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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 1 February 1990

ENVIRONMENT

Contracts

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby on 14 December 1989, Official Report, column 751, if he will list separately the contracts that have been extended rather than re-let by (a) the Property Services Agency, (b) the Crown Suppliers and (c) the Department of the Environment.

Mr. Chope : Thirty of the 47 contracts reported in column 751 of the Official Report for 14 December 1989 as exempt from advertising were extended, all by the Crown Suppliers. The contracts extended were as follows :

Furniture (office, kitchen and storage)--12 extensions at £5,375, 964

Fitted bedroom furniture (Benbow range)--2 extensions at £3,002,000 Office and display equipment--5 extensions at £2,651,923 Cleaning materials and equipment--6 extensions at £1,641,240 Clothing uniforms- -3 extensions at £583,000

Electrical equipment--1 extension at £850,000

Paint--1 extension at £197,000.

Lullingstone Roman Villa

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why Lullingstone Roman villa is closed.

Mr. Trippier : Lullingstone Roman villa was reopened to the public on 10 January 1990. It had been closed since March 1988 to enable essential health and safety work to be carried out, including the removal of asbestos cladding from the cover building. English Heritage is currently developing proposals for improvements in the presentation of the villa to the public.

Hospital Incinerators

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take into account the anxieties of people living near to hospital incinerators when he undertakes consultations on standards of incineration.

Mr. Trippier : The local authority unit of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is currently drawing up guidance on standards for clinical waste incinerators which we propose to schedule for air pollution control under the Environmental Protection Bill. A wide range of bodies have been consulted, including the National Society for Clean Air, the Institution of Environmental Health Officers, and individual local authorities. The Bill will give the public an opportunity to comment on applications for authorisation of individual incinerators and will substantially improve public access to information on scheduled plant.


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Pollution Control

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the broad estimates of the amounts spent on pollution control and environmental improvement as a proportion of gross domestic product by the United Kingdom and other industrial countries.

Mr. Trippier : International comparisons of expenditure on environmental protection have been made by the OECD, which will shortly be publishing a report of its findings. The estimation of such expenditure involves many problems of definition, measurement and collection of data. Figures for the United Kingdom indicate that between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. of GNP is dedicated to environmental protection. Other OECD countries appear to spend a similar proportion, and there are no reliable indications that this has varied greatly over the past two decades.

Wasteman 90 Conference

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department will be represented at the conference Wasteman 90 to be held in Birmingham between 20 and 22 February.

Mr. Trippier : We are aware of this conference, but there are no current plans for the Department to be represented. I have, however, provided a statement for the organisers to incorporate in the conference literature.

Blue Circle Industries

Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had in the last year with Blue Circle Industries plc over environmental protection matters.

Mr. Trippier : None.

Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list any planning appeals submitted by Blue Circle Industries plc or its subsidiaries which his Department is currently considering.

Mr. Moynihan : An appeal by Blue Circle Industries plc against an enforcement notice issued on 19 July 1989 by the Nottinghamshire county council is currently before the Secretary of State. Subsidiary companies are not identified as such in the Department's records.

Community Care

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to review the formulae for calculating standard spending assessments for personal social services to take account of the proposed new responsibilities for community care services from April 1991 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Hunt : Changes to the standard spending assessment formula for personal social services for the elderly will be needed to take account of new responsibilities for community care. We will be discussing proposals for the change with the local authority associations in due course.


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Social Services

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, showing each figure in total and expressed as an amount per adult or relevant population (a) the standard spending assessments for 1990 -91 for (i) personal social services, (ii) social services for children, (iii) social services for the elderly and (iv) other social services, (b) the actual spending for 1989-90 on (i) personal social services, (ii) social services for children, (iii) social services for the elderly and (iv) other social services and (c) the grant-related expenditure for 1989- 90 on (i) personal social services, (ii) social services for children, (iii) social services for the elderly and (iv) other social services, for each social services authority in England ; and if he will give in each case the information aggregated in respect of (1) shires, (2) metropolitan districts and (3) inner and outer London boroughs.

Mr. David Hunt : I have today placed two tables in the Library. One shows the 1990-91 personal social services standard spending assessments for each social services authority in England and for each class of authority ; the other shows comparable information on the 1989-90 personal social service, grant-related expenditure assessments. Comparable information on personal social services spending for 1989-90 is not yet available.

