its housing investment programme (HIP) allocation for 1990-91. Copies of the letters to authorities and of the schedule of HIP allocations will be placed in the Library and the Vote Office.
The local authority associations have been consulted about the distribution of HIP allocations, including the construction of the generalised needs index (GNI), which has been comprehensively reviewed. My right hon. Friend has also consulted the local authority associations, local authorities and others about the determination of housing revenue account subsidy for 1990- 91 and has decided that £30 million should be transferred from the total available for housing credit approvals in 1990-91 to increase the resources available for HRA subsidy.
Local authority credit approvals and specified capital grants will therefore total £1,784 million in 1990-91, not including £112 million for the special homelessness initiative. The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 allows my right hon. Friend to take account of local authorities' capital receipts when making allocations, and the housing element of the receipts taken into account in this way is £270 million. Housing investment programme (HIP) allocations for 1990-91 will therefore total £2,054 million.
HIP allocations in 1990-91 totalled £1,110 million, and the large increase in the total for allocations in 1990-91 has been made possible by the provisions of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. As a result, about two thirds of the total capital resources that local authorities are expected to spend on housing next year can be targeted to reflect differences in local needs, compared with about one third in recent years.
After considering the views of the local authority associations, my right hon. Friend has concluded that a
Column 443revised GNI should be introduced for 1990- 91, and that the distribution of resources should be made on the following basis : (
(i) £164.5 million to be allocated separately as supplementary credit approvals (SCAs), as follows :
(a) £110 million for the estate action programme, for new and some continuation schemes. (A further £80 million for the remaining estate action continuation schemes is being allocated to authorities on the basis of agreed levels of commitment as part of their main HIP allocations).
(b) £54.5 million held back for later distribution, of which £10 million is expected to be to cover renewal areas declared during the year, and the remainder primarily to provide against demand under the new renovation grant system for mandatory grants in excess of authorities' available resources.
(ii) My right hon. Friend's view is that the existing system of weighting the GNI scores of the 57 "Action for Cities" target areas is not only obscure, but also ineffective in ensuring that additional resources reach those inner city authorities most in need of them. He has therefore decided that, for 1990-91, £100 million of the total for HIP allocations should be allocated to the 57 "Action for Cities" target areas as distinct inner city special allocations. These resources have been distributed to the DOE regions in proportion to the GNI scores of the 57 authorities. Each region's total for inner city special allocations has been allocated to the 57 authorities following recommendations by the Department's regional housing controllers.
(iii) The remaining £1,709 million of the main HIP allocations, made up of the £1,296 million of housing annual capital guidelines (ACGs) and £413 million of resources for specified capital grants, has been distributed in two stages. First, the distribution to DOE regions has been made in proportion to the sum of the GNI scores of the local authorities in each region. Second, each region's total has been allocated to individual local authorities one half in proportion to each authority's GNI score, and one half following recommendations by the Department's regional housing controllers to reflect local needs.
Mr. David Hunt [holding answer 19 December 1989] : I am arranging for copies of the information requested to be placed in the Library of the House.