Previous Section Home Page

Column 219

Nitrates

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the areas in which drinking water is contaminated with nitrates in excess of European Community limits ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Copies of the undertakings accepted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State from the water service companies under section 20 of the Water Act 1989 are available in the Library, including the undertakings in respect of those areas where there is a breach of the standard for nitrate, or where there has been a past breach which is likely to recur.

As soon as my right hon. Friend has accepted undertakings from all the statutory water companies, which he is in the process of doing, copies of these will also be placed in the Library.

Nature Conservancy

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what organisations were consulted prior to his Department's announcing the changes to the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission.

Mr. Trippier : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe)-- Official Report 4 December 1989, column 39. The necessary legislation was put before the House on 20 December, and received a Second Reading on 15 January.

Hazardous Substances (Conference)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department was represented at the conference on the control of substances hazardous to health organised by Thames Events, held on 10 and 11 January.

Mr. Trippier : No.

Rates

Mr. Richard Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, further to table 4, "Changes in Rates Bills by Property Type", England and Wales, deposited paper NS5522, he will provide the changes in rates bills by property type for each economic area in England and Wales, both in percentage terms and money terms.

Mr. Chope : The information for which my hon. Friend asks is given in table 6 of the paper to which he refers.

HAT (Sunderland)

Mr. Trotter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he is making towards the establishment of a housing action trust for Sunderland.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Following consultations with the tenants and after discussions with Sunderland borough council, my right hon. Friend has decided to proceed to a ballot of the tenants on the proposals to set up a housing action trust for the Downhill, Town End Farm, Hylton Castle and part of Red House estates in Sunderland. The ballot, which will be a postal ballot conducted by the Electoral Reform Society, will take place between 12 March and 4 April. The Electoral Reform Society will be writing shortly to the tenants of these estates, setting out the arrangements for the ballot.


Column 220

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Know-how Funds

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government have any plans to alter the timing or application of the know-how fund to eastern European states.

Mr. Waldegrave : The know-how fund for Poland is already in operation. That for Hungary starts in April. The fund will be extended to other east European countries once they are fully committed to reform. The principal aim of the fund will be the same in all cases : to provide advice and training to help with the transition to democracy and a market economy.

Rain Forests

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his assessment of the extent to which the Brazilian Government are providing the resources and manpower needed to protect the rain forests and their inhabitants.

Mr. Maude : The Brazilian Government have made considerable efforts to protect the rain forest and its inhabitants. The hon. Member will be aware of the creation of IBAMA--the environmental umbrella organisation--in 1988, which has levied heavy fines on a number of enterprises convicted of polluting the rainforest. He will also be aware of the decision on 24 January to relocate gold prospectors outside the Yanomami area.

In July 1989, the then Minister for Overseas Development signed a memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian authorities, under which a number of environmental co-operation projects are being agreed. We hope thereby to contribute to a solution of these problems.

South Africa

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), Official Report, 16 January, columns 167-8, how many representations he has received concerning the Upington 14 in South Africa ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : We have received approximately 500 representations about the Upington 14. The 14 have been granted leave to appeal by the South African Appeal Court. While legal processes continue, it would be wrong for the Government to intervene.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made any representations to the South African Government concerning the treatment of their political prisoners ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are concerned at the plight of political prisoners in South Africa. We have called repeatedly on the South African Government to release all political prisoners.


Column 221

Creches

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list by location where creche facilities are provided for working mothers employed in his Department ; and if they have to make any payment for this service.

Mr. Maude : There is no creche facility in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Cambodia

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will be issuing a statement on the outcome of the Paris meeting on Cambodia on 15 and 16 January ; and when the report of the British mission to Cambodia in 1989 will be published.

Mr. Waldegrave : The informal discussions in Paris on 15-16 January were between the Asia directors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. They agreed a set of principles to guide them in working for a resolution of the Cambodia problem, including an enhanced role for the United Nations. This has been made public, and I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House. There are no plans to publish a written report on the visit to Cambodia by two British officials in December. The Overseas Development Administration briefed leading NGOs on 5 January, and will make available information of specific programme/project opportunities.