Nature Conservancy Council

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many current members of the Nature Conservancy Council were appointed primarily on account of their commitment to or interest in (a) agriculture, (b) forestry, (c) country sports and (d) nature conservation.

Mr. Trippier : Members of the Nature Conservancy Council are appointed for the personal contribution they can make to the council's work. They are not appointed to represent a particular interest.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many members of the council of the Nature Conservancy Council there were at the date of the publication of the Nature Conservancy Council's annual report covering each of the years : 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89 ; and why he decided to increase by five the number of members of the council of the Nature Conservancy Council on 1 April 1989.

Mr. Trippier : The information is as follows :


Number of members of the Nature Conservancy Council  

on the date                                          

of publication and year covered in annual report     

Year and Date            |Number                     

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

1981-82 29 April 1983    |14                         

1982-83 1 December 1983  |14                         

1983-84 1 October 1984   |14                         

1984-85 20 November 1985 |12                         

1985-86 20 October 1986  |15                         

1986-87 26 October 1987  |14                         

1987-88 14 November 1988 |15                         

1988-89 14 November 1989 |18                         

In making appointments to the council, account is taken of the range of expertise of its current members and the personal contributions which others can offer.


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Dogs

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the measures the Government have introduced over the last five years, including their geographical application, concerning the control of dog nuisance; and if he will set out the Government's future proposals and the time scale for their implementation.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : As to measures introduced over the last five years, these are as follows :

(i) In 1987 revised model byelaws for dog control and the control of dog fouling in England and Wales were issued by the Home Office, including a new model byelaw requiring dog owners to clear up after their dogs in certain areas ('poop-scoop byelaws').

(ii) Section 39 of the Local Government Act 1988 gave duly authorised officers of local authorities in England and Wales powers to seize, detain and dispose ofstray dogs

(iii) The Dangerous Dogs Act 1989 includes provisions which strengthen the existing legislation relating to the control of dangerous dogs in England, Scotland and Wales. As to future proposals, the Environmental Protection Bill includes a new duty on local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to keep public land clear of litter and refuse--the term "refuse" for this part of the Bill can, by order of the Secretary of State, include canine faeces. In

Copies of both these consultation papers have been placed in the House of Commons Library. We are considering how to take forward the proposals contained in them.

Municipal Water Treatment

Sir Russell Johnston : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will make it his policy not to block the European Community directive No. 10139/89 when it is discussed by the Council of Ministers ;

(2) whether he will make it his policy to support European Community directive No. 10139/89 on municipal water treatment ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : Details of the draft directive were set out in the explanatory memorandum (10139/89) which was placed in the Vote Office on 27 December. The Government support the objective of the proposal, which is to prevent the environment from being adversely affected by municipal waste water discharges, and expect to play a constructive part in the discussion of the proposal by the Council of Ministers.

Waste (Duty of Care)

Mr. Robert B. Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has for a code of practice under clause 26 of the Environmental Protection Bill on the duty of care as respects waste.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My Department and the Welsh Office have today published a draft code of practice for public consultation under clause 26 of the Environmental Protection Bill. Clause 26 puts a new legal duty of care on


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anyone who has waste, from producers through carriers to disposers. The code gives advice and examples on the practical measures that those under the new duty should take.

Examples of what is recommended in the code include :

Waste left out for collection or being transported should not be allowed to blow around or fall off, it should be put in containers or covered up securely ;

All firms which produce waste should know what it is composed of, or should commission an analysis ;

Firms should check up on the bona fides of anyone they give their waste to ; they should see and check their certificate of registration as a carrier or their waste management licence ; If firms see or suspect that someone is fly-tipping their waste, they should stop handing any waste to that person and warn the local authority ;

If anyone knows that their waste requires special treatment, for example, clinical waste from hospitals--the National Health Service will not be exempt--then they must take action to ensure that it receives that treatment.

The code of practice will be admissible as evidence in court in prosecutions for breach of the duty of care. Anyone convicted of breaching the duty of care will face the possibility of an unlimited fine.

Private householders will not be affected by the new duty as far as their own household waste is concerned.

The Bill's new duty of care and this accompanying code of practice are the most radical step ever taken to ensure that waste is legally dealt with.

Housing Corporation

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any announcement to make about the chairmanship of the Housing Corporation.