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whom the Minister of State is meeting during his visit to the refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border ; which camps he is visiting ; whether he is meeting representatives of British non- governmental organisations in private ; and if he will be making a statement on this visit.

Mr. Waldegrave : During his visit to Thailand, my noble Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs visited site 2, near Aranyaprathet, on 20 January. He was briefed by the displaced persons protection unit and the United Nations Border Relief Operation, toured the encampment and handed over a donation of British humanitarian assistance. He visited projects run by Christian Outreach and Concern, and met representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In the evening, he gave a private dinner for representatives of British NGOs and the British staff of other organisations.

Chemical Weapons

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his Department's assessment as to the implications for the chemical weapon convention talks of the United States' policy to continue production of binary chemical weapons after a chemical weapon convention has been signed.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are aware of the press speculation last year about United States policy. However, the United States has made no proposal to amend the provision in the draft chemical weapons convention under negotiation in Geneva that would prohibit the production of chemical weapons immediately upon the convention's entry into force.


Column 222

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Business Innovation Grant

Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will estimate the amount of expenditure on the business innovation grant scheme to be paid out in each of the standard English regions and Wales for each year 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 ;

(2) if he will estimate the amount of expenditure on the business investment grant to be paid out in each of the standard English regions and Wales for each year 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 ;

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The estimated expenditure for the two elements of the regional enterprise grant scheme for 1989-90 are £4.78 million for investment grants and £2.25 million for innovation grants for England as a whole. Information about planned expenditure on regional assistance in 1990-91 and 1991-92 was published in the public expenditure White Paper on 30 January.

Current year figures and estimates for future expenditure in England are not broken down by regions. Questions about the operation of regional enterprise grants in Wales are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Accountancy Firms

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he was consulted by Sir Leon Brittan about the proposal to launch a European Commission inquiry into price fixing, monopoly practices, market shares and fee levels of the quality of audits into the accountancy profession.

Mr. Redwood : No. I understand that the Commission is asking outside consultants to conduct a study into the general implications for competition of the increasing concentration of the major accountancy firms. This is not a formal investigation under the competition rules of the EC treaty.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will be providing evidence for or contributing to the inquiry by the European Community Commission into price fixing and monopoly abuse in the accountancy profession ; and whether he has any proposals for a similar inquiry in Britain.

Mr. Redwood : The United Kingdom authorities will of course give any assistance they can to those conducting the study. Neither I nor the Director General of Fair Trading have proposals for a similar inquiry in Britain.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what new rules he proposes to deal with the concentration of audit business and the attendant inside information about mergers in a few large firms.

Mr. Redwood : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has available to him the merger control provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973 to scrutinise mergers of major economic significance between accountancy firms. Auditors have a professional duty of confidence. If the hon. Member has any evidence of a breach of that confidence he should draw it to the attention of the relevant professional body ; but if he has reason to believe that there might have been an insider dealing offence he should provide my Department with full details.


Column 223

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what powers he has to vet or investigate mergers of accountancy firms to prevent the concentration of power in a few firms in this area ; and how many mergers or takeovers in this field he has referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Mr. Redwood : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has the normal merger control powers available to him under the provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973. In accordance with the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading, he has not so far decided to refer any mergers between accountancy firms to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Cambodia

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on Cambodia and export credit guarantees ; and if he will list all instances in the last 10 years in which export credit guarantees have been granted for trade with Cambodia.

Mr. Redwood : Since June 1975, ECGD cover for exports to Cambodia has been limited to business on maximum terms of 180 days where payment is secured by means of an irrevocable letter of credit confirmed, before shipment, by a bank in the United Kingdom. On this basis, business insured in each of the past 10 years, with the exception of 1983, was less than £1,000. In 1983, exports totalling £200,000 were covered.

No relaxation of ECGD's terms of cover is envisaged in the foreseeable future.

Insider Dealing

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has any plans to develop new proposals for dealing with insider trading ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redwood : The Government will continue to pursue all insider dealing cases where prosecution is justified under the code of conduct for Crown prosecutors. Convictions have been obtained in 10 out of 19 cases brought under the legislation. Inspections are being carried out in a further 16 potential cases.

In the latest two cases the outcome turned on factors which have nothing to do with the law on insider dealing, namely the law on public interest immunity, and procedural matters relating to the conduct of criminal trials.

As I told the House on 8 December (OR column 407) the Government that day published a consultative document on proposals for changes to the insider dealing law, and a copy is in the Library. The proposals reflect the requirements of the EEC insider dealing directive and experience of the present law. The Government will consider carefully any constructive proposals that may emerge from the consultation.

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases of insider dealing have been brought since the introduction of the legislation ; how many cases are outstanding ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redwood : Insider dealing became a criminal offence since July 1980. Since then there have been 19


Column 224

prosecutions for insider dealing offences, involving 26 defendants. Ten cases produced convictions. At present there are three cases where prosecutions have begun but not concluded. The Government will continue to pursue all insider dealing cases where prosecution is justified under the code of conduct for Crown prosecutors.

Barlow Clowes

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether all investors in Barlow Clowes should now have received the offer letter promised in his statement to the House on 19 December ; and by what date his Department requires their response.

Mr. Redwood : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 30 January to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson).

Single Market

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the nature of the help provided by his Department to the organisation of conferences and seminars on the 1992 proposals ; and if he will make a statement on the organisation of 1992 clubs.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 30 January] : Since the launch of its campaign "Europe Open for Business", the Department has provided speakers (both Ministers and officials) at 1,445 single market conferences and seminars. Organisers of these events can obtain, free of charge, copies of our wide range of single market literature for distribution to delegates plus free publicity for the events in the campaign's quarterly newsletter "Single Market News" (distributed to over 200,000 organisations). A range of videos produced by the Department, suitable for showing at single market events, can also be bought or hired. In 1988, the Department itself organised 20 regional breakfast conferences and more recently ran a major conference on "Europe Open for Professions" in London.

The Department has no role in the organisation of 1992 clubs though officials have spoken at events put on by individual clubs. I understand that the 1992 club national co-ordinator is Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott MEP.

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish a list of the various publications and briefing notes which his Department makes available on the 1992 proposals.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 30 January] : A list of all the single market publications and video material provided under my Department's "Europe Open for Business" campaign is included in our single market information pack. A copy of the information pack has been placed in the Library. Further copies can be obtained through our 1992 hotline 01-200 1992.

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the measures so far adopted by the Council of Ministers on 1992 which will assist the development of industry and commerce in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Redwood [holding answer 30 January] : Progress continues to be made on the single market programme. One hundred and sixty-four out of the 279 measures in the Commission's white paper, "Completing the Internal


Column 225

Market", have now reached a common position in the Council of Ministers, or been agreed in principle. This means that almost 60 per cent. of the single market programme is now complete.

For information in greater detail, I have placed in the Library of the House a summary table setting out for the measures in the Commission's white paper those which have been adopted by the Council of Ministers, those which have been proposed by the Commission and those which are projected. Clearly not all these measures are of equal importance, but taken as a whole programme, the Government believe they represent good progress, and will bring benefits to industry and commerce in the United Kingdom, especially where they succeed in opening continental markets to British businesses.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Postgraduate Degrees

Dr. Hampson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many postgraduate degrees, and in what subjects, were awarded in the last year for which figures are available ; and what were the comparable numbers in 1979.

Mr. Jackson : Information is given in the table. A new classification was introduced in 1985-86 for the recording of university students' subject of study. For broad comparison purposes additional information has been given for the last year of the previous subject classification (1984) and the first year of the new classification (1985).


Universities Great Britain-Higher Degrees<1> awarded                        

                                                     Calendar year          

                                                    |1979   |1984           

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

Education                                           |1,999  |2,673          

Medicine, dentistry and health                      |1,206  |1,521          

Engineering and technology                          |3,090  |3,226          

Agriculture, forestry and veterinary science        |501    |643            

Science                                             |4,374  |4,654          

Social, administrative and business studies         |4,145  |5,327          

Architecture and other professional and                                     

  vocational subjects                               |588    |648            

Language, literature and area studies               |1,292  |1,358          

Arts other than languages                           |885    |1,018          

                                                    |---    |---            

All subjects                                        |18,080 |21,068         

-------                                                                     

                                                                            

                                                     Calendar year          

                                                    |1985   |1988           

-------                                             |-------|-------        

Medicine and dentistry                              |803    |1,264          

Studies allied to medicine                          |729    |800            

Biological sciences                                 |1,554  |1,784          

Veterinary science, agriculture and related studies |602    |764            

Physical sciences                                   |2,239  |2,557          

Mathematical sciences                               |1,197  |1,495          

Engineering and technology                          |3,526  |3,760          

Architecture and related studies                    |480    |610            

Social sciences                                     |3,477  |3,992          

Business and financial studies                      |2,033  |2,841          

Librarianship and information science               |297    |364            

Languages and related studies                       |1,446  |1,635          

Humanities                                          |1,061  |1,238          

Creative arts                                       |195    |235            

Education                                           |2,860  |2,986          

Multi-disciplinary studies                          |513    |678            

                                                    |---    |---            

All subjects                                        |23,012 |27,003         

Note: Higher degrees comprise MSC's, PHD's Higher doctorates (DSc, DLitt    

etc.)                                                                       

Source: Universities statistical record volume 1 university statistics:     

students and staff.                                                         

Examination Boards

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) for how long the examination board is required to keep papers in an examination the result of which is in dispute ; (2) how many schools queried the Midland examining group's assessment of the marks to be awarded for the English examination of GCSE (a) in 1988 and (b) in 1989 ;

(3) whether an examination board is under any obligation to notify a school when its pupils' exam papers are to be destroyed.

Mrs. Rumbold : The groups are indepedent bodies, wholly responsible for the administration of their own examinations. Queries concerning grading decisions are entirely a matter for the group and the school concerned, and the Department does not collect information about the number of queries or appeals at group level.

I understand that, where results are in dispute, examination scripts are kept for as long as a formal appeal is under consideration. Once the appeals procedures have been exhausted, or it has become apparent that a school intends to take no further formal action, the examining group normally destroys the scripts, but it is under no obligation to notify a school that it has done so.

Kuru Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research h as been conducted to establish the cause or causes of (a) Kuru and (b) Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ; what results have so far been forthcoming ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson : Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Kuru belong to a family of diseases thought to be caused by "slow viruses" which include scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle. As a result of recommendation 8.5.2 (viii) of the Tyrell report (report of the working party on bovine spongiform encephalopathy), the Department of Health has commissioned a research project to review the incidence, prevalence and trends of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in order to help determine whether there is a link with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

From 1979 until 1987, the Medical Research Council funded an epidemiological study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. No consistent risk factors were identified. The neuropathogenesis unit in Edinburgh is undertaking a programme of research on scrapie which is also relevant ; the unit is jointly funded by the Agricultural and Food Research Council and Medical Research Council.

Research on Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Kuru may be being pursued by university departments and medical schools with support from the University Funding Council block grants and by health authorities ; but information on this is not collected centrally.


Column 227

TRANSPORT

Motor Cycles

Mr. Waller : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the number of casualties among pillion passengers carried on motor cycles driven by learner riders, indicating the number who were holders of full motor cycle driving licences and the number carried illegally without a full licence in each of the last five years in repect of which information is available.

Mr. Atkins : Information is not available on the type of driving licence held by drivers of vehicles, or their passengers, involved in road injury accidents. Therefore, it is not possible to estimate the number of pillion passengers carried on motor cycles being driven by learner drivers, nor to tell whether these passengers were being carried illegally.

Creches

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list by location where creche facilities are provided for working mothers employed in his Department ; and if they have to make any payment for this service.