Mr. Chris Patten : I am pleased to inform the House that I have appointed Sir Christopher Benson to succeed Sir Hugh Cubitt as chairman of the Housing Corporation with effect from 1 May 1990. The appointment will be for three years. In the meantime, Sir Christopher will become a member of the board with effect from today. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Sir Hugh Cubitt for the outstanding contribution he has made to the work of the corporation and the housing association movement over the past 10 years.

Private Homes (Casual Use)

Mr. Neale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will provide for the casual use of private homes for bed and breakfast purposes to be exempt from the new business rate.

Mr. David Hunt : We intend to provide that bed and breakfast accommodation offered in someone's own home which is available for fewer than 100 days in a year will not be subject to the new business rate. This fulfils the commitment given by my noble Friend the then Minister of State during the passage of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 through Parliament that limited use of domestic property to provide bed and breakfast accommodation should not lead to the property being assessed for non-domestic rating. An order will be laid before Parliament shortly.


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Local Government Finance

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the effect of his decision to bring forward payments of revenue support grant on the average community charge in 1990-91.

Mr. David Hunt [holding answer 16 January 1990] : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 26 January, at column 923. The total cash flow advantage to local authorities is about £180 million compared with the profiles originally proposed for 1990-91, which would have enabled authorities to achieve a profile of income through the year from grant, business rates and community charges equal to expenditure.

Water Meters

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total cost so far for the water meter trials approved by his Department ; and if he will give the cost of each trial area.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : It is estimated that the total cost of the metering trials will be about £20 million. The latest estimated cost of each trial is as follows :


                                              |£                    

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

Isle of Wight (Southern Water)                |16,134,000           

Chandlers Ford (Southern Water)               |125,000              

Chorleywood (Rickmansworth Water Company)     |220,000              

Bristol-Hotwells (Bristol Waterworks Company) |332,000              

Haling Park (Thames Water)                    |756,000              

Bromsgrove (East Worcestershire Waterworks                          

  Company)                                    |383,000              

Brookmans Park (Lee Valley Water Company)     |695,000              

Turlin Moor (Wessex Water)                    |197,000              

Broadstone (Wessex Water)                     |300,000              

Camberley (Mid Southern Water Company)        |346,000              

Hutton Rudby (Northumbrian Water)             |251,000              

South Normanton (Yorkshire Water)             |480,000              

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many of the 12 meter trials for domestic water charges have had the meters installed and are now being charged for water and sewage treatment by meter ; and if he will list those which are completed.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The installation of meters is complete and the customers are being charged by measure in 10 of the 12 trials. The installation of 52,000 meters in the Isle of Wight trial is not expected to be completed until the late summer but Southern Water has phased the introduction of metered billing in different areas of the island as meters are installed. Charging by measure in the South Normanton trial is due to start on 1 April 1991. The trials are due to end in 1993.

TRANSPORT

Night Sleeper Rail Service

52. Mr. Clifford Forsythe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had regarding the night sleeper rail service from Belfast to London via Larne-Stranraer.

Mr. Portillo : British Rail has kept this Department informed about plans to withdraw sleeper services from


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the Stranraer-Glasgow part of this route. I understand that BR intends to provide connecting services between Stranraer and the Glasgow-London sleeper services.

53. Mr. Stott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has made to British Rail regarding withdrawal of the London-Stranraer night service.

Mr. Portillo : We are aware of British Rail's plans to withdraw the sleeper service between Stranraer and Glasgow and to provide a connecting service from Stranraer to the Glasgow-London sleeper service. This is a commercial matter for BR.

Severn Bridge

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was collected in tolls last year on the Severn bridge.

Mr. Atkins : Tolls collected in 1988-89 amounted to £10.1 million.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the estimated completion date for the current renovation and maintenance work on the Severn bridge.

Mr. Atkins : Strengthening work on the Severn crossing will be completed in March 1990. The resurfacing work is due to be completed by late 1990/early 1991. Routine maintenance work on the bridge will continue.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what items of repair and renovation have been completed on the Severn bridge in the last 12 months.

Mr. Atkins : The last 12 months have seen the replacement of cables and the rocker bearings on the Wye bridge and completion of hanger replacement on the Severn bridge. The Wye bridge towers have been extended in height, the Severn bridge towers strengthened and pier protection works undertaken. Strengthening of the steel decks on both structures has been substantially completed.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work is currently under way on the Severn bridge.