Mr. Atkins : No creche facilities are provided by my Department at present, although possibilities are being investigated.

Severn Bridge Signal Box

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will take steps to save the Severn bridge signal box at Shrewsbury, Shropshire for the nation as a national heritage ; whether he has discussed the matter with the National Railway museum at York ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : These are matters for British Rail. I understand from BR that, under current plans, the signal box is likely to continue to be required for railway operational purposes until late 1991. BR and other interested parties will therefore have ample time to consider these issues, including possible arrangements for preservation.

Heathrow Airport

Mr. Wilshire : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to resist all proposals from airlines to increase night flights or to reduce the period covered by night flight restrictions at Heathrow airport.

Mr. McLoughlin : The present night restrictions regime at Heathrow was introduced in 1988 and runs until 1992-3. We have no plans to alter it.

Mr. Wilshire : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to resist all proposals to end the daily runway alternation at Heathrow airport.

Mr. McLoughlin : Government policy on aircraft noise is as set out in the White Paper "Airport Policy", published in June 1985 (Cmnd. 9542). Runway alternation at Heathrow is cited as an example of a noise abatement measure that the Government will continue to encourage (para 8.8).


Column 228

Airline Punctuality

Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library on a regular basis a copy of the Civil Aviation Authority's report on airline punctuality records ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : These reports are published monthly by the Civil Aviation Authority, on the basis of information provided by certain airports and by the relevant scheduling committees (comprising representatives of airlines using the airports). I have told the authority of my hon. Friend's request.

Transport (London)

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what are his Department's estimates for the number of cars entering London on a regular basis for each of the next five years ;

(2) what is his Department's estimate for the number of commuters using all forms of transport with a London destination for each of the next five years.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 26 January 1990] : Figures are not available in the form requested. Estimates for commuters entering central London show that between 1983 and 1988, commuting by each of the modes changed as follows :


            |Per cent.          

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

Cars        |-11                

BR Rail     |+22                

Underground |+27                

Bus         |-18                

Large-scale investment is taking place to increase the capacity of the rail systems to accommodate increasing demand. It is not the Government's policy to encourage commuting by car into central London. The report of the central London rail study, published in January 1989, forecast that, between 1987 and 2001, BR trips would increase by some 20 per cent. and Underground trips by about 13 per cent.

HEALTH

Hospital and Community Health Services

Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will show in the Official Report the increase in purchasing power made available for hospital and community health services, excluding the cost improvement programme and income generation, for the years 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989, estimated, using an index which would show 1980 as 100.

Mr. Freeman : The information requested is given in the table :



Year                       

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

1980-81  |100.0            

1986-87  |104.7            

1987-88  |109.9            

1988-89  |113.2            

1989-90  |<1>114.1         

<1>Estimate.               

Notes:                     

1. Based on health         

authorities' total revenue 

cash limits, inclusive of  

all in-year adjustments,   

carry forward from         

previous financial year,   

and in year transfers      

between revenue and        

capital.                   

2. Increase in purchasing  

power measured by GDP      

deflator.                  

Homes for the Elderly

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will make it his policy to ensure that elderly people resident in homes for the elderly are provided with equivalent support from public funds irrespective of whether the homes are publicly or privately run.

Mr. Freeman : The White Paper "Caring for People" explained that we intend to bring the local authority rules for working out how much people in homes can afford to contribute towards their care and support into line with those used for income support purposes. Under our community care proposals local authorities will have to contribute more to the support of people in homes under their own management than to that of people in private homes but the personal financial position of residents will be the same.

Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has carried out into a connection between Creutzfeld-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : As a result of recommendation 8.5.2 (viii), of the Tyrrell report (report of the working party on bovine spongiform encephalopathy) the Department of Health has commissioned a research project to review the incidence, prevalence and trends of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in order to help determine whether there is a link with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Area Health Authorities

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will instruct area health authorities to pay due heed to local authorities and public opinion when they decide to construct buildings such as incinerators which can have an adverse effect on the environment.


Next Section

  Home Page