Mr. Atkins : Current work includes the jacking of supports in the Severn bridge towers, the resurfacing of the entire crossing and replacement and improvement of safety barriers and expansion joints.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much is the accumulated debt on the Severn bridge at the latest available date ;

(2) how much the debt on the Severn bridge was last year.

Mr. Atkins : The unaudited accounts show a debt to the Consolidated Fund of £113.4 million at 31 March 1989.

London Assessment Studies

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what resources have been set aside by his Department for publicity and consultation on stage 2B of the London assessment studies and its document "Traffic in London".


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Mr. Atkins : No separate provision has been made for costs incurred by the Department and its consultants on the current consultation exercise on stage 2B of the London assessment studies and on the document "Traffic in London", which fall within the appropriate departmental budgets.

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department will reimburse the full costs to local authorities in London of undertaking publicity and consultation on stage 2B of the London assessment studies.

Mr. Atkins : No. Expenditure incurred by local authorities in producing their own leaflets and holding public meetings on these subjects is entirely a matter for them.

Body Searches

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many body contact searches are conducted under the Aviation Security Act 1982 for any given year ;

(2) how many complaints have been received about the conduct of searches of persons carried out under the Aviation Security Act 1982 ; what form the complaints procedure on searches takes ; and if he will make a statement ;

(3) what monitoring procedures are in place to ensure that the standards and code of conduct set out in the aviation security handbook are followed by security personnel conducting searches of persons under the Aviation Security Act 1982.

Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. Friend has used his powers under the Act to give directions to aerodrome managers and aircraft operators requiring them to ensure that, apart from a limited range of exceptions, all passengers are screened before being permitted to board aircraft at airports covered by the national aviation security programme, and that staff and other personnel are screened before being permitted to enter restricted areas at the major airports. In many cases the persons concerned are required to pass through metal detection equipment and will not necessarily be searched by hand. No record is kept of the number who are hand searched.

The directions require the screening to be carried out, and lay down the standards to be achieved. The aviation security inspectorate makes regular inspections to ensure that these requirements are met. The directions do not, however, set out the detailed procedures to be followed or the facilities to be provided to minimise any embarrassment to those selected for hand searching. A certain amount of general guidance on this is included in the aviation security handbook issued by the Department, but essentially these matters are management ones and therefore the responsibility of the airports and airlines.

The Department receives a small number of complaints each year about the procedures adopted, or the facilities provided, by individual airports. The number of such complaints is not recorded.

Aviation Security Act

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how often the power contained in section 15(5) of the Aviation Security Act 1982 has been used by him and


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airport authorities ; what is the average duration of an order or licence granted under the power ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : None of the directions given under the Act to date has included the provisions mentioned in section 15(5).

Humber Bridge Authority

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about his discussions with the Humber Bridge Authority concerning the settlement of its debt.

Mr. Atkins : Officials of my Department and officers of the Humber Bridge Board have been working together to produce financial projections with a view to the bridge board presenting a reasoned case for special Government financial assistance.

Mersey Tunnel

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the current debt on the Mersey tunnel.

Mr. Atkins : The debts of the Mersey tunnels amounted to £117 million at 31 March 1989.

British Rail (Investment)

Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much of British Rail's investment programme of £3.75 billion will be financed from its own internally generated cash flow, excluding payments from passenger transport executives under section 20 of the Transport Act 1968 in respect of services operated by British Rail in metropolitan areas ;

(2) how much of British Rail's investment programme of £3.75 billion will be financed by passenger transport executives under section 20 of the Transport Act 1968 in respect of services operated by British Rail in metropolitan areas ;

(3) how much of British Rail's investment programme of £3.75 billion will be financed externally ; and whether the external finance will have to meet the Treasury's criteria of an 8 per cent. rate of return.

Mr. Portillo : Over the next three years, British Rail plans to finance net operating losses of some £0.7 billion and investment of £3.75 billion. Internal resources from depreciation, working capital reductions and asset sales will provide £2 billion. External finance from borrowing and PSO grant will provide £2.2 billion. PTE payments will total £0.25 billion. We do not specifically apportion particular forms of finance between investment and other expenditure. The appraisal criteria for BR investment depend on the nature of the project, not on how it is financed.


